Monday, February 13, 2017

Taxi Towing Ordinance Up for First Passage

Note: The title of this blog post has been corrected to indicate first passage possible tonight. Second and final passage could follow in March.

Legislation that supports licensed Plainfield taxi drivers and will permit towing of outside taxis is sure to be the main event at tonight's City Council meeting, as it has gone beyond turf issues and is now a political flash point in a volatile election year.

The meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. The complete agenda is posted on the city web site.

Protesters jammed City Hall Library last week when the governing body council decided to put the measure on the agenda for tonight. Many of the same out-of-town owners, their families and employees had celebrated in December when the towing ordinance failed in a 3-3 council tie, with one member absent. As of January, the council make-up changed and the consensus last week was 5-2 to go forward with the towing penalty.

The council previously increased fines for unlicensed taxis at the behest of the city taxi owners. In 2014, fines for taxis without city licenses were increased, from $300 to $500 for a first offense, from $500 to $1,000 for a second offense and from $800 to $2,000 for third and subsequent offenses.The new penalty gives a police officer who stops an unlicensed taxi the discretion to order the vehicle towed, with the owner then liable for the towing cost plus storage fees. The taxi customers are primarily Latino and the idea of being stranded, possibly with children and any groceries or purchased items from shopping, has raised fears of further problems with immigrant status or language barriers as displaced passengers seek help.

Fabian Soria, owner of a North Plainfield cab company, alleged in 2014 that police were ordering people out of his taxis and asked the council for relief.

The city gains revenues from the four licensed taxi companies, who must also carry special insurance and pass police inspections of their vehicles. Their business association has rallied for council support in the past. The out-of town competitors say their employees live in Plainfield and allege they give better service to the many Plainfield residents who rely on taxis. The outside owners say because Plainfield has exceeded the allowable number of licenses, they cannot even apply for one.

A solution suggested last week was for the city to change the formula based on population, currently one taxi per 1,000 residents, as indicated in the last census, though in no case to exceed 60 taxi licenses. It is possible, officials said, but unless the council minority (Bridget Rivers and Diane Toliver) can convince the majority (Barry Goode, Cory Storch, Joylette Mills-Ransome, Charles McRae and Council President Rebecca Williams) to hold off, the towing penalty is likely to pass tonight.

The mayoralty and two council seats are up for election this year, and even though the filing date is many weeks away, competition for constituencies is heating up. Citizens who want a seat at the meeting should plan to get there early.



  1. If this is up for final passage, why is it (MC 2017-10) listed under "Introduction of ordinances on first reading"?

    1. You are correct. I have changed the blog post title. Thank you.

  2. It's rather obvious these companies were set up in N Plainfield to operate illegally in Plainfield. Maybe Soria and Gray can tell us the percentage of their business that comes from each?

    1. Anonymous 10:03, I don't know that it's at all obvious the N. Plainfield cab companies were set up "to operate illegally in Plainfield", but your question about their percentage of business is valid. Another question would be how many people in the city rely on taxis to get around? And there are plenty more, that all should be answered in a transparent study that heard from all stakeholders BEFORE this ordinance even came to a vote. A full analysis of the transportation situation we face in Plainfield should have been a prerequisite. If I had a vote I'd vote NO until this formative legwork is completed.

  3. 4-1.3 Taxicab Drivers Licenses; Content and Manner of Application; Fee and Term of Issuance.

    These are from the codes of North Plainfield, so the excuses that these are unlicensed or do not carry insurance is false hood, they are fingerprinted and have to be current standing.

    Stop all this big brother influence. We should be a friendly to our neighbors and our residents. Stop chasing people away from Plainfield and engage the community as civilized adults. Put the city first instead of you own narcissistic attitude and play fair with others. Working together with the other cities in our area as partners, not foes.

    1. Plainfield's Municipal Code requires both the vehicle and the driver to be licensed in Plainfield.

    2. Again I ask, Friendly and Welcoming? this type of actions will chase away others who want to settle in the city and do business. something is very fishy about this whole need to push this into law and take more fees, did someone just become a partner in a towing company... this must be a smoke screen of something else that is being presented to avoid our detection. Worry about reducing real estate taxes to make the city attractive.

    3. Is North Plainfield or South Plainfield claiming to be “friendly and welcoming”? Why do people think it’s okay to come to Plainfield and dictate how and when we should enforce our city ordinances. It’s high time we start cracking down on those that take this city for granted with total disregard for our city ordinance.You can see blatant disregard for our city ordinances throughout the city, ranging from the number of people living within a single dwelling to all other sort of code violations; parking cars on front lawns, parking commercial vehicles in residential neighborhoods,operating car mechanic shops in driveways of residential neighborhoods,using your front yard as a sporting arena the list goes on and on. Enough already. If you disregard our laws then you suffer the consequences. Friendly and Welcoming is not a blanket invitation to do what you please without regard for the law. What happens if/when ICE comes to Plainfield? I bet this whole conversation of N Plainfield taxi’s will take on a new direction. Did NJ transit buses stop picking up and discharging passengers in Plainfield? I think Plainfield offers a fair amount of public transportation choices.

