The taxi towing penalty issue is now in its sixth month, heading for yet another vote on March 13 with overtones for the mayoral election.
Last year it was rejected with "no" votes from two council members who are now running for mayor, only to be revived this year with a council majority favorable to incumbent Mayor Adrian O. Mapp. Depending whom you ask, the issue is protecting city taxi business owners who pay for licenses and submit to other Plainfield rules versus a kind of free enterprise approach giving customers the right to call out-of-town taxis if they wish. Councilwoman Diane Toliver on Monday endorsed the argument that the towing penalty harms out-of-town taxi company owners and drivers who live in Plainfield and will take bread out of the mouths of their families.But won't allowing out-of-town companies to poach on city customers do the same to Plainfield residents employed by Plainfield companies?
An attorney for a North Plainfield taxi company tried to make a case against the towing penalty in three minutes during public comment, saying in part that there are no city licenses available and if other towns passed such laws, city taxis would encounter barriers in all surrounding towns. The towing penalty "adds insult to injury" by attempting to "destroy the ability of Soria or any other (company) to do business in Plainfield," attorney Michael Blacker said.
The rhetoric Monday included warnings of a "war" between Plainfield and North Plainfield taxis and many repetitions of how the penalty will take bread out of the mouths of children and families. The latter argument always seems somewhat fatuous to me, in that it appears to say breaking a law is OK if it is done to put bread on the table. It seems to echo the popular maxim, "Do what you gotta do" to get along, whether it is lawful or not.
In this case, perhaps a better route is to study the taxi ordinance and revise it, rather than escalate to draconian enforcement strategies. I repeat my call from last month to take a look at the taxi ordinance and revise as necessary.