Saturday, April 17, 2010

Clarification to Booting Language

Due to concerns expressed by numerous parties, I have been told by Sen Whitmire's office in the next session of the Legislature,  a cleanup bill will be filed to cleanup the current language regarding the booting language having to be on the same sign for towing. I have disagreed the moment I read what was published by the State.  My previous writings regarding this language is based on the law says now. The Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation will publish a new rule that clarifies that "booting" must follow the same guidelines as towing.

It's my hope, that within this cleanup bill, the Legislature will approve of increasing the criminal penalty for violating Occupation Code 2308.401 & 402, to a Felony offense.

Other than this language issue regarding booting, the other changes in HB2571 are fully in effect and these alone should keep any law enforcement agency busy..

Monday, April 12, 2010

Expired Inspection & Registration Scams by Towing Companies

During the last session of the Legislature, one of the key changes I sought, was to increase the criminal penalty for violating any part of the Texas Towing Law. The reason for this change, which failed in a previous session, was to have a deterrent to encourage towing company owners to stop providing financial incentives to parking facilities use them as their towing company.

As it appears now, it hasn't deterred the giving of freebies, as some towing companies advertise their services for free, including free legal representation. I believed with increasing the criminal penalty, that law enforcement would take a different approach in addressing criminal illegal towing occurring in their communities. Many police agencies do absolutely nothing with regards to criminal conduct among towing companies operating in their jurisdiction.  Smaller city police department would be wise not to second guess their towing company buddies about committing criminal acts, that are an arrestable offense.

You sure can't rely on TDLR to enforce criminal law, I have already been told their agency doesn't have a law enforcement arm like the attorney general or state comptroller. By the way, just as soon as a police agency arrested a child molester, TDLR is issuing them an Occupation License to resume harming citizens. 

A continuing scam towing companies are involved in, are telling a property manager they are not required to send the 10 day notice, informing the registered owner of the vehicle there vehicle will be towed in 10 days if the inspection or registration stickers are not current.
What is happening, is towing company employees are stickering vehicles for these issues and towing them after a couple of days, depriving the registered owner of his vehicle. This type of criminal conduct could warrant Felony Theft, because the towing company didn't have permission to sticker, much less tow the vehicle.

Please forward this information to other law enforcement agencies you know, because everyone needs to be on the same page with enforcement of this criminal activity. If you are unaware about how to address a towing issue, there are plenty of resources available. LEO can contact APD Det Loosier at 512-974-8122, COA City Attorney Douglas at 512-974-2667 or Pat Johnson at 512-291-2063.

The fight is long from over, as these towing criminal enterprises are sprouting up everyday and some are operating outside of law without the required permits.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Pope and a slippery slope

   Some within TDLR are suggesting that that agency might not require compliance with the statutorily required text mentioned in 2308.301 b) 5) of the Texas Occupations Code as far as the words "or Booted" are concerned.   Is TDLR so removed from the reality of us taxpayers that it fails to realize that towing companies often engage in booting, too?    At any rate, how would TDLR's reluctance to uphold that part of our law be fair to diligent towing companies and parking facilities that have already come into compliance with it?  
     If TDLR thinks it's above the law and not required to enforce what the Texas legislature has enacted, how can we expect towing companies to respect the legislature's laws enough to comply with them?   Anybody within TDLR who advocates disregarding parts of the law risk putting Texas' towing protections on a SLIPPERY SLOPE to mediocrity, if not lawlessness.   Our economy suffers when folks become afraid to park because of such lawlessness, too.   So WHERE SHOULD ONE DRAW THE LINE regarding which parts of the statute to obey and which ones to disregard?   Are we letting the POPE get away with his staff's noncompliance with Biblical scripture?   No.   Easter news headlines made that abundantly clear.    Shouldn't an agency that gets paid with our tax dollars to bring towing companies into compliance with the law also comply with the law, too?    I urge TDLR to come into compliance, or to pass the responsibility (and our corresponding tax dollars and trust) to an agency that will.  
  It's expected of law enforcement in towns across the state to enforce criminal laws and now since illegal towing is a Class B misdemeanor, that common response, "it's a civil matter does hold water any longer.
  We must remember, it's the legislature that agreed problems are continuing with private property towing industry in every city in our state, citizens cannot rely on TDLR in seeking compliance, since their agency's bureaucracy drags complaints out for a year or more, doing no good to victims. Therefore, the criminal penalty was increased that would law enforcement to take the necessary steps to shutdown criminal illegal towing in their community. 

  If TDLR really wants to take an activist role with the statute in ways that actually help taxpayers and honest towing companies, why hasn't it clarified what "minor deviation" can permissibly mean regarding the 5 feet signage height requirement of 2308.301 a) 5)?    After all, 2308.407 says "a minor variation of a required or minimum height of a sign or lettering is not a violation of this chapter".   The vagueness has been abused by some campaign donation-seeking j.p. judges in parts of Texas, and it's time for TDLR to take the lead, or to get out of the way.   The moment TDLR begins selecting provisions of the statute as being unenforceable, Texans will have become more vulnerable to j.p. judges who abuse the law badly enough as it is, in exchange for campaign donations.   If TDLR's no better, why must we taxpayers keep subsidizing it?    Please take the moral high road, so that our roadways won't be as crime-ridden.  

  It's been eight months since the law changed reference the changes in signage text and parking facilities nor towing compliance have done nothing to comply.