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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Oregonian offers public opportunity to toughen laws on towing

Portland, Oregon—

“What if tow operators (and drivers) were licensed to improve consumer protection? Why not ban commissions as a form of compensation for tow truck drivers?....”

In today’s newspaper (December 30, 2008), The Oregonian poses these questions, offered by reader Kevin Johnson of NE Portland.

Read and comment here:

My comment on Mr. Johnson’s suggestions were:

The predatory patrol towing practices of certain Oregon towers (notoriously, Sergeant's and Retriever Towing) were dealt with in broad strokes by the 2007 legislature.

Senate Bills 116 and 431 were passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, indicating the strong public sentiment for towing reforms.

These bills empower the Attorney General and local governments to regulate involuntary towing, INCLUDING THE PRICE THEREOF, but little action has been taken to enforce the new laws.

The business model these predators employ is the basis for most of the towing abuses, but it is important to note that the property owners are complicit, by authorizing towers to delegate decision-making to drivers working on commission.

As State Senator Avel Gordly's Chief of Staff, I led the workgroup that drafted her Senate Bill 431.

It is important to note that 100% of the complaints that Senator Gordly's office received were related to patrol towing, and not to other towing activities, and that all of these incidents drew in police resources, resulting in public expense.

Towed or not, all Oregon citizens have a stake in this issue. Your taxes pay for this extra burden on police time and resources.

Mr. Johnson's suggestions are right on point. There is still work for the 2009 legislature to do regarding towing.

Senator Gordly strongly supports legislation that would mirror California's ban on predatory patrol towing, requiring the property owner to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice.

That action would end the majority of towing abuses in a stroke.

Contact your legislator(s) and request that action be taken. You would be surprised at how many will be happy you called.

--Sean Cruz

Contact your legislators here, both House and Senate:

File towing complaints with the Attorney General’s Office here:


On predators towing vehicles displaying disability placards:

The commission-based compensation system towing predators use is the root of the evil, the sole motivating force behind Retriever and Sergeants drivers towing vehicles belonging to persons with disabilities, often stranding people in wheelchairs.

They do this far, far too frequently…every chance they get, actually….

Most of these tows would have never taken place without property owners agreeing to defer on-the-spot decision-making to drivers working on commission.

Patrol towing companies in Oregon provide their “services” to the property owners for free in exchange for the right to tow at their drivers’ discretion.

Both property owners and patrol towers take it for granted that towing disagreements would involve police and other public resources at taxpayer expense.

The 2009 Oregon legislature needs to address the particular issue of vehicles displaying disability placards, providing an alternative to towing the vehicle away, and a policy of returning towed vehicles to their owners.

Adopting California’s standard, requiring property owners to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice, would go far in eliminating these issues.


Sean Cruz writes:

Blogolitical Sean, political commentary here:

Aaron’s Law, regarding child abduction prevention and resolution here:

Jim Pepper House, dedicated to the legacy of the late, great Jim Pepper here:

Portland's #1 Predatory Towing Horror Story, regarding predatory patrol towing practices here:

Chicano Hero Cesar Chavez, dedicated to the Mexican-American giant.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"The Legend of Jim Pepper" coming to a Multnomah County Library near you!

Spoken-word artist Lynn Darroch will perform his new Jazz Stories repertoire, including The Legend of Jim Pepper, at several Portland library locations in early 2009.

Titled Lynn Darroch's Jazz Stories '09 – Local Heroes and Other American Originals”, these performances will feature Randy Porter on piano and David Evans on tenor sax.

The one-hour shows are free, all-ages and open to the public.

Mr. Darroch’s new Jazz Stories include:

The Legend of Jim Pepper:
the life of Betty Carter and the death of Chet Baker;
how Glen Moore met William Faulkner's widow and Warren Bracken found peace in Portland;
lessons from George Page and Clare Fischer about standing up and losing; and,
One Woman Confronts the Crows of Autumn.

January 11, 2009 — 2:00 p.m.
Woodstock Library (6008 S.E. 49th Ave.)

January 18, 2009 — 2:00 p.m.
Sellwood-Moreland Library (7860 S.E. 13th Ave.)

January 25, 2009 — 2:00 p.m.
St. Johns Library (7510 N. Charleston Ave.)

February 11, 2009 — 6:30 p.m.
Northwest Library (2300 N.W. Thurman St.)

Link to the website: Lynn Darroch, “Where the stories are always musical:”

Sean Cruz writes Jim Pepper House, here:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

About Columbia Ultimate Vancouver Mormon Kory Wright, kidnapping bastard!

Portland, Oregon--The last thing I ever expected to see displayed on my monitor was probably a photograph of Kory Wright, one of the core group of kidnappers who caused my four children to disappear from their homes in Aloha and Hillsboro in Washington County in February, 1996.

