Contrary to the reporting of the Indianapolis Star which suggested that towing prices would remain the same ($90) over the course of San Francisco-based AutoReturn's new five year contract, WRTV's Jack Rinehart has filed a story indicating there will be a dramatic increase in towing prices. From his report:
Through the first year of the contract, the cost of redeeming a vehicle from the police impound lot will remain at $90.The increase in the towing charge from $90 to $130, is a 44% jump in just three years time.
In years two and three of the contract, the cost will jump to $110, and in the last two years of the contract, the cost will increase to $130.
Probably the Star reporter simply repeated the City officials sales pitch that the towing prices would remain the same when in fact the City was misleadingly just referring to the FIRST year. Rinehart either bothered to ask the follow up questions or actually reviewed the contract. Regardless the score is: WRTV 1, Indianapolis Star 0.
As reported previously, AutoReturn is a lobbying client of Barnes & Thornburg. Mayor Ballard's Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn pushed the ordinance through that made the monopoly contract possible when he was President of the Indianapolis City-Council Council President. He was at the time, you guessed it, an attorney for Barnes & Thornburg. The Mayor's chief lobbyist and advisor is Joe Loftus, a Barnes & Thornburg partner.
But I'm sure this is all a coincidence, just like it was a coincidence that ACS, a Barnes & Thornburg lobbying client, won the 50 year parking meter contract, with Barnes & Thornburg attorney and ACS lobbyist Vaughn casting the tie breaking vote. Certainly ACS and AutoReturn won their contracts on merit and the Barnes & Thornburg connection had nothing to do with their success.
Thursday, May 23, 2013, Politically-Connected Law Firm Wins Indianapolis Towing Contract for California Firm
Tuesday, May 28, 2013, City Panel Demands More Information on Towing Bids Before Approving Contract of California Towing Company