News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig and those toilet stalls

I frankly hope that Sen. Larry Craig who pled guilty to an episode at the Minnepolis-St. Paul International Airport does get his case reheard. I understand why he may have entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor.

As a very young man who dropped out of full-time college to make money for tuition, I went to Chicago to work and attended night classes part time. I was invited to join the staff of the campus newspaper and assigned to work with a man who had served with the Marines in Korea and was working toward a career in journalism. I became part of an investigative project he was doing for that campus paper.

A student complained to him that the Park Police in Chicago were shaking people down by approaching them in public restrooms and other places and charging them with homosexual advances and solicitation of prostitutes. We found that it was happening, and most of the people charged were from out-of-town and quickly pled guilty to lesser charges simply to be allowed to go on their way and return home.

However, in one case, a man from Ohio refused to plead guilty. The police had charged him with soliciting a prostitute in the flower conservatory at the Lincoln Park Zoo. He posted a hefty bond and was given a court date.

When he returned to Chicago and appeared at court, the clerk of courts had no record of his arrest, the posting of a bond, or a scheduled appearance date. He had been the victim of a scam.

The story made the campus newspaper and was picked up by major Chicago newspapers, but especially the old Chicago Daily News and WMAQ news who had staff members who mentored us on the investigative technique.

In Chicago, the bond money was going into the pockets of rogue policemen. In the Twin-Cities, it sounds more like some cops setting up toilet stall stings to net some trophies. Like U.S. Senators.

Whatever the motive, toilet stings are odiferous. I hope Sen. Craig can clear the air.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States