Testimony about spygear is like a good strawberry

Testimony about spygear is like a good strawberry

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The Daily Takeaway

(DETROIT- WJBK) So often it's the little things that get us through difficult times.

A touch on the arm from a friend.

A smile from a stranger.

A little humor in a midst of tedious testimony.

When I think of how important the little things can be, I harken back to an episode of "The Incredible Hulk," when Bill Bixby, as David Banner, tells Mariette Hartley, as Dr. Carolyn Fields, about a man who was about to plunge to his death who finds a wild strawberry growing from the side of a cliff. The man eats the strawberry and, despite his impending doom, thinks to himself, "What a wonderful strawberry!"

Now I'm sure the writers of the Incredible Hulk cribbed that line from great literature, but I wasn't into the classics in 1978 so it struck me as a pretty good bit. In any case, as sweet as that metaphorical strawberry may have been, it didn't help Banner hold onto Fields, any more than it helped me with the young woman I tried using a similar line on many years later.

But I digress …

The point is that the testimony can get pretty dry in the Kilpatrick & Co. trial as the lawyers work meticulously to make their case.

For the past several days, prosecutors have sought to prove that Kilpatrick committed fraud by using the non-profit he set up to help Detroit to instead help get him elected mayor. Defense attorneys have sought to show that while the Kilpatrick Civic Fund paid for services that appeared to benefit only Kilpatrick's mayoral campaigns, there was a benefit to the city as well.

At one point, the lawyers argued over whether the expression "Cool!" had multiple meanings.

Honest!

So Brian Lang, a scruffy surveillance expert from Spy Ops in Lathrup Village who seemed to sneak an aside into every answer, was a welcome change of pace Tuesday.

He testified that the Kilpatrick Civic Fund paid him $1,397.08 for bug detecting and other counter surveillance equipment that a member of Kilpatrick's security team said he wanted to sweep city offices. Lang then said he was hired to check a building for eavesdropping devices, but couldn't remember which one. Asked if it might have been Cobo Hall, he cracked up the courtroom by replying: "The only thing I know down here is Lafayette Coney Island."

Then he said he remembered seeing a photo of long-time local copper Warren Evans in one of the offices he swept. When challenged on how he knew it was Evans, he said the photo had a nameplate that read "WARREN EVANS."

Even Jim Thomas, the Kilpatrick attorney grilling Lang, laughed and conceded the point.

While Lang wasn't on the stand long (and has no future in comedy), he was our wild strawberry. And we were all a little sad to see the man known for reasons unknown to me as "Little Bear," step down.

The feeling was clearly not mutual.

Near the end of his testimony, Lang noted that he was eager "to be left alone and go back to my hole."

 ***

Tuesday's testimony reminded me of something I ran across almost 10 years ago when I first started going through public records detailing the inner workings of the Kilpatrick administration. Shortly after taking office in 2002, the two cops running Kilpatrick's police bodyguard team went to an out-of-state surveillance school. It struck me as odd at the time, but also concerned me. Why would the mayor want his top two security officials, who also happened to be good friends of his, learning how to spy on folks? It didn't occur to me until years later that Kilpatrick and his cronies were really interested in COUNTER-surveillance.

In other words, they wanted to learn how to figure out if someone might be spying on THEM.

Years later -- in the wake of revelations of adultery, police bodyguards run amok, and federal wire taps on the phone of Kilpatrick's dad, Bernard -- it all makes perfect sense.

Follow M.L. Elrick's coverage of the Kilpatrick & Co. trial daily on Fox 2 and at www.myfoxdetroit.com. Contact him at ml.elrick@foxtv.com or via Twitter (@elrick) or Facebook. And catch him every Friday morning around 7:15 a.m. on Drew & Mike on WRIF, 101.1 FM.

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