fbpx

Save Essential News!

Donate Today!

Donor Supporters

Jessie Ong

Alhambra Source provides objective and important news reporting for our community.

Efren Moreno, Former Alhambra Mayor

Thank you Alhambra Source for truly informing the residents of Alhambra.

Jeff Maloney, Alhambra City Council Member

The Source has become an important source for news, public interest, and serious journalism in our community. Keep it up!

Sara Harris

As a career journalist and EJ advocate, I see community-based media like the Alhambra Source as crucial to democracy and equality.

Chris Olson

I support Alhambra Source as often as I can because I believe a free and independent press is vital to the democratic process. No other news outlet with high journalistic standards consistently covers the stories and issues that matter to our community.

Adele Andrade Stadler, Alhambra City Council Member

The Source is a great independent newspaper that celebrates the communities and is not afraid to ask the tough questions!

Cliff Bender, Vice President, Alhambra Education Foundation

I want to know what's going on in my community- News, events, and human interest stories. The Alhambra Source gives me the information I need.

Joyce & Oscar Amaro, Alhambra Preservation Group

We support Alhambra Source because this online news source is vitally important in engaging, informing and educating the residents of Alhambra.

Laura Vasquez

Alhambrans need to know the truth about our area!

Michael Lawrence, Alhambra Arts Commissioner

Keep bringing on the stories. The Source has given us so much and I am happy to donate to such an important part of our community.

Karsen Luthi

Thank you for creating Alhambra Source and providing timely reporting of important local news. Fight on!

Mr. Konnyaku

I support news reporting that is unbiased and informative. Really enjoy the excellent coverage on local city council and planning commission meetings.

Guadulesa Rivera

Alhambra Source unifies the community and keeps us involved.

Erwin Lee

Such a valuable source of what’s happening in city where we live. Objective reporting that informs us and allows us to come to our own conclusions.

Questions raised about exclusive contract between city of Alhambra and towing company

This Fall, Alhambra's City Council unanimously approved an exclusive police towing contract with Pavon Enterprises, more commonly known as Al's Towing, but not before residents and a rival towing company raised questions about the legality of this agreement.

On July 1, 2016, the city had extended its exclusive contract with Al's Towing, which had held the contract since 2009.

But Robert Ring, a lawyer for another Alhambra-based towing company, Henry's Towing, objected, arguing that granting an exclusive contract like this one was illegal. Ring cited the Alhambra city charter, Article XXI, Section 150, which says: "The council shall have power to designate the terms, conditions and duration of all franchises, subject to the general laws of the state and the provisions of this Charter relating thereto; provided, that no exclusive franchise shall ever be granted."

Ring said that Henry's Towing had wanted to bid for the contract, but did not have the opportunity. "Sometimes you have to work around laws," he said. "But just to wholesale ignore them is wrong. What's the point of having charters? What's the point of having laws?"

Alhambra City Attorney Joseph Montes declined to comment on whether the city charter supports such an agreement, saying that it would interfere with his ability to defend the city council.

A conflict of interest?

At the October City Council meeting when the new contract was approved, Alhambra resident Michael Lawrence said that Al's Towing had donated money to every current council member, implying that the entire council had a conflict of interest.

"Although this might not be illegal, this has the look of impropriety," Lawrence said during the public comment period.

Documents obtained by the Alhambra Source show each city council member receiving donations from Joe Pavon or Al's Towing from as early as 2004 and as recently as 2015. According to these monetary contribution records, Councilman Luis Ayala received $1,500, Stephen Sham $4,850, Steven Placido $4,000, Gary Yamauchi $8,980 and Barbara Messina $2,500.

Records also show that Henry's Towing donated $200 to Barbara Messina's campaign in 2007.

After Ring brought up his concerns, the city council revised the July 1, 2016 contract, to exclude a franchise fee of 15 percent of gross revenue that was originally in the document, and that had also been included in the 2009 contract. Originally, Al's Towing would have had to pay the city that fee.

Records show that since 2010, Al's Towing has given an average of almost $45,000 to the city in franchise fee revenue. During fiscal year 2015-2016, Al's Towing paid the city of Alhambra $50,247.46 in revenue.

At the October council meeting, resident Nick Aguirre asked why this franchise fee was now missing. "If Alhambra loses out on a yearly income of 15 percent, they lose out on a huge amount of money that could be used to improve our city, like more police officers," he said.

Montes, the city attorney, said that the city eliminated the fee in order to make it explicit that the contract with Al's Towing was an exclusive one. He added that the city's police department was satisfied with this towing company and preferred working with one company, making it easier to continue its relationship with Al's Towing, rather than putting the contract out for bid again.

Messina added that the City Council does review other applications, but goes with the bidder it believes will do the best job. "And because we have accepted donations from several people, that doesn't guarantee that we will support them," she told Lawrence. "Your painting all of us with a brush like that is really unfair."

Thank you for reading our story! Alhambra Source is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our newsroom reports fact-based quality journalism that educates, informs and engages our diverse communities - with no paywall. Support our mission and donate today!

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

Leave a Reply

3 thoughts on “Questions raised about exclusive contract between city of Alhambra and towing company”

  1. Meant to say “Former three-term city councilman, Mark Paulson, IS NOW a consultant/lobbyist for most of the city contractors and big developers in Alhambra.” Just correcting my previous statement.

  2. The problem is that the current powers that be on the city council have been doing this with contracts for so long that I am sure that they truly do not see anything wrong with it. Former three-term city councilman, Mark Paulson, is not a consultant/lobbyist for most of the city contractors and big developers in Alhambra. He is making tens of thousands of dollars doing this while he sits on the SGV Municipal Water Board! That gives you an idea of the kind of people entrenched at city hall. This “you do for me and I’ll do for you” mentality is called corruption. Take off your blinders Alhambra city council. You’re not fooling anyone. Clean up your act!

  3. Someone should please advise Ms. Messina that even the perception of favoritism when accepting campaign donations is NOT acceptable when dealing with public funds (the taxpayer’s money). Having a “favorite” vendor, contractor, or service provider is NOT an ethical excuse for failure to allow for competitive bids on a public contract. Lastly, it is extremely naive to think that the “favorite” company is going to give the City 100% when it knows it has nothing to fear regarding a guaranteed “evergreen” contract. This is truly shameful.

Stay Informed.

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter.

For fact-based COVID-19 coverage, AUSD and Alhambra City Hall happenings that impact your life subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter.