OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council fine tuned its local law regarding taxis.
“It was more than a year ago when we introduced this local law and there was a question from (the Workforce Advocacy Center) that had to do with the law’s legality as it related to how you would treat convicted felons and others who have already done their time and whether or not what we were trying to do was discriminatory against those individuals,” Council President Ron Kaplewicz explained.
The council has since had the state of New York go through the legislation and made it legal; so the local language is consistent with state statue and other law, he added.
“So, now it will regulate taxi cabs, taxi cab drivers, will require individuals to submit to a host of questions regarding their background. What we’re really looking to do is if your mother or father, brother, sister whoever hops in a cab, they have the right to know who is driving and be safe,” Kaplewicz said. “That’s really what it comes down to.”
The code was amended so that it reflects the state’s Correction Law, which has the appeals process for this type of thing spelled out.
So if someone feels they have been wrongfully treated, the appeals process is now clearly marked, according to Sixth Ward Councilor Eric VanBuren.
Originally, the law barred persons with felony convictions from driving taxis in the city of Oswego.
Depending on who you talk to right now (regarding taxis), the market in Oswego “is pretty unregulated,” Kaplewicz pointed out.
According to Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd, the law will make things safer for those using taxis.
“If you’re a registered sex offender you could (drive a cab and) show up at the Oswego Middle School to pick up girls leaving the school dance and give them a ride home,” he said, adding that there were nine registered sex offenders he knew of that were driving cabs.
Two of them, Todd said, both served over eight years in prison; “One for raping an 11-year-old girl and the other for sexually abusing his five-year-old daughter.”
Theoretically, the new law should prevent these people from driving a cab, he said.
Todd pointed out that the Workforce Advocacy Center’s representative said that child abusers are the least likely of criminals to repeat.
“Any law enforcement agent I ever knew says (sex offenders) are the most likely to repeat and probably have usually done it 40 or 50 times before they get caught,” he said. “No one with a history of sexually based offenses should ever be in the position to be alone in a vehicle with a child, or a young woman who is inebriated, or a young man for that case. They shouldn’t be allowed to legally operate in the city of Oswego if they’re a sex offender; you should never be allowed out of prison if you’re a sex offender.”
The proposed Local Law No. 1 of the Year 2014 – A local law amending Chapter 228, Taxicabs, of the Code of the City of Oswego, NY, was approved 5-0-2 with councilors Mike Myers and Shawn Walker being excused.