$AFEclear loophole allows serial rapist to be tow truck driver

One thing I remember Mayor White saying when he was trying to sell $AFEclear, was that all tow truck drivers in the $AFEclear program would have to pass background checks. You know, since the city was basically forcing anyone with a broken down car to get in a tow truck with a stranger. Well, it sounds like that didn't go according to plan:

Sources told Local 2 that a preliminary check uncovered drivers with criminal convictions, including a serial rapist and those with a history of other violent crimes. It also found a large number of drivers with convictions for DWI, drugs, fraud and theft, officials said.

Wow! But don't worry, city officials are on the job:

Some council members said they still have a lot of unanswered questions about the Safe Clear ordinance. The city leaders also said they want to make sure the public is safe when dealing with the tow truck operators.

"Safe Clear is going to set the standard for what we insist on in tow truck operators," Houston Mayor Bill White said.

White said he will ask City Council next week to pass an ordinance tightening up a possible loophole in the background checks of wrecker drivers.

Why in the world would there be a loophole in these background checks? And now it is being addressed? The mayor says, "$AFEclear is going to set the standard for what we insist on in tow truck operators." I will assume the mayor is aiming for a high standard and not the standard that says a serial rapist is okay, but why didn't we have the high standard in place on January 1st? And next week (next week?) the mayor is going to ask City Council to close the loophole -- the same City Council that has been ignoring him for two weeks on $AFEclear changes.

The city needs to make available some other form of transportation for people subjected to forced towing. This concern was brought up again and again when $AFEclear was first being hashed out. People were very nervous about, for example, women and teenage girls being forced to get into tow trucks with men they didn't know. The mayor repeatedly gave assurances that there was no reason to be concerned, that every driver would have to pass a background check.

This is a big failure on the city's part.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 01/25/05 07:58 PM | Print |

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