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Case Towing seeks contract with Calipatria

November 19, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

CALIPATRIA — Niland-based Case Towing is seeking a contract with the city despite controversy between the city and the business three years ago.

Case Towing owner Theresa Bowers stood before the City Council in the public appearance portion of a council meeting Tuesday seeking a contract with the city.

City Manager Romualdo Medina said he was instructed by the council to place the issue on the next council agenda.

Case Towing previously provided service and maintenance for city police patrol units in Calipatria and provided towing services for vehicles the Police Department impounded or stored.

The agreement ended in July 1998 after the council voted unanimously to remove Case Towing from the list of towing companies the city used.

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City officials claimed Case Towing was making payoffs to the Calipatria Police Department and illegally towing and storing vehicles. Case Towing retaliated with a $1 million lawsuit for libels from city officials.

Bowers said the lawsuit was dropped.

She said Case Towing decided to seek the new contract because of the "new blood" on the council.

"We feel we can start fresh. Calipatria is our area and things should be back to normal," she said.

She was confident the council would not base its decision on past differences.

"I would be surprised if they found some reason why not to put us in the towing rotation," she said.

"Unfortunately, we were caught up in the local politics, which we had to pay the price for," she said.

In 1998, the city was already facing a lawsuit from Hot Spot Towing & Tires, another Niland-based towing company.

The $2 million lawsuit filed by Hot Spot stated the city failed to call the company for towing services even when it was Hot Spot's turn to provide service, based on a rotation system the city had. Information on the status of that case was not available.

That rotation system used both towing companies, with each company providing towing service a month at a time.

Councilman Leonard Vasquez said he would not support entering into an agreement with Case.

"Basically, I'd be against it because of the history," he said.

Other council members were not available for comment.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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