Few of us would expect to be able to get a vehicle out of an impound lot without paying.
Harford County, however, has no such facility. Instead, when the county, more properly the Harford County Sheriff's Office, has a vehicle towed, more than likely a private towing company is hired and the vehicle ends up on property in some way linked to that towing company.
(By contrast, Baltimore City has two towing impound lots, the main one being at 6700 Pulaski Highway, with a smaller one at 410 Fallsway. The main lot is familiar to anyone who drives into the city via I-895 to Moravia Road to Route 40.)
Of course, there are those among us who don't seem to believe the rules that apply to everyone else with regard to parking tickets, or retrieving a vehicle from an impound lot after a traffic accident apply to them. Some such folks are just loud and obnoxious when confronted with one of life's unpleasant realities. Others are more extreme.
Enter Del. Rick Impallaria, a Republican representing District 7 in the Maryland House of Delegates. As he tells it, the delegate was involved in a traffic accident two years ago, after which his car was towed by a private company. When the delegate went to get items out of the vehicle, and to retrieve the license plates, he was denied access until the towing bill was paid.
This wasn't unreasonable on the part of the towing company. The arrangement the sheriff's office has with towing companies means the county taxpayers aren't on the hook for the cost of towing cars that have been incapacitated by traffic accidents. For this to work, though, the towing companies need to be able to be paid for their services.
Impallaria, however, doesn't buy into this arrangement, so he has been beating the legislative drum in recent years on the subject of towing company regulation. And, more recently, he filed suit against Harford County Sheriff Jesse Bane, a Democrat, demanding the impound practices be overhauled. Impallaria is rather outspoken in his disdain for those outside his political party.
A visiting judge who heard the case threw it out, with prejudice (which means it is regarded as without merit and not eligible to be re-filed at a later date), which was the perfectly reasonable outcome of the matter. Impallaria has become increasingly notorious for his erratic behavior, though this rather self-serving little incident is possibly the most high profile of recent silliness. Even so, it is rivaled by his recent proclamation that Wegmans of Bel Air owes the Town of Bel Air something on the order of royalties for making use of the municipality's name.
Though such antics make for amusing stories, the likes of which will prompt an occasional political debate, they are counter-productive in the realm of public policy. As an elected delegate, Impallaria has been horribly ineffective in either bringing back money from Annapolis for projects in Harford County or, in the alternate, affecting the political debate in such a way as to reduce the amount of money the state government spends and reduce the public's tax burden.
While he certainly has plenty of skill when it comes to railing against anything he disagrees with, Impallaria seems utterly lacking in the most basic of social graces that would enable him to sit at the holiday dinner table with the adults and win over his colleagues on even the most basic elements of his political agenda.