You talkin' to me?
To Madison's Equal Opportunities Commission, racial discrimination lurks around every corner.
It's everywhere! It's everywhere!
Racists are now driving Madison's taxi cabs. Here we thought they were UW-Madison sociology majors! The mohawk haircuts should have been a clue.
What other explanation can there be for the baffling decision made last week by the City of Madison's Equal Opportunities Commission? This gaggle of Lefties voted down a proposed ordinance amendment to allow taxicab drivers to demand up-front payment under a set of carefully defined conditions. The problem: passengers who run without paying the fare. Who gets stuck? Not the cab companies but -- as independent contractors -- the cab drivers.
Cabbie Jason Glomp, a cab driver for 10 years, told the city Transit and Parking Commission about the week when he had two "runners" that cost him $70 in fares -- 20 percent of his weekly income.
John McNamera of Union Cab testified that the hard-strapped police no longer respond to the scene. Instead, they advise drivers to file a report.
Current ordinance does allow requiring pre-payment, but only between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. and only if ALL passengers pre-pay, which is a burden in the other direction for cabbies and passengers alike.
McNamera told the transit commission he liked the new language because it focused on the passenger behavior, not on personal characteristics or areas of the city.
Having been a cab driver for 14 years in three states, Christina Ballard told Transit "she had never seen a city so reluctant to support workers who provided such a vital service for visitors and residents."
The Transit Commission's minutes state: "She was personally offended by the insinuation that drivers might discriminate or overcharge. It didn't make financial sense for drivers to discriminate; an empty cab meant a driver wasn't making money."
Such testimony was persuasive and Transit and Parking last month approved the change to Sec. 11.06(7)(e) of the Madison General Ordinances to permit drivers of public passenger vehicles to charge estimated fares in advance for rides. But the "controlling body" is the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Sorry, your race card is maxed out
That august body, champion of illegal immigration, found the proposal steeped in racism most foul. On the motion of EOC commissioner Brian Benford, a former alderman and professional Lefty, the commission voted not to approve the changes.
"The rationale was that they felt that the language, as presented, had a high potential for discrimination. In addition, they felt that some of the language was so ambiguous that it would be difficult to apply consistently," reports Ariel Hicklin Ford, Equal Opportunities Division Manager in the Department of Civil Rights. In a subsequent communication to your host, Hicklin Ford clarified that the discrimination worrying EOC was indeed that of race.
"I am disappointed, but not surprised," Ald. Thuy Pham-Remmele commented.
Her ordinance amendment allows a cabbie to require pre-payment when any one of eight conditions is met. I have asked the EOC culprits (so far, no response) how any of these conditions evinces a propensity to discriminate against a race as opposed to a behavior:
1. Has on a prior occasion refused to pay a fare after receiving taxicab.
2. Indicates that they may be unable or unwilling to pay the full fare.
3. Requests service by hailing the taxicab rather than contacting adispatcher.
4. Indicates their destination is outside the City of Madison.
5. Changes their destination while en route or is unable to provide the driverwith an exact destination.
6. Requests to make a stop before the final destination is reached.
7. Admits to being intoxicated or shows signs of intoxication.
8. Is placed in the taxicab by a law enforcement officer.
Are Fiji Islanders more likely to refuse payment? Do Samoans have a propensity to ride drunk? Are Norwegians more likely to ask for rides to Stoughton? Doesn't matter. It's the behavior that is actionable. Unless the EOC is taking the appalling stance that minority races can be presumed to be inveterate fare-dodgers. Now THAT is racist!
It is worth reiterating the point made by several of the hard-scrabble cabbies who testified before the Transit Commission: why would they intentionally pass up paying fares?
Here are the members of EOC; see if you can find a single conservative or moderate: Ald. Brian Solomon, Nia Enemuoh-Trammell, Coco Bustamante, Brian Benford, John L. Quinlan, Bert G. Zipperer (are you kidding me!), Katherine Cramer Walsh, Rick Cruz, Amanda L. Harrington, Lisa B. Subeck, Charles E. McDowell, Donna V. Hurd.
Talk about groupthink!
I can't help it. I've got to channel Travis Bickle, taxi driver extraordinaire: You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here.
Not actually. There's Midthun hiding behind his computer screen. Put your hands where I can see them, Midthun. And, of course, the BlaskaBlog Fan Club touring the Stately Manor. Step this way to the Dick Cheney Memorial firing range. Please do not trip over Ruben Mamoulian. He is merely unconscious.)
Train I ride
At least 12 communities in Dane County have scheduled referenda on the RTA commuter train for the November 2 general election ballot. More are considering doing so. Get the update at http://www.stopthetraintax.org/.