Stringer and de Blasio go head-to-head over a suit threatening Bloomberg’s borough taxi plan

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Black car and yellow taxi. (Jason Kuffer, via flickr)
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This morning, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who is running for mayor, will call upon the plaintiffs challenging the mayor's "borough taxi" plan to withdraw their suit, which threatens to blow a $1 billion hole in the city budget. Those plaintiffs are backed by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is also running for mayor.

Stringer also plans to file an amicus brief, either tomorrow or Monday, in support of the Bloomberg administration's taxi plan, according to Audrey Gelman, Stringer's spokeswoman.

Late last year, the Bloomberg administration hammered out a hard-won agreement with the state allowing the city to auction off 2,000 wheelchair-accessible yellow-taxi medallions, and to create a new fleet of 18,000 green taxis to service the outer boroughs and upper Manhattan, where yellow-cab service is scarce.

Taxi medallion and fleet owners have fiercely opposed the measure, arguing that the plan will flood the market and undermine the street-hail exclusivity upon which the million-dollar value of their assets is based.

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A litany of lawsuits has ensued.

In one such lawsuit, filed by the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, a group of wealthy fleet owners argue that Mayor Michael Bloomberg should have sought a home rule message from the City Council before going to Albany approval.

De Blasio filed an amicus brief on behalf of the fleet owners, a legal challenge the mayor derided as "the stupidest one" of them all.

It's not clear that de Blasio's and the fleet owners' legal argument is all that strong, but the lower court judge hearing the case, himself a former cabbie, initially sided with the plaintiffs.

That prompted the mayor's budget director to warn, at a City Council hearing, that the de Blasio-backed suit threatened to undermine the city's budget by some $1 billion, revenue that was to be derived from the sale of those 2,000 medallions.

Today, Stringer will argue that the plaintiffs should withdraw their suit, for budgetary reasons and because he believes in the merits of the mayor's taxi plan.

This is the first time Stringer has taken a position on the plan.

De Blasio had no immediate comment.

UPDATE: Michael Woloz, a spokesman for MTBOT, emailed over the following statement:

A state supreme court justice has agreed with the plaintiffs that there are significant constitutional problems with the bill and issued a TRO stating our case has a likelihood of success on the merits.

The Yassky plan would ensure that City would NOT get revenue from a medallion sale. With lenders not lending and owners not buying a heavily diluted asset how can a sale possibly be successful?

Anyone who actually understands the budget and how a medallion sale can help the budget would understand that the only way to get the budget money from a medallion sale would be to abandon this flawed bill which dilutes the medallion and get a stand-alone medallion sale that keep the integrity of the medallion and rolls the medallion sale out over time so the city can the reap the financial rewards for years to come.