Bring the Taxis to Brooklyn - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Bring the Taxis to Brooklyn

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There was much discussion earlier this month concerning a proposal made by Mayor Bloomberg and other politicians to auction off 2,000 taxi medallions, or permits, to raise what would ultimately bring in a whopping sum of $2 billion in revenue to the City.

The mayor had essentially gotten his proposal approved and was ready to market off the medallions when a state judge ruled that Bloomberg had bypassed regular City rules to have his plans go through. Whoops.

But the plaintiffs in the case against the mayor had historical precedent on their side; the City Council has perennially been responsible for issuing medallions, and the mayor went straight to the state without consulting the City when it came to the taxis.

“This court has trouble seeing how the provision of taxi service in New York City is a matter that can be wrenched from the hands of city government, where it has resided for some 75 years, and handed over to the state,” said Justice Arthur F. Engoron of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, according to the Times.

But here’s the problem: When one analyzes the economic and socioeconomic implications of preventing the taxi motion from being implemented, it becomes readily recognizable that politicians have to stop playing politics and start exercising some empathy.

Because, despite the fact Mayor Bloomberg approved his $68.5 billion budget earlier this week without announcing any tax hikes or layoffs, the fact is that, if the projected revenue from the medallion sales doesn’t go through, the Administration will have to take potentially disastrous action.

“It would mean a lot fewer workers, I’ll tell you that,” Bloomberg warned on his weekly WOR-AM radio show earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But aside from the fact that scores of people could be out of jobs, and highly demanded social services could possibly be cut, perhaps the worst part of the protest against Bloomberg’s proposal stems from the utter sensibility—and downright ingenuity— of his plan.

The new medallions will all be handicap accessible, and, most importantly, 18,000 new borough taxis will also be availed to residents of the outer boroughs—the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Twenty percent of these new cabs would also be handicap accessible, but that is essentially beside the point.

Don’t residents of New York City—of all five boroughs— deserve to be served by purported New York City taxis?

Is it fair that “nearly 97 percent of yellow cab rides begin and end in Manhattan or at the city’s two airports,” according to a statement released by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer?

Doesn’t it make sense to help the handicap, and isn’t it likely that the mere presence of taxis in certain troubled neighborhoods will, at least partly, aid in the gentrification of these areas? Since taxis are oft associated with Manhattan’s well-off dwellers, why not tell residents of other neighborhoods that we think them in the same light?

We at the Jewish Voice feel that, from both economic and socioeconomic perspectives, it is sensible and prudent for the state to grant Mayor Bloomberg and his colleagues approval for their taxi proposal. By exercising empathy, the hope is that all involved in the litigation will think of the City and its many residents before themselves.

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