From the NY Post:
Two City Council members who have accepted more than $9,000 in campaign donations from the livery industry yesterday joined the suit against the city to stop yellow cabs from taking smartphone hails.
Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights) and Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) filed papers in Manhattan Supreme Court in support of the livery industry.
The suit, which was filed by Livery Roundtable, Black Car Assistance Corp. and several car-service firms, claims the city’s e-hail app pilot program violates the law giving livery cabs the exclusive right to accept prearranged trips.
Both pols said the campaign contributions were irrelevant.
From the NY Observer:
However, a source directed Betabeat towards records from the New York City Campaign Finance Board and New York City’s Doing Business Portal, which show that the two Council Members joining the case both received financial contributions from livery and black car lobbyists as well as the plaintiffs in the case. Council Member Rodriguez, a former livery driver himself, received $3,000 during 2010 and 2011 from both Dial 7 and Carmel, two of the lead plaintiffs in the case. Council Member Crowley was given $2,200 between 2010 and 2011 from lobbying firm Constantinople and Vallone, which represents the two black car companies, as well as from their lawyer, Randy Mastro.
For Rodriguez, Dial 7 and Carmel count as some of his top non-Union donors, and Avik Kabessa, Carmel’s CEO, is also President of the Livery Roundtable.
Although Council Member Rodriguez’s office said no official comment would be given until tomorrow morning, Eric Yun, Crowley’s Communications Director, called the donations a coincidence that was diverting attention away from the real issues.
“These donations were made more than two years ago, and Council Member Crowley is close to the Vallone family, having worked with Vallone’s son, Peter Vallone Jr., in the City Council for years. Peter Vallone and Anthony Constantinople’s firm represent many clients in the city,” Yun said.
Reread Mr. Yun's statement and let it sink in for awhile. Whoops.
Now let's think about this from the consumers' perspective. Yellow cabs generally cost less to ride than livery cars. Why would these council members support the public - their constituents - paying more for a service unless they were lobbied and legally bribed by the special interest trying to stop this? And since yellow cabs are not readily available in most outer borough neighborhoods, and most livery service trips occur in the outer boroughs, how much business will the livery drivers really lose because of an app?