    4. I agree with Annon 4:49 - previously as a city we have been lackadaisical in enforcing these quality of life ordinances. We are finally making headway with new leadership and technology upgrades at City Hall. Whether it's year round yard refuse pick-up or enforcement of signage on store fronts, just to name a few.

      Non-enforcement of code violations affect us all - whether it's our property values or our quality of life.

      For you Tim to make false accusations along the lines that someone is "becoming a partner in a towing company" or insinuating that the leadership in the city has "narcissistic attitudes" or implying that the expansion of the ordinance is "fishy" is just wrong.

      Just because you have access to a public medium, and you're protected by your first amendment rights, doesn't give you the authority to shout falsehoods and to make innuendoes that aren't truthful. Many rely on city news from this blog and your agenda does them a disservice.

      Do we not see enough of this on the national stage?

      If you want to make change, or if you recognize disparities or needed improvements to resolutions or ordinances consider making a recommendation instead of a misleading accusation. All of the officials in the City are easily accessible. And there's always the voting both.

      Let us hope that our children have their heads buried in their iphones and that they aren't paying attention to the ignorance that we are witnessing around us lately.

    5. Jim Spear- If enforcement of ordinances is important, we can start with the City Council enforcing its own ordinances, public contracts, and laws. If the council won't, why do you expect anyone else to?

      Just a few examples: The PMUA Creation Ordinance limitation on commissioner compensation and over $1 million in unauthorized illegal benefits; ignoring the terms of the Inter Local Agreement to this day, with the complicity of both the City's and PMUA's auditors, along with fraudulent statements in the agency's financial reports; permitting a local municipal official transact with the City for a demolition contract on the side; violating the federal Workforce Investment Act and letting an ineligible, unqualified vendor and former City Council president profiteer off a $269,000 CSBG grant; and multiple violations of our Pay-To-Play ordinance, including prohibited vendor contributions, accepting money from a foreign government entity, and funneling vendor money through 3rd parties.

      We don't need to look to the national stage, we only need to look at the actions of our own elected municipal officials to find an eclectic disdain for the law. With such role models, can we even expect the population-at-large to toe the line?

    6. I have noticed that Tim prefers just making up accusations versus dealing in facts. When called out on it he then likes to hide behind "just getting a conversation going" or "glad I could wake people up to pay attention, was just kidding about the accusation". It is highly inflammatory and really pushes the boundaries of free speech.

    7. ALAN, you also make these broad accusations that are misleading. The Mayor has been in office for only three years, and he has had a majority vote on the City Council for a MERE 30 days. TWO of the 7 Councilors just began their terms. Another has been on the council for only a year. And the other two councilors on team Mapp have had their hands tied in the minority for a few years. . . . .Where you’ve been?

      When you make these b r o a d accusations they come off sounding like these folks are all guilty of these things. They are NOT, you know that, and your referencing wrongfully makes it sound like they're all conspirators. Your not one of those followers of 'Alternative Facts' are you?

      And are you really blaming them for the debacles at the PMUA? Really? That’s not right, you're misleading the public. And for what, to prove you’re smarter?

      As far as Pay for Play ordinance, that legislation never panned out as it was intended. It places the County and outside forces at an advantage over the City. Such laws should be made at the state level where they effect all equally. Its repeal is overdue.

      And all the other accusations you made - it is unfair of you to paint bull's-eye with such a broad brush. Name whom your accusing of what! Otherwise it's all just empty rhetoric from the sideline. So step up! Or get off your soapbox and go take a seat.

      (I should probably skip my afternoon latte)

    8. Yes confusion was the agenda, pack the room with the taxi issue and Fair and welccoming resolutions. Then toss a bunch of political paybacks, over priced lawyers double dipping, over priced park buildings,tax breaks for friends, keep spending all of our tax dollars instead of saving for a rainy day. Will repeat again what I said, lets see how many pieces of literature comes out of the city with the Mayors face plaster on Tax Payers services.

      Jim Spear, I have never run a political campaign, and my point is to question all who are spending our tax dollars.But if you are comfortable with giving money away, there are many chartires in Plainfield that could use money.

      As far as the city taking meetings, I have addressed all council members and others to speak in person. only 2 have started a conversation, the rest do not want to engage for lack of order from their dictator

      Ano 1:17 I do not respond to people who can not post their name.

