Thursday, July 8, 2010

In case you missed it:

Buried in the side-bar of Bradley Olson's ChronBlog story on the Great Apartment Association Water-fee Kick-back of 2010 was this little jewel:
SafeClear: Allocated $4.2 million for the city's Major Freeway Towing Program, extending a major transportation priority of former Mayor Bill White.
That's right, $4.2 Million dollars to continue a SafeClear program that was touted as being revenue neutral by Houston's former "business savvy" Mayor who's now promising to take that same level of fiscal prowess to Austin.

$4.2 Million. Granted, that's a penny compared to the $140 Million dollar hole that ChronBlog is assuring us "isn't that bad" but you have to wonder about the political forces that are keeping such an obviously flawed program around.

I say it again: SafeClear was originally pitched to Houston as a revenue neutral program. It's been around since January 2005 or 5 1/2 years. At $4.2 Million/yr that's $23.1 Million of revenue neutral expenditures. Ouch.


  1. Remember Cory that the "revenue neutral" phrase was based on the siezure and sale of vehicles from people who could not afford to pay the tow fee. Yes they intended to fund it on the backs of the poor working schmuck who couldn't afford to pay the tow (or lose their vehicle as a result either, after all they couldn't even afford to keep their vehicle in good repair.) All that went by the roadside when that little tidbit became common knowledge as a result of at least one person who died trying to run across the freeway to stop the tow of his vehicle.

  2. You beat me to it, Rorschach. However, IIRC the financial skeleton came out of the closet when one of those who did the analysis gave an interview as a result of the controversy (at least, that is how I think I heard of it.)

    And in all fairness, it wasn't that the folks could afford to keep their vehicle in repair - a flat tire as the result of a nail or other FOD could lead to a tow/seizure if the person didn't have sufficient cash in their pocket to pay for the tow (there were conditions, for example a new account or I think an out-of-state vehicle, under which the operator didn't have to accept a check or credit/debit card.) However, the idea that the business case for this included paying for it by seizing/selling the vehicles which were the recipients of this "safety-related service" was pure poison to the Administration, and if they hadn't changed their ways I suspect City Council would have killed the program.


  3. "the "revenue neutral" phrase was based on the siezure and sale of vehicles from people who could not afford to pay the tow fee."

    Ummmm....yeah....see that's kind of my whole point. That the program, as originally designed, was ill-advised and has transformed into an expensive, government-ran mess.


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