NEW ORLEANS - Malachi Hull, who as director of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Taxicab Bureau was involved in high-profile controversies and sweeping changes to both the taxi and tour guide industries, has been fired by the city, officials announced Friday.
The news came in an e-mail just after 7 p.m. on the Fourth of July holiday. Spokesman Tyler Gamble confirmed to Eyewitness News that Hull had been terminated.
Hull had been employed with the city since 2011. In May, the city administration asked the Inspector General to investigate both the Taxicab Bureau and Hull, after a fired bureau investigator, Ronnie Blake, was charged with aggravated battery, after being caught on camera using pepper spray on a cab driver.
As Eyewitness News reported, another inspector, Wilton Joiner, was arrested on charges of simple battery in November 2013, accused of assaulting a tour guide. Following that incident, tour guides protested and called for his firing, saying he had allowed aggressive permit enforcement actions.
One tour guide said Hull was present when a taxi inspector tossed her against a car and wrenched her arm, while taking her permit from her during a night tour on Nov. 9. The inspector, Wilton Joiner, was later arrested and fired.
At the time, several tour guides questioned whether Hull had instituted a quota system that has prodded the aggressive tactics.
Hull was reprimanded by the city for his handling of both employees. Federal lawsuits have been filed against the city by victims in both cases.
As Taxicab and For Hire Bureau Director, Hull was responsible for the oversight of vehicles, for hire companies, tour guides and brake tag stations.
Hull, a New Orleans native, came to the Landrieu administration after a stint in Atlanta. At the time of his hiring, Landrieu said Hull would overhaul the city's embattled bureau, which was under investigation by federal agents for bribery and other allegations.
While in New Orleans, Hull also found himself at the center of controversies, as the architect of Mayor Landrieu's planned changes to the taxi industry, which called for new regulations including setting maximum ages for cab vehicles and requiring credit crd machines, security cameras and GPS devices. Cabbies protested, saying the changes were costly, among other gripes.
In announcing Hull's departure Friday night, the city said Safety and Permits Director Jared Munster and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Ava Rogers will oversee the bureau’s day-to-day operations.