OSWEGO, NY – A proposal to amend the city’s taxicab ordinance stalled at the committee level again Monday night.
At the Planning and Development Committee, Councilor John Gosek requested discussion regarding changes to the Taxicab Ordinance (Chapter 228 of the charter).
Following a marathon debate, no action was taken on the Fifth Ward Councilor’s proposed changes.
One tentative amendment that raised a red flag was that applicants “shall be of good moral character.”
City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli said it was “dangerous ground.”
It would be difficult for the city to define “moral character,” he explained and urged the councilor to consider using different wording.
In January of 2013, Local Law No. 1 of 2013 rode a unanimous vote to approval at the council meeting.
The law amended Chapter 228 (Taxicabs) of the Code of the City of Oswego, in particular who can be taxi divers in the Port City.
In the fall of 2012, the first version of the law was the target of a lawsuit filed by the Workforce Advocacy Center. The law barred persons with felony convictions from driving taxis, the center’s founder and CEO claimed.
Jeremy Zielinski spoke in favor of the 2013 incarnation.
The amendment proposed that licensing be done in accordance with New York Human Rights Law Section 296 and New York Correction Law Article 23-A.
“We changed the code so that it reflected 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,” Sixth Ward Councilor Eric VanBuren said at the time.
Gosek’s proposal Monday night also included the license fee for each taxicab or renewal thereof shall be $100; cabs must have valid NYS inspection, so inspections by the city police department is redundant; no taxi driver shall carry any person other than the passenger(s) first employing the cab “unless the first passenger(s) employing the cab consent.
He also addressed fines of not less than $150 or more than $250 or 15 days in jail (or both) for infractions of the ordinance. Other penalties could be fines of not less than $150 or more than $500 or 15 days in jail (or both).
The proposed amendments came about through discussion with city officials, taxicab drivers and an effort to increase public safety, Gosek said.
With the exception of the wording (“moral character”), Council President Shawn Walker said, “Everything else looks good.”
He asked that the councilor go back to the drawing board and rework that section before bringing the proposal back to the committee.
It wouldn’t take much to fine tune the tentative amendment, the city attorney agreed.
The committee’s next regular meeting will be on Nov. 7.