Limo Industry Groups Back Big Apple Mayoral Candidate

Posted on July 2, 2013

NEW YORK CITY — Two metro-area associations have thrown their support behind candidate Bill Thompson in the 2013 New York City mayoral election. The election is particularly important because the next mayor will select a new chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), which regulates luxury limousine services in the most lucrative urban market for chauffeured transportation. The current commission chair, David Yassky, was appointed in 2010. 

If recent public opinion polling is any indication, Thompson will likely face Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former congressman who resigned two years ago amid a “sexting” scandal, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the democratic primaries this fall. The latest Quinnipiac University poll released last Wednesday shows Quinn leading with 19% support from Democratic voters, followed by Weiner at 17% and Thompson with 16%. The next mayor will succeed term-limited Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ) said it hopes the new mayor will choose a commissioner that listens to the industry and honors the reciprocity between New York and New Jersey, an important factor for New Jersey operators to be able to conduct interstate business. Of late, the NYC TLC has been aggressively seizing vehicles it deems as conducting illegal point-to-point service but which operators say is legal, pre-arranged interstate transportation service under the protection of The Real Interstate Drivers’ Equity Act (RIDE).

“As everyone in our industry is aware, the New York City TLC has been out of control and has taken unprecedented actions against legitimate operators under the current chairmanship of David Yassky,” said LANJ executive director, Barry Lefkowitz.

Yassky’s leadership has engendered a contentious relationship between the commission and the limo industry, Lefkowitz said. “Whether we’re talking about insurance, inspections, or the fact that they blatantly disregard the RIDE Act, it’s like we’ve gone back 15 years under his leadership.”

The approach of the current TLC has been especially toxic to the small business owners that make up the industry, said Lefkowitz, who believes Thompson is committed to cleaning house. “It’s more than just getting rid of the commissioner. It’s like anything else, if you got the residue of people that were carrying out [his directions] that is the problem.”

The Black Car Assistance Corporation (BCAC) also has voiced its support for Thompson, saying that he would be a good mayor for the black car and limousine industry. “In our conversations with [Thompson], he understands that we are a network of small businesses that drive job growth and economic expansion, and that regulatory decisions can have profound and lingering effects across our industry,” said Ira Goldstein, executive director of the BCAC. “Bill does not believe that blitzing small businesses with summonses is the way to promote growth.

“I think the biggest thing for us, first and foremost, is we’d like to say we have a seat at the table with someone that listens to us and hears our concerns. The current administration listened to us, but they didn’t hear us. When we’ve met with Mr. Thompson, we get the sense he’s heard us.”

LANJ plans use its established political action committee (PAC), Camden County Pride, to financially support Thompson’s mayoral campaign. The association also will sponsor a fundraising event for Thomson on July 18, hosted by Matt Daus, general counsel and board member for LANJ and president of the Coalition of Transportation Associations (COTA). Daus served as Chairman of the NYTLC for 10 years before Yassky

(Contributions can be sent to the Camden County Pride PAC, C/O of Pete Corelli, Lakeview Custom Coach, 100 White Horse Pike, Oaklyn, NJ  08107.)

The BCAC will host a fundraiser for Thompson in Brooklyn on the evening of July 22.
Details can be found here.

—  Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor

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