WBEZ | Anthony Beale http://www.wbez.org/tags/anthony-beale Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cab, livery companies sue city over rideshare companies http://www.wbez.org/news/cab-livery-companies-sue-city-over-rideshare-companies-109655 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rideshare lawsuit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A group of mostly taxi and livery companies have filed suit against the City of Chicago, claiming that the city has tolerated, and even promoted, &ldquo;unlawful transportation providers&rdquo; to undermine their industries. Their case focuses on technology companies Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, which offer smartphone apps that allow people who need rides to find people with cars, for a fare. The suit claims that the city has denied the plaintiffs equal protection under the law, by forcing them to abide by rules and regulations that have not been applied to the technology companies.</p><p>At the heart of their complaint is the assertion that the companies, which call their services &ldquo;ridesharing,&rdquo; are de facto cab