In a surprising turn of events, the Wilkes-Barre City Council last week unanimously approved a resolution asking Mayor Tom Leighton to begin the process of teminating the city’s contract with its controversial towing company, LAG. But does anyone think for a minute that is going to happen?
The mayor sounds more like LAG owner Leo Glodzik’s defense attorney than a city executive concerned about serious allegations Glodzik may have unfairly charged victims of crimes, in violation of his city contract.
“Without solid grounds, we’re not going to move forward,” the mayor told The Citizens’ Voice in response to the council’s resolution. “As Mr. George agreed, it costs money to move forward.” Yes, we remember that, like when you moved forward in suing Denise Carey for lawyer’s fees after she protested the closure of her neighborhood fire station. We also remember that you lost that one.
It seems rather clear that the mayor does not want to terminate the contract of his bud, Glodzik, despite rising accusations that he charged some people whose cars were towed after being stolen, in violation of his contract.
“This is something that while it’s important, we have many important things that we’re working on,” Leighton also told the CV.
Normally, we’d be supportive of Mayor Leighton for looking before he leaps. After all, Glodzik could sue the city, as former city tower Bob Kadluboski successfully did after arguing in court that the city did not afford him the opportunity to defend himself against complaints.
Leighton is being more careful now, although he’s kind of throwing caution to the wind in going ahead with the demolition of the Hotel Sterling even though it’s owner, CityVest, has refused to accept any liability. The county refused to budge on that issue. Leighton said something along the lines of we’ll worry about that later.
Well the solid grounds the mayor was searching for before moving ahead with bringing Glodzik in for a formal hearing may have arrived on Friday when another alleged victim came forward, claiming that Glodzik’s company charged him $275 to get his stolen car back.
Randall Panetta, of Salem Twp., called city councilman Tony George, who last year was the lone wolf in calling for LAG’s termination, after reading newspaper accounts about the towing company’s business dealings. Panetta said LG made him pay $275 in cash to get back his stolen car. When he said he didn’t have that amount of cash on him, an LAG employee told him, “Then the car stays here.” according to a news report.
Last week, both The Times Leader and the CV reported that Glodzik told an 82-year woman that to get back her stolen car, she’d have to pay $2,000. Glodzik said the woman’s question was hypothetical, and that he charged her nothing. Of course he didn’t. Hearing that pricetag, she turned over the title to him, probably relieved that she saved herself a small fortune.
So how did the mayor respond? He told the press that the woman was happy with the way LAG treated her.
All of this is hardly surprising considering that Glodzik and the mayor are buddies. For starters, Glodzik has been a regular donor to the mayor’s campaign coffers. And the mayor tried to hand him the title to the former Old River Road property for a song. But now, instead of being used for a lot for junked vehicles, Harrold’s Pharmacy purchased it after the Leighton administration was forced to put it out for bids.
Unfortunately for Glodzik, he messed with the wrong guy when he towed the car of Forty Fort resident Mark Robbins. Robbins claimed that when he went to pick up his vehicle, it was damaged and that Glodzik refused to take any responsibilty. Since then, Robbins has alleged that Glodzik has taken advantage of the poor and vulnerable. Mark Robbins has become a Don Quixote of sorts, attempting to right what he’s perceived as wrongs, not only against himself but also against others.
So the ball is now in Mayor Tom Leighton’s court. He didn’t hesitate to bounce “Cupcake” Kadluboski for allegedlly mistreating the public.
Whatever will he do his time?
- Betty Roccograndi