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Monday, February 19, 2007

I had to move, really had to move

I love it when the public policy battles turn from wonky to fonky. Now it seems that the Salem showdown over predatory towing by private tow truck companies is developing a downright personal side.

In case you haven't been following this closely (e.g., because you have a life), some of the tow operators in Portland (and perhaps they're this bad elsewhere in the Beaver State) give predatory species everywhere a bad name. Their ruthless and unprofessional behavior is legendary -- so much so that the city even went after them with a "bill of rights" a while back. It stopped some of the gouging and forced the shadier operators to start accepting credit cards as well as cash.

Lately my state senator, Avel Gordly, has been on the tow companies' case, big time. E-mail alerts, hearings, circulating horror stories, the whole bit. Beating the drum loudly on this issue has been the top member of Gordly's staff, Sean Cruz, who has his own blog, Blogolitical Sean. Some samples of his postings on the subject are here and here.

At first I thought Cruz was just doing his job, helping a cause that his boss has espoused, but in a new post that went up late last night, Cruz reveals that he has a bit of a personal stake in the issue. The latest screed goes past bold type -- it ventures into large fonts and all-caps, figuratively screaming about some of the horror stories told by folks who've had their cars towed from apartments, in Northeast Portland's Cully neighborhood, that are owned by an outfit called Hacienda Community Development. Including Cruz's own:

Over the past two years since Hacienda's tow company trespassed on my property, stole my van and broke the transmission, since Hacienda's Board Chair Bertha Ferran and her sidekick Tonya Wolfersperger stonewalled me over the damage, I thought it was personal.

But now I see that these two treat everybody that way, too.

Did I mention how Bertha Ferran told me to either call the police or wait until two days until Monday regarding Retriever's theft of my vehicle, and that about three hours of that officer's time was paid for by your tax money?

All right, now it's getting downright interesting. Is he talking about the Bertha Ferrán, Mayor Tom Potter's first appointment to the board of the Portland Development Commission? How many Bertha Ferráns can there be in Portland?


While the political and personal interplay is surely entertaining, I'm having some trouble seeing what Cruz thinks he's proving with his current post. As I understand it, the "predatory" practice that the state is thinking about abolishing is tow truck operators trolling for violations, without first getting a call about a specific violator from a trespassed property's owner. If that's the evil that's going to be remedied, it isn't going to stop a property management company from siccing the tow truck pitbulls on every single technical violator it finds. If Hacienda is overly mean about its parking spaces, I suspect that the current movement afoot in Salem won't stop it from dropping a dime on Cruz, or anyone else, again in the future.

Comments (6)


Good catch. Hacienda authorized all of those tows--and still does--by placing the decision making in the hands of tow drivers working on commission.

That is the practice the Legislature is about to end.

FYI: Hacienda's staff offices outside of the patrol zone they created for the Cully neighborhood.

And say hello to Bertha for me.

I once owned a condo underneath a unit Ms Ferran owned. She routinely rented to loud, obnoxious trash - and ignored all requests from the HOA to discuss the situation. All of my complaints were met with a hostile attitude, and she complained I was "harassing" her when I attempted to call her personally about the situation. Ultimately I sold the unit to avoid the stress and frustration she was causing me.

Tom Potter lost at least 1 vote in future elections the minute I heard he put her on the board of the PDC. She's exactly the type of person who would abuse the unchecked power of that position.

Ran 'em out of Bend when one backed into a woman and child while stealing her car. Never saw someone so happy to see the cops.

Put lipstick on it it's still car theft.

I haven't heard that name in ages (haven't been following PDC news as closely as I should, perhaps). In another life--a brief detour into the mortgage biz, the family curse--I worked with Bertha. Smart, hard-working, and ferocious; I wouldn't ever want to be in a fight with Bertha. She was always nice enough to me, I just knew to stay out of her way. :)

Of course these condo farms could try something really radical:

sufficient parking spaces!!!

One of these farms in Culyl at Killingsworth and something always has dozens of cars on the adjacent street because the builders are too cheap to provide parking.

(Aside to anti car folk: People get cars because they are better than transit and improve their income, so learn to live with one of man's greatest inventions. And cars cost less than transit, use less energy and pollute less. They are also safer than the toy trains.)


And say hello to Bertha for me.

Never met the person. Right now I would think she's busy leading the PDC campaign for workers' rights.

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