Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Battle Continues in West Lafayette, Indiana

I interviewed Councilman Paul Roales by email about what happens now in West Lafayette, since Roales' proposed ordinance failed on a split vote.

Q: So what happens now?

Roales: I made some significant changes in response to public comments and I bring it right back on the April agenda.

Q: I see your proposed ordinance failed to pass by a narrow margin, and the swing vote seems like somebody who could be brought over to your side. Your thoughts?

Roales: Gerald Thomas, the one Democrat who did not vote for the ordinance, expected to vote for it when he walked into the Council chambers. There was a lot of confusion around what the rates should be set at and his vote was lost as part of the confusion.

Q: I guess that's my big question. What now? And is there any other way to curb these abuses besides the ordinance? For example, an article I read alluded to a potential lawsuit. I'd love to get contact information for THAT guy and ask him some questions. Oh, actually, I'd love to get a copy of the lawsuit if one has been filed.

Roales: Dan Frein [Roales provides his email] was the student who filed the lawsuit against the towing companies.

Q: It's also not clear to me...are these vehicles going to an impound lot controlled by the city? Is that lot run well, or are there complaints from the students about the lot as well as the towing companies?

Roales: They are going to lots run by the companies that do the towing.

Q: Finally, did you LIKE my previous blog entry?

Roales: Very good, I appreciate that you are giving this issue visibility.

SNEAK PEAK OF THINGS TO COME: I hope to find out more about the Frein lawsuit and what legal theories are being used to stop abusive towing, and if this strategy could be more broadly applied on a national basis. West Lafayette is small, but it is a model of fighting abusive non-consent towing practices.

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