Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The UBER wall of shame

While I was able to distract myself by taking advantage of a gorgeous Spring day by hanging with friends at the Wisconsin Union Terrace after work, this development still pisses me off.
A bill that would create a statewide license for rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft passed the Assembly, 79-19.

Under the bill, a transportation network company can purchase a license to operate in the state. The state Department of Safety and Professional Services would oversee the licensing.

Drivers for the companies are not employees but instead pay the company a fee to be a part of the digital network. The state would not license the driver.

The companies are similar to taxis except drivers hail the rides through cellphone apps and cannot pay cash for the service. The drivers, under the bill, would not be classified in the same way as cab drivers.
Look, I expect Republicans to usurp local control and sell out for a big business without regard to the level of service or injury to the consumer, and not one of the 63 GOPs in the Assembly voted against this bill. But for half the Democrats' caucus to do the same thing? Not acceptable, and with that in mind, I will give you the list of Assembly Dems that voted for this garbage, as naming and shaming is an appropriate response.


There are a whole lot of Dems that are normally good progressives in that list, and it includes almost the entire Milwaukee contingent (only Josh Zepnick voted no out of that group). Maybe there are concerns over Milwaukee taxi medallions that led these legislators to vote this way, but it's still not acceptable in my mind. In fact, a lot of this vote seems to be related to "all politics is local", and it is very telling that NOT ONE DANE COUNTY DEM VOTED FOR THIS. We in Madison have been dealing with the Uber/Lyft issue longer than most of the rest of the state, and these companies have refused to follow the same rules that the several taxi companies in Madison have had to follow, which is why they haven't been able to operate consistently.

Alder Scott Resnick openly backed Uber's side in the mayoral election, while incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin stood up for the local cab companies. The result on Election Night? Soglin 72, Resnick 28. And I have little doubt the Uber issue played a large role in turning what could have been a close race into a massive blowout.

Sorry, but Uber's history shows that they are not to be trusted, and reps like Racine's Cory Mason need to know that if Uber thought it was worthwhile to be in their community, they would have been operating there by now. If the goal is to expand mobility options to people in need, then ask to expand the state's elderly/disabled transit program, or expand regular transit, or set up some similar Transportation-related programs. But to allow Uber to operate by different rules than other cab companies, putting them in a different category of business with protection from local regulation (and make no mistake, that's what this law does), that is bullshit. Any Dem that goes along with such bullshit is spineless and needs to be weeded out if this party wants to get back in control of the state any time soon.

NO MORE VICHY DEMS. Look at the list again, and remember it come primary season in August 2016. This is very bad form, and hopefully the Senate Dems will have the gumption to see through this crap, and not give cover to GOP for supporting such awful legislation.

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