Sunday, February 1, 2009

More on prostitution in Ann Arbor

Nothing sells a local newspaper like stories about the sex industry. When I taught at Western Ontario, the London Free Press would cover every detail about then-mayor Diane Haskett's fascination with strip clubs and massage parlors, things that clearly interested her much more than, say, local economic development.

In the past few days the Ann Arbor News has had two more stories about prostitution in our fair city, one detailing the arrest of a former U-M undergraduate who was finding customers on Craig's List and one general story about prostitution and the internet.

As an Ann Arbor taxpayer (and taxes are not low in Ann Arbor), I was particularly struck by the claim in the second story that

"We are not actively scouring Craigslist," said Ann Arbor Deputy Chief Greg Bazick. "It is a prioritization of resources."

Despite the claimed lack of "prioritization" for on-line prostitution, in response to the complaint that generated the first story, the A2 police organized a sting operation at a local hotel, something that, between the staff time involved, the payment for the room and the rest, surely cost the city a couple of thousand dollars. Add in the costs generated in the remainder of the legal system as the case plays out and you likely reach $5000 or more.

To help the A2 police next time they receive a complaint that some current or former UM student is trying to make some quick money, I offer the following alternative suggestion as to how to respond:

Send the person making the complaint an email suggesting that if they do not like prostitution, perhaps the "erotic services" section on Craig's List is a place they should avoid.

I expect that this response would cost the city less than $10.