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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NE Portland Towing Hotspot Alert #2

Villa de Mariposas (Butterflies)
5020 and 5205 NE Killingsworth
71 units
Serves "working families earning between 30 percent and 60 percent AMI"
Vehicles towed from Mariposas in 2006: 37
Tower: Sergeant's

These photos are of Mariposa South
No parking is permitted in front of the office even when it is closed

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why are tenants and visitors to Hacienda CDC's Cully Neighborhood Apartments in NE Portland so Parking-Stupid?

155 vehicles towed from these apartments in 2006 alone.
Directly across the street from here, in the notorious Town Plaza stripclubs, only 3 tows in the same period of time.
Despite the distraction of naked women, alcohol and whatever else goes on in those seedy dens of iniquity, people who park on the north side of NE Killingsworth score perfect 10s with every parking experience.
Yet, upon turning into Hacienda's properties on the south side of Killingsworth, people cannot figure out how to park successfully in front of their own homes.
Time after time, they need to be towed at their own expense, and they still don't learn.
There is enough red paint in Hacienda's parking lots, marking fire lanes and other prohibited areas, that you would think it would be visible from space.
It almost looks festive, like the circus is coming to town, except the tickets are reeeeeaaallly expensive.
In fact, if there ever is a contest in the City for the apartment site with the greatest investment in red paint, parking lot stripes, lettering painted on the asphalt and signage, this is where my money will be, oh yeah.
But I digress....
The issue is parking-stupidity, which leads to instant towability, which results in the transfer of hard-earned cash, which no one paying these bills can be happy about, and yet they cannot figure how to park once they enter Hacienda's lots.
I forgot to count how many legal parking spots for residents there are over there, when I was making my debut as a photojournalist on self-assignment.
I'll have to go back, count the legal slots, compare to the number of apartments, see what those numbers look like.
155 tows in 2006 alone. And they are still getting towed out of there, day after day. Why won't these people learn?
There could be a mysterious force field, undetectable, affects some people more than others maybe, makes them parking-stupid.
Or it could be a case of mass amnesia, somehow connected to Hacienda's properties (because it isn't happening like this anywhere else in the Cully neighborhood), that causes people to forget that their friend or their sister or their neighbor just had to shell out another $ 300 to get their own car back yesterday, and they can't remember that for the life of them and the next thing you know they're parking-stupid again themselves and four minutes later Sergeant's or Retriever's snagged their car and its on its way to the other side of town at five bucks a mile plus more other charges piled on then you get from a week's stay in the hospital.
And still they will not learn.
So Hacienda and Retriever and Sergeant's will continue to try to teach them the hard way. I wonder if they are betting 2007 will be over or under 155? I wonder who the King of Cully Towers is over there at Retriever?
Talk about a plum assignment for a tow truck driver working on commission, you can imagine the lucky driver saying "Sweet!" aloud every time he gets a shot at the Hacienda account.
"Yeah, baby! We're goin' to Baja again!"
The poor guy assigned to the strip clubs must have had to take a second job or starve to death.
Did you notice the disabled sign lying on its side in one of the pictures? I did, too. I've never seen one lying on its side like that before. Usually, they're bolted into the ground so people can read what the sign says without turning their heads sideways. Had to get a picture of that, might not ever see one lying on its side like that again.
And I loved the "We Care About Your Safety" sign, that says "NO skateboarding, bicycle riding, roller skating, roller blading, scooter riding." Had to shoot that, too.
What's there left for the kids to do? Join a gang? Somebody sure is. That's what the graffiti is all about.
If they want to do something about the gang breeding ground over there, you'd think they'd let the kids do what kids like to do--ride their bikes, their skateboards, their skates and blades--encourage that even, but Hacienda won't even let them ride their scooters.
No scooters?
How can a word that funny, as inherently funny as scooter, be a nuisance?
Gotta keep that asphalt clear.
Tow trucks need a little extra room to maneuver in those cramped, tiny Hacienda parking lots, and there is no greater nuisance to a man in the act of taking a car without the owner's permission than a bunch of kids, particularly poor, immigrant kids.
Well, next time I'm in the neighborhood I'm going to count parking spaces.
The parking-stupidity zone may be due to a mysterious force field, or it could be mass amnesia, but it would be smart to check the availability of actual parking in the properties and in the immediate neighborhood.
155 tows in 2006
Who wants to bet on the 2007 number?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Permit Parking Only--at Villa de Clara Vista

