Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HB3510 Author, Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton Removed from Office by Voters!

Mike Hamilton's comments during the last session of the Texas Legislature regarding his acceptance of financial kickback in consideration of business contracts doomed any chance of returning to Austin.

It's a great day for Texas to observe defeated State Rep Mike Hamilton, as he can return to his kitchen duties.

This election proves voters in his district don't care for his recipes!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

TDLR Commissioners Meeting Public Comment - May 29, 2012

As a former tow company manager, I respect that TDLR wants to work with honest and law-abiding towing companies and storage facilities for society's benefit.  But I submit that a recent regulatory interpretation by TDLR punishes even the honest and law-abiding towing and storage companies.

Storage facilities are supposed to accept people's credit cards.  That's fair.  But a new regulatory interpretation requires them to accept even credit cards that belong to folks OTHER THAN those retrieving their vehicles.  Such transactions increasingly result in charge backs and penalties assessed by financial institutions, regardless of the legality of the tow.  Is it fair or wise to subject honest and law-abiding towing and vehicle storage companies to this financial hazard?  I ask that you please reconsider this, and remedy it for society's benefit.  Otherwise Texas will be deprived of parking space availability, because nobody will want to tow noncompliant parkers.   

At the same time, though, I have NO sympathy for any dishonest, noncompliant towing and storage companies here in Texas.  Such tow pirates make it harder for honest and compliant competitors to remain in business.

And yet TDLR makes it so difficult for their tax-paying victims to get justice against them.   Why is that, TDLR?

Do victims who complain to TDLR get told what the status is of their complaint, corresponding investigation and administrative trials are even after they have submitted all the necessary information to TDLR about their ordeals?    Not usually.  If victims receive any notice at all, it's
usually very vague and uninformative.  And by the time TDLR lets them know what to submit, too much time might have passed to efficiently gather what TDLR's investigators need to know to make a sufficiently expeditious investigation.  Why not put a list of evidentiary requirements on a highly
relevant part of your website so that victims will know what they'll need promptly, in order to make their complaints more informative to TDLR as soon as possible?    Or does TDLR merely want to receive lots of complaints so that it can preach to our government that TDLR needs and somehow deserves more of our tax dollars?  

I will oppose that every time because I still haven't gotten a satisfactory answer to this question:  What do you give taxpayers in exchange for their hard earned money?  

Can such victims or other members of the public check the status of their complaints online at TDLR's website?  No.   

Are such administrative trials handled even remotely expeditiously?  No.

Why should the accused get to continue depriving their victims of their right to a speedy administrative trial?    It takes about a year, if not longer, for an administrative trial to emerge through TDLR...assuming that TDLR doesn't settle for smallish settlement amounts beforehand  in order to
avoid having to do the work that taxpayers pay TDLR to do.    You know that such predatory companies charge their victims more if their victims request extensions to pay for the right to retrieve their vehicles.  So why does TDLR nevertheless allow postponement after postponement without charging the tow pirates and storage conspirators more, too?  How is this discrepancy fair?  Why doesn't TDLR want to get these dishonest companies out of Texas commerce sooner?   

  Texas tax-payers' tax dollars still pay TDLR lots of money each year.  What do they get in return if TDLR does little more than prosecute a few cases now and then, only to enter into payment plans with companies that owe substantial debts for their noncompliance?    TDLR is well aware that
such companies' partners then sneakily set up or otherwise collaborate with new companies that evade having to make the payments, while the original offending companies gradually and quietly go out of business.  One such example is Merlin Transport, which owes TDLR over $21,000 after having lost its administrative trial because it couldn't afford to keep paying its lawyers lucrative fees.    Is Merlin's owner Nick Massey not working behind the scenes nowadays with Tarrant County Abandoned Vehicle Removal Inc., though?    Talk about re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic... 

What is TDLR best at?  The answer appears to be:  getting a hefty paycheck paid to some of its higher-ranking employees, at taxpayers' expense.    Taxpayers pay TDLR, so TDLR doesn't mind looking the other way when it comes to collecting its fines.  What do taxpayers get in return for
their trust and investment in TDLR, though?    No wonder TDLR is so nontransparent.  TDLR has plenty to hide, and it isn't pretty...   

Why doesn't TDLR propose regulatory reform to make it tougher for crooked tow pirates and storage facility co-conspirators to sneakily and quickly re-emerge from the ashes?    The problem CAN be remedied even before the next legislative session gets underway, and TDLR already knows this. 

Cities such as Dallas already have the municipal ordinances in effect for preventing such instances of predatory evasiveness among tow pirates and their vehicle storage co-conspirators who seek to reincorporate.  I have lawyer friends who can confirm this if you don't believe me.    

But TDLR makes such proactive municipalities' work a lot less efficient when TDLR won't even shut down such dishonest, noncompliant companies by terminating their licenses so that such municipalities in Texas can more efficiently fight their partner’s re-emergence as fresh new entities. 

Is TDLR so co-opted by noncompliant towing and storage facility companies (some of which have representatives serving on TDLR's committee) that TDLR consequently can't even adequately suspend the licenses of noncompliant companies?  If a company is in a payment plan supposedly trying to make amends for its past offenses, why not make that information available online for the public's protection?    Municipalities want such information. Why not make it readily available?     

