Disputes continue between Gainesville, local towing company

Ultimate Towing of Gainesville, a company that is not new to controversy, is once again in hot water with Gainesville residents and authorities as complaints mount against the company. District City Commissioner Adrien Hayes-Santos has clashed with the towing company over spotters which contribute to what he and other Gainesville residents have characterized as predatory practices by the company. The most recent clash has the Gainesville Police Department investigating Ultimate Towing over its recent decision not to accept credit card payments, a move city commission says violates city ordinance.

Ultimate Towing has since claimed to have reinstated the ability to pay through credit card. However, they also dispute that refusing to allow credit card payments violates city ordinance. Further violation has been threatened by the GDP with the termination of Ultimate Towing’s business license and the ability to tow trespassers. The ordinance requires towing fees be payable by cash, credit card, and/or debit card. Focusing on the “or” has been the focal point of Ultimate Towing’s argument against being penalized, claiming as long as debit card payments are available they shouldn’t have to accept credit cards.

Ultimate Towing has a history of being on the bad side of Gainesville officials and authorities. It’s previous owner was arrested for stealing scooters and staging them as illegally parked so they they could be towed. The company was also briefly suspended from conducting business in 2011 for violating policies with what city officials then called predatory actions.

Hayes-Santos has stated his goal is to protect the residents of Gainesville from a company that takes advantage and bleeds customers/victims for profit. Ultimate Towing stopped accepting credit cards in response to criticism for its spotting practice, which had led to a large increase in owners of towed vehicles disputing payment for their impounded cars. Complaints reached commissioner Hayes-Santos through email, phone, facebook and reddit about doing something about the towing service. Taking down the company seems like a mission Hayes-Santos intends to fulfill.

Gainesville Politician Faces Legal Challenge to Election

District 4 City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos will be in court Monday, February 13th for a one day non-jury trial that will determine the legitimacy of his candidacy. A newcomer to politics, Hayes-Santos won with over 80% of vote in the March, 2016 election for the vacant District 4 Commissioner seat. His opponent in that race, Jim Konish filed a lawsuit against Hayes-Santos shortly before the election alleging he did not meet the residency requirements to run for that seat.

Hayes-Santos has acted as commissioner over an area that includes the University of Florida campus for several months. He has supported the Connected Gainesville initiative to improve the speed and scope of internet in Gainesville through GRU. Hayes-Santos made improving internet and utilities one of the main focuses of his campaign, and since the election has been aggressively pursuing and crafting policy to provide internet access to a developing city that sorely needs it.

If ruled against, it is unclear if Hayes-Santos will be removed from the position or how the courts will decide to deal with the political dilemma. Hayes-Santos has recently been involved with a memorandum between Gainesville and the University of Florida to collaborate officially on development projects including transportation, housing and environmental protection. This legal challenge poses the final hurdle to Hayes-Santos’ ability to pursue the envisioned promises of the campaign.

Hayes-Santos has denied the allegations and claims he has met the requirements of residency. As the plaintiff, Konish is identified as a duly qualified candidate for Gainesville City Commissioner. It can be speculated he would attempt to assume the position if the courts ruled in his favor in lieu of a special election, as he was the only other candidate running against Hayes-Santos. Also listed as defendants are the Supervisor of Elections, the City of Gainesville Election Canvassing Board, and the Alachua County Board of Canvassers. Both sides will deliver testimonies in court on Monday before Judge Monica Brasington.