Mayor Defends SafeClear Towing Program

Houston Mayor Bill White will testify before a federal judge today in defense of the city's SafeClear towing program. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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Last year a federal judge ruled three elements of SafeClear were pre-empted by state and federal laws. The City of Houston did not appeal that ruling, but rather amended those three areas which include how the contracts were awarded, the cap placed on what tow companies can charge and the rules for exclusive rights to tow in certain sections of the freeways. Houston Mayor Bill White will take the witness stand in a hearing on whether the city has fully complied with the judge's ruling. White says the city is in compliance and will prove it.

"We will fight. We will fight the towing industry for the safety of the public and we do know that there are federal laws that the towing industry -- and state laws -- that might protect some activities by the towing operators. And I just want to make sure that I fight for the safety of -- of our people in our region."

Opponants of the SafeClear plan filed an appeal which prompted this hearing. They say the program is still exclusive and prevents small contractors from participating. The mayor says this is the first time he has testified in court and he decided to take the stand. He says the city respectfully disagrees with Judge Ken Hoyt's ruling last year, but made the required amendments. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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