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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Mayor proclaims Safe Clear success without data

The Chronicle reports today that Mayor Bill White is trumpeting the success of the hotly debated Safe Clear program:
Collisions and deaths on Houston freeways have dropped significantly since the city's mandatory towing law took effect Jan. 1, Mayor Bill White will announce this morning. White, who has maneuvered around several political potholes while championing the Safe Clear program, also will tout statistics showing improved response time to wrecks and stalled vehicles, as well as a decrease in the time it takes to clear such incidents. The statistics, coming at the end of the first quarter, will serve as political ammunition in White's quest to validate the controversial program, saying it is achieving its goals of improving highway safety and reducing traffic congestion caused by crashes and stalled vehicles. "It's easier to get around Houston," said White, who previewed his announcement last week in a meeting with the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board. "Every day people come up to me and other members of council ... and say, 'I notice a difference.' "
Interestingly, despite the Chron's preview, none of those statistics managed to make it into the paper. But our hometown rag isn't the only one sitting on the numbers. Hizzonner is also a little short on other important data:
White could not provide the Chronicle with precise figures showing the cost of Safe Clear. He has raised his estimate of the free tows' cost to $900,000 per year. The Metropolitan Transit Authority has since agreed to fund up to $442,000 in courtesy tows for the city. Houston police Monday could not provide the number of city-paid tows to date.

Um, WHY THE HELL NOT? Try using that excuse in any other setting, and see how far you get. "I'm sorry, Mr. IRS Man. I can't provide you with precise figures showing how much I made this year. You'll just have to trust me on this one."

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