5 AUG 10: I Said Motel 6
Another woman went to Columbus Recorder's Court Wednesday, pleading not guilty to charges of being a "Craigslist call girl." You'd think alleged prostitutes would move to other websites to offer their services. After all, some young men might prefer to be Twitter-pated.
A Columbus police sergeant testified Candita Ortiz agreed to a rendezvous at Days Inn on Macon Road, after noticing a post on Craigslist. Of course, none of this might be happening if Orbitz hadn't reached that hotel-motel tax settlement -- it all would be Phenix City's problem.
The Columbus Police "Vice Squad" now has made two stings in two weeks, involving online offers of prostitution. But WTVM decided the big story Wednesday was how some people are complaining about the crackdown online. Aw c'mon - it's the Internet. Some Republicans still complain about Al Gore inventing the thing in the first place.
The main online complaint is that Columbus Police have their priorities wrong. One comment at the Ledger-Enquirer's website says officers should focus on "the real criminals." That apparently means murder, rape and kidnapping cases -- although I can't help wondering how many of these complaints come from supporters of Parks Department Director Tony Adams.
Captain Gil Slouchick explained his Special Operations Unit is simply doing its assigned job. It's going after vices such as prostitution and illegal gambling. The people who spread e-mail rumors about an August crackdown on fast drivers didn't have it quite right - it's about fast living.
Hotel security experts say prostitution cases often involve other crimes, including illegal drugs. They aren't called "hookers" for nothing, you know....
There's a part of me which can understand why some people are writing complaints about Columbus Police. They want the 100 new officers to get serious crimes off the streets. Of course, these prostitution arrests ARE off the streets - in Midtown motels, not along Victory Drive.
But another part of me hears something familiar in these grumblers. They sound like finger-pointing criminals. You know, the folks who say every police officer should go after killers and thieves right after they get stopped for drunk driving.
If the critics think Columbus Police priorities are askew, why don't they go all the way with their complaint? Why aren't they suggesting Columbus Council eliminate sex crimes completely? In person, at a council meeting? They please stay until the meeting ends, while your name is checked in online databases.
Maybe there are a few residents who long for Columbus in 2010 to be like Phenix City in 1950. In fact, they could be the people booking downtown hotels on weekends - a short walk from the hunks and hotties they meet at clubs on Broadway....
But when Jim Wetherington ran for mayor of Columbus, he promised to make public safety a priority. Critics of online prostitution stings should realize this is merely a small adjustment in that mission -- to focus on (ahem) pubic safety.
Let's step away from the edge of the gutter, and examine other Wednesday news:
+ Russell County Sheriff-Elect Heath Taylor revealed someone turned in six sealed absentee ballots on the afternoon of the Alabama Primary runoff. The ballots arrived too late and were disqualified, but they have Taylor suspicious. For one thing, I thought Ronnie Reed lost weeks earlier in the primary.
+ Georgia Attorney General candidate Sam Olens visited the Columbus Rotary Club. Olens told WRBL "rigid fines" should be imposed on any business hiring illegal immigrant workers. Since Olens is a Republican, the fines would be in U.S. dollars and not Mexican pesos.
+ A Columbus man was fined $340 for last month's pit bull attack on a 12-year-old boy. WTVM reported the dog owner appeared in Environmental Court. If the pit bull had mauled a row of trash cans at the curb, I might understand this....
+ WLTZ reported a deer crashed through the front window of a downtown Opelika art gallery. This is how you know it's too hot outside - the animals can't wait to start hiding from hunters.
+ Shaw High School starting quarterback Kyel Darner told WRBL about his move to Columbus from Colorado. He declared the quality of high school football is much better in Georgia - so if the Bulldogs don't win in Boulder in October, Coach Mark Richt might find himself barred from another Muscogee County school.
+ The Auburn University football team began pre-season training. But some reporters were disappointed - because Marcus McNeill didn't show up to practice with the team, and hint he might retire from the San Diego Chargers. If Brett Favre can do it....
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