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Letters to The Editor: April 29, 2011

Open Letter to Westbury Residents Regarding Taxi Licenses

For the past several months, I have noticed the almost-weekly ads placed in The Westbury Times by a non-Westbury taxicab company that was displeased at the denial of its application for taxi licenses by the Village Taxi Commission. These ads seem to be a misplaced attempt by the taxi company to somehow reverse the taxi commission’s decision in a way that is wholly inappropriate. The ads are also rife with false information.

I had intended not to respond to these ads, but since the taxi company has persisted to run them almost weekly for several months, and continues to repeat the same false and erroneous information, I think our residents are entitled to have the correct information.

First, there is not and never has been a shortage of taxi service in the village. The ads falsely imply otherwise. In over 20 years of involvement in village government, I do not recall ever receiving even a single complaint of inadequate taxi service in the village. No one has ever indicated to us that they have been unable to promptly and easily arrange for taxi service.

Second, the ads have erroneously repeated over and over again that I and the other members of the village board “voted against” the taxi company’s application for licenses. That is not the case as the application never came before the village board, and we never had occasion to vote on it. The application was before our taxi commission, which renders decisions on taxi licenses without input from the village board. While the applicant taxi company had the right to file an appeal to the village board of the taxi commission’s denial, it never did so, and thus, the village board had no involvement in the denial of the licenses. Instead of following the proper procedure (by appealing to the village board), the company instead chose to engage in this inappropriate and false ad campaign. 

Third, it is my understanding that the application was denied for a number of reasons, but primarily because most of the licenses that might have been available at that time were approved by the taxi commission for renewal by the taxi company that already had them, a long-time village-based operator. The commission saw no reason to take these licenses away from the long-established Westbury taxi company in favor of this new out-of-town company. A few of the available licenses were re-issued to a third company that was already licensed and operating in Westbury, and that was in compliance with all of the requirements of our license statute. To the contrary, the taxi company running the ads did not qualify for the grant of taxi licenses by the village since that company failed to meet at least one of the most important qualifications to have taxi licenses granted to it: the maintenance of a base station in the village. Obviously, the onus is on the applicant to meet the requirements of the village’s license statute, and this company did not do that. Finally, during the hearing, the company’s representative advised the taxi commission that the company would not be able to provide village taxi patrons with adequate service unless they were granted at least 20 taxi licenses. It is not the taxi commission’s practice to grant that many licenses to a new applicant without a track record in the village, and even if the commission was inclined to do so, there were not that many licenses available at that time. 

It is obvious that this company is trying to somehow force the village to grant it licenses when it has failed to demonstrate that it is qualified to hold them. It is attempting to use false and misleading ads to try to obfuscate the fact that it is not qualified under our license statute to obtain licenses. It alleges that the reasons for the denial have not been communicated to it, which is not true. The company has been advised and knows exactly why licenses have not been granted to it. Certainly, by running these ads, this company has failed to demonstrate to the village and our residents that it would be a good corporate citizen, or license holder, if licenses were to be awarded to it. This conduct is certainly a relevant factor to be taken into account on any future applications that this company may make to the village.

In the end, the village is happy with the current level of taxi service, and we believe that our residents are as well. There is no reason to grant more taxi licenses than are already issued. Inappropriate pressure will not affect how we, or the taxi commission, go about our business to make sure that Westbury’s taxi patrons are properly served and protected.

I would be happy to discuss this issue with any resident at his or her convenience.