Towing contract OK'd on 5-0 vote

DOWNEY - Following the police chief's recommendation, the City Council approved a two-year contract for towing services with United Towing and Titan Transportation on Tuesday.The vote was unanimous, 5-0, despite initial opposition from council members Luis Marquez and Fernando Vasquez. The two councilmen wanted to give outside tow companies not chosen by the police department an opportunity to make 5-minute presentations before a final vote was taken. That request was voted down by their council colleagues, however, who preferred to follow the recommendation of Police Chief Rick Esteves. Eight tow companies submitted bids last December to handle towing and storage services for Downey. The proposals were evaluated by the police department, which settled on Downey-based United Towing and Titan Transportation. Other bids came from HP Tow, Long Beach Towing & Storage, Towwerks, United Motor Club, Vernola's Tow and Walt's Tow Service. The two-year deal was set to be approved May 8 but Marquez and Vasquez asked for additional time to further review the proposals and suggest possible changes to the police department's recommendations. On Tuesday, Marquez and Vasquez said they had visited each of the tow yards to gather more information. Marquez also claimed "there were issues" in how the bid process was handled by police department staff. Public speakers, however, accused the two councilmen of trying to steer the contract to HP Tow, which made financial contributions to their political campaigns. Marquez and Vasquez denied the allegations. "All I'm asking for is fair and square - do what's best for our city," said Dee Bacus, ombudsman for the Downey Chamber of Commerce. "I don't want us to turn into Bell." United Towing and Titan Transportation already provide towing services to the city but on a month-to-month contract. "Our intent was to make sure this was a fair process," Marquez said. "I am extremely impressed with our current towers." The tow contract goes into effect July 1 and expires June 30, 2014. Downey receives about $51,000 annually in tow company franchise fees. Contracted tow companies are called out to accident scenes, handle police impounds and also store vehicles that were involved in crimes. Until a few years ago the city contracted with three tow companies but the number was reduced to two after a tow yard went out of business.

********** Published: June 14, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 09