Permit Parking only! The signs are posted everywhere. The curbs are all painted red. The parking spaces are striped AND stenciled.
So, what is it that makes people suddenly parking-stupid when they pull into one of Hacienda CDC's NE Cully neighborhood apartment complexes?
How can people be so parking-stupid that: despite the fact that 155 cars were towed out of here in 2006 alone, despite the fact that the residents and employees occupying these complexes warn every visitor about the towing danger, people simply cannot get parking right at the Villa de Clara Vista and the other Hacienda properties.
These people simply won't learn! Some of them have to get their cars jacked before they wake up to the fact that parking is serious business here!
At least, that's the way the tow companies explain it.
Hacienda CDC staff have no explanation. They say the tow companies ought to be careful.
155 vehicles towed in 2006. Let's say the average cost of those tows, including the value of the cars lost because the owners couldn't come up with the ransom, was $ 250.
$ 250 times 155 is $ 38,750, and does not include the cost of lost wages, lost jobs, missed classes, etc. due to the loss of your vehicle.
This patrol towing operation transferred nearly $ 40,000 from 155 pockets and concentrated them into the pockets of a few.
When will these people learn to park their cars right?
What lengths are Hacienda and Hacienda's towing contractors willing to go to to help these people figure out how to park their cars without being towed?
Find out soon, stay tuned.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Portland Towing Horror Show Hotspot Alert #1

Park in certain areas in NE Portland and you are virtually certain to be towed.

Park just across the street and your vehicle becomes invisible to tow truck drivers--there is no other explanation.

Here are the properties in the NE Cully/Killingsworth area to beware of:

Villa de Clara Vista Apartments (including weekend mercado events)
Clara Vista Town Homes
Villa de Suenos Apartments
Jardines de la Paz Apartments
Clinica de Buena Salud (including mobile clinics)
Point West Credit Union
Villa de Mariposas (north)
Villa de Mariposas (south)

These properties are all owned by Hacienda Community Development Corporation (CDC), the largest apartment owner in the NE Cully Neighborhood, and the Heavyweight Champ of Towing.

Hacienda CDC authorized 155 tows in 2006 alone.

They are in a class all by themselves.

Here is where it appears to be safe to park in the vicinity of Hacienda’s properties:

Aero Manor Apartments (Handy Andy’s Towing)
The Town Plaza complex of strip clubs, including:
The Sugar Shack strip club (juice bar and dancers) (minors now welcome)
The Pink Marlin (strip bar and restaurant)
Video Visions (toys—movies—models—chantilly lace—peekaboo)
The Viewpoint strip club
These businesses and the Aero Manor all together accounted for just 6 tows in all of 2006.

It is a wonderment.

Retriever Towing patrols the Town Plaza parking area and shares the Hacienda CDC properties with Sergeants. Sergeants also patrols The Viewpoint, another low-down strip club a few blocks to the East on Killingsworth.

Now that you are acquainted with all of the players, here are the 2006 numbers:

Hacienda CDC Tows (Retriever and Sergeants): 155 vehicles towed
Aero Manor Apartments (Handy Andy’s): 1
Town Plaza assorted strip clubs (Retriever): 0
Video Vision adult shop (Retriever): 3
Viewpoint strip club (Retriever and Sergeants): 2

Here’s the secret: The safest place to park in the Cully neighborhood is at the strip clubs—and you don’t need no stinking parking passes!

