County Seeks Whereabouts of Tow Fees

An internal audit is underway in a northern Illinois county into almost $11,000 that's unaccounted for from a sheriff's department towing fund.

The Ogle County Sheriff's Department expects the audit to take a couple of months, according to a report.

The investigation began after a forensic auditor could not account for the money in the county's administrative tow fund. The fund was controlled by ex-Sheriff Michael Harn.

An ordinance allows the sheriff's department to charge $350 when it has vehicles towed.

The forensic audit also found that about $61,000 in fees were not deposited in the county's general fund as required.

Brian VanVickle was sworn in as sheriff on Dec. 1. He said files were gone from computers that the former sheriff and his executive assistant had used.


'Today' Show Reports [b]on Towing in Lot

NBC's "Today" show recently featured a report on aggressive towing practices focusing in on a downtown parking lot in Bethesda, Md.

Reporter Jeff Rossen's report included a look at how quickly tow truck operators pounce at the lot which is one of two downtown Bethesda lots that receives many towing complaints.

Drivers often get towed after parking at the spots reserved for a Mattress Warehouse store and once they park and walk to the nearby Verizon store or U.S. Post Office.

In the segment, Rossen's producer left her car in one of the Mattress Warehouse spots before walking off.

The reporter claimed it took only about 10 minutes for a tow truck driver from Rockville-based Authorized Towing to show up and hook up the vehicle to his truck.

Rossen than confronted the tow truck driver and asked how he knew to find the illegally parked car so fast.

He also asked if he felt that the driver should give motorists a warning as "a matter of common courtesy." But the tow truck driver went on to calmly explain the process to Rossen, and got host Matt Lauer's respect in the process.

The unidentified tower explained, "That's not the job, sir. The job is to tow vehicles that park illegally. People need to stop victimizing themselves. If you get towed, you need to learn how to just accept it, and you need to learn how to read the signs properly." He added that the signs are clear and it's the driver's fault.

"The driver was pretty impressive though," Lauer said while chatting with Rossen after the segment.

Authorized Towing told NBC News that all protocols and laws were followed in the tows that they showed during the report.

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Are You a [b]'Toxic' Leader?

According to an article appearing on the Journal of Emergency Medical Services website, toxic leaders don't get their hands dirty and surround themselves with "yes" men.

Now this doesn't sound like any tow company owner I know; by nature of the profession, it calls for some dirt under the nails, as well as being administratively hands-on.

However, one statement in the article caught my eye: "If you have more than 20-percent turnover in your organization in a year, either through resignations, terminations or retirements, chances are you're a toxic leader."

In Tow Industry Week's September poll, we asked what was the driver turnover rate at your company every two years. The results showed that 35 percent of those who responded experienced at least 20-percent turnover. Even allowing for the difference between the two years asked in the poll and the one year based on the article, it's still a significant number.

Reflection time: Consider if you are a "toxic" leader. Do you have high turnover in your organization? If so, begin to think of ways that you can modify your leadership style in order to build a good, strong, personnel-consistent company.
--Charles Duke
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