To the shock of no one, an army of Broward lobbyists is leading the charge against against 21st century technology and free-market capitalism. Working on behalf of companies tied to local taxi magnate Jesse Gaddis, the well-connected lobbyists descended upon the Broward County Commission to denounce Uber, the highly successful online “ride share” car service. Uber has been attacked all across the county and the world for bring new technology, better service and cheaper fares to the public transportation industry.
Earlier this fall, Uber and fellow ride share service Lyft, entered the south Florida marketplace. Uber allows users to use a smartphone app to arrange for a ride. The fare is paid via the app. Unlike a traditional car service, Uber uses the private vehicles of its drivers. Last week, Uber announced its Uber Select service was now available in Broward county. Uber Select offers high-end vehicles.
Taxi companies, such as Gaddis’ Yellow Cab, do not like the competition posed by Uber and Lyft. Taxi companies must go through a bidding process to win the right to offer services at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades. In addition to making huge contributions to political campaigns, Yellow Cab pays big fees to the County.
In October, John Camillo of Yellow Cab told CBS 4 News he was insulted by Uber. “We pay in fees and taxes in Broward County around $2.4 million a year,” said Camillo.“I think that that’s a problem….We have worked within a regulated environment for 54 years and we have complied with and tried to give the best product we could. I think that somebody because they have a phone app, which I’ve shown you we have had one for almost 4 1/2 years now, come in and operate illegally. I have a problem with that.”
On Friday, the Broward County Commission announced it was sending a “cease and desist letter” to Uber. It seems controversial County Commissioner Dale Holness felt insulted by Uber as well. “Pull back. Then we’ll talk,” said Commissioner Dale Holness. “But don’t come slap me in my face and expect that I’m going to bow to you. No.”
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the County Commission decided not to issue an injunction preventing Uber from picking up customers. “Commissioner Tim Ryan asked [David] Barmore [of Uber] point blank: ‘Are you going to continue to violate the county law and have your drivers operate in Broward County?’ And the answer from Barmore was similarly blunt: ‘Until an agreement is made, we will continue.”’
A who’s who of Broward lobbyists visited County Commissioners on behalf of Yellow Cab and other companies related to Jesse Gaddis.
On November 12, County Commissioner Stacy Ritter received a visit from lobbyist Judy Stern on behalf of All Broward Services. Lorraine Wilde, the director of All Broward Services, also visited commissioners. Wilde and Gaddis operate the Go Airport shuttle transportation service. In a 2011 Sun-Sentinel story on female business leaders, Wilde described her relationship with Gaddis. “[Wilde] also learned from her business partner, Broward taxi mogul Jesse Gaddis, and earlier, from his brother Don. ‘They didn’t sit down and teach me the business. I had to observe.'”
Lobbyists George Platt and his son Seth Platt, visited County Commissioners on behalf of Go Airport.
Lobbyists Bernie Friedman and Neil Schiller visited on behalf of another Gaddis company, Tri-County Transportation. While Jim Scott and other lobbyists from Tripp Scott represented B&L Services, Inc. which features Yellow Cab videos on its YouTube channel.
Once again, the lobbyists, the well-connected elite and politicians protect their crony capitalist friends instead of looking out for the average citizen just looking for a safe, inexpensive ride home.