State Sen. Victor Crist should learn that crime happens, and people who commit crimes don’t always have a history of criminal conduct.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Crist announced the Glen Rich Act, a title he’s put on a bill he’s been trying to pass for the past decade. In January 2006, 30-year-old Glen Rich got into an argument with Donald Montanez, who was towing Rich’s car outside the Sugar Shack club. Montanez allegedly shot him to death and is in jail facing a charge of second-degree murder.
Crist and Rep. Julio Robaina, R-Miami, who proposed the bill in the Florida House, want to change all that. The bill entails enhancing regulations on towing companies, including a $495 registration fee due to the state annually. In addition, “Tow company owners who were convicted of a felony in the past seven years would be prohibited from conducting business, as would owners convicted in the last seven years of crimes involving repossession, motor vehicle theft, overcharging for repairs and a host of other vehicle-related offenses.”
Not that any of those regulations would be so bad, if one didn’t mind the pressure it placed on towing companies, which are usually small, local entities. The worst part, though, is that Rich’s violent murder wouldn’t even have been prevented by the proposed bill. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that Montanez didn’t have any felonies – or anything else that would have prohibited him from conducting lawful business – on his record at the time of the shooting. In fact, attorney Jay Hebert told the Times that Montanez shot Rich in self-defense when he feared Rich would hurt him.
Tow truck drivers are not roving bandits and murderers. It is unlikely Crist can prove tow truck companies are more likely to commit overcharging than, say, a body shop. It is unlikely Crist can show more murders are committed in the towing business than elsewhere. It’s unlikely, in fact, that Crist can justify any use for the Glen Rich Act whatsoever, except as a compassionate show of emotion to Rich’s widow, who stood next to Crist as he announced the bill’s new name.
That compassion may be heartfelt, but Crist’s compassion should not cost tow truck companies nearly $500 per year. There is, after all, no issue Crist can say his bill addresses: Not even the murder of the victim it was named after.