    9. Tim - you are like listening to Donald Trump - all sorts of outrage painted around issues with a populist tone but not one single detail or fact to back anything up. Anyone can run their mouth about "watching our tax dollars" but insinuating that there is something nefarious around each and every movement of every elected official is ridiculous and not right. I think you need to call your Mother again and get some guidance.

      And PS - I am sure just like Anon 1:17, I don't care if you respond. I actually prefer when you don't.

    10. Timmy - you should attend the next North Plainfield council meeting and ask them who they think they are to require their taxi license holders to work at least 8 hours per day or send a written notice to the police making them aware. Maybe I can find some blogs in NP for you to rant nonsensically on prior to and after the meeting. That is assuming Bridget Rivers gives you the OK to do that.

    11. Jim, do skip that afternoon latte because it's obviously kept you from meetings and reading these very pages where details and names were all spelled out.

      Mine wasn't an accusation of this particular iteration of the City Council to the exclusion of all others, but of Plainfield councils generally, going back 20 years or so in the case of PMUA.

      There is an institutional weakness that breeds a great deal of contempt for playing fair and square, the point being that if the government won't, why do you expect the broader population will?

      Now that you're a big local campaign honcho, I can understand your need to paint an always sunny picture, even if it's raining outside. But don't let the clouds obscure your view. We know you want the money because it makes your life easier (in the case of campaign loot). Perhaps you should show us all this dark PAC money that supposedly comes into the city and "disadvantages" it, if by 'it' you mean something other than a small number of politicians. I think it's an advantage to the other 50,000 to have a more level playing field for candidates of all stripes. On that note P2P has worked.

      As for the rest of the stuff, we can discuss it over a latte someday if you want, and I can bring you up to speed. I don't want you to lose your objectivity in the service of factional politics. That would be a total disadvantage.

  4. As the saying goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. In other countries, taxi companies are now allowing their cab drivers to use their company vehicles as Uber Drivers. Not knowing the full specifics of how it works, it does bring up an interesting conversation. Why can't North Plaifield Taxi Vehicles be used but pick up fares as an Uber Driver.

    What will be next - Only Plainfield Uber Drivers can pick up fares that originate in Plainfield? Then will it be - Can only Plainfield Residents eat at a Plainfield McDonald's?

    1. well am one of those people. I only spend my money in plainfield. The only time I spent money out of plainfield is buying stuff at BJ,s. If Carlos Sanchez can bring in a replica of BJ,s and Cosco, this man will not be buying noting out of plainfield. I love my town.

  5. Why are we even wasting time with this issue if basic quantitative OR qualitative evidence can't even be found to support this passing? What is North Plainfield's position on this? Are they experiencing any problems with taxis, both from their boro and from Plainfield? Maybe we have joint problems that can be resolved through twin legislation.

    Both towns are way too small for all of this bickering. We're talking about an area probably no bigger than 9-10 square miles. Be nice as Timothy said and try to set up a joint commission to oversee this with North Plainfield if it's really that big of an issue.

    Plainfield has so many things to worry about. Just do the research and revisit this later.

  6. I have ridden in Plainfield taxis that are graffiti-covered (inside) and seats that are barely there, with drivers who are unable to provide receipts and arrive late because they cannot find the address. I have no problem with licensing taxis to ensure that these taxis are safe and properly serviced, but is anyone checking this?

  7. Tim, your comment about addressing the council to "start a conversation" I am wondering which council people your talking about and what you mean when you write "only 2 have started a conversation, the rest do not want to engage for lack of order from their dictator" Once again you are so into making derogatory remarks about who is or is not "starting a conversation" with you. From your so called non-political little group on Facebook, you post political trash talk and innuendo all the time on this blog and on Facebook. How is making derogatory comments about the mayor and council non-political especially when you do it under the name of your Queen City pride group? You have no sense how racist your comments are when you talk about black people you don't even know. Two of the council members just got sworn in January, last month and you are trashing them and speaking badly about them. Joylette is one of the greatest public servants we have ever had in the city, putting in decades of work through her school board service, a respected educator, a member of Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and I could say more. How dare you talk about this strong black woman in such a demeaning way. Same with Rebecca, a respected educator and long time public servant who was doing community cleanups way before you ever came to town. Charles Macrae has volunteered for this city for 30 years, being involve in the schools, as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi mentoring our young black boys and men. You want everyone to see you as non racist because you have black people who married into your family and your mother was Syrian and yet your being derogatory about black people you don't even know. How is that fair? How is that non-political? You are rude and racist and seem to enjoy throwing hissy fits on Bernices blog. I say kudos to anyone who decides not to engage such a whiny and ignorant personality as yours.