Saturday, May 31, 2008
The Ugly History of "Texas Towing" In San Antonio
Like brave Texas citizens who were cornered at The Alamo, pictured above, citizens were corralled and mistreated by an inappropriately-named outfit called "Texas Towing" which had a "longstanding failure to meet performance standards" according to San Antonio's Chief of Police...
Bean counters spill the beans
It's seldom when auditors get the kind of recognition and glory they deserve for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing, but that's exactly what happened here according to this article in at www.mysanantonio.com.
A refusal to turn over documents
Things grew worse as Texas Towing refused to provide information about its operations in response to requests by the city, according to this article.
Outrage piled on outrage
After dragging their feet in turning over information, Texas Towing announced the city of San Antonio owed the company more than $100,000...without explaining why. Hard to believe, but it's all in this article.
The controversy drags on
San Antonio appeared to be merely "lining up its ducks" as matters dragged on, making sure it was holding up its end of the contract while trying to have discussions with Texas Towing. That's what I take from this article.
Letters tell the tale
The local media did a great job obtaining and publishing behind-the-scenes documents about the ongoing controversy. Here is a letter from Texas Towing to the local media, Page One. Here is Page Two.
The Chief of Police made the public record in detail in a three-page "Notice of Default" sent to Texas Towing. Page 1, 2,3.
Disturbing conduct by Texas Towing
The next news article relies heavily on the info in the "Notice of Default," but conscientious reporters did some digging, too. Some of the outrageous shenanigans of Texas Towing included (but certainly were not limited) to the following:
* Too few drivers. Drivers showed up late, keeping police tied up at accident scenes. (I merely presume some accident victims were also inconvenienced by this?) Specifically, drivers were late 2,371 times in a seven-month period.
* Tow truck drivers tampered with arrival and departure times on their paperwork.
* In a pattern which is all-too-common in some sectors of the towing industry, drivers were permitted to work with "revoked licenses, and with records revealing arrests for drug possession, and outstanding warrants."
* Texas Towing allegedly threatened a staff member of the police chief with loss of his job if he kept reporting contract violations.
*Texas Towing failed to submit required auditor reports for, like, um...years.
Where was the pressure coming from?
Some suspected the push to get rid of Texas Towing was due to competing businesses who wanted to get control of the lucrative contract. In the middle of this dispute, Texas Towing was dealt another blow when a competitor gained control of the city's impound lot, according to this article.
Auditor who started the controversy loses his job
Right when things seemed the most bleak for Texas Towing, the auditor who started the controversy lost his job and there was a dust-up over the contents of his original draft report, as discussed in this article.
What a great controversy. Makes me wish for some popcorn!
Controversy "blunted" by new report
It turned out the City of San Antonio had overpaid Texas Towing by a mere $21,000 according to a different auditor's report. The Texas Towing controversy became all tangled up in issues of whether the auditor was a "loose cannon" who had overstepped his authority, but the push to dump Texas Towing was inexorable whether the auditor had been a "loose cannon" or not, according to this article.
Police Chief unhitches Texas Towing
As of a couple days ago, according to this article the word was Texas Towing was "out on the street," and if there was going to be a lawsuit, so be it.
That is where things stand as of today.
Wow! And who speaks for the citizens at accident scenes who have dealt with this unsatisfactory company for years? In all this controversy, there is very little talk of what any citizens experienced in (for example) dealing with drivers who had outstanding warrants.
The final irony
Oh, one final little note of irony or is it just "virtual" irony, since it's on the internet?
As of today, May 31, 2008, the Texas Towing website still lists the company as "San Antonio's Official Police Tow."