Friday, July 19, 2013

Chief of Police Issues Apology for Statements Made as Documents Reveal Mayor Don Purdy Attended Meetings Discussing Towing

"I apologize for the misunderstanding/misstatement, there was no intent to be misleading" stated Chief of Police Patrick Moran. Moran made that statement in response to a document received through an Open Public Records request. The document revealed that Mayor Don Purdy attended a Public Safety Meeting in September 2011 where the issue of raising the Towing Rates was discussed. 

The issue regarding Towing Rate Increases was initially raised when Council was presented with an Ordinance for adoption on June 25, 2013, that would increase the Towing Fees. Purdy who owns the company of DP Towing, has a license with the Township in order to Tow vehicles which are controlled under the same ordinance. 

Purdy who was present at the Council Meeting, recused himself from the Public discussion on the Ordinance.  After dialogue between Council members, Township Solicitor Michael Fitzgerald, Township Manager Arch Liston and Chief of Police Patrick Moran it was said multiple times that Purdy had nothing to do with the request of raising the rates. Moran further stated at the meeting to Council, that Purdy was also not involved in any discussions of Towing and raising the rates.  

Listen to the Audio of that Discussion by Clicking HERE. presented the meeting notes to Moran requesting if his statement to Council was accurate and if the meeting notes were accurate as well. Moran stated, "the notes from September 2011 are accurate. I forgot the then Deputy Mayor (Purdy) did attend a public safety meeting where the issue was discussed in September 2011. My comments at council about Purdy not attending the meetings were in reference to the recent meetings with Tow Companies where the rates were requested." The rate request according to Moran, was requested by Dennis Spier, another Towing contractor for the Township. Dennis Spier confirmed to that he requested the rate increase but that everyone else also agreed with the request. 

"I apologize for the misunderstanding/misstatement, there was no intent to be misleading. Additionally, I cannot remember if he (Purdy) recused himself, stepped out of the room, or just remained silent but I don't recall any conversations that he participated in and there none noted" stated Moran regarding the September 2011 meeting.

The Township has maintained the position that there is not a conflict regarding Mayor Don Purdy and his company DP Towing to have license with the Township. The Township has also maintained that Purdy was not involved with any discussions so as to limit the perception of a conflict. Documents released by the Township appear to show some type of involvement regarding Purdy in his official capacity the Deputy Mayor of the Township. 

The meeting occurred on September 27, 2011. Councilman Tom Bassford along with Councilwoman Whitney Ullman were also in attendance with Purdy according to the Meeting Notes released by the Township. According to the meeting notes, "Towing Proposal" was listed as an agenda item with "no decision on increased fees that were requested" as the result.

Moran also confirmed that Purdy was present for another meeting on August 11, 2011. Moran stated Purdy "advised he did not want to participate in conversations regarding rate increases but I can't remember if he left the room, if the topic was discussed in his presence, or had to leave as there are no written notes regarding the meeting."

The Township had a recent meeting in January 2013 in which Moran believes Purdy sent a representative by the name of "Greg" to the meeting. According to Moran, Greg did not comment on the proposed rate increases by Denny's (Dennis Spier).

There has been multiple confirmations that Purdy attended meetings in which Towing procedures and rates were discussed, however, Moran could not recall if Purdy was part of the discussions. We reached out to Purdy in order to receive first hand the confirmation and Purdy did not return our request seeking comment.

According to the ordinance the Chief of Police is responsible for placing each Towing company on a rotating schedule so each company can receive an equitable amount of tows. Moran believes that the rotation allows for each Tow Company to tow for about 21 to 22 weeks a year. For the purpose of towing, Moran's schedule splits the Township between the East and West side of town.  

According to Moran, each towing company is on for one week at a time. Regional and Hi Way Towing are placed on the West side while Denny's and DP Towing are placed on the East side of the Township. Done Right Towing flips back and forth between the East and West side of the town in the rotation schedule because they are the newest Towing company on the list. Each company is placed in these permanent areas for response time purposes, according to Moran.

