I’m wondering who else got a laugh watching the convoy of shiny tow trucks that circled City Hall like mechanized vultures a few days ago. The drivers were protesting a proposed city law that would place all local towing companies under the supervision of the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Some of the drivers stood on streetcorners handing out fliers explaining the injustice of the city’s power grab.
Give me a break. There aren’t many forms of urban life lower than the PPA bosses, but owners of tow truck companies is one of them. This subspecies is permitted to steal your car if it is parked in an “illegal” space and hold it until you come up with the $150-plus ransom fee.
The new law would force tow drivers to acquire special licenses and bring towed vehicles to PPA lots, and would keep rival companies from fighting over towing rights at car-wreck scenes.
One tow driver complained that the law would eliminate jobs. Pretty funny. Over the decades, Philly has lost countless thousands of manufacturing jobs to corporate outsourcing and thousands of desk jobs to suburbs that have more business-friendly tax laws. Philly over-relies on taxes and parking tickets to pay its bills because no one in city government has been smart enough to make the sort of changes that would attract new businesses and generate jobs.
The city feeds on itself, ultimately, and would be dead if not for tourism and the universities and hospitals. What would it matter if we lost a few vultures? They probably don’t even live here.
One useful nugget from the tow driver story in Philadelphia Daily News: It turns out George Smith, owner of the most notorious of the towing companies, is actually a shifty old bird named Anthony D’Angelo who is downright indignant because hundreds of towing companies are being penalized thanks to a few “bad apples.”
Yes, George, or Anthony, it’s a tough town we live in. It’s getting so even the vultures can’t feed in peace.