My children had a home in Hillsboro with their mother and her third husband (who were divorcing), and a home a bike ride away in Aloha, with me and my mother, Olive Cruz.

I was my mother’s sole caregiver at the time. She was frail, elderly and had been housebound for years. We had a three-generation household. Our home was the most stable part of my children’s lives; especially with their mother in mid-divorce and on her way to yet another failed marriage (#4).

But that was another life, other lives, in a faraway place and time.

Back to the present….

On a hunch, expand the search from Utah, Google….

And there it was….the face of the Devil himself, aka Beelzebub, Old Stinky, Diabolus…Kory Wright.

A resident of Utah at the time my children disappeared, this kidnapping bastard Kory Wright had moved back to the original scene of the crime.

I never thought he would ever want to leave Utah, much less move to the Kidnap Zone, where the crime began.

Some people think, apparently, that once the statute of limitations runs and no criminal prosecution is possible, the crime is forgotten.

But kidnappings stretch out into infinity, take my word for it….

Kory Wright arranged for the housing in Utah used to conceal my children, executing a plan that had been in the making for some months, acting in his capacity as a Mormon church official, and later committed perjury in the misdirection campaign the abduction team ran to shield themselves from criminal prosecution.

One crime begets another…and another…and another….

This plan also required the assistance of two of Kory Wright’s associates, whose part in the crime was to help get the kids out of school and on the road: David Holiday and Evelyn Taylor, both of Washington County, both officials of the Mormon Church, both acting in their official capacities to knowingly violate valid joint custody orders.

Three weeks after they disappeared, I still had no information about my children.

But Kory Wright, Evelyn Taylor, David Holliday and their associates knew exactly where they were.

Months went by. My children’s former schools in the Hillsboro School District received no requests for records from anywhere….

They were moving my children from place to place. This is the chaotic life that kidnapped children live.

Later, I received a copy of Kory Wright’s sworn affidavit, dated March 2, 1996, which states in part:

“I, Kory Wright declare under penalty of perjury of the laws of the State of Utah that the following statements are true and correct….

“In the short period they have lived here the children have increased their circle of friends, been involved in numerous activities and made a home for themselves. The schools they children attend are among the best in the state of Utah…. Clearly, the move here has been a tremendous benefit to both Gina and her children.

“If Shaun (sic) is truly seeking that which is best for his children, then let them live where they are the happiest. The economic boom in Utah would afford Shaun (sic) ample opportunity to provide for him as well as his support obligations. Since he currently has no employment restrictions keeping him in the Northwest, a relocation would not be difficult for him.”

That last paragraph has always had me wondering. I was fired from my job at Vic Alfonso Cadillac two weeks after my children disappeared, a week before Kory Wright wrote this statement.

….And at that moment, 800 miles away, in the mountains east of Ogden, Kory Wright contemplates my employment opportunities in Utah, extends an invitation via the Clark County Courthouse.

My employer was very explicit about the reason for terminating me: I didn’t have my mind on my job.

No doubt about that point; no argument at all. My mind was on nothing but my missing children and how to care for my mother. My job was definitely not in the top two.

Meanwhile, all of my children’s mail was secretly being forwarded to Evelyn Taylor in Washington County, mere blocks away from the abduction site, instead of wherever they were holding my children.

They tried to think of everything. Months of planning, secret meetings, budgeting….

Here’s what Oregon statute has to say about it, in the language of criminal law:

163.245 Custodial interference in the second degree. (1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the second degree if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person takes, entices or keeps another person from the other person’s lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order with intent to hold the other person permanently or for a protracted period.
(2) Expenses incurred by a lawful custodial parent or a parent enforcing a valid joint custody order in locating and regaining physical custody of the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of this section are “economic damages” for purposes of restitution under ORS 137.103 to 137.109.
(3) Custodial interference in the second degree is a Class C felony.

163.257 Custodial interference in the first degree. (1) A person commits the crime of custodial interference in the first degree if the person violates ORS 163.245 and:
(a) Causes the person taken, enticed or kept from the lawful custodian or in violation of a valid joint custody order to be removed from the state; or
(b) Exposes that person to a substantial risk of illness or physical injury.
(2) Expenses incurred by a lawful custodial parent or a parent enforcing a valid joint custody order in locating and regaining physical custody of the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of this section are “economic damages” for purposes of restitution under ORS 137.103 to 137.109.
(3) Custodial interference in the first degree is a Class B felony.

It boils down to this:

A. Take, entice or keep a child in violation of a valid joint custody order: Class “C” felony.
B. Take the child out of the state of Oregon OR expose that child to a substantial risk of illness of physical injury: Class “B” felony.