Hacienda contracts with Retriever and Sergeants to patrol-tow its residential properties, but has a very different arrangement for its own staff and board of directors’ parking needs—no patrol towing there at all on 42nd Avenue.

Embedded among the Hacienda CDC properties, adjacent to the Villa de Clara Vista are the Aero Manor apartments, one of the ugliest places to live in America, also patrol-towed. The towing service provider here is Handy Andy’s Towing.

Here's what got me interested into looking deeper into the Cully Towing Horror Show, a flyer circulating in cyberspace:

(the flyer formatting went away)

Towed Vehicles

These vehicles were owned or operated by Multnomah County employees, Portland Police, Clinica de Buena Salud employees, School representatives and other providers, and were towed from the Villa de Clara Vista back parking lot by Retriever Towing Company, under contract to Hacienda Community Development Corporation:

Carla Radcliffe, M.D. Medical Doctor at La Clinica de Buena Salud towed on 4-27-01

10-2004 Mary Lou Kerns, Senior OA at La Clinica de Buena Salud towed in October of 2004
Parked in the Management Parking Lot with a Parking Permit attached to the dash board

7-05 Ruben Martinez almost had his vehicle towed in the month of July 2005 in the back parking lot. He was parked in the lot facing North of Villa de Suenas. The Tow truck was hooking it up to Ruben's car ready to tow but Ruben walked out in time.

2003 Raquel Aguillon, County employee, whose office is in the Ortiz center, car was towed.

6-14-05 Francisco Sanchez of NW Family Works, one of La Clinica de Buena Salud providers. He was providing services to youth kids as his vehicle was towed at Mariposas.

8-5-05 Christine Taylor with the Juntos program had her car towed during the Mercado. She was here to provide outreach to residents.

8-5-05 Ricardo Acuna's vehicle also towed during Mercado. Here to provide outreach to residents.

8-5-05 Jill Keeney an advocate for a blind man was here to get food from Mercado and her vehicle was towed. She was crying badly as she had no money in which to get her vehicle.

8-15-06 Joanne Buck, Community Health Nurse with Multnomah County, came unannounced to
visit a Somali family as she provides many periodic home visits and her vehicle was towed from the back parking lot of the Ortiz Center.

06 Portland Police Officer Jose Gonzalez had his personal vehicle towed from the back lot as he came to the Ortiz Center on police business.

8-8-06 John Li, an MPH Intern for the State of Oregon with acute and Communicable Disease Program Public Health Prevention was here to provide a presentation at one of the women’s groups. He saw his vehicle being towed from the window and made a mad dash out the door. His colleague Teresa Rios with the Health Department invited him to come speak to this group and she felt helpless as she had invited him to park here.

2-2-07 A new volunteer dentist with Northwest Medical Teams vehicle was towed from the back parking lot. She comes to volunteer a service to low income families who are in great need of dental work. She had her purse and coat in the vehicle when it was towed.


That's the end of the flyer. I don't know how long its been going around, but there it is. In Part 2, I'll publish the entire list of tows, so you can see for yourself.

What is it that makes people parking-stupid when they drive onto Hacienda properties, but makes their vehicles invisible when they park at the strip clubs across the street?

It looks like Retreiver and Sargeants towed everybody's cars except Hacienda's staff and board of directors' cars.

I'm starting to feel a little better about things now. Over the past two years since Hacienda's tow company trespassed on my property, stole my van and broke the transmission, since Hacienda's Board Chair Bertha Ferran and her sidekick Tonya Wolfersperger stonewalled me over the damage, I thought it was personal.

But now I see that these two treat everybody that way, too.

Did I mention how Bertha Ferran told me to either call the police or wait until two days until Monday regarding Retriever's theft of my vehicle, and that about three hours of that officer's time was paid for by your tax money?

