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Commissioner’s Corner

May 2016

Greetings, friends!  I hope you are taking advantage of this beautiful spring weather, getting out from behind the wheel to stretch your legs!

Before we begin, however, I just wanted to take a moment to share news of former Commissioner LaShann DeArcy Hall’s investiture as a United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District.  Judge DeArcy Hall’s ceremony was both moving and inspirational.  The courtroom was packed to the rafters with family, friends and colleagues who have the privilege of knowing her well.

Congratulations, Your Honor – may you serve long and well!

Okay, down to business!  In March, we were gratified to have the opportunity to save our existing licensees and visiting applicants time by cutting the ribbon at our new licensing and inspection facility in Staten Island which replaces the significantly-smaller satellite that was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.  The new 3000-square foot facility is housed at 1139 Hylan Boulevard, and will complement our inspection building in Woodside.  We hope you can visit us soon there, and enjoy the convenient services being offered.

I am also excited to share with you the very positive result of a successful joint investigation and prosecution with the Attorney General’s office, which is yet another dividend of our ongoing partnership with them to protect the rights of our hardworking taxi drivers.  Following a settlement with Style Management Corp. and its owner in Manhattan, drivers victimized by lease overcharges will share $750,000 in restitution, while the company faces almost $50,000 in fines.

This important case was prosecuted by specially-deputized TLC attorneys David Ross and Jason Gonzalez, as well as Assistant Attorney General Donya Fernandez.  Our rules protect drivers by limiting the amount they can be charged to lease a medallion or taxicab, as well as additional fees that companies may try to tack on.  The TLC began working closely with the Attorney General in 2013 to enforce these critical rules.  This case follows a $1.6 million settlement last August, and a $1.25 million settlement with four companies in Dec. 2013.

We hope these settlements not only restore the money that drivers rightfully earned, but send the strongest warning possible to those who would attempt to take advantage of taxi drivers in the future.

In another development at the TLC, renewals of drivers’ licenses went fully digital on April 1, making the process as convenient and smooth as possible.  The new system will save licensees valuable time by helping them avoid a trip to Long Island City and the hunt for a parking spot.  It is part of our ongoing process of bringing more TLC transactions online, such as vehicle and medallion renewal payments.

Now, let’s segue to the backseat and talk about the passenger experience.  Of course, sexual harassment and contact has always been absolutely prohibited by the TLC, but we are holding a public hearing this month (April 21) on proposed rules that distinguish it with a specific definition in our rules.

Defining in our rules precisely what sexual harassment is will have the valuable effect of providing a very clear guideline and deterrence for licensees. 

I look forward to talking with you again next month -- and know that we always appreciate your professionalism in keeping the greatest city moving.  Stay safe and drive like your family lives here!

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