Guilty on both counts, guilty as Sin itself, each of them.

To this day, I have no information as to how long Kory Wright and his associates kept my children out of school.

I do know that my children never recovered academically from the abduction, and I learned in 2007 that both of my sons had dropped out of high school several years after arriving in Utah, both with academic grade point averages that had fallen to 0.0.

Kory Wright identifies himself in the affidavit as functioning in the capacity of a counselor or mediator, using both words to suggest to the Court some form of professional capacity or relationship.

But according to the Columbia Ultimate website, the company’s mainstay is “collecting money.”

More on this later.

Count on it.


Sean Cruz writes Blogolitical Sean:

And Aaron’s Law:

Dedicated to ending child abduction and finding justice for the abduction of the Cruz children.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oregon's Aaron's Law appears on; CNN feeder site

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—Each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 100,000 American children experience the trauma of abduction by a parent, a family member or other persons known to the victim.

Some children are abducted back and forth repeatedly, others disappear forever.

Existing state and federal laws have proven to be inadequate to deal with the problem, as the staggering numbers attest.

In all cases, the harm to the child victim is so severe that the best strategy is to prevent the abduction from taking place in the first place.

Aaron’s Law, passed by the Oregon legislature in 2005, is designed to achieve two goals: (1) discourage child abduction by providing financial sanctions against the perpetrators and requiring them to attend counseling sessions to better understand the harm they are inflicting; and, (2) provide relief to the victims with court-appointed mental health and legal professionals assigned to protect the child.

Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to assess the costs of the professional services to the perpetrators, which ought to serve as an additional deterrance.

Had Aaron’s Law been in effect in 1996, the Cruz children would have never been abducted, and Aaron Cruz would still be alive.

Senate Bill 1041 creates a civil cause of action for the crime of child abduction, applying if the child is removed from the state of Oregon.

Oregon is the first state in the union to take this approach, which is independent of either criminal or traditional family court processes.

See the iReport posting here:

The full text of Aaron’s Law is here:

and here:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What is a Chicano, and what does this have to do with Cesar Chavez?

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—Sometimes, Portland strikes me as The Land that Time Forgot: isolated geographically from most of the nation, historically hostile to racial and ethnic minorities, and uniquely ignorant of the complexities that define and separate the panoply of Hispanic and Latino cultures and communities.

Nothing has brought this last point to the fore so much as the efforts by the Committee-Once-Bent-on-Renaming-Interstate-Avenue to rename a street somewhere, anywhere in Portland after the great Mexican-American Chicano hero Cesar Chavez, without actually identifying him as such.

The vast majority of Oregonians, it appears, cannot tell one from another, and for the most part can’t imagine that it makes a difference: Latino, Hispanic, Mexican-American, Chicano….

The terms are most definitely NOT interchangeable

Before you read more about what I have to say, at the bottom of this post, please read through these sources; it will do you no harm:



“Chicanos (USA) Originally the descendants of Mexicans living in the area of the USA occupied in the Mexican–American War of 1846–8. In the 1950s the name was gradually adopted by Mexican Americans, who as the country's second largest minority group began to develop a distinctive consciousness.

“Chicano cultural organizations were formed, while successful trade union activity led by Cesar Chavez led to some improvements in pay and working conditions in the 1960s and 1970s. Meanwhile, the 1970s brought some educational advances with the establishment of bilingual and bicultural courses….”

© A Dictionary of Contemporary World History 2004, originally published by Oxford University Press 2004.

2. From The Chicano Chronicles:

“There are other theories and explanations (for the origin of “Chicano”), but it doesn't really matter because the meaning of the term drastically changed in the 1960's when it was picked up by Mexican-American activists.

“Along with the farm workers' strikes led by Cesar Chavez, politicians and Mexican-American universities started a movement to better the social position of Mexican-Americans in the United States. Not only that, but to also reclaim our past and rediscover who we truly are and where we came from.

“The 'Chicano Movement' came about, and was very successful in giving a voice to people traditionally ignored.

“Since then, the label 'Chicano' means 'Mexican-American', but it has a political charge to it: Pro-Raza. . “'Chicano' is synonymous with 'Brown Pride'

3. The Free Dictionary:

“Usage Note: Chicano is used only of Mexican Americans, not of Mexicans living in Mexico. It was originally an informal term in English (as in Spanish), and the spelling of the first recorded instance in an American publication followed the Spanish custom of lowercasing nouns of national or ethnic origin. However, the literary and political movements of the 1960s and 1970s among Mexican Americans established Chicano as a term of ethnic pride, and it is properly written today with a capital.