End of Part 1

Part 2 Coming Soon

Friday, February 09, 2007

City of Portland--Predatory Patrol Towing--Citizen's Rights

If you have been shaken down by a tow truck driver out patrolling, one of those snag-and-drag operations, you need to read this… because THESE ARE THE RIGHTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD!

If you have returned to your vehicle and found a tow truck driver in the process of snagging your vehicle, demanding cash from you on the spot, you need to read this… because THESE ARE THE RIGHTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD!

If your car has been towed—or almost towed—from private property in Portland without either your knowledge or permission, you need to read this, because THESE ARE THE RIGHTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD!

These really, really are your rights. I’m not making this up. I have enlarged and added emphasis to Citizen Right #8, because this is where they begin to steal your money :

These rights currently apply in Portland, Oregon only! And only if you know about them, which you don't.

The Oregon Legislature is about to change all that!

The following is published by the City of Portland:


If your vehicle has been towed from a private parking facility, you are entitled to the following:

1. Assistance in obtaining transportation to pick up your vehicle, such as a telephone call to a taxi service or information about bus service.
2. To receive information about the applicable rates when calling for release information.
3. To wait no more than 30 minutes for an attendant to arrive to release your vehicle outside of regular business hours which are 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, excluding official City holidays.
4. To receive a clear, itemized receipt for all charges.
5. To pay for the tow by cash or a valid credit or debit card bearing the VISA logo and issued in the name of the vehicle owner or owner’s agent.
6. To receive correct change for your cash payment.
7. Assistance in retrieving ownership documents from the towed vehicle.
8. Release of your vehicle at no cost, if the hookup is not complete and the truck rolling forward when you return to your vehicle.
9. Information about how and where to file a complaint with the City of Portland.

Complaints should be directed to:
Towing Coordinator
City of Portland
Bureau of Licenses
111 SW Columbia Street, Room 600
Portland OR 97201
FAX: (503)823-9068


This document is for real, but the only place you can find it is posted in the towing company’s offices, and they sure won’t give you a copy.

The important thing to understand about Citizen Right #8 is this:

These patrollers have a contract with the owner or manager of the private property that places the decision-making for the tow entirely into the hands of the driver, who is working on a commission/bonus system. He only gets paid if he hooks you.

For example, the largest apartment property owner in the Cully neighborhood in NE Portland is the Hacienda Community Development Corporation (CDC).

The patrollers provide this “service” to the property owners/managers for free.

Hacienda CDC contracts with Retriever Towing to patrol its Cully apartment lots, and Sergeant’s to patrol its two Plaza de Los Cedros triplexes.

The patrol towing business model relies completely on snagging and dragging vehicles before Citizen Right # 8 forces them to give the vehicle back for free.

That’s why they have to snag it quick and drag it quick. Citizen Right #8 means an empty pocket.

It’s either your pocket or theirs, and they have your vehicle in mid-snag or maybe even in pre-snag.

Somebody is going to drive away with an empty pocket, and you are standing there wasting this driver’s time.

He will take either your cash and your vehicle, or just your cash.

The thing is, the driver sees payday with absolute certainty if he can snag your vehicle and drag it to the lot, and he avoids having to deal with you at all.

Snag and drag is the secret to success, and success means being able to get two weeks of fishing for marlin down Baja way every now and then.

Snag and drag. Snag and drag. Speed is the name of the game.

My guess is this is how Retriever broke my transmission while patrolling a Hacienda CDC property next to my house at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. Ruined my whole weekend, I’ll tell you. But I digress….

The City of Portland says the patrol towers can’t demand payment from you if they haven’t towed you. This is the essence of Citizen Right # 8.

I’m going to repeat that for clarity: “The City of Portland says they can’t demand payment from you if they haven’t towed you.”

If you are there to remove the vehicle, and they haven’t actually towed you yet, they get nothing. They get paid to tow. Not to watch you drive away. Nobody pays them for that, they have to get the money from you.

Their job is to move the vehicle and, since you are there to move it yourself—there is no need for their “service.”

