Bloomberg commissioner calls de Blasio’s taxi stance ‘nonsense,’ as Carmel and Dial 7 join a lawsuit

Black car and yellow taxi. (Jason Kuffer, via flickr)
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Today, city taxi commissioner David Yassky ran a piece in the Daily News calling Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's objections to the mayor's taxi plan "nonsense."

Yassky was responding to a June 13 column by de Blasio, who's running for mayor, and who has backed wealthy taxi medallion owners in a lawsuit challenging a state-approved city plan to bring taxi service to the outer boroughs and put 2,000 additional yellow cabs on the streets.

The city is counting on $1 billion in revenue from the taxi plan to close a hole in next year's budget.

In de Blasio's opinion piece, he urges the Bloomberg administration to get City Council support for the taxi plan, which the administration didn't do the first time around, and then return to the state legislature and get it approved all over again, thereby putting to rest some of the legal questions raised in the suit.

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De Blasio also accuses the mayor of using "the current standoff as a smoke screen" for, among other things, implementing new budget cuts.

Today, Yassky responded with a "smoke screen" accusation of his own.

"[T]he fleets’ call for 'local control' is a smoke screen," he wrote, referring to the argument advanced by de Blasio and the medallion owners that the plan requires City Council approval. "The state has well-established authority to legislate in matters like transportation."

Yassky also argued that it was the fleet owners' opposition to the borough taxi plan that ultimately forced the Bloomberg administration to repair to Albany in the first place. And that the law signed by the governor in February is, in fact, "sound." 

In related news, the de Blasio-backed suit, originally filed by a group of fleet owners called the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, has acquired some new support from the livery industry.

It is the livery car drivers who will become the new "borough taxi" drivers, should the mayor's plan pass legal muster.
Some members of livery car service community has offered strong support to the mayor's borough taxi plan, and has even sought to intervene in the lawsuit on the city's behalf, but that support is not unanimous.

Other livery car service operators believe that the plan, by allowing livery drivers to also pick up street hails, will destroy a business model reliant on pre-arranged calls.

On Friday, three livery car groups, including the Livery Roundtable, an organization of livery base owners that includes, among others, Carmel and Dial 7, filed affidavits seeking to join the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade suit against the city.

The organizations comprise more than 200 bases, and say they represent a majority of the industry.

"The Livery Roundtable is joining the lawsuit to protect the small businesses that provide livery transportation and to ensure the preservation of excellent prearranged service," said Avik Kabessa, Carmel's C.E.O., in a statement.