According to Liston, there is no advantage of one company over the other, it is all by chance on how it is done. However, Councilman Jim McElwee stated at the June 25, 2013 Council Meeting that he felt Liston's comment was not true since only two companies have equipment to Tow the heavier vehicles. requested the total number of Tows per year in which each company performed in 2011, 2012 and year to date for 2013. The Township released the totals that identifies the Mayor's Towing Company of DP Towing as the company who received the highest number each year. In 2011, DP Towing garnered 249 tows while in 2012 the total was 255.  According to documents released by the Township, at any point in time the Township could be have about 200 vehicles sitting in various tow lots. Municipal towing in Galloway is about at $250,000 gross business, ($100,000 in tow fees and $150,000 in storage). 

Moran also confirmed an additional discussion regarding Towing pertained to the storage of seized vehicles. At one point a discussion and legal research was conducted by former Township Solicitor Michael Blee regarding a proposed agreement with Don Purdy. Blee billed the Township for the review of that agreement. The agreement would have allowed seized vehicles to be stored on Purdy's secured Towing lot for the Township at no cost to the Township. 

"Section of the property was going to be fenced in and utilized by us (Police Department) at no cost to the Township" Moran stated. "It was proposed that the area would be secured and accessed by utilizing our locks.  Vehicles that would be held for evidence or seized would be stored there. Because those vehicles are ordered held for evidence there would be no charge for the storage. The on call tow would tow the vehicle to that location and drop it there; the lot would be opened by the PD and secured." Moran stated. 

According to documents released by the Township, the other Tow Companies were not in favor of this proposed agreement with Purdy. To our knowledge, this agreement was never executed between the Township and Don Purdy. 

The Restore Galloway Team called upon Purdy on July 8, 2013. “The idea that the police department calling the mayor to tow vehicles is not a conflict of interest doesn’t pass anyone’s smell test,” McElwee, Montag, Sudler and Suleiman said. “Mayor Purdy should do the right thing and end this conflict of interest by dissolving his business relationship with Galloway Township.”

Galloway Township Council is set to have a Public Hearing for the second time on a proposed amendment to the Towing Ordinance. Council will meet on July 23, 2013 at 6:30pm to discuss the amendment. 

The latest amendment would lower the Insurance the Township requires for each Tow Companies to carry from $2,000,000 to $1,000,000. The discussion was had that the lowering of the insurance requirements would allow the Tow Companies to save up to $14,000 a year in premium costs.  This amendment could allow for smaller towing operators if they meet the ordinance criteria, to be able to obtain a license to Tow for the Township. 

The Police Department approves each of the Towing Companies authorized to tow for the Township. 


Anonymous said...

Here we go again. Doesn't anyone understand this Mayor does what he wants when he wants. Just deal with him and leave the rest of the Tow guys alone. Kick him off council or kick him off the list. Its an easy solution. He needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Its not the documents appear to show, the documents you have do show the Mayor was involved. Purdy has done this for years. Peek from behind the mirror. I guess now these documents are staring him in the face from the same mirror he is peeking behind from. Good job on reporting. Finally expose him for what he is.

Ron schreiber said...

Ha Ha yea that's it don't say anything. it will go away ..right

Anonymous said...

Can't the Twp just suspend his license till November when everyone votes him out? I doubt he would sue his own town. Or maybe he would sue. He can't use his personal attorney that agreed with the Twp Attorney that he could tow since the Twp hired his personal attorney. O well taxpayers. Stuck with more of this BS.

Anonymous said...

When will the lies stop? As taxpayers can we not ask someone, anyone with some authority to officially investigate what our "leaders" are some doing? Threats, lies, back room deals, illeagally taped phone conversations, lawsuits - The list goes on and on. And they all have one thing in common, it started in November of 2009.

Anonymous said...

Council needs to open their eyes and instead of hiring Purdys personal attorney to investigate unfounded lies that some of them including purdy were part of, lets have them investigate Purdy. Wrong decisions are being made in repetition and no one up there is ready to stand up to Purdy. Council needs to make the right decisions for us taxpayers. We see it why can't council?

Anonymous said...

Liston says to the Chief in the recording, have you ever had any conversations with the Mayor about this, Chief says no. Slight memory lapse there Chief. And in front of council. Seems like everyone who isn't so forth coming should be called into question. Not just those you have a vengeance against! Do as I say, not as I do and if you see me do it, turn the other cheek.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to our Chief for apologizing. Not many out there will admit when they were wrong. At least the Moran is standing up against Purdy. He took that limb right out from underneath him.

