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True Crime, March 12, 2008

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The BW True Crime desk is searching hard for an angle, any angle, into the whole Eliot Spitzer imbroglio.

Shoot, just can't find the way. The Democratic governor of New York, who was allegedly caught by a federal wiretap calling dial-a-hooker, is, as you read this, fighting for his political life. And gosh darn it, we're still stuck with Larry Craig's rap sheet.

So let's get to that, shall we?

"Manifest Injustice"

As we near the ides of March, the case of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig continues to captivate ... well, somebody.

For the sake of that person, we'll update everyone on the latest twists and turns.

Craig, Idaho's Republican senior senator, has been dealing with problems on the home office front. Apparently it's nearly impossible to keep staff on hand when they're working for a guy who has announced he's done with politics. Especially a guy who is several months behind everyone else in the world on that conclusion.

Craig's staff began leaving this fall, and the exodus has continued through the winter. Recently, Craig's stalwart home office spokesman Sid Smith jumped ship and now works for the Idaho Republican Party, a group with decidedly more stable future prospects in Red State Idaho. Smith had bravely fought back the press hordes in Boise and beyond, but now walks the streets of Boise with no less a busy schedule but, we'd surmise, a lighter heart. Now, with the cherry trees in Washington, D.C., about to blossom, Craig's top-level staff continue to find other things to do. Last to go was Dan Whiting, Craig's tough-guy, top-drawer communications chief, who has gone to work for another icon of stability, the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While staff head for the hills, Craig battles on in the courts in Minnesota, the state where he was famously apprehended for bathroom hijinks back in June of last year.

The case has been batted back and forth between Craig's legal team and the Minnesota courts like a badminton game gone way, way over its time limit.

First, in February, there was Craig's demand that his brief be enlarged.

Yeah, you say that with a straight face.

In all seriousness, Craig's team thought that too many issues around the case needed further explanation and, therefore, needed more space to discuss them. Days after that smirk-inducing request, the Minnesota Court of Appeals said, nope. The court denied Craig's brief because, they said, it was a moot point given the filings and pleadings that had gone before. Which, as you might imagine, is the sort of thing no man ever wants leveled at him: Sir, your enlarged brief is worth nothing. Imagine the shame.

Back at you, then, Craig's attorneys said. Monday afternoon, while Gov. Spitzer (we're still trying, darn it) was fiercely, if quietly, defending his legitimacy in New York, Craig's attorneys responded to the courts and asked them to "correct a manifest injustice."

"Sen. Craig maintains that he is innocent of all charges and has vowed to continue all pursuits to clear his name," announced a release from Billy Martin, Craig's attorney.

"Our brief continues to argue that what Sen. Craig has been convicted of does not constitute a crime," Martin said. In short, he said, it's time for the court to go back to its law books and figure out that what Craig may or may not have done in the bathroom at the Minnesota airport was nothing more than annoying, but not illegal.

"We look forward to arguing these issues in the Court of Appeals and continuing our efforts to win an acquittal for Sen. Craig," Martin said. No hearing had been scheduled for the matter as True Crime went to press.

Springtime Ski Hill Blues

Man, it's bad enough that spring is here, bringing sloppy snow and reduced crowds. But then some punk had to go and break into the offices of the Pebble Creek ski resort near Pocatello.

According to reports from the Idaho State Journal, thieves broke into the offices of the little ski hill and, finding no bounty of unmarked season passes just waiting to get new, if inaccurate, photos glommed onto them, took a safe and an undisclosed amount of cash.

Yep, you read that right: They drove all the way up to the dang ski hill; they were not going to leave empty-handed. Police are most likely hunting for a perpetrator who had a bad experience skiing and who is now seeking treatment for a bad hernia, brought on by hefting a major safe out the window of the ski hill offices.

A similar thing happened to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area last year, when thieves found an ATM and, finding it difficult to get cash any other way, stole the whole damn machine. The machine turned up later, and the thieves were eventually caught (they were former employees according to news accounts). Again, no information was immediately available as to whether the thieves were nursing serious back pains and popping Aleve like it was popcorn, but we can only speculate.

The worst thing? According to the State Journal, the resort had to go and change the locks on its entire operation. We're not talking about re-keying the office doors we're talking about the whole resort. Just be glad you're not the guy who had to meet the overnight ski groomer at the door to let him into the shop in the wee hours.