Welcome to The Voice of DC Cab Drivers brought to you by the Dominion of Cab Drivers, here on WUST 1120 AM. I’m Pete Tucker with TheFightBack, TheFightBack.org. To all the moms out there, including mine, happy Mother’s Day.
Tuesday at 4:00 PM in room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building, located at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, former Ward 5 Councilmember Vincent Orange will be sworn in as the newest member of the D.C. Council. In last month’s special election, Vincent Orange defeated incumbent Sekou Biddle, who had been temporarily appointed by the D.C. Democratic State Committee to fill the seat previously held by now-Council Chair Kwame Brown.
During the campaign for at-large councilmember, I asked each of the candidates a series of ten questions, two of which were directly related to the taxicab industry. In responding to the taxicab questions, Vincent Orange’s comments were concerning. “The entire taxicab industry in the District of Columbia really needs to have a comprehensive reevaluation of how it operates,” said Orange. And on the subject of the recently introduced medallion legislation, Mr. Orange declined to take a position, saying only, “I’m looking forward to being part of the debate.”
[Audio - Vincent Orange]
That was then-candidate, now-Councilmember-elect Vincent Orange, who will be sworn in as the newest member of the D.C. Council Tuesday at 4:00 PM in room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.
While Mr. Orange, the former Ward 5 Councilmember, declined to state his position on the medallion bill, the current Ward 5 Councilmember, Harry Thomas, introduced the bill, along with his colleagues At-large Councilmember Michael Brown and Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. The legislation was co-sponsored by Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander.
Council Chair Kwame Brown assigned the legislation to the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, which is chaired by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. Mr. Wells has said that he intends to hold a hearing on the bill in June, after the budget is passed.
In the days following Mr. Wells’ hearing, the Committee on Public Works and Transportation will likely vote on the medallion bill. The Committee consists of five members: Mr. Wells, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, and Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas.
If the medallion legislation passes out of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation – which is by no means a sure thing – it will go before the full Council for a vote.
John Ray, the former councilmember, works closely with D.C. taxicab mogul Jerry Schaeffer and has quickly become the leading medallion mouthpiece. Interestingly, not even John Ray denies that the medallion legislation will be to the benefit of a few big companies. Directly following the March 30th press conference on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building, Mr. Ray answered questions:
[Audio - John Ray]
That was John Ray, the former councilmember and close ally of Jerry Schaeffer’s.
The medallion legislation would limit the number of taxicab drivers in the District of Columbia to just 4,000. Presently there are at least 8,000 drivers. Do the math: If this legislation becomes law, at least 4,000 drivers will lose their job.
But it gets worse: with medallions in the hands of big companies, drivers may find it increasingly difficult to earn a living, as is the case in all too many of the jurisdictions which have turned to the medallion system.
With much on the line, drivers are organizing and fighting back in a variety of ways, and I’ve had the opportunity to hear about some of these efforts at the gas station at 15th and U Streets, NW. Each and every night, between 8:00 – 9:30 p.m., I’m at 15th and U. Tonight I’ll be little late, but directly following the show I’ll be headed down there.
While the focus of this show is on D.C. taxicab issues, a number of drivers have discussed the impressive organizing in Prince George’s County. Joining us shortly will be Getachew Mengesha with the Prince George’s County Taxi Workers Alliance. After several years of organizing, the Prince George’s County Taxi Workers Alliance successfully pushed through legislation that helped to establish a fairer playing field for drivers.
Unfortunately, Prince George’s County appears to be dragging its feet on implementing the reform and Getachew Mengesha will discuss the upcoming press conference being held Tuesday outside the Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources at 9400 Peppercorn Place, in Largo.
We now turn to an interview I did with Mr. Mengesha July 13th outside the Prince George’s County Council directly following the long awaited victory which awarded 390 PGs to individual drivers, not to the big companies which dominate the industry.
[Audio - Getachew Mengesha]
That was Getachew Mengesha of the Prince George’s County Taxi Workers Alliance speaking outside the Prince George’s County Council last July. Mr. Mengesha will be joining us shortly.
This is the WUST 1120 AM, and you’re listening to The Voice of D.C. Cab Drivers brought to you by the Dominion of Cab Drivers. I’m Pete Tucker with TheFightBack, TheFightBack.org. This show, along with past shows, can be found at TheFightBack.org.
Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the D.C. Taxicab Commission (DCTC) has a scheduled meeting, the first since Mayor Vincent Gray’s firing of former DCTC Chair Leon Swain. The meeting is scheduled to take place at the DCTC offices at 2401 Martin Luther King Junior Avenue, SE, Suite 204. Former DCTC General Counsel Dena Reed is the interim-chair. At a recent DCTC meeting, Dena Reed attempted to ban Fox5 photojournalist Jason Smith from filming the public meeting.
[Audio - Dena Reed]
That was former General Counsel Dena Reed, now chair of the D.C. Taxicab Commission. After pulling former Chair Leon Swain out of the hearing room she decided to change her mind and allow Jason Smith to film. It’s worth noting that there remains not a single taxicab driver on the D.C. Taxicab Commission. This Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the Commission is scheduled to meet at 2401 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE, the first meeting since Mayor Gray’s firing of former DCTC Chair Leon Swain.
I’m Pete Tucker with TheFightBack, TheFightBack.org. Directly following the show I’ll be headed down to the gas station at 15th and U Streets, NW for any drivers who want to continue the conversation in person.
This is The Voice of DC Cab Drivers brought to you by the Dominion of Cab Drivers and I’m joined in studio by Pete Harman with the Dominion of Cab Drivers.
- Mayor Gray Fires D.C. Taxicab Commission Chair Leon Swain
- Leon Swain, Chairman at Arms
- How many D.C. taxicab drivers on the D.C. Taxicab Commission?
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Prior shows of “The Voice of DC Cab Drivers”