And they have no right to demand cash from you.

Speed being the answer, and with Citizen Right # 8 and the Patrol Towing Business Model at odds in the balance, the drivers often jerk the vehicle around the corner a block or two to buy themselves a little extra time to attach the safety equipment.

The cleanest, least troublesome tow for the patrol driver is the one where he’s gone before you know it.

Like I said earlier, my guess is that the Need for Speed and Citizen's Right #8 collided, and that this is how Retriever broke my transmission while patrolling a Hacienda CDC property next to my house at 5:30 on a Saturday morning nearly two years ago.

But I digress….

What You Can Do About Patrol Towing

The Oregon Senate Commerce Committee is considering legislation to regulate the Private Property Impound (PPI) towing statutes.

This legislation has wide popular support, even among the towing industry itself. Most towing companies operating in Oregon provide legitimate business services, and these companies are understandably angry about being tarred with the same brush.

Now is the time to get your predatory towing complaints heard. Write, email, show up to testify.
Change is coming to Oregon in the PPI patrol towing rackets, and many people in the Capitol itself are rooting for this legislation.

The critical bills to watch and support are:

SB 116
SB 388
SB 389
SB 390
SB 431

If you have a towing experience you want placed on the record, before the Committee votes on the bill, now is the time to act.

You can look up the bills at by bill number

Send your towing horror story to your state representative and your state senator (look up the addresses at

Also to the members of the Senate Commerce Committee, addresses also at

And to the offices of Senator Avel Gordly and Senator Ryan Deckert, who are both working on the legislation, at

And to the Consumer Fraud section of the Department of Justice

Don’t forget the newspapers and local television. They are all interested in these stories.

Did I remember to tell you? That my guess is that the Need for Speed and Citizen's Right #8 collided, and that this is how Retriever broke my transmission while patrolling a Hacienda CDC property next to my house at 5:30 on a Saturday morning nearly two years ago?

Well, in case I didn’t, my guess is that the Need for Speed and Citizen's Right #8 collided, and that this is how Retriever broke my transmission while patrolling a Hacienda CDC property next to my house at 5:30 on a Saturday morning nearly two years ago.

Did I remember to mention that Retriever’s tow drivers trespassed on my property on three separate occasions and stole the cars right out of my driveway? That they did so while patrolling Hacienda CDC's apartment lots?

Retriever claimed that Hacienda CDC’s off-site manager ordered the tows.

Hacienda CDC’s off-site manager claimed that they told Retriever expressly not to tow from my property.

Hacienda claims that they don’t know anything about towing. Hoo boy, I just got a look at the numbers, at the numbers of Retriever and Sergeant's tows off of Hacienda CDC properties per the patrol towing contract Hacienda CDC is inflicting on the NE Cully neighborhood.
The patrollers are feasting over there in that low-income neighborhood, snagging and dragging. Thinking about how those marlin are biting down there off Baja.
Lots of immigrants over there in Cully, too. Snag and drag. Speed is the key.
Even better when the vehicle owner has never heard of Citizen Right # 8 and doesn't speak English.

Wait'll the reporters get ahold of those numbers....

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Dad's career-ending injury

That’s my Dad, taking off his gun belt, leaning against his busted-up patrol car, standing on a leg with a shattered kneecap. Underneath his shirt, his chest and upper arms were a massive, deep bruise, the steering wheel imprinted square in the middle of his chest. The seat belt saved his life.

The scene is five miles outside of Fairfield, California, where Dad was a Solano County Deputy Sheriff, in the 1960’s.

On his way into town at the end of his shift, an oncoming motorist had suddenly crossed into Dad’s lane sideways and he went from 65 to 0 in about 100 feet.

Smack into a giant Pontiac Bonneville station wagon, he managed to turn the patrol car sideways a little to spread out the impact.

At the moment that the photo was taken, he had been standing on that kneecap for thirty minutes. He had called it in, climbed out of the car, blood streaming down his face and out of his scalp, and walked over to the other car and made sure that the driver and her children were ok.

Then he stood out on the two-lane highway and directed traffic until help came, standing on the leg.

Although the other driver and her children were uninjured, Dad ordered them into the first ambulance that arrived and waited for the next.

By the time the second ambulance arrived, units from Solano County, the California Highway Patrol, and the cities of Fairfield and Suisun were out there.

John Cruz had a lot of friends, and they came out. Four jurisdictions on the scene.

The loss of the kneecap meant the end of a 14-year career as a patrol officer, covering hundreds of square miles of Solano County, and serving as a court interpreter in both Spanish and French.

Dad loved his job. He was a fine peace officer, personifying the concept of “community policing” long before the term was invented. He was a problem solver and a communicator. A multi-lingual communicator.

He was my hero and my brother Dana’s hero.

There was never a time in our lives that Dad wasn’t there for us.

Except for when he was on duty, he took Dana and I with him everywhere. We met just about everybody in town and out on the ranches and farms in the county. Growing up, we met them all.

Dad not only spoke with everybody, he spoke with many in their own languages.

The steering wheel put this massive bruise on his chest and arms. That bruise took a long, long time to heal.

What we couldn’t see was how damaged his heart was, and several years later he began suffering heart attacks. He passed away in 1975, at an otherwise very youthful 52 years of age.

No day passes in which Dana and I do not remember him, and fondly, proud to have had him in our lives.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Oregon State Senator Avel Gordly Speaks Out on the Iraq War

Several Resolutions regarding the War in Iraq are circulating around the Oregon State Capitol, but at a pace virtually certain to guarantee that they will come up for floor debate after--I say again--AFTER!!!--the United States Congress takes up the issue and votes, rendering the Resolutions both late and moot.

This is the equivalent, on this Super Bowl Sunday, of waving pom poms after the game is done, the teams have left the field and the popcorn sweepers are at work.

Where the analogy is false is in comparing the catastrophic tragedy of Iraq to the phony, bloated importance of what is nothing more than the last professional football game of the season.

But there is no question of where the attention of the nation is focused.

Kickoff time is hours away.

In Iraq, the US military has just acknowledged that insurgents have learned how to shoot US helicopters down, and released the information that they did so four times in January.

The nation shakes its pom poms today.

Senator Avel Gordly took the direct route on Friday, posting the following Open Letter on her legislative website at

Open Letter on the War in Iraq
February 2, 2007

Dear Mr. President, the United States Congress, the Oregon Delegation:

This morning, the funeral procession for Private First Class Ryan Hill, only 20 years old, began at the front steps of the Oregon State Capitol.

Private First Class Hill was a member of the United States Army and he resided in Keizer, Oregon. He died Saturday, January 20 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Once again, flags will are flown at half staff. Once again, our Governor will stand with a military family at a gravesite.

Once again, Governor Kulongoski will pray that this funeral service will be the last, as he has done more than seventy times since the beginning of the Iraq catastrophe.

Once again, a bereaved family sheds tears that will have no end.

Private First Class Hill was at the front, on the leading edge of the “surge” into Baghdad that you, Mr. President, have ordered our troops to perform.

A few days ago, I met Steve and Karen Weiss, whose son is currently one of the youngest Marines west of the Mississippi. The Weiss’s are very proud of their son, but they worry because he and his unit are part of your “surge” into Baghdad, and in order to make that surge happen, the training these Marines should be receiving before deployment has been cut short.

Here in my office, as Mrs. Weiss wept, we held hands and prayed together for her son’s safety.

If we value the lives of these young men and women, then we owe it to them to see that they receive the equipment and the training they need before we put them in harm’s way, but that is not being done. I say again, before we put them in harm’s way.

If we value them, we need to give them more than words, more than yellow decals…and more than moments of silence.

You, Mr. President, hold the office of Commander in Chief, and you have the power to order men and women to die, but you are—sadly and tragically--using that power poorly and for the wrong reasons.

For more than three years, you have characterized our role in the Iraq War as that the United States is a part of “Coalition Forces.”

You have stated many times that this is a war with Coalition Forces on one side and insurgents and terrorists on the other.

Yet, it is not Coalition Forces that are being ordered into harm’s way, Mr. President, it is the troops under your control—like our fine Oregon National Guard soldiers—and them alone that are being sent to fight and die in Iraq.

Nowhere in your new strategy is there a role for “Coalition Forces.”

The fact is that these “Coalition Forces” will not enter the battle as long as our troops are there.

Other nations with security interests equal to ours in the Middle East will not enter the battle against the insurgents and terrorists while it is our men and women doing the fighting and dying.

And less than one half of one percent of the nation is actually fighting the war.

The rest of us are risking nothing and sacrificing nothing. We are not even paying for the war. That burden has been levied on our children and grandchildren.

We are a nation in crisis, Mr. President, yet there is no sense of shared sacrifice among us.

On the same day that Private First Class Hill was laid to rest, Exxon Mobile announced that it had—for the second year in a row—the most profitable year in American history, and that it did so despite a decline in earnings in the last quarter of 2006.

Your war strategy has depended upon using and re-using the same military personnel and the same military families over and over again, and the nation says “Enough.”

This is still a democracy, Mr. President, and the voters have spoken. The nation has spoken.

Mr. President, it was the people—functioning as a true democracy—who brought the Viet Nam War to an end.

It was the people who—tired of empty promises and false rhetoric and grandiose dreams of spreading American-style democracy to the far corners of the globe—forced the Administration to alter its course and bring our troops home.

But not before 60,000 American soldiers lay dead in their graves.

The Nation has spoken, Mr. President, and this time we will not wait. We are speaking to you directly, as directly as is possible in this democracy.

We are speaking with our votes. We are speaking with our voices. We are speaking through our elected representatives. Some few of us are speaking through shed blood, sacrifice and loss.

We speak for them.

The nation calls on you to leave behind the empty promises, the false rhetoric and the grandiose promises of this war, this war that you began on your own authority.

We call on you to bring our brothers and sisters home.

Avel Louise Gordly
Senate District 23
Multnomah County

Friday, February 02, 2007

My Predatory Towing Horror Story--pt 1

I have read many dozens of towing horror stories over the past couple of weeks and I’ve also heard several Oregon citizens testify at the State Capitol. Truly horrifying horror stories, as Loaded Orygun put it.

But I bet I can stack my story up with the best of them:

First two predatory tows from my property: March 19, 2005:

On Saturday morning, March 19, 2005, I woke to find that both my Dodge Caravan and a 1977 Cadillac being stored on my property were missing.

Signs that had been posted in a neighboring apartment complex just two days before read “Permit Parking Only” and “Retriever Towing.”

There are two triplexes owned by Hacienda Community Development Corporation (CDC) sited behind my house on a flag lot, with a small parking lot for 7 cars. I have an easement to drive through that lot to get to my own property.

No one from Hacienda CDC, or any of its agents, had warned me—or any of the other neighbors—about a towing policy. And I don’t need a permit to park in my driveway.

I contacted Retriever Towing. They confirmed that they had taken both cars. The person at Retriever stated that Hacienda’s apartment manager had called them to complain and they had towed the cars.

This was a flat-out lie, as there was no possibility that Hacienda CDC’s off-site managers would have come over at 5:30 in the morning to complain about where I parked my car.

The Retriever Towing person gave me two options: Take a cab to get to their lot and pay Retriever nearly $ 400 to get the cars back, or wait until Monday if I wanted to talk to a manager.

She stated that release of the Cadillac would cost me $ 177.00 and the Dodge would cost another $ 222.00. She offered no explanation for the difference in the figures.

She had no interest in the fact that Retriever had in fact stolen the cars from my property.

She said that the Cadillac was at their NE 143rd and Sandy impound lot, but she didn’t know where the Dodge was.

I attempted to contact Hacienda CDC’s off-site managers, but they neither answered their phone nor responded to the emergency page number.

I actually didn’t hear back from them until the following Monday.

So I called the Portland Police.

An officer came out, looked at my plat, which confirmed that the property that the two cars had been towed from did indeed belong to me.

He drove to Retriever’s lot and tried to negotiate the release of the cars, but no dice. They were not going to let the cars go without getting paid in full.

Please note that it is your tax money that paid for about three hours of this officer’s time, a problem created entirely by Retriever Towing and by the apartment owners and managers.

I tracked down Bertha Ferran, the Board Chair of Hacienda CDC, on the phone and explained the situation to her. She was uninterested. She told me to either wait until Monday or call the police.

The woman is a real peach. Right now, she’s wearing out her welcome at the PDC.

It took until the middle of the afternoon to get the cars back. They had towed the Dodge clear across town to NW 15th and Quimby. It was never explained why they had taken my car so far away.

I drove the van home, making one stop on the way, and noticed that it was handling oddly. I parked it in the same spot it had been towed from, right next to the Cadillac.

When I compared the two Retriever Towing invoices, I noticed that they were completely different forms, with different line items and different charges.

The invoice for the Dodge read:

$ 110.00 Tow
16.00 Miles (4 @ $4.00)
35.00 Dolly
33.00 Storage Fee @ $ 33.00 per day
3.00 Fuel
10.00 Photo Fee
15.00 Dispatch Fee
$ 222.00 Total charges

The invoice for the Cadillac read:

$ 160.00 Towing Fee
12.00 City Data Services Fee
5.00 City Service Fee
0.00 Storage Fee @ $ 20.00 per day
$ 177.00 Total charges

No explanation was provided for the differences in charges between two vehicles towed from the same location at the same time by the same company, nor for fees that appear on one invoice but not on the other, or why even the daily storage fees were different.

I will tell the story of the invoices later, in Part Two. If you’ve ever been towed, you’ll be madder than hell.

My Dodge Caravan was probably the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever owned. I drove the office carpool in my van through the 2003 legislative session and was doing the same in 2005, until this towing incident occurred. With the Dodge transmission acting funny, we switched to Denyse Peterson’s car for the daily commute to Salem.

Later in the week, I took the van to AAMCO and paid $ 50 for a transmission check, which revealed that the transmission would have to be replaced and that the cost would be $ 1,200 to $ 2,000.

The transmission worked just fine before it was towed out of my driveway.

All of the parties to the patrol towing contract, Retriever, Hacienda, and Hacienda’s apartment management refused to take responsibility for either the towing or the damage, and they continue to do so to this day.

Retriever blamed the managers. The managers blamed Retriever. Hacienda’s staff said they didn’t know anything about the patrol contract, which was patently absurd.

Retriever, after all, was contracted to patrol all of Hacienda’s apartment properties, including the lots where their offices were located and where their Board of Directors met.

Third Predatory Tow from my property: March 21, 2005. As I was arriving for work in Salem two days later, I learned that Retriever Towing had trespassed on my property again, right after I left my house, and towed the Cadillac away once more.

The Cadillac invoice for March 19 stated:

$ 160.00 Towing Fee
12.00 City Data Services Fee
5.00 City Service Fee
0.00 Storage Fee @ $ 20.00 per day
$ 177.00 Total charges

The Cadillac didn’t belong to me, and with my transmission broken I had to rent a car.

Fourth Predatory Tow:

Believe it! Retriever Towing took my rental, too. And that’s not the end of it, either.

They went after the tenants of the triplexes like weasels on mice. You would never think that you could fit so many tow truck into a lot that small at the same time, or why you would need to….

Read about it and more in: My Predatory Towing Horror Story—pt 2, coming to Blogoliticalsean soon.