Written by Alan Krawitz Friday, 15 January 2010 00:00
The pitched battle between two competing cab companies is playing out not only in Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola but also in Farmingdale Village Hall, as LI Yellow Cab’s Vice President Steve Dash vented his increasing frustrations at the last Village Board meeting on Jan. 4.
Yellow Cab Company has a pending lawsuit against the Village of Farmingdale. As stated in an advertisement L.I. Yellow Cab Corp. ran in the Dec. 18 issue of the Observer, the lawsuit charges that “after it won the right to be the exclusive taxi service for the Village by offering the lowest fares in a competitive bid, the Village “arbitrarily and capriciously” awarded the losing bidder-the Checker Cab Co.-the right to compete against Yellow.”
For the past 30 years, Yellow Cab Co. has been the only taxi company licensed to operate in the Village of Farmingdale.
At the meeting, Dash said that his company has been losing drivers to Checker—three so far—and his dispatchers are being actively solicited. “Checker is offering my drivers up to $150 per day, plus they keep all their tips and don’t have to pay for gas. Checker is already the largest cab company on Long Island and now they’re advertising in the Observer that they’re giving free rides to seniors and others within the Village itself,” Dash said.
also claimed that Checker’s cabs are older than what was specified in the Village’s original Request for Proposal. The original RFP stated that cabs can be no older than four years. Mayor George “Butch” Starkie said he has addressed the issue with Checker Cab.
“We were the lowest bidders and now the Village is not abiding by its own bid,” Dash explained. “The Village didn’t do the right thing.”
In previous statements, Mayor Starkie has defended the board’s decision to issue Checker Cab licenses saying it was “in the village’s best interest” and would ultimately save the Village money while also reducing fare rates for local residents.
Asked for a response to Dash’s most recent comments, Mayor Starkie declined to comment, citing Yellow’s pending litigation. However, he reiterated the position that “the Village acted within its rights in every way.”
In an emailed statement, Mayor Starkie said, “What Mr. Dash fails to understand is we work for the residents of the Village and not Yellow Cab. What Mr. Dash also failed to point out was he asked a Supreme Court Judge to issue a temporary restraining order against the Village and Checker Cab and was denied. We will have our day in court and I am very confident that the Village will be totally exonerated in this case.”
Dash stated, in a separate interview, that Checker Cab is now suing Yellow Cab for defamation of character related to public statements where Yellow accused Checker of attempting to “sabotage” its business in the Village of Farmingdale.
Dash called the entire situation “horrendous.” He said, “I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to survive.”
“We’re not sabotaging anyone’s business, we’re there competing with Yellow,” Phil Fortuna, president of Checker Can Co. told the Observer. “The village had turned down our application but numerous residents were calling us saying, ‘why is the Village preventing you from operating?’ I said, ‘my hands are tied you have to call the Village.’ Obviously the Village changed their minds when they got phone calls from residents. They wanted a choice. We offer 4-door sedans, town cars,14-passenger vans, free senior citizen rides. We are more community oriented.”
In a statement about the Yellow and Checker Cab Companies just this past December, Mayor Starkie said, “As long as both companies respect the right of the other to exist and do business in our Village, we will support them.”
In other business, the Village Board is moving forward with the purchase of two new fire trucks to replace aging and outdated equipment. The two trucks to be purchased are a new ladder truck, at an estimated cost of $668,000 and a combination rescue and heavy pumper truck at a cost of $525,000. The two new trucks will replace three older units—one that is more than 26 years old—within the Farmingdale Fire Department’s fleet.
“We need to have adequate firefighting equipment because it directly affects the Village’s insurance rates,” said Ken Romeo, chairman of the board of fire commissioners.
Moreover, other board approvals included a tax certiorari in the amount of $25,000 for Sebastianos at 300 Fulton Street, the Town of Oyster Bay Street Light Maintenance Contract and an increase in the fees for the Zoning Board of Appeals. Residential fees will rise to $300 and commercial fees will increase to $500.
The next Farmingdale Village Board Meeting will be held on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 at 8 p.m.