Tuesday, February 24, 2009

City Commission denies cab customers the right to speak on meter motion -- human rights violation

Monday night, our St. Augustine City Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. rejected Commissioner NANCY SIKES-KLINE's request to hear public comment, forbidding cab customers the opportunity to speak on the motion passed on meters for Checker Cab within city limits, which could raise fares from $4 to as much as $13.00, depending on how far one is travelling.

Supercilious City Attorney RONALD BROWN responded to SIKES-KLINE's question about procedure by saying it was Commissioners' fault -- they approved his draft of procedures at their December 1, 2008 organizational meeting. Because the cab rate hike was phrased as a "resolution" rather than as an ordinance, it requires no public comment and no public hearing.

But cab companies and cab drivers were allowed to speak. Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, JR. even said to one of them, "you can have your little" say. But not the public.

Only the public was forbidden to speak. When I handed in a card and patiently raised my hand, Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, Jr. shrilly demanded I put down my hand because I was blocking his view of the back (I was some 20 feet away and his statement was as preposterous as it was obnoxious).

Vice Mayor ERROL JONES (a/k/a ERRONEOUS JONES) said he had "not heard a public outcry!" How could he -- he never listens.

LEANNA FREEMAN, another known Republican,actually said, "let tehm run their business and raise their rates."

The assembled Booboisee of St. Augustine reminded me of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who said, "let the public be damned."

Mainly poor people ride taxis here in St. Augustine, which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the "most lawless" city in America.

Checker Cab for some time used meters in city limits illegally. I raised concerns about it, and a dispatcher agreed with me. The "solution" was to ask the City to legalize what its drivers were doing illgally for years. No apology. No refunds. No regulatory structure. No concern for the public.

If permitted to speak, I would have argued for a living wage tied to Checker Cab's meter request. There are living wage ordinances throughout FLorida and in many other communities in America. Here in St. Augustine, a living wage ordinace could protect city employees, city contractor employees, city franchisee employees and city licensee employees -- including the people who clean our streets, collect our refuse, work on our utilities, provide tours for our tourists, and drive people around in cabs.

Of course, WILLIAM B. HARRISS doesn't want a living wage any more than he wants a performance appraisal (he's never had one since he was hired on April 13, 1998).

WILLIAM B. HARRISS works for plutocrats, and so does Mayor JOSEPH LEROY BOLES, Jr.

It's time for them to go!

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