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Voice: Corrections don't retract first impression

November 26, 2001

It's amazing how the impact of a first impression makes its mark, like sensational news typically found in tabloid publications. These articles are meant to sell papers, and whatever errors are present can be "corrected in the record" later to keep the publication out of court.

Even if the paper is apologetic in its retraction, it doesn't matter much because the first impression objective has been obtained. Accuracy not the goal, selling papers is.

Imperial Valley Press reporter Mario Renteria wrote a sensational, inaccurate article regarding my business that was very upsetting and potentially damaging to my business. Published Monday, it was titled, "Case Towing seeks contract with Calipatria."

Although by now Managing Editor Bret Kofford will have kindly printed a correction, I feel compelled to reiterate the corrections and further explain.

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1. When I appeared before the City Council on Tuesday, I didn't ask for a contract. I asked that we have our service area for towing restored to what it is supposed to be, which includes towing for the Calipatria Police Department. The city does not pay us for towing police impounded vehicles

2. We never sued Calipatria. We did file a claim against the city in 1998 because some city officials were libeling us by perpetuating false accusations against us. We never wanted money from the city; we just wanted them to stop saying these untrue things. Because we filed that claim, they unjustly removed us from city towing. They said that they didn't want to pay us to sue them. The sitting council members erroneously believed the city was paying us for towing police impounds, which was never the case. We chose not to fight their decision at the time.

What actually happened several years ago? When Byron Walker sued Calipatria he sued us, too, alleging racketeering. The Department of Justice had already investigated and found no evidence of racketeering, but Walker's attorneys ignored that. The accusations were later dropped because we provided over 14,000 documents that proved that the allegations of payoffs and illegal towing were false. Without our documents, Calipatria couldn't disprove the allegation.

While nothing can completely undo the damage of Mario Renteria's inaccurate article, I hope this letter helps to clear things up in the minds of our friends and customers. I hope Mr. Renteria will be more careful in the future.

THERESA and LARRY BOWERS

Case Towing

Niland

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