Press Club

The Right Note: Favola Receives $1,500 Contribution Then Changes Sides on Towing Ordinance

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

As a result of numerous complaints about predatory towing practices, Arlington passed towing restrictions which required business owners to sign off on each tow.

The ordinance met resistance from some in the business community who felt the “second signature” requirement was unduly burdensome.

Unfortunately, managers of business, often restaurants, tell those towed they have no power over the decision. So what is a person to do as they stand in the parking lot with no car but a receipt from the business in hand? It is no wonder they often lash out at the Advanced Towing attendant like one ESPN reporter did.

There is little recourse for the person other to pay the $135 to get their car back. Most do not have the time or the resources to even attempt to get their money back, something Advanced knows. Even if they wanted to bring a small claims court action against the towing company or the business who owns the parking lot, the process seems daunting to most.

If business owners refuse to be held accountable and the towing company refuses to be held accountable, then who is to blame when the towing company gets it wrong? That is the question the Arlington County Board tried to answer with its new ordinance.

The coalition opposed to Arlington’s ordinance went to the General Assembly to overturn the County Board’s decision. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) initially rejected the legislation, but eventually signed it into law.

After hearing about another victim of Advanced Towing last week, I did another online search on the company. What did I find?

According to this NBC 4 report, the company made a $1,500 contribution to state Sen. Barbara Favola (D) to encourage her to meet with Gov. McAuliffe and share the “pros and cons” of legislation after she initially opposed it.

The contribution was made April 13. The meeting with the governor took place April 24. It was part of what was called “a full-court press by Democratic senators and the business community that convinced the governor to back the bill.”

Favola and McAuliffe eventually sided with Advanced Towing and the business owners who did not want to be hassled with signing off on each tow.

Arlington’s towing ordinance may not have been the perfect solution. To be sure, businesses have a right to ensure their parking lots are used by their customers. But Advanced has towed people who were lawfully parked and may continue to do so without fear of any meaningful repercussions.

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