Thursday, September 13, 2018

Singer Steve Goodman’s spirit rejoices (I’m sure), but will the courts agree?

I’m sure many people are hearing the spirit of folk singer Steve Goodman, what with the Illinois Commerce Commission making a (long overdue, in their opinion) ruling to take down the Lincoln Towing Company.
The long-time North Side-based business has developed quite a reputation throughout the years as an entity that is overzealous in the way it goes about towing automobiles that it contends are illegally parked.

THEN PUTS AUTO owners through quite an ordeal in order for them to reclaim their vehicles.

This reputation has been around for so long that back in the 1970s, the singer Goodman came up with his “Lincoln Park Pirates” song.

As Goodman put it in verse, “We plunder the streets of your town/be it Edsel or Chevy there’s no car too heavy/And no one can make us shut down.”

Personally, I feel fortunate to never have had to deal with Lincoln Towing (in large part because I go out of my way to do all my in-city traveling via the “el” or bus, along with the occasional taxicab). Although I have known people who had to endure the Lincoln Towing menace, going back several decades.

WHICH IS WHY the ICC actions of last year were long overdue.

The state agency that regulates interstate commerce (including utility companies but also services such as Lincoln Towing) has been investigating the towing service’s activities.

They contended there have been 831 violations of state towing laws between July 2015 and March 2016. I’m sure there are people who say that’s a miniscule accounting of all the improprieties they’d attribute to Lincoln Towing.

That resulted in the ICC ruling on Wednesday that the state license permitting Lincoln Towing to operate is revoked. The company has been silenced. Decades of the company’s victims may feel a sense of rejoice.

FOR ALL I know, Goodman’s song may well be playing in their mental jukeboxes over and over and over again to the point where they will become tired of the tune. Maybe they'll then switch over to his "Daley's Gone" tune that was a tribute (of sorts) to the old man, Richard J.
The sad part of this is that this issue is not resolved. Because the Chicago Tribune reported how an administrative law judge previously ruled that there were “inconsistencies” in those hundreds of alleged violations and that claims of illegal activity were actually, “without merit and not supported by the record.”

But that administrative judge’s legal opinion amounts to a recommendation for the ICC, one that the commission apparently chose to ignore.

Could it be that Lincoln Towing has developed such a negative reputation throughout the years that the ICC couldn’t bring itself to rule in their favor. Could Goodman’s tune have been playing in the mindsets of the commission members when they made their own decision Wednesday morning?

IT WILL BE interesting to see how this situation plays out, because Lincoln Towing now has the right to sue the state of Illinois to challenge the ICC ruling. Considering that it is the only way the company will be able to continue operating, a lawsuit is inevitable.

Will a Cook County judge ultimately restore Lincoln Towing’s “good name?” Which, quite frankly, isn’t all that good, because Goodman (who has been dead for more than three decades) has proven the power of the pen being mightier than the sword with regard to the “Pirates.” That song will influence more people than any court ruling that could be forthcoming in future years.

It may be the sad part about Goodman’s life and career that he died at age 36. He did songs about the Chicago Cubs (of whom he was a fan), but didn’t live long enough to see them win a championship.
And he didn’t come close to living long enough to seen Lincoln Towing get its (temporary, at least) comeuppance.


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