“While Chicano is a term of pride for many Mexican Americans, it remains a word with strong political associations. Since these politics are not necessarily espoused by all Mexican Americans, and since usage and acceptance of this word can vary from one region to another, an outsider who is unfamiliar with his or her audience may do well to use Mexican American instead.”

4. Dr. Ricardo Sanchez on The meaning of “Chicano”:

“Hispanic means someone who is Spanish or of Peninsular culture, but Chicanos are mestizos whose bloodlines are much more índio than español….

Rubén Salazar, a broadcast and print reporter in California, wrote about the human and social condition(s) of Chicanos.

“He wrote of a people that had become veritable ‘strangers in their own land,’ yet he stressed that Chicano meant looking at oneself through one's ‘own’ eyes and not through Anglo bifocals.

“Those words were a godsend to many of us, for those words of simplicity and rationality were spiritually and intellectually liberating.

“Salazar was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department, and the speculation persists that he was assassinated for his stands on behalf of a voiceless people….”

5. Wikipedia on Ruben Salazar:

Rubén Salazar (March 3, 1928 - August 29, 1970) was a Mexican-American news reporter killed by the sheriffs during the National Chicano Moratorium March against the Vietnam War on August 29, 1970 in East Los Angeles, California. During the 1970s, his killing was often cited as a symbol of unjust treatment of Latinos by law enforcement.

“Salazar was a reporter and columnist for the Los Angeles Times between 1959 - 1970[1]. He was also news director for the Spanish language television station KMEX in Los Angeles.

“On August 29, 1970 he was covering the National Chicano Moratorium March, organized to protest the disproportionate number of Chicanos killed in the Vietnam War.

“The peaceful march ended with a rally that was broken up by the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department using tear gas. This resulted in rioting, during which Salazar was shot in the head at short range with a tear gas projectile while seated in The Silver Dollar Cafe. A coroner's inquest ruled the shooting a homicide, but the police officer involved, Tom Wilson, was never prosecuted. At the time many believed the homicide was a premeditated assassination of a very vocal member of the Los Angeles Chicano community.

“The story of Salazar's killing gained nationwide notoriety with the release of Strange Rumblings in Aztlan, an article written for Rolling Stone magazine by noted gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson and released on April 29, 1971 in Rolling Stone #81.

Ruben Salazar Honors

“In 1971 he was posthumously awarded a special Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and after the controversy of his death had subsided, Laguna Park - the site of the 1970 rally and subsequent police action - was renamed Salazar Park in his honour.

“His death was commemorated in a corrido by Lalo Guerrero entitled "El 29 de Agosto".

“At Sonoma State University, the former library, now an administration and classroom building, is named for Ruben Salazar, in memory of his work in Sonoma County as a reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. As well, a classroom building at California State University, Los Angeles is named for him. On October 12, 2006, the hall was rededicated with the unveiling of his portrait by John Martin.

“On October 5, 2007, the United States Postal Service announced that it would honor five journalists of the 20th century times with first-class rate postage stamps, to be issued on Tuesday, April 22, 2008: Martha Gellhorn, John Hersey, George Polk, Ruben Salazar, and Eric Sevareid.”

6. Wikipedia on Chicano:

Definition: Chicano (feminine Chicana) is a word for a Mexican American (in the sense of U.S.-born Americans of Mexican ancestry, as opposed to Mexican natives living in the United States). The terms Chicano and Chicana (also spelled Xicano) were originally used by and regarding U.S. citizens of Mexican descent.

Political identity:

According to the Handbook of Texas:

Inspired by the courage of the farmworkers, by the California strikes led by César Chávez, and by the Anglo-American youth revolt of the period, many Mexican-American university students came to participate in a crusade for social betterment that was known as the Chicano movement.

They used Chicano to denote their rediscovered heritage, their youthful assertiveness, and their militant agenda. Though these students and their supporters used Chicano to refer to the entire Mexican-American population, they understood it to have a more direct application to the politically active parts of the Tejano community.

At certain points in the 1970s, Chicano was the preferred, politically correct term to use in reference to Mexican-Americans, particularly in the scholarly literature. However, as the term became politicized, its use fell out of favor as a means of referring to the entire population. Since then, Chicano has tended to refer to politicized Mexican-Americans…. Chicano is considered to be a positive term of honor by many.

Political aspects:

Many currents came together to produce the revived Chicano political movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Early struggles were against school segregation, but the Mexican American cause, or La Causa as it was called, soon came under the banner of the United Farm Workers and César Chávez.

7. BlogoliticalSean:

“Chicanos are the warrior class. Not everyone likes to hear that.” –Sean Cruz

About Sean: Sean Cruz was born Mexican-American in California. He became a Chicano in 1970 while studying political science at Sonoma State University, protesting the Viet Nam war, and supporting Cesar Chavez’ United Farm Workers, the same year Ruben Salazar was killed. Sonoma State’s former library building was renamed in honor of Ruben Salazar.

