NEW ORLEANS - Friday was a victory for a French Quarter tour guide who was attacked in front of her tour group on November 9. Wendy Bosma walked out of a hearing on Friday beaming.
Back in November, Bosma was confronted by Wilton Joiner, an inspector with the Taxi Cab Bureau which regulates both taxis and tour companies in the City of New Orleans. The confrontation escalated. On videos captured by members of Bosma's tour group, Joiner is seen pushing Bosma against a car and then twisting her arm behind her back. Bosma's painful and angry yells can be heard in the videos. On Friday, she was all smiles.
"I still am shaking, I’m pretty excited yeah," said Bosma.
In her shaking hand she held the permit identifying her as an official tour guide. It was taken away from her after the altercation with Joiner. After the two tangled, Joiner ticketed Bosma for not maintaining at least 50 feet between tour groups. Bosma says hers was the only one on that particular street back in November. At a hearing before officials with the Taxi Cab Bureau along with safety and permits, Bosma's ticket was thrown out.
"Following our review of the incident it was our determination that the ticket was not justified," said Jared Munster, director of the Safety and Permits Office.
Bosma's employer, Sydney Smith with Haunted History Tours, says Joiner has a history of harassing its tour guides. Jennifer Vallas, another tour guide with Haunted History tours, says Joiner ticketed her for yelling a racial slur to another guide, but she wasn't in town that day.
"I wasn't even in the state of Louisiana when this occurred; I was in Lumberton, Mississippi," said Vallas.
Vallas' ticket, as well as another tour guide's ticket, were dismissed as well. Sydney Smith says the pattern of harassment from Joiner and fellow inspector Ronnie Blake are a black eye for the city.
"Sometimes the city bites the hand that feeds it; tourism is the lifeblood of this city. That attack and this harassment, it's happening in front of tourists and they're going home and blogging about and spreading the word," said Smith.
Both Joiner and Blake have since been suspended without pay. Bosma and her fellow guides say that's not enough, they're calling on the city to fire them. Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office did not respond to a request for comment. The city is reviewing the taxi cab bureau's practices, and recently suspended a policy allowing inspectors to carry hand cuffs and pepper spray.