People have been killed throughout Texas as a result of unlawful towing practices.    I and some allies have increasingly popular websites dedicated to exposing misdeeds regularly committed in the Texas towing industry.

The problem is not going away, and neither are we.  But if TDLR won't carry its share of the weight too, then it's time for TDLR to get out of the way and stop costing taxpayers so much.  You cost more to taxpayers than what you collect in fines, especially in terms of hidden costs AND societal costs from you’re not doing an adequate job.    

Should we ask to have TDLR's budget spent elsewhere, instead?  If not then how about TDLR's answering our questions with helpful DEEDS, not mere words, followed by laziness and a
lack of transparency?

Pat Johnson
Texas Towing Compliance

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TDLR Clarifies Regulations with Towing Companies in Austin, Texas

In a meeting this morning, that featured Robin Motem, TDLR, Robert Loosier, APD, Ric Paterno TCSO and all but two towing company owners discussed 7 items.

Benefiting motorists who's vehicle has been placed into storage; the vehicle storage facility is required to accept credit cards regardless who's name is on it; the storage facility cannot charge a credit card usage fee; and a vehicle facility must release personal property to to rightful owner regardless of time or day within one hour's notice. Unless a law enforcement hold, nobody touches the vehicle or it's contents.

Another live saving benefit to motorists, is that tow trucks cannot run red lights enroute to a traffic accident, thus reducing the chance of a traffic fatality.

On another account, if a vehicle becomes disabled or wrecked on a public roadway or shoulder, an IM (Incident Management) permitted tow truck must remove the vehicle.

Overall, many members of the towing industry were not pleased upon leaving the meeting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

San Antonio City Council Answers Cries From Public with New Booting Ordinance

With booting company representatives present, all wetting their beeks on the booting fee about to be imposed them, members of city council sent a strong message.

The passage of this ordinance will soon be followed by a revised towing ordinance that will once and for all stop this continued abuse of motorists in San Antonio.

San Antonio Police Department Finally Takes Action Against Towing Companies linked to Tow Fee Overcharging Citizens & Tourists

Finally, the San Antonio Police Department is enforcing their wrecker ordinance regarding the nonconsent tow fee of $85.00.

Many questions remain as to why SAPD and the City of San Antonio until just recently began enforcing the regulated tow fee. It's not like either can say they were unaware of motorists being severely price gouged.

Just why is it that members of the San Antonio City Council and their Mayor are eager to accept campaign donations from lobbyists of area towing companies, so certain towing companies can line their pockets with the hard-earned money of the citizens and tourists of the Alamo City, because of a money induced vote.

Well, it's finally coming to a heed, as now SAPD is citing the vehicle storage facility employee every time they charge in excess of the regulated fee of $85.00.  But, it's the tow truck operator who submits paperwork at the storage facility with the unauthorized charge, so why isn't the tow truck operator being held responsible?

Earlier, I was talking with a person of interest within the law enforcement community, that told me, "all these problems our city has experienced with towing companies are because of John Deloach aka Bexar Towing".

Well, it's come to an end, as the new owners of Assured Towing, Park Right Solutions are probably rethinking their business plan since they can charge no more than $85.00.  I'm sure the thought of charging someone close to $300 for towing/storage would make most dishonest towing company owners eager to move to San Antonio.

So, just remember, if a vehicle storage facility attempts to charge you a $250 tow fee for a private property impound towed from within the San Antonio city limits, call 911 and ask an officer to respond to the storage facility due to fact of overcharging.

Reference video: Tow Fee Scam San Antonio

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TDLR Should License All Tow Company Employees

Since the Legislature gave the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations (TDLR) rule making authority, it would be wise to require all employees of towing company be licensed.

This new requirement is already in effect for vehicle storage facilities and auto recyclers, it's time employees of towing companies be licensed, to deter theft and dishonesty.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Kickback to Property Managers Increasing

Parking facility operators, rather they be an apartment manager, parking lot manager or a paid parking facilitator, all are visited daily by sales staff of a local towing company, seeking their business.

It's not uncommon for a towing company owner to make the decision he/she is going to give a property manager something in return to use their services, even knowing it's illegal.

I have seen several towing companies offer to re-stripe an entire parking lot, paint all the fire red curbs with stenciling for pennies on the dollar, or a greatly reduced cost, that nobody else could receive for the same size parking facility of 500 parking spaces.

Some property manager take into consideration their property owners won't provide the funding for parking lot maintenance when making that decision to sign a contract with a towing company that will re-stripe my entire parking facility, provide all the parking permits for free, even provide towing for residents at a reduced fee.

Of course, all of these freebies are against the law.

In the last session of the Texas Legislature, the law was changed to reflect that a towing company may provide the red and white towing sign to the parking facility at no charge. But, this is just the sign that is posted when entering the parking facility, not the post or labor to install the sign.  With so few law enforcement agencies totally unaware that a towing company and parking facility owner can be charged with a criminal offense, should the towing company install the sign with a post and doesn't charge the parking facility.