Sean Cruz writes Blogolitical Sean:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sergeant's towing scam targeted wheelchair users, vehicles with legal disability placards

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon--With all of the well-deserved attention Retriever Towing and its owner, Gary Coe, is getting these days, it is probably easy to overlook Oregon’s other patrol towing predators, and the fact that it is the business model itself that creates the problems experienced by so many Oregonians.

It is worth noting that patrol towing has been banned in many other states. In California, for example, with some common-sense exceptions, the property owner must be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice. Not complicated at all.

This basic change in Oregon towing policy would eliminate the vast majority of towing-related issues in the state at a stroke, and free up a mountain of police time and resources.

It is reasonably safe to assert that every predatory towing incident in Oregon results in an expenditure of taxpayer funds, that the police get pulled into it....

Retriever has towed my vehicle out of my own driveway three times, breaking the transmission in the process. Sergeant’s later added a fourth time, towing my van, broken transmission and all, right out of my own driveway. You can bet I called the police!

These tows occurred as a result of the towers’ contracts with Hacienda CDC, owner of the small parking lot adjacent to my home.

Note that it is not the towers that pay for these police services, nor is it the owners of the properties they patrol. These costs are born by you, Oregon taxpayer, and it is a fundamental part of the predatory patrol towers’ business model.

You have to ask yourself if you want your hard-earned tax money spent this way.

Oregon’s chief predatory patrollers, Retriever and Sergeant’s, hire and employ a platoon of thugs, arm them with tow trucks specially designed to grab and go in seconds, and pay them on a commission basis to skulk about in the dark.

It sounds like the scenario for a video game to me: Tow-Jacker!...Devil with a Hook!...Your car or your life!....

You can bet that Retriever's and Sergeant's commission schedules are designed inducements for ratcheting up the aggression quotient. Their attitude towards the public is that they are "stealing parking" and should be treated as any other kinds of thieves. Does this surprise you...?

These drivers function as the patrollers' sales agents as much as anything else they do; the towers receive no income from the property owners; the towing invoices are more like orders, with the salesmen empowered to write their own....

On the other side of the deal, Sergeant’s and Retriever’s contracts with property owners allow them to delegate on-the-spot towing authority to the aforementioned commission-paid thugs; thugs whose job is to find people "stealing" parking.

The conflict of interest is built into the business model, and that also needs to change.

Senator Gordly’s Senate Bill 431 and the Attorney General’s Senate Bill 116, both passed in 2007 on unanimous votes, give the state and local governments broad authority to regulate involuntary towing, but those new laws have yet to be implemented to any appreciable degree.

For more than a year, Sergeant’s Towing ran an illegal towing scam on public property in front of the former McCall’s Restaurant at Waterfront Park.

The notorious predatory patrol towing company heisted vehicles from the City-owned parking lot with no contract or authority from the City of Portland to do so.

The City of Portland determined in September that a Portland man, whose wheelchair-enabled van was towed from the McCalls lot by a Sergeant’s towing varlet, will at long last get his money back and just his money back.

Nothing for the inconvenience, the frustration, the time lost, the insulting attitude of Sergeant’s Towing, nothing for the real out-of-pocket expense that this company cost an innocent person…just the money that they had no legal right to at any point in the story….

Sergeant’s driver took the vehicle knowing he was leaving someone in a wheelchair without his vehicle! This is the kind of commission-driven thinking that characterizes the businesses burden on the public.

What is so singularly egregious about this particular towing scam is that it targeted people in wheelchairs!

The McCall’s lot contains several spaces reserved for vehicles marked with disabled placards, and a small forest of Sergeant’s signs that appear to be posted deliberately to confuse the public.

Some of the Sergeant’s signs posted throughout the lot state that a disability placard AND a McCall’s Restaurant permit must both be visible on the vehicle.

But McCall’s Restaurant had been closed for more than a year! There WERE no permits and there ARE no McCall’s Restaurant permits!

This predatory patrol towing victim parked in the lot on a Sunday afternoon intending to take a brisk wheel around the park. He parked his van in a space where the sign states that both the disability placard AND a McCall’s permit must be displayed.

But McCall’s was an empty building! It was a Sunday! He’s been in a wheelchair for more than 15 years! The placard is there! The van has a wheelchair lift! Towed anyway! And the attitude from Sergeant’s that followed!

The reason that none of these facts were a deterrent to the tow driver was because he was hooking up precisely the sort of “customer” the scam is designed to snare!

Sergeant’s commission-paid thugs patrolled McCall’s 24-7, placard or not, pure gravy to them.

