Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, March 06, 2009

Taxi Fare Decrease

I'm disappointed by another action taken by the Council this morning, related to the decrease in taxi fares.

This goes back to the action the Council took last year to lift the cap on taxi licenses. Drivers asked the City to institute a process to change the fares every year, rather than every two. The Council wanted to depoliticize the process - which I completely support - and we established a formula for staff to use in coming up with a new fare rate.

Unfortunately, the first time we used this process the fares dropped precipitously from $2.35 to $2 per mile, a decrease of almost 15%. Try to imagine a 15% in your own wages, to see how this feels to cab drivers.

I asked drivers to talk to Ricardo Cervantes, the Licensing staff person in charge of the rate formula. He came up with an elegant solution: delay the fare change until March 1, 2010. In the intervening year, we can come up with a formula that will be less dependent on the price of fuel, and therefore less subject to volatile swings. I committed to bring this forward to Council this morning and ask my colleagues for unanimous consent, which would have changed the ordinance without going through the long committee process.

My colleagues refused. Even more frustratingly, Council Member Paul Ostrow refused to even vote for introduction of the ordinance, an action which has no consequence other than making us sit on our hands doing nothing about this issue for three weeks.

We did give notice, with my great ally on this issue Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, of the intent to introduce an ordinance amendment at the next Council Meeting. So while this has been seriously delayed, I am hopeful that we can improve this over the next 5 to 7 weeks as the matter slowly makes it way through the Council process.

With 13 votes this would have passed today, so I'm still disappointed, and I'm sure the many taxi drivers who live in Ward Two will share my disappointment as they continue to work long, grueling days for 15% less than they made last week.

All in all, it wasn't a good day at the Minneapolis City Council for small businesses.


At 5:30 AM, Blogger Wendy said...

For me, it is quite easy to imagine a 15% drop in wages. When my husband was injured on the job 4 years ago, and nearly died, our income dropped by 40%. He is permanently, totally disabled, due to a brain injury. We went to the legislature and got his pension increased slightly, so our loss in income is now 25% instead of 40.

We have spent the past four years battling via the worker's compensation system, and his employer's position is that if he could work, they would give him a job, but because he can't work, the only priority is to avoid financial liability. They recently sent their attorney to argue in front of a judge that my husband's life is only worth $9000.

I find it very puzzling that you would champion the plight of healthy cab owners having a drop in their fares due to declines in gas prices, but you have never expressed so much as one word of concern for my husband, as he was formerly the Commander of your Bomb Squad.


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