The city has already levied heavy fines for the infraction as a result of complaints from Plainfield taxi companies that must pay for licenses and meet requirements of the city taxi ordinance. But representatives of the North Plainfield companies said they are Plainfield residents who are just trying to earn a living..
The ordinance to allow towing of a non-city taxi at a police officer's request passed on first reading Tuesday and will be up for second reading and final passage on Dec. 12.
In public comment, the dispatcher for a new North Plainfield company, Gray Taxi, told the council he had been taught that America is the greatest country for its freedom, adding, "We just want to work honestly."
He said because of fines by the city he could not afford costumes for his daughters.
"We're not stealing nobody's business," he said.
Plainfield has four licensed taxi companies and because the number of taxis goes by population, no new city licenses can be issued. Soria Taxi owner Fabian Soria pleaded two years ago with the governing body to relent on the fines and said due to the cap on licenses he can't get one, even though he started out in Plainfield. His daughter said Tuesday she was born and raised in Plainfield and called it "unfair the way Plainfield treats my parents."
Another woman who drives for Soria said she was recently pulled over in Plainfield "for no reason," scaring her passengers. She said she had collected numerous signatures from Plainfield residents saying they liked Soria Taxi and a speaker alleged a city police officer called Soria on his personal cell phone to pick up bar patrons at closing time.
Others in favor of Soria claimed that Plainfield taxis may take half an hour to show up, but the Gray Taxi dispatcher put in a couple of similar digs at Soria.
All arguments aside, Corporation Counsel David Minchello said there is "no reciprocity" just because a person has a taxi license in North Plainfield.
Here is the amendment to the taxi ordinance that will be up for final passage on Dec. 12:
Any vehicle operating in violation of this chapter shall be deemed a nuisance and a menace to the safe and proper regulation of traffic, and any Police Officer upon his or her discretion, may provide for the removal of that vehicle. The owner shall bear the costs of removal and storage which may result from such removal before regaining possession of the vehicle.