Thursday, January 8, 2009

Christian Science Monitor Calls Predatory Towing A Source Of National Conflict, Cites THIS BLOG!!!!

Flickr.com Photo

It's official: predatory towing is causing "tension" and "conflict" on a national scale. So says the Christian Science Monitor, click here for the article, and this blog was cited in the story...

I was interviewed by the reporter for over an hour, and I can see a lot of my influence in what he wrote, but more so this blog's influence. In fact, I learned the reporter had spent HOURS reading numerous stories linked in these various posts...including my parody song, "Paint It Red."

The reporter, Patrik Jonsson (it's Swedish,he told me) starts the article in style, citing the situation in Orlando where Paul Gren's questionable practices have been used to fund a personal fleet of customized Harleys. (I'm convinced the reporter learned about Gren from this blog, and I made a point of mentioning Gren and his Harley Davidson fetish)

He next mentions Palm Desert, where drivers have been arrested for committing auto thefts by use of tow trucks.

THEN he starts talking about Asheville, North Carolina, where there was (good heavens) a STING OPERATION against predatory towing, something a lot more cities need to copy.

And the story sticks to Asheville for a long time, basically holding up Asheville as an example.

The moral, according to authorities in Asheville? So-called "destination cities" can't afford to become known as havens for predatory towing. Word gets around. Just ask the Cotton Bowl folks in Dallas, or the Crayfish Boil organizers in Alabama.

A Valuable Nugget Of Information Dropped About Asheville, NC

In talking to the reporter, I learned something interesting: though "tourism bureau" and "chamber of commerce" people were credited with raising the alarm, Jonnson said it was actually police officers who "spent one too many nights trying to keep children warm in the back of their squad cars, while their parents tried to recover their car." These Asheville police officers were actually the ones who first raised the alarm, behind the scenes, about predatory towing in their community.

Balanced--Toward Justice!

Since most readers will never get to the bottom of the article (trust me, I taught journalism) the article may very well be "balanced" by its use of an expert from the towing industry near the end, and a professor who wags his finger at bad city planning, but overall the article mostly comes off as a "wake up call" about an emerging national problem caused by poorly regulated towing companies engaging in shady practices.

One blog devoted to the towing industry tried--with feigned hopefulness--to characterize the article as "balanced." (Click here for that blog post) Yeah, it was balanced. It was balanced toward the cause of JUSTICE and LIBERTY, and not PREDATORY TOWING.

Not Just Data, Some Solutions

The article mentions Ron Smith of Compiled Logic, who I interviewed for a Minnesota Daily opinion column about predatory towing near the beginning of this new direction in my lifelong activism, click here.

Yes, Smith's company tracks data about non-consensual towing, but that's purely secondary to their goals. Compiled Logic makes its money by helping cities solve their towing problems without breaking city budgets, by use of high tech solutions. In fact, Smith seems to have either coined or played a big role in promulgating the terms "non-consensual towing" and "towing life cycle."

The article mentions how "a quarter of all towed cars are never claimed" due to "jurisdictional issues" and "lack of transparency in the system." Well, I'm confident the reporter got that number from Smith, though Smith pulls a lot of his data together from various police agencies. It's a shocking number. As a society, we can't afford to be this inefficient. People need their cars to participate in the economy.

I swear, I'm going to write an open letter to President Obama.

Dude, Donde Esta Mi Autocoche?

The reporter was interested in where all the cars end up, though that didn't end up in his article. We spent a lot of time talking about the tendency of cars to get scrapped, chopped down for parts or--and this was something the reporter found very interesting, though it didnt' end up in the article--end up in Mexico.

I told the reporter "large metal objects do not just disappear off the face of the earth. There's no evidence of time/space wormholes on the surface of our planet. That can't happen."

Towing Utopia Dot Com's Greatest Day...So Far!

This article represents the pinnacle of months of effort at consciousness-raising.

But there's a long way to go before Congress acts, or before states, cities and counties all start waking up to towing abuses. The problem of jurisdictions failing to share data about impounded vehicles--causing a quarter of all cars to be unclaimed--is a huge problem and a huge inefficiency in our struggling economy. It could have easily happened to me after my van was stolen last month, click here. Honestly, I think only the glitch in my starter system caused the van to be recovered a mere 7 blocks away.

So this blog has come a long way, baby. But there's a long road ahead.

1 comment:

Towmater said...

Gary Coe (of retriever towing/speed's supertow) has a great classic custom car fetish himself.

See: http://www.truckinweb.com/features/0609tr_1957_ford_f100/index.html

Several of his car's are stored in his indoor impound lot's. He also has a private inclosed flatbed tow truck to haul his beutiful cars to custom car show's. Let me know if you want pictures or information.

The average joe can rest easy knowing all that money charged to the public for return of their cars goes to a good cause.

The owner of sergeants towing in Portland Oregon owns a collection of military vehicles wich includes a fully functional tank. See link below for pictures including them using the tank to crush impounded cars.

See: http://www.sergeantstowing.com/content/company/gallery.php