Monday, March 17, 2008


It seems that everyone I know, and lots of people I have never met, have a story to tell about the predatory practices of tow truck operators in Fayetteville. As far as I can tell, it is much worse here than anywhere else in the state. The abuses have given the city a bad name among visitors, one that wipes out any good that might be done by the limited advertising and promotion expenditures from the city's Advertising, Promotion, Real Estate, and Investments Commission funded by the 2% HMR tax.

Typical is a complaint in today's local newspaper.
Jacob Adcock of Monticello writes, "As a visitor to the city while at a football game, I unknowingly parked in a fraternity parking lot and $150 later I find my car gone and find that the towing company and fraternity had a business deal to split the proceeds. Let's say it left me with an 'impression' of Fayetteville that has pretty well stuck with me." At least he didn't have his car towed to Pea Ridge like some past victims.

Regulation of abuses by tow truck companies is a farce. The state board that is supposed to handle complains has two citizen members and six members from the towing industry, so you can guess how aggressive they are in pursuing the 40 or so complaints they get each month. One of the towing operators on the board is
Avon "Junior" Phillips of North Little Rock, who is the long-time president of the industry's Professional Towing and Recovery Association of Arkansas, which boasts that it is "the tower's voice in Arkansas." According to Walt Eilers, who was Executive Director for that group, it was formed to "represent the interests of tow operators" when the state first tried to adopt legislation and regulations affecting their business. They did a great job of that.

Fayetteville is in the
Arkansas Towing and Recovery Board zone of Mary Thoma of Siloam Springs, who represents the interests of Non-Consent Operators and McKnight's Wrecker Service in West Fork. She was first appointed by Mike Huckabee in May, 2005. If you want to waste your time, here's the complaint form. You can call her business at (479) 839-2400 or email her at Do not try to call her at home (479) 549-3983.

If you want to watch this charade in action, the March meeting of this industry-dominated "regulatory" board is tomorrow at
9:30 a.m.
in the Attorney General’s Office, 2nd Floor Conference Room, 323 Center Street, Little Rock.

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