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This just in...: Rep. Jerrold Nadler in dispute with D.C. cabbie


A D.C. cab driver accused Rep. Jerrold Nadler of stiffing him on his fare (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

  • Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and his D.C. taxi driver argued over exactly how much to pay for a ride Tuesday. Abraham Habteab picked up Nadler at Union Station and was instructed to keep the meter running while Nadler dropped off his luggage at a hotel before continuing on to Capitol Hill. The cabbie told Fox 5 he was allowed to charge for two trips; the congressman has a letter from Leon Swain, chairman of the D.C. Taxi Commission, saying he should be charged for just one -- and left without paying Habteab the $8 fare. "I am working with the Taxicab Commission and Mr. Habteab to ensure that he receives the correct payment, despite his misinterpretation of the law," Nadler said.

  • By The Reliable Source  |  July 15, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
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    Comments

    There are bad apples no matter where you go, that is the first thing I want to say. But as far as who is wrong and who is right in this case it all depends who wants to interpret the law. It is a crime punishable by law if you don’t pay for the service that has been provided to you even if you are not happy with the service. The fact is that by law Mr. Nadler had to pay the cab driver even if he was right about interpreting the law. He should have paid, gotten a receipt and all the information about the driver and then file a report with the D.C. Taxicab Commission and prove that he was right and the driver was wrong.
    If you really want to know who is at fault here you don’t have to dig deep, it is mayor Fenty, the city council and the D.C. Taxicab commissioners who should be blamed not only for licensing so many unqualified drivers but also for writing such a ambiguous laws that even a congressman cannot interpret, and by giving the DC cab drivers the lowest rate and to top it all off by putting a $19 cap on the fares, and creating a hostile environment for all parties involved. The drivers are unhappy because they are working harder and longer and are unable to take enough money home and the passengers are getting in a lot cabs where the drivers are either tired, sleepy and grouchy or unprofessional, unqualified and don’t know where they are going. Now tell me who we should blame?
    You do not have most of these problems in other cities. If there wasn't a $19 cap on the meter you wouldn’t have this situation where a congressman would have to carry the interpretation of D.C. Taxicab Regulations in his back packet. It is ironic that in 2009, Mr. Nadler had asked Mr. Swain the chairman of D.C. Taxicab Commission the same question that Mr. Habteab asked him in a public hearing on January 13, 2010, but they both got a totally different answer and both of them were carrying the answers they got from Mr. Swain. We owe all of this to our wonderful lawmakers in our great city of Washington D.C. These people should be role models to other lawmakers in the world about how to run a city.
    The cab drivers have been asking the city to fix these problems for more than two years by going to the hearing after hearing, by protesting and striking but the city officials have ignored them time and time again. At the end of the day the buck should stop at mayor Fenty's door and he should be the one who should answer for his lack of leadership.

    Posted by: JusticForTaxiDrivers | July 16, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

    This cabbie should be eligible for twice the posted fare to make up for Jerry Ample-ass Nadler taking up the entire back seat and blocking the driver's rear view mirror while spewing senseless blather.

    Posted by: dfmed | July 16, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

    Thanks to the $19 cap on the fares originating and ending in D.C. that mayor Fenty has refused to lift even after the city council unanimously voted to lift it. The cab drivers have to restart their meter for a round trip or trips that have stops that are not (EN ROUTE). The trip that the congressman took from the Union Station to Channel Inn (650 Water St. S.W. Washington D.C.) to drop his luggage off and then go to the Rayburn House Office building is not an en route trip.
    Here is the direction I got from Google map:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=s&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-bkgm&utm_medium=ha&utm_term=maps.google.co
    Washington Union Station
    Washington, DC
    1. Head west on E St NE toward Columbus Cir NE/Columbus Monument Dr NW 75 ft
    2. Turn left at Columbus Cir NE/Columbus Monument Dr NW
    Continue to follow Columbus Cir NE 0.3 mi
    3. Turn right at 2nd St NE 0.5 mi
    4. Turn right at Independence Ave SE 1.0 mi
    5. Turn left at 7th St SW 0.7 mi
    6. Turn left at Water St SW
    Destination will be on the right 276 ft
    2.5 mi – about 7 mins
    650 Water St SW
    Washington, DC 20024
    7. Head northwest on Water St SW toward 7th St SW 230 ft
    8. Take the 1st right onto 7th St SW 400 ft
    9. Slight left toward 7th St SW 0.4 mi
    10. Continue straight onto 7th St SW 0.2 mi
    11. Turn right at Independence Ave SW
    Destination will be on the right 0.6 mi
    1.3 mi – about 3 mins
    Rayburn House Office Bldg
    Washington, DC 20515

    This clearly shows that Channel Inn is not en route to Rayburn House Office Building as congressman Nadler claims that it is, however Rayburn House Office Building would en route to the Channel in. He has been misinformed by nobody other than Mr. Swain the chairman of D.C. Taxicab Commission who has played a big role in making these ambiguous rule and regulations that even he cannot understand. Way to go city officials, just as the bike route that you spent so much of our tax dollars to create and then had to go back and spend more money to remove, you have done it with the taxicab drivers, after almost starving them out of business now you have to seek the congressional help to come in here and fix the mess you have created. Way to go.

    Posted by: JusticForTaxiDrivers | July 16, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

    The Congressman admitted stiffing the cabbie, apologized, and has now retracted his apology and is chastising the driver in the press. The confusion was caused by the Chair of the Taxicab Commission and is what happens when drivers are not included in crafting regulations. If you review the four screenshots of the regulation, commission minutes, and frequently asked questions you will see that the Congressman was wrong, and the driver was in fact right. Furthermore, the appropriate process is to pay the driver, keep the receipt, and file a complaint.

    The four screenshots and commentary are at:
    www.justicefordctaxis.com

    Posted by: driverdignity | July 17, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

    Here is the press release heads of drivers associations and driver owned companies issued on Friday.

    Taxicab Drivers Reject Congressman’s Excuse for Unpaid Fare

    Heads of taxicab drivers issued a press release rejecting Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s excuse for refusal to pay a fare on Tuesday. “The regulations clearly say that a stop must be en route to the final destination. To the best of our knowledge, en route means on the way or in the same general direction. This trip was just the opposite. The Congressman asked the driver to double back.” said Nathan Price, spokesperson for the D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Association.

    The driver, Abraham Habteab alleges he was not informed of the full itinerary until the trip had already begun. Nadler’s ride began at Union Station and headed Southwest for a stop at the Channel Inn Hotel where the Congressman dropped off baggage. Nadler then asked the driver to be transported back in the opposite direction, heading Northeast to the Hill. When the driver advised the Congressman he would be restarting the meter, the Congressman refused to pay, presenting an e-mail from Leon Swain, Chair of the Taxicab Commission. The e-mail provided the text of current regulation, and Swain advised in his e-mail that the meter should not be restarted “regardless of direction.”

    “This e-mail contradicts the regulations,” said Larry Frankel, Chair of Dominion of Cab Drivers. “This means a passenger could make as many stops as he or she wants regardless of direction or distance.
    The only exception would be a round trip or when either the stop or destination is outside the District.”

    “We are struggling to survive. We simply cannot afford to give free rides. The Congressman should have paid the fare. If he had a problem, he should have requested a receipt and filed a complaint.” Said Negede Abebe, Chair of Grand Cab Company, a driver owned group.

    When Habteab insisted on restarting the meter, Nadler hailed another cab and drove off, leaving the cabbie empty handed. The Congressman first apologized, but has since issued a statement asserting the driver’s interpretation of the regulations was incorrect. This was based on communications with the Chair of the Commission.

    “This is an unfortunate incident that would not have happened if we had had a seat at the table when the regulations were developed. These regulations were crafted in a veil of secrecy by the Fenty administration. The Mayor and Chair of the Commission still claim “emergency authority” over our industry, two years after meters were implemented. They are undermining the authority of a regulatory body. We are entitled to three representatives on the Taxicab Commission. We have no voice in our own industry.” said Haimanot Bezuayehu, Chair of United Ventures, a federation of six cab companies.

    Ironically, Habteab had raised questions about just such a scenario at a Commission hearing on January 13. At the hearing, the driver was told he could restart the meter. “It is clear. What it says is once you get to your initial destination, the meter stops. If you are going to a different destination, then you need to start again.” said Deena Reed, General Counsel of the Commission. According to the frequently asked questions section of the Commission web site, stops are allowed only when the trip is “in the same direction.”

    Justice for DC Taxis P.O. Box 53082 Washington DC 20009
    www.justicefordctaxis.com

    Posted by: driverdignity | July 17, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

    The comments to this entry are closed.

     
     
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