Jack Pollock
TOW THIS! On Wednesday evening, at a special city council session, Marian Gaylord, the city's towing coordinator, testified in favor of clamping down on towing companies.

"The towing companies," Gaylord said, "know only too well they hold all the cards."

Toward the back of council chambers, one bearded tow truck driver mumbled, "Bullshit, liar." For the next two hours, testimony volleyed back and forth between residents who wanted to cap fees charged by tow companies and the truck drivers who felt like regulations would unfairly saddle their business.

At one point, Gary Coe, owner of Retriever Towing, said he hears "many lies" and "emotionally charged" stories from vehicle owners trying to talk their way out of fines. Coe also argued that the city only registered eight complaints from the 4200 tows his company executed last year--a figure that equates to a fairly run business. But he did not mention how most people don't know they can complain to the city about unfair towing practices, or that most people simply choose to cut their losses after paying a fine and retrieving their vehicle.

Ultimately, city council voted unanimously to adopt the new regulations, under which towing companies will not be allowed to charge more than $160 for tows from a private lot. PB

TOO GOOD to BE TRUE? After nearly a year of protests and lobbying, Mt. Tabor residents finally received some good news. With demonstrations and threatened lawsuits, residents have tried to derail a multimillion-dollar plan to bury Mt. Tabor Park's open-water troughs. Residents were particularly upset they were never consulted about the plan.

A week ago, commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the water bureau, conceded. In a surprise announcement, he agreed to hit the pause button on the reservoir plan and to appoint a 10-person committee to check out alternatives. Saltzman's decision puts the $75 million plan on hold for 90 days.

But in spite of those momentary setbacks (or temporary victories, depending on your viewpoint), construction continued last week at Washington Park's reservoirs, which also are part of the plan to shore up and protect the city's open-water sources. Large steel girders designed to support floating lids have already been placed around the reservoirs. PB