Sergeant’s had no contract or authority to post its signs or tow vehicles from that parking lot.

Sergeant’s sent the towing victim a nasty letter in response to his complaint, stating that he should have called them on that Sunday afternoon to obtain a McCall’s permit, if he didn’t want to get his van towed….

There was no signage on the property that described how to get a McCall’s permit which, again, did not exist…..

This is a measure of the arrogance one finds rampant among patrol towers.

Anyone whose vehicle was towed from McCall’s in the past year or so should contact the City about getting your money back.

One wonders where else they are pulling these scams….

Many thanks to Tim Barrett for bulldogging this case to a successful conclusion.

Oregonians (and visitors to the state) owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Barrett for providing Senator Gordly’s office with his research on patrol towing in other states prior to the 2007 Legislative Session.

That information, which included the 9th U.S. Circuit Court’s ruling upholding California’s ban on patrol towing, gave us the legal foundation for Senate Bill 431 and Senate Bill 116. Both bills passed on unanimous votes.

The Circuit’s Court’s language is now embodied in Oregon Statute as Section 1 of Senate Bill 116 (2007).

As you can see, there remains some legislative work yet to be done regarding predatory patrol towing.

That work obviously needs to address the issue of towing vehicles that display disability placards, on both state and local levels.

It is completely unreasonable to require persons with disabilities to have to travel to the predators’ lots to recover their vehicles.

Oregon’s public policy needs to be clarified, set and enforced regarding vehicles bearing disability placards. This is a local issue only to the extent that the state fails to act.

This policy must at minimum accomplish two things: 1. Provide an alternative to towing the vehicle away in the first place (which should include a quick phone call to the property owner); and, 2. In the event of actual towing, facilitate the speedy, efficient return of the vehicle to its owner.

The simple solution to this problem is to require the property owner or manager to be present at the time of the tow and sign the invoice.

That is how it is done in other states; this is not rocket science….

Not one of the tows that have made the news recently, and most of those that did not, would have happened if the conflict-of-interest issue in the business model was dealt with.

Photos of the McCall’s parking lot taken the day after the wheelchair-enabled van was towed are here:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Retriever Towing re-victimizes injured woman, Gary Coe offers insults

Portland, Oregon--

A Retriever Towing driver re-victimized an injured woman in an emergency situation, as reported in the Oregonian here:

KATU-TV television news coverage of the incident showed Retriever's owner, Gary Coe, alleging that the victim "smelled of alcohol and had no business driving a car", according to the report.

The link to the report is here:

Coe was not present at the scene and had no basis to make such a judgment, which was NOT echoed by the police officers who actually were there.

Such is the character of the man in charge of Oregon's largest predatory towing empire....

The Oregonian's Maxine Bernstein’s recently described how another Retriever patrol towing incident escalated rapidly to include an angry crowd, an attempt to set fire to the tow truck, and the vehicle owner under arrest:

KATU also reported on an incident where a driver for Sergeant's tow-jacked the car of a woman in labor, here:

These incidents underscore the point that patrol towing is hazardous to the health of the general public, the legal foundation for California’s ban on the practice.

Oregon is the only state on the west coast that allows patrol towing.

The 2007 Oregon Legislature, under the leadership of Senator Avel Gordly, imposed regulations on patrol towing that have yet to be fully implemented, particularly by local governments.

The towing bills passed that year were Senate Bill 116 and Senate Bill 431.

I led the SB 431 workgroup, which focused on private property impounds, to deal with situations such as these, and participated in the SB 116 workgroup, which addressed the broad scope of towing in the state of Oregon.

Prior to the passage of these bills, towing practices in Oregon were largely unregulated, with state and local jurisdictions having little explicit authority to put a dent in abusive and predatory towing.

SB 116 laid out the public policy goal: “(a) Statutes that assist members of the public in avoiding involuntary loss of use of motor vehicles and in expediting recovery of motor vehicles and the personal property in the motor vehicles promote the safety and welfare of members of the public.”

SB 116 establishes the authority of the Oregon Attorney General to receive complaints and to adopt and implement rules to promote the safety and welfare of members of the public. This legislation classifies many abusive towing practices under Oregon's Unfair Trade Practices statutes, which greatly increases the State's power to put the hammer down....

SB 116 also establishes the authority of local governments to regulate patrol towing within their respective jurisdictions, but none seem to have taken any action since the legislation was enacted.

SB 431 addresses private property impounds or patrol towing, the cause of the vast majority of towing complaints.

The legislation also gave state and local governments the authority to regulate the prices towers may charge for heisting your vehicle, but there has been little, if any, action taken.

This is where a conflict of interest exists within municipal governments: as much as they may dislike the practice, they need the revenue generated by patrol towing operations to fund city and county services.