Anonymous said...

Thick as thieves.....the joke is on the taxpayers of Galloway Township. They run this town like they own it.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the Chief for apologizing? More like getting caught in another lie and doing a little cya.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the Chief wasn't under oath. Only the media can expose something like this. I want to know why hasn't the Mayor apologized for all his transgressions?

Publisher said...

Chief Moran: as the Publisher, although I thanked you personally, I will do so publicly. The Chief has been extremely cooperative and also allowed time for Captain Doyle to conduct research and provide same for publication of the article.

Although the question was raised at the June 25th Council meeting as to what if any involvement may have or not have occurred regarding Mayor Don Purdy, I feel this article accurately depicts what involvement or attendance he had at meetings.

The Chief is correct in the proposal for Council on Rates in 2013 were completely different than 2011. The rates on 2011 were significantly less, however the "Rates" were not the focus of the story. The involvement of the Mayor, if any, was. I appreciate your opinion but I feel the story is represented correctly

The email in which the Chief is referring to will be published, however, there is also another story that email will be tied to regarding a recent ruling that the PBA was awarded on July 18th. I fully intend to bring all those issues to full circle.

Again, Thank you to the Chief and staff for their cooperation.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Chief Moran, I find it troubling that you say there is misleading information here when you are the one who provided the misleading information to Council. I was at the meeting and the show that you, Archie and Tony put on was ridiculous. You were trying so hard to make a point that the Mayor had no involvement that you forgot about 2011. It doesn't matter in my eyes whether he wasn't involved then or now, he still was involved. I agreed initially to the kudos to you because you admitted you were wrong about your statement but then you just tried to discredit this site. I agree there as has been articles on here that have been hard to read and understand but the proof is the proof. Period. This story to me has to be one of the most balanced story I have read on here yet. Government never likes to be exposed for things they do, but owning up to it, gives those officials more respect.

Anonymous said...

Smug, shallow and off course...BUT...thanks for "clarifying".

Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinion except this site. Everyone feels the Publisher is never allowed to state opinion when writing articles. I find that to be absurd. This isn't a traditional news site that is swayed but republicans or democrats. All I have seen is proof provided in every story and the Township act like the Publisher is lying. News flash for Tony Coppolla. When you back the Mayor, make sure there is something there to back than a hollow promise that he expects some favor in return. We have all fallen in the trap. Your smarter to realize otherwise. Off soapbox.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely believe that it most certainly a conflict of interest that our Mayor has a contract to tow with his tow company for the township. I think it so bad that it is unlawful that he keep using his "weight" as mayor to do this!

Anonymous said...

Chief, what happened to the Mayors company in 2010 when he broke towing policy to pick up a vehicle and drop in a new location. You thought it was a kind gesture. Did he ever get disciplined for that?

Anonymous said...

WHAT??? Galloway police admitting that they were wrong! That's a first. Maybe Purdy and Moran should go. I don't think anyone would miss either.

Anonymous said...

Read all about it. This is the song that never ends. Reading about Purdy towing for years. I don't think if he gave up towing for Galloway that it would hurt his bank account much. He has all of the other surrounding towns and the Hospital. At this point its arrogance to keep the contract because I think he's trying to prove by doing it he should and not that he can. It's an ethical decision that obviously I think he is having a hard time making. How many years do you need? You only have 3 months left before November. Keep the license but give it up if you win election. That would at least be a grand gesture. For the democrats, he needs to tow so he can continue his campaigning on the side of the road. Didn't he have a vote for Polistina on the back of his tow truck? I'm sure we will see a vote for Purdy on his.

Anonymous said...

Lets be real about all of this. You have a Chief of Police apologizing for something he said that could have been misconstrued. Well that's all fine but why hasn't the Mayor apologized as well? He's in fault with this. He could have stepped out of the back room to clear his name at the meeting and he didn't. Now he had a chance to do it here and he doesn't issue a statement like the Chief did. I applaud the Chief but I am extremely disappointed in the Mayor. He has lost my vote and large amount of others too.

Anonymous said...

