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City expected to award towing contract to California firm

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Indianapolis will choose a San Francisco-based company to oversee city-ordered towing under a contract expected to be authorized Thursday afternoon.

AutoReturn is in line for a five-year contract for towing management services, pending approval by the Board of Code Enforcement.

The city issued a request for proposals in December that requested $1.5 million in annual guaranteed revenue, Department of Code Enforcement spokesman Adam Baker said. The money would come from fees collected from people whose cars are towed after accidents, abandonment or illegal parking.

Baker couldn't say how much AutoReturn would collect under the contract, which would take effect July 1. AutoReturn will subcontract with local towers that can adopt the company's GPS-based technology, Baker said. Tow trucks will be dispatched based on their proximity to a scene, rather than assigned zones, as under the current system, he said.

The goal of using AutoReturn is to streamline services so police spend less time waiting to clear accident scenes and citizens don't have to visit the City-County Building downtown to pay fees before picking up their cars, Baker said. Citizens will be able to use AutoReturn's online service to locate their cars and pay fees before picking them up, he said.

City records show Brian Burdick of the law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP lobbied on behalf of AutoReturn in 2012 and 2013. Mayor Greg Ballard's chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, is a former Barnes & Thornburg attorney.

The city currently contracts with three towing companies: Wheeler's, Last Chance and Hannah's. Responses to the city's RFP won't be made public until Department of Code Enforcement Director Rick Powers signs a new contract, Baker said.

According to its website, AutoReturn has municipal towing contracts in San Francisco, San Diego and Baltimore County, Md. 

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  • $150.00 tow $20.00 daily store
    This is juat a racket set up by the Mayor, his chief of staff a former barnes & thornburg attorney. How convulted is this? another case of you rub my back and I will rub yours. Now the code cops are going into neighborhoods and hunting cars to have towed just to make money for the new towing co. Who is getting the kickback here??????
  • no out of state needed
    We have plenty of tow companies here why do we need some out of state company?
  • Domestic LLC
    AutoReturn Indiana, LLC is registered with the Secretary of State's office as a domestic LLC, not as a foreign corp doing business in Indiana. I believe this means it has Indiana principals. However, the filing does not reveal the names of any real people, nor does it list Barnes and Thornburg as the registered agent. It does list a San Francisco address. I think that before the Mayor's office signs this thing, transparency would require revealing the parties involved and whether they have been contributors to the mayor. One wonders what role Barnes and Thornburg (or its attorneys) have with this company and whether there is any connection to the people behind the parking contract, who were also represented by Barnes and Thornburg.
  • local needs to keep up
    I'm all for keeping it local too but this paragraph won me over: "The goal of using AutoReturn is to streamline services so police spend less time waiting to clear accident scenes and citizens don't have to visit the City-County Building downtown to pay fees before picking up their cars, Baker said. Citizens will be able to use AutoReturn's online service to locate their cars and pay fees before picking them up, he said." Indy businesses need to be more high tech. As someone who unfortunately has had his car towed, I can't emphasize what a pain in the A$$ antiquated system it is to take care of it.
  • More of the same.
    What a surprise. Another day, another example of the corruption in the Mayor's office. Who got the kickbacks on this deal?
  • There goes more jobs
    What the heck!!! What happened to keeping business in Indiana?

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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