Placing a cap on the amount of ransom a tower can charge the victim for release of the victim’s vehicle is an obvious next step, but no elected official has stepped up to take that one on: the pushback will come not only from the towing companies, the heaviest political pressure will come from the commercial interests that authorize the patrol towing practices on their properties.

The property owners pay nothing for the patrol towing “services”, and they want to keep it that way.

The tow company owners pay their drivers on bonus or commission schedules, which explains the drivers’ motivation for aggressive behavior and need for speed.

Some of these drivers carry weapons.

As the patrol towers’ costs increase, they will increase their ransom demands at points of contact with the public.

In both cases, the driver verbally demanded approximately $150-180 in cash for release of the vehicle.

How likely is the average apartment dweller to have that much cash on hand without prior notice?

Some are more likely to have a handgun, a rifle or a shotgun at home than a wallet full of cash.

A section of Senate Bill 116 explicitly requires tow truck drivers to provide their prospective victims with a printed rate sheet so that there is no confusion about the amount of ransom demanded. Failure to do so is an unfair trade practice under the new law, and it is highly important that the public contacts Oregon's Attorney General whenever these incidents occur.

Believe me, there are lawyers in the AG's office who really want to take the predators on a perp walk.

Other states and the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals have recognized the broad range of hazards to the general public and to the drivers themselves that patrol towing creates. Oregon has yet to step up and resolve the main issues.

The towers’ fee demands are often confiscatory in effect. Loss of vehicle is a penalty far beyond what is just for the “offense” that may or may not have been committed by the vehicle owner.

The patrol towers are hired to do one thing: remove a vehicle from the property.

If you are present at the scene, then you can remove the vehicle yourself. No need for a tow truck.

But that leaves the driver with an investment of time and emotion, and no money forthcoming from his employer, so he must get what he can from you, the vehicle owner.

California’s ban on predatory patrol towing is simple and straightforward, requiring the property owner to be present at the time of the tow and to sign the authorization form.

Commercial property interests and the patrol towers, led by the owners of Retriever and Sergeant’s Towing, were able to prevent the inclusion of this language in the 2007 legislation, over Senator Gordly’s objections.

This is the most important towing reform legislative work yet to be completed, but I am unaware of any legislative office that is working on the issue (Senator Gordly is retiring prior to the 2009 session).

Here are some important links regarding patrol towing:

Link to description of key towing bills (“Towing reform bills moving”):

Link to Senate Bill 116 (2007):

Link to Senate Bill 431 (2007):

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oregon's Aaron's Law designed to prevent child abduction, provide relief to victims

By Sean Cruz

Portland, Oregon—Each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 100,000 American children experience the trauma of abduction by a parent, a family member or other persons known to the victim.

Some children are abducted back and forth repeatedly, others disappear forever.

Existing state and federal laws have proven to be inadequate to deal with the problem, as the staggering numbers attest.

In all cases, the harm to the child victim is so severe that the best strategy is to prevent the abduction from taking place in the first place.

Aaron’s Law, passed by the Oregon legislature in 2005, is designed to achieve two goals: (1) discourage child abduction by providing financial sanctions against the perpetrators and requiring them to attend counseling sessions to better understand the harm they are inflicting; and, (2) provide relief to the victims with court-appointed mental health and legal professionals assigned to protect the child.

Aaron’s Law authorizes the court to assess the costs of the professional services to the perpetrators, which ought to serve as an additional discouragement.

Oregon is the first state in the union to take this approach, which is independent of either the criminal or the traditional family court processes.

The full text of Aaron’s Law follows:

Senate Bill 1041 (2005) AARON’S LAW (for Aaron Cruz)
Sponsored by Senator Avel Gordly

CHAPTER 841 Oregon Revised statutes

AN ACT Relating to custodial interference; and declaring an emergency.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 1. (1) Any of the following persons may bring a civil action to secure damages against any and all persons whose actions are unlawful under ORS 163.257 (1)(a):

(a) A person who is 18 years of age or older and who has been taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a); or
(b) A person whose custodial rights have been interfered with if, by reason of the interference:

(A) The person has reasonably and in good faith reported a person missing to any city, county or state police agency; or
(B) A defendant in the action has been charged with a violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a).

(2) An entry of judgment or a certified copy of a judgment against the defendant for a violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) is prima facie evidence of liability if the plaintiff was injured by the defendant’s unlawful action under the conviction.

(3)(a) For purposes of this section, a public or private entity that provides counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic violence is not considered to have violated ORS 163.257 (1)(a) if the entity provides counseling or shelter services to a person who violates ORS 163.257 (1)(a).
(b) As used in this subsection, “victim of domestic violence” means an individual against whom domestic violence, as defined in ORS 135.230, 181.610, 411.117 or 657.176, has been committed.

