WHO’S LOOKING OUT FOR YOU? The keynote speaker at the Greater California Livery Association Expo in Orange, Ca., on April 15 could have qualified as a stand-up comic, a motivational speaker, or even a ball-park heckler.
Scott Solombrino, CEO of Boston-based Dav El Chauffeured Transportation, brought his brash Boston-style of humor to the evening gathering of California operators, drawing a standing ovation for his V-12 dose of straight talk about the challenges facing the industry. He echoed many of the themes from his expanded opening address on March 17 at the International LCT Show 2008 in Las Vegas. (A complete account of Solombrino’s State of the Industry Address will appear in the May issue of LCT Magazine).
Solombrino excoriated politicians of both parties – and all three presidential candidates – for being “chiseling politicians” who chip away at the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry through excessive taxes and regulations. He summed up their political strategies: “Tax, tax, tax!”
“We as an industry are constantly under attack,” Solombrino said. Bureaucrats “tell us daily” what to do with “more forms, more rules” amid increasing complexity, he said. As examples, he said the recent meddlesome policies of regulators at Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports hurt the economic rights and interests of California operators.
“They will continue to piss on you and make it so difficult for you so they can justify their existence,” Solombrino said.
The CEO, who first started his chauffeured car company as an 18-year-old college student, said it is important for operators and the industry overall to assert itself in regulatory and political disputes. “The limousine and chauffeured transportation industry matters,” Solombrino said.
Aiming his remarks at politicians, Solombrino said, “If our industry stopped for just one day, it would bring things to a screeching halt in the U.S. People riding in our cars are the ones that matter. They pay the bills that keep you in office, where you end up in our cars.”
Solombrino also helped put the industry’s position in the global warming debate into perspective: “The more people you put into a limousine, the less carbon footprint you have.”
He stressed the importance of becoming involved in organizations such as the GCLA and the NLA, who hire lobbyists to fight for industry interests and keep up a strength in numbers. One of the industry’s biggest successes that Solombrino cited was passage of the RIDE Act (Real Interstate Driver’s Equity) by Congress in 2002 that prohibits any state, political subdivision of a state, or an interstate agency of two or more states, other than the home licensing state, from enacting or enforcing any law or rule requiring a license or fee on a vehicle that provides pre-arranged interstate transportation service. (Please click on the above link for a complete description of the Act and FAQs).
“Your association matters, your businesses need each other,” Solombrino said. “You need to know that you are not in this fight alone.”
As the largest state in the union, California sets and leads many political and regulatory trends, including those affecting the limousine and chauffeured transportation industry, Solombrino said. It has more NLA members than any other state. Such numbers help in confronting and dealing with Sacramento legislators, airport commissions, and the California Public Utilities Commission.
“We can do a lot of things to make life easier, cheaper, and more convenient, and stay out in front of government,” he said. “Never let them get ahead of us. They work for us. We don’t work for them.”
-- posted by Martin Romjue
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