[Vision2020] Once Again America Benefits from Craig's Actions
thansen at moscow.com
Fri Sep 28 07:05:44 PDT 2007
>From today's (September 28, 2007) Spokesman Review -
New stall walls planned for airport restrooms
Betsy Z. Russell
September 28, 2007
The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is getting new men's room
stall walls to cut down on restroom sexual activity in the infamous bathroom
where Idaho Sen. Larry Craig was arrested.
The new dividers will go all the way down to a couple inches above the
floor. The current ones stop 12 inches above floor level.
"Sometime this fall we hope to have the new dividers in place," said Patrick
Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.
Hogan said the new dividers should extend low enough to make sure restroom
users can't "move back and forth or engage in sexual activities underneath
He said, "We've been looking at different ways to try to address the issues
we've been having with people engaging in sex in the bathroom. . We can't
have police in the restrooms all the time, obviously, nor do we want to. So
we're looking at some other proactive measures we can take to try to
discourage some of the activity that can be alarming to people traveling
through the airport."
Craig, a three-term Idaho Republican, was arrested as part of a sting in
June. The undercover operation, prompted by complaints of lewd conduct in
the centrally located Northstar Crossing airport men's room, nabbed about 40
men in a four-month period.
An undercover officer said Craig peered through a gap in the stall, then
moved his foot over to touch the officer's foot in an adjacent stall and
made hand motions under the stall wall. All, authorities said, were
consistent with signals soliciting sex used by other suspects in the sting,
some of whom followed them up with attempted sex acts on the spot.
Craig pleaded guilty in August to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct.
When the incident became public nearly a month later, he denied wrongdoing
and said his guilty plea was a mistake. This week, his lawyers went to court
in Minnesota to try to get his guilty plea withdrawn; a judge is now
considering the request.
Hogan said the airport is replacing the stall walls in two men's rooms at
the Minneapolis airport - the one where Craig was arrested, and another
about 50 yards away that also has been a source of lewd conduct complaints.
"There are more than 80 restrooms throughout the airport, so it would be
very expensive" to change all of them, Hogan said. He estimated that could
cost as much as $1 million.
Under the new plan, stall doors still will end 12 inches or more above the
ground, Hogan said, though the divider walls will extend lower. "You need
some space for ventilation and in case somebody has a medical emergency
inside the restroom, you need to be able to get into it," he explained.
The new stall walls are expected to cost about $25,000, depending on bids.
Airport development staff, meeting Thursday, agreed to proceed with putting
the project out to bid. "What we will do is try to get the lowest price we
can for the dividers," Hogan said.
"We did not have money in the budget to do the work, not specifically for
this, but given the problems we've been having, we think it's worth the
investment to try to stymie that kind of activity," he said. "One of the
concerns we have is people were going into the restroom, if they're going in
there themselves or if they're sending their child into the restroom, we
don't want them to be touched or peered at or have to witness somebody
else's sexual activity. It's just not appropriate in the public restroom.
And we were having a lot of problems in particularly one restroom."
One suspect who was arrested over the summer told authorities he'd had four
sexual partners in the restroom in a three-hour period, Hogan said. The
suspect was caught after he stuck his head under the stall wall and accosted
a fifth person, who reported him to police.
"We're still patrolling all parts of the airport including the restrooms,"
Hogan said. "Complaints have dropped dramatically since the publicity about
the senator's case."
Seeya round town, Moscow.
"We're a town of about 23,000 with 10,000 college students. The college
students are not very active in local elections (thank goodness!)."
- Dale Courtney (March 28, 2007)
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