State senator wants to terminate Safe Clear program

September 14, 2010 10:33:50 AM PDT
A longtime state senator has Houston's Safe Clear towing program in his sights. Senator Mario Gallegos says the program should be terminated because minorities are not getting their share of the multi-million dollar pie. Senator Gallegos is appearing before a city council transportation committee, notifying members that he plans to introduce legislation that would end the Safe Clear program.

This is not the senator's first time to appear and address city council on this issue.

The Safe Clear program was implemented back in 2005 as part of the city's towing ordinance. The city signed contracts with 10 wrecker companies to tow cars off freeways at no charge, to the nearest gas station or up to one mile away. The goal is to ease traffic congestion and get cars off the roads safely.

Of the 10 vendors that contracted with the city, only two are minority owned: one is owned by an African-American and one is owned by a female. None are owned or run by Hispanics and Sen. Gallegos says that is not reflective of our community and needs to be addressed.

"When a program like this starts looking like a monopoly, then it starts to smell. And people start asking questions. It's the same old people getting the same contracts. This has got to stop," said Sen. Gallegos. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand who's getting the contracts and who's not. Something's wrong."

Council members spent more than an hour grilling the head of the Safe Clear program about how tow truck companies are selected or eliminated once they've submitted paperwork to be considered for the program.

No decisions will happen today, although Sen. Gallegos will file legislation to terminate the program in November.


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