Ridesharing foe takes ‘a few bucks’ from taxis

Ridesharing foe takes ‘a few bucks’ from taxis

taxis los angeles, wikimediaLos Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz is one of the state’s biggest opponents of ridesharing, the relatively new service provided by such companies as Uber, SideCar and Lyft. He’s also a leading recipient of campaign contributions from the taxi industry.

During a Wednesday appearance on one of Southern California’s top-rated radio shows, Koretz admitted he’s taken money from cab companies.

“I’m mad that you’re doing the bidding of the taxi companies because that’s what this is really about,” John Phillips, the quick-witted co-host of KABC AM 790’s Mid-Day LA show, said during a heated exchange over controversial new regulations on ridesharing services. “The taxis are now having competition from someone who is eating their lunch.”

Then, he bluntly asked Koretz, “Do you take any money from the taxi cab companies? Have you gotten any contributions?”

“Yeah, sure,” the councilman replied. “A few bucks here, a few buck there.”

Koretz takes money from taxi companies, insurance industry

A CalWatchDog.com analysis of campaign finance records shows that Koretz has taken more than “a few bucks” from the taxi industry.

Since his first city council campaign in 2007, Koretz’ campaign committees have cashed checks from Bell Cab Management, City Cab, Yellow Cab, Taxi Systems Inc., Pacific Yellow Cab, L.A. Checker Cab Cooperative, Independent Taxi Owners Association, L.A. Taxi Cooperative, United Independent Taxi Drivers and the L.A. Transportation PAC, which is sponsored by the L.A. Taxi Cooperative.  In total, Koretz has accepted nearly $11,000 from the taxi industry. (See detailed list below.)

In addition to the taxi industry, Koretz has cashed checks from another beneficiary of rideshare regulations, the insurance industry. According to Maplight.org, which tracks special interest money in politics, the insurance industry is the fourth highest contributor to Koretz’ city council campaigns, having given $32,700 in recent years.

The campaign contributions from the taxi industry have flowed as Koretz ramped up his rhetoric against ridesharing. In June, Koretz and fellow Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo joined a demonstration at City Hall to support new government regulations of ridesharing companies.

Safety: L.A. taxis rack up more than 10,000 violations

Koretz and other rideshare regulators repeatedly cite safety concerns as the justification for new regulations.

“I would ask my daughter not to ride in an Uber car because, in my opinion, they are unsafe,” Koretz said, according to CBS Los Angeles. “We’ve seen incidents where Uber riders right here in Los Angeles, as well as all around the nation, have been endangered.”

But according to records from the Los Angeles Taxi Commission, regulations haven’t made taxis safe.

Los Angeles taxi drivers have been cited more than 10,000 times in the past five years, according to data obtained by CalNewsroom.com in response to a public records request filed with the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation. In some cases, taxi drivers have been caught drinking on the job, aiding in prostitution and driving without a license.

As regulators have raised safety concerns about ridesharing, they’ve grown less vigilant in policing the taxi industry. The number of taxi cabs in Los Angeles has remained relatively fixed at roughly 2,300 in the past five years. The same regulations have been on the books. Yet there has been a staggering drop in citations, hearing notices, suspension days and fines against drivers.

From 2009-2013, the number of violations has declined 50 percent, while driver suspension days have plummeted from a high of 355 in 2009 to just 108 in 2013. In the first quarter of 2014, taxi drivers took just 22 suspension days for violations.

Koretz in 2010: Enforce laws already on the books

Koretz hasn’t always been in favor of new regulations to solve transportation-related problems. In 2010, when Angelenos complained about the growing number of food trucks in residential neighborhoods, Koretz said that current laws were adequate.

“The main reason we have problems is that our people are not enforcing the law,” said Koretz, according to LAist.com. “If we were just enforcing the laws strictly, our problems would be solved.”

Now, it appears, Koretz has lost those libertarian impulses.

“If John is a grown adult man making the decision that he wants to take Uber… isn’t that John’s right?” Mid-Day LA co-host Jillian Barberie asked Koretz.

“That’s a little more libertarian than I would go,” he said. “I think you have a responsibility to protect the public if you’re a government entity.”

Listen to the entire interview.

Koretz Campaign Contributions from Taxi Companies: $10,950

Date Contributor  Amount
11/30/2007 L.A. Taxi Cooperative Inc.  $  250.00
12/12/2007 Los Angeles Checker Cab Co. Inc.  $  500.00
12/20/2007 Independent Taxi Owners Association  $  500.00
6/12/2008 San Gabriel Transit Inc. BDA City Cab  $  500.00
11/13/2008 L.A. Taxi Cooperative Inc.  $  250.00
2/20/2009 United Independent Taxi Drivers Inc.  $  500.00
4/4/2009 Norik Bagramian, Pacific Yellow Cab  $  500.00
4/27/2009 William J. Rouse, Yellow Cab  $  500.00
4/27/2009 William J. Rouse, Yellow Cab  $  500.00
5/19/2009 L.A. Taxi Cooperative Inc.  $  500.00
5/19/2009 Mitchell Rouse, Taxi Systems Inc.  $  500.00
5/19/2009 San Gabriel Transit Inc. BDA City Cab  $  500.00
5/28/2009 United Independent Taxi Drivers Inc.  $  500.00
6/22/2009 David Bagramian, Pacific Yellow Cab  $  500.00
10/23/2009 LA Checker Cab Cooperative Inc.  $  500.00
10/23/2009 Independent Taxi Owners Association  $  500.00
5/28/2010 L.A. Taxi Cooperative Inc.  $  500.00
7/23/2010 San Gabriel Transit Inc. BDA City Cab  $  500.00
4/29/2011 L.A. Taxie Cooperative Inc. DBA Yellow Cab  $  500.00
3/1/2012 L.A. Taxie Cooperative Inc. DBA Yellow Cab  $  500.00
6/30/2012 L.A. Taxi Cooperative Inc. DBA Yellow Cab  $  700.00
2/18/2014 L.A. Transportation PAC  $  500.00
3/6/2014 Bell Cab Management  $  250.00


Tags assigned to this article:
Paul KoretzJohn PhillipstaxisUber

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