A move by Metro Police to get rid of politics from the choice process for its lucrative towing contracts was after all a politically motivated endeavor by elected officials, including then-Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, to favor one company, consistent with competitors, and is tantamount to a monopoly.
“It was political. one hundred pc,” says Yaron Cohen, owner of Fast Towing, of the choice by Metro to contract with AutoReturn, a towing management company that has been blamed for increasing costs to consumers in a number of the quite twenty-four cities and counties it serves.
“We aren’t any longer within the towing business,” Metro Sheriff Joe Lombardo told this via text, citing the 2016 contract that put AutoReturn responsible for choosing tow companies and storage yards for vehicles towed at the direction of police. In exchange, Auto Return tacks on a $25 charge to customers’ bills for each law enforcement-related tow it dispatches — an estimated 2,000 vehicles a month off from accident scenes, at DUI arrests, or for parking violations.
Metro recently renewed the contract for five years.
The arrangement has cut the previous half-hour truck latent period in half, consistent with Metro, and reduced the chance of officers clearing accidents.
“Quick crash removal and clear roadways improve public safety, commerce, and citizen services,” says the website for AutoReturn, the towing management company contracted by Metro at no cost to police. Instead, the dispatch service charges an extra fee when owners reclaim their cars.
“They (police) aren’t any longer within the towing business because they put a middleman accountable,” countered former Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who says Sisolak, from his position on the County Commission and Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee, did the bidding of SNAP Towing owner Bob Ellis, who lacked a towing contract with Metro. Just like the best professional towing San Jose people have, Ellis’s SNAP Towing subsequently became one among the businesses contracted by AutoReturn to tow and store vehicles at the request of enforcement in Southern Nevada.
Sisolak, now governor of Nevada, didn’t answer requests for comment submitted to his campaign.
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Ellis, a Henderson businessman, has long sought to make the most of enforcement towing and storage contracts, per insiders and public records.
A prolific contributor, Ellis donated some $55,000 to Sisolak’s campaigns during the last decade. He’s contributed $27,500 to Republican gubernatorial hopeful Lombardo since his first endure sheriff.
In addition to SNAP Towing, Ewing Bros., and Walker Towing, a subsidiary of Ewing, were selected by AutoReturn to tow and store vehicles.
Earlier this year, Davidson contacted AutoReturn about joining the rotation.
“The Vegas Metro PD won’t be adding any additional towing companies to their rotation,” AutoReturn responded.
Unlike its contracts with other government agencies, which specify vendors, AutoReturn’s local agreement allows the corporate, not Metro, to pick out tow companies and storage yards.
Henderson and North urban center police have signed on with AutoReturn, but North metropolis retained the correct to decide on its tow vendors.
Metro’s practice is out of step with the police department’s goal on its website “to strive for open and fair competition” and “encourage all qualified vendors to participate in our solicitation opportunities,“ say critics.
“The issue of towing was obviously highly politicized in an exceedingly way no other contracting issue we’ve got ever faced was,” says Metro CFO Richard Hoggan, citing extensive legislative debate on the difficulty.
“As we all know from past experience, dictating which operators AutoReturn contracts with will quickly become political, complicated, and potentially unseemly,” Hoggan said.
Cohen maintains the “selection process” was purely political.
“Bob Ellis approached me. He approached Quality. He approached Ewing Bros. He said he was visiting to get the AutoReturn contract and wanted to merge with another company.”
Cohen says Ellis “decided to travel with Ewing.”
“I don’t know why Fast Tow’s name has come up,” Ellis said in a very text, adding he “met with them several times 8 to 10 years ago.”
“After research,” Ellis says he “felt it wasn’t a partnership I wanted to be involved in.”
Via phone, Ellis denied working with AutoReturn to get Metro’s contract. He referred inquiries to AutoReturn CEO Jerry Carnahan.
AutoReturn spokesman Sam Singer says the corporate “partnered with a gaggle of towers. They were all well-regarded towing companies.”
Metro’s contract with AutoReturn names Snap Towing, Ewing Bros., and Walker because the designated subcontractors.
“Around 2013/2014, there was pressure from elected officials to revisit that model,” Hoggan said. “Commissioner (then) Sisolak was the foremost involved. Commissioner Brown also supported a restructure within the two-vendor rotation model.”
Hoggan says Metro was asked by Sisolak and Brown “to find a more robust model and to initiate a letter of invitation for Qualifications process that might provide an objective evaluation of tow operators.”
Metro added a 3rd company, Fast Towing.
Ellis passed on a chance to use to affix the rotation, consistent with Cohen.
“In order to possess a Metro contract, you have got to possess some million dollars of pricy equipment,” he says. “Ellis failed to want to shop for it. He had a little tow company.”
Ellis says that’s not true, but wouldn’t elaborate.
Operators complained the measure would have stifled competition and put them out of business by requiring increased storage lot size and capacity.
“They don’t make money towing trucks or cars from accidents,” attorney Don Campbell, representing Ewing Bros., told commissioners at the time. “Where they create their money is from storing them. That’s why the proponent wants to require it away.”