Fri, Jul 23 2010 06:19 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampite
The National City City Council on Tuesday received a letter from JC Towing ending its contract with the city.
The move comes more than six weeks after Police Chief Adolfo Gonzales wrote a memorandum to the council recommending the suspension of JC Towing's services for breach of contract.
"Based on the available evidence there has been a breach of the city's contract terms. It is recommended that JC Towing be suspended from providing towing services ... and that all police impounds with holds be taken by Moynahan's Towing until the end of the current contract period," Gonzales wrote.
The chief's recommendation came after reports that vehicles that were supposed to have been impounded and held for investigation were actually spotted being driven around town.
Other violations included sales of vehicles or their parts without proper authority.
The City Council planned on terminating the contract Tuesday night.
Vice-Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said that ending the relationship with JC Towing was the right decision for the city.
She said the council cannot continue business with companies that don't hold up their end of the bargain.
Mayor Ron Morrison agreed.
"The public trust is the highest thing we have to deal with and I think it was a good resolution," he said.
Several owners of vehicles who had their cars towed early this year by JC Towing complained their vehicles were not properly cared for and that several vehicle codes were violated by the tow operators.
In instances in which JC Towing unlawfully sold vehicles or vehicle parts, the company is liable not the city, Morrison said.
"The city acted immediately when they found out about the incidents," he said.
Police said they could not press charges against the company because it appeared the violations were a result of mismanagement and not criminal intent.
They also said that in the cases where theft was alleged, proving it occurred would be difficult because evidence had been destroyed.
The city entered into a towing agreement with JC Towing Inc. March 7, 2006, for towing and impound services.
On March 17, 2009, both parties agreed to extend the contract to Sept. 30, 2011.
However, the contract stipulated that services could be terminated at any time.
According to the document, "The agreement may be terminated immediately by the City for cause in the event of a material breach of the Agreement ... or for the performance of services, or failure to perform services as directed by the City..."
The investigation was not able to determine the intent of JC Towing to "sell," "keep" or "misplace" any impounds.
The company has implemented changes as a result of the investigation, including incorporating a Mylar sticker, which is used as evidence of the tow and improvement of the security of vehicles and holds.
The incident isn't the first time the towing operator's relationship with the city of National City has been questioned.
When JC Towing's contract was supposed to be extended last year, there were concerns that a conflict of interest existed between the tow operator and the mayor's office.
Morrison's personal assistant, Josie Flores Clark, was working part-time for JC Towing and the city.
At the time, Sotelo-Solis said she thought the relationship between Morrison and Clark was a red flag and could have created an appearance of unprofessionalism.
But City Attorney Eiser said that Flores Clark had no say on the council and no role in determining policy, and therefore did not break any conflict of interest guidelines.
JC Towing withdrew from the contract without prejudice, which means they are still eligible to bid in the future.
© 2009 The Star-News