(4) Bringing an action under this section does not prevent the prosecution of any criminal action under ORS 163.257.

(5) A person bringing an action under this section must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that a violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) has occurred.

(6) It is an affirmative defense to civil liability for an action under this section that the defendant reasonably and in good faith believed that the defendant’s violation of ORS 163.257(1)(a) was necessary to preserve the physical safety of: (a) The defendant; (b) The person who was taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a); or (c) The parent or guardian of the person who was taken, enticed or kept in violation of
ORS 163.257 (1)(a).

(7)(a) If the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) is under 18 years of age at the time an action is brought under this section, the court may:

(A) Appoint an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Oregon to act as guardian ad litem for the person; and

(B) Appoint one of the following persons to provide counseling services to the person:

(i) A psychiatrist.
(ii) A psychologist licensed under ORS 675.010 to 675.150.
(iii) A clinical social worker licensed under ORS 675.510 to 675.600.
(iv) A professional counselor or marriage and family therapist licensed under ORS 675.715.

(b) The court may assess against the parties all costs of the attorney or person providing counseling services appointed under this subsection.

(8) If an action is brought under this section by a person described under subsection (1)(b) of this section and a party shows good cause that it is appropriate to do so, the court may order the parties to obtain counseling directed toward educating the parties on the impact that the parties’ conflict has on the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a). The court may assess against the parties all costs of obtaining counseling ordered under this subsection.

(9) Upon prevailing in an action under this section, the plaintiff may recover: (a) Special and general damages, including damages for emotional distress; and (b) Punitive damages.

(10) The court may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in an action under this section.

(11)(a) Notwithstanding ORS 12.110, 12.115, 12.117 or 12.160, an action under this section must be commenced within six years after the violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a). An action under this section accruing while the person who is entitled to bring the action is under 18 years of age must be commenced not more than six years after that person attains 18 years of age.

(b) The period of limitation does not run during any time when the person taken, enticed or kept in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a) is removed from this state as a result of the defendants actions in violation of ORS 163.257 (1)(a).

SECTION 2. Section 1 of this 2005 Act applies to causes of action arising on or after the effective date of this 2005 Act.

SECTION 3. This 2005 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2005 Act takes effect on its passage.

Passed by Senate August 1, 2005
Passed by House August 3, 2005
Approved by Governor: October 13, 2005
Filed in Office of Secretary of State:

Aaron’s Law may apply to any Oregon child abduction occurring after the date the Governor signed the bill into law.

Aaron Cruz was kidnapped along with his brother and two sisters on February 12, 1996 and concealed in various locations in Oregon, Washington and Utah.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Jim Pepper House updated

Now that my time serving in the Oregon State Senate is at an end with the retirement of Senator Avel Gordly, I am focusing myself on a project very close to my heart: Jim Pepper.

Although I never met this Great Soul personally, I was transfixed by his performance/presence at a Larry Coryell concert in San Rafael, California in the early 1970's. The name of the venue was, appropriately enough, Pepperland!

I left the concert without knowing his name, but more than thirty years later, I can still see him standing at the front of the stage, "Jim" baseball cap and lumberjack shirt, torrents and cascades of notes and pure emotion pouring out of that silver saxophone. He reached deep down inside of me that evening, and I've never forgotten the experience.

I learned his name in 2002, shortly after I bought my home, which was the Pepper family home for many years. Jim had passed on several years before I moved to Portland.

I saw the Remembrance Band perform at the 2005 Portland Jazz Festival, the first time I heard Jim's music as a body of work, and he reached up there (I was in the balcony) and grabbed me again.

I spoke to Senator Gordly about the experience the next day as we rode to the Capitol together, and she assigned me to draft what would become a Senate Joint Resolution (SJR 31, 2005) honoring the life and achievements of the Flying Eagle.

Later, motivated by the need to hear the Remembrance Band again, I promoted two performances at Portland's Blue Monk.

In 2007, the Pepper family asked me to speak for them at the National Museum of the American Indian on the occasion of the dedication of Jim's saxophone and other memorabilia to the NMAI permanent collection. This is one of the singular honors and moments of my life....

This event gave me the opportunity to meet and hear the musicians of Yellowhammer, and to understand in greater depth Jim's place in the world, and in the history of American music.

Now, as the Nation faces grave economic times, I am convinced that the world needs Jim Pepper more than ever, and I am dedicating myself to organizing the first annual Jim Pepper Festival of the Arts, to be held in Portland Oregon in 2009.

I invite all comments, from near and far, from those also touched by the Flying Eagle, for one thing we know for certain is that Pepper Lives!


--Sean Cruz, December 6, 2008