Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Taxi Towing Penalty Fails
Legislation allowing police to order out-of-town taxis towed failed Monday, sparking a chorus of thanks from staff and family of the targeted North Plainfield taxi firm.
The council vote was 3-3, with Barry Goode, Rebecca Williams and Cory Storch saying "yes" and Tracey Brown, Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver saying "no." Gloria Taylor was absent. After the crowd left the building, Soria Taxi supporters cheered and honked horns outside to celebrate.
Soria Taxi is already subject to fines for picking up fares in Plainfield, but the harsher penalty was intended to add more clout. In public comment before the vote, numerous Soria supporters insisted that Plainfielders favored Soria over city-licensed taxi companies because service is more timely and efficient. Many also said Soria was their sole source of income and they needed the work to put food on the family table.
But representatives of Plainfield taxi owners and drivers said they must be trained, insured and licensed, suggesting that Soria drivers may not be as qualified. Nonetheless, a Soria driver claimed 90 percent of the company's customers are from Plainfield and others alleged Plainfield police call Soria to pick up customer from city bars at closing.
Flor Gonzalez, president of the Latin American Coalition and chairwoman of the Plainfield Advisory Commission on Hispanic Affairs, vouched for city taxi companies as having "the best service ever" and said, "We want the residents to be safe."
Her supportive remarks for city taxi owners and drivers drew some groans from the Soria crowd. In all, fifteen speakers weighed in before the roll call vote, which fell short of the four needed to pass. City Administrator Rick Smiley said the administration intends to bring the amendment to the taxi ordinance back in 2017.