The Taxi Link airs on WUST 1120 AM. Listen to the Aug. 18 show here:
“The regulators and the people that control this city, they have no respect for the taxicab drivers,” said Tony Norman, co-host of The Taxi Link. “They don’t see them as part of D.C. They think they’re foreigners, they’re not a part of this city, or even of this nation. They have a very condescending attitude and the commission promotes that, starting with the chairman.”
Wednesday, the D.C. Taxicab Commission (DCTC) is scheduled to hold a hearing on amendments to six chapters of the regulatory code that governs the taxicab industry, but the number of people testifying is restricted. A notice posted at the DCTC website states, “Public comments are expected to be limited to the first 24 people to register.”
DCTC chairman Ron Linton ”has this ridiculous rule,” said Norman, who’s a D.C. advisory neighborhood commission member, as well as chair of the board of Pacifica Radio’s WPFW 89.3 FM. “When you look at the attitude of this chairman, how he treats taxicab drivers, the condescension at his hearings, they would run this man out on a rail if he came to the city council treating other residents and citizens like that.”
Recently, Linton prevented the only two driver-representatives on the DCTC from casting votes (in opposition to his), a move of questionable legality. Last week on The Taxi Link, one of those commissioners, Stanley Tapscott, called the DCTC a “kangaroo court.”
Mechal Chame is a D.C. cabbie and organizer with The Small Business Association of DC Taxicab Drivers (SBA), which sponsors The Taxi Link and is the largest D.C. driver organization by far. “There are a lot of issues we want to protest,” said Chame, who intends to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. “As usual they may not, of course, listen to us. But we have to be present.” (Those wishing to testify can call the DCTC at (202) 645-6018.)
Wednesday’s hearing has been pushed back to 11 a.m. from the previsouly scheduled 10 a.m. in order “to allow the commissioners to attend Mayor Gray’s press conference at VeriFone,” according to a DCTC press release. ”The Mayor will introduce [the new] Taxi Smart Meter System (TSMS) on the initial taxi to have the device installed,” states the notice.
While D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Chairman Linton rush ahead with implementation of the taxi smart meters, serious questions are being raised about the city’s exclusive 5-year, $35 million contract with San Francisco-based VeriFone. Two of VeriFone’s competitors, Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT) and Alexandria-based TaxiMagic, have filed protests claiming the procurement process was flawed.
And this past week, Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry filed a disapproval resolution which triggers a 45-day review period during which time the contract will be put on hold. If the deal is not killed by the full D.C. Council during the review period then it will move forward, according to a report by the Washington Examiner‘s Alan Blinder.
Also discussed on The Taxi Link was the rescheduling of the SBA’s general meeting. It will be held Monday, August 27 at 1 p.m. at Kedus Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Church at 2601 Evarts St., NW. “I urge all taxicab drivers to attend this general association meeting,” said Negede Abebe, chairman of the SBA.
* If you have trouble hearing The Taxi Link on WUST 1120 AM, listen live (Saturday 7:30-8:30 p.m.) on your phone at (832) 225-5330. Or download the free app TuneIn Radio on your smart phone.
* Saturday from 8:30-10 p.m., directly following The Taxi Link, the SBA hosts a taxi phone conference in Amharic. To listen, call (712) 432-3100, then enter this code: 140-465.