Legal maneuvering not over yet between taxi cab industry, city

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wwltv.com

Posted on December 19, 2012 at 6:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 19 at 6:41 PM

Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Email: mrodriguez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mrodriguezwwl

NEW ORLEANS -- As the city moves into a busy start to 2013, with college bowls and the Super Bowl, taxis will be in demand around town.

The city said that was just one factor behind their reasoning to offer up 105 new CPNCs, which are the certificates necessary for taxi cabs to operate in the city.

"There was a little shortfall there, so we felt an opportunity in the market for us to put more CPNCs out," said New Orleans Deputy Mayor for Operations Michelle Thomas.

Some in the taxi cab industry, though, are crying foul. They say for years there has been a set number of CPNCs -- more than 1,500 -- and because of that, they have become valuable. Adding 105 new ones, they argue, devalues the certificates and more.

"There was no discussion. There was not a hearing," said Jack Culotta, an attorney for United Cab and Taxi Drivers in a class-action lawsuit. "It didn't get approved by any council. They simply appeared."

The city said they did not need legislative approval because it was an executive order. Still, the taxi cab industry and attorneys filed a complaint with the New Orleans Office of Inspector General about the 105 new CPNCs.

All of this is happening just as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against an injunction that would have stopped the taxi reforms.

"We're really glad that the court ruled in the way that it did and we look forward to continuing to move on," Thomas said.

While some in the taxi industry said they do not oppose the changes, they said they would like more time to comply with them and another chance to take on the reforms in court.

"What we wanted and continue to want in district court is our property rights, which we think have been stripped from us unconstitutionally," Culotta said.

Attorneys for the taxi cab industry said they hope their lawsuit will go to a full court trial next year. In the meantime, the city said it could begin handing out the new CPNC's this week.

 

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