I see this clear as day. A cops husband isn't allowed to Tow for the Township but the Mayor can. Where's there difference in that? The Mayor and council approve the Police Department Budget. Yet no one sees the issue here about that? I am one for someone to build their business to biggest possibility they can. Purdy is doing that with all the contracts around the county. Why is Galloway so important that he can't see pass or his family and friends can't see past the ethical issue that arises. Purdy wanted to graciously give a portion of his Towing lot to store all the seized vehicles. In a Ruplican council that would pass easily, so why didn't he do it? Maybe he knew to much controversy so he backed off? Why is the Mayor not understanding what everyone else is seeing here. I urge the Council and Mayor to speak up and answer this question once and for all. Why did it take getting caught for this to come to head. Purdy did nothing but secure the Democratics a chance to challenge him. If Purdy wanted to do that then I say go for it Democratics. We need a change in Galloway and we need it bad.

Anonymous said...

Chief always tries to "clarify" everything. Against policy, is policy, not policy. Just say the words and be done. Don't give an explanation that all of us could care less about.

Anonymous said...

All of this bander back and forth made me research the Township Towing Ordinance to see if it prohibits the Mayor from Towing. Although theres no prohibition, I would like to know how the Mayor is able to abide by the one section of:

"(6) The municipal towing contractor shall not represent that he is a servant, agent or employee of the Township with respect to said towing service, but is an independent contractor and shall not hold himself out as an official member of the government of the Township of Galloway or of its departments."

The Mayor is a an official member of the government. I highly doubt he walks up to a tow in the town and people don't stop to talk to him as the MAYOR.

How is it Galloway Attorneys didn't catch that years ago? Publisher, you were the Clerk and I am sure you signed many licenses for Mayor Purdy in the Towing Industry. Was this a slip up by you as well?

Anonymous said...

I find it humorous that the Chief of Police gets caught in a lie, screams semantics and amnesia, then blames the publisher.

Anonymous said...

A problem I have with this is even though the Chief apologizes for what he says was only because something could have been misconstrued. He didn't apologize because he said he was wrong for answering the one question of, did he ever talk to Purdy about Towing and Rates. The Chief said no. Why hasn't the Chief apologized for that answer. And Chief, the PBA email, I would like to know how you released such an email when the PBA is permitted to have their emails exempt from disclosure for Collective Bargaining reasons. Are you now the one releasing records that are NOT Permitted to be released, just because you have to pump your chest and show what the Unions position is about release of information? Maybe the publisher didn't throw up an email that shouldn't have gone out and also gives away the unions strategy against your disciplinary hearings of current IA's you are conducting. I find it appalling you allow other websites to divulge information that should never be divulged and to back you up like you can't do it yourself. I think charges of unfair labor practice should be brought against you and the other website. Your conduct lately has been extremely unbecoming and your ties to those are even worse. Sometimes those that believe they are above the law are really those that have to swim to rescue when caught.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with you. It's a shame he looks at that email like a pat on the back, no pun intended, and tries to shove it in the face of the publisher when our email shouldn't have gone out to begin with. The union will be addressing this issue. We ask the Publisher not to publish the email the Township released because in our opinion, it should not have been sent out. It divulges union strategy and position for a defense against one of the police officers already facing an Investigation.

Publisher said...

To the last two Anonymous posts, I have contacted the Union and will receive their opinion regarding the email before I release anything to the Public. Since I have been accused by the Chief for releasing information that should have otherwise not have gone out (as I was a former litigant against the Township claiming same), I am taking the conservative approach and verifying with the Union to see if they have any objections regarding the release before publication.

The only exception regarding collective bargaining is:

12) Information generated by or on behalf of public employers or public employees in connection with:
a. Anysexualharassmentcomplaintfiledwithapublicemployer;
b. Any grievance filed by or against an individual; or
c. Collective negotiations, including documents and statements of strategy or
negotiating position.

Given the sensitivity of the issue and that to my knowledge one officer is already under investigation, both B and C would have been enough for the Township to exempt the record and they did not.

I will not release any record unless all parties agree to the release of same.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lisa. We knew you would understand.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see a news organization cooperate with the Township before releasing something that could be detrimental to their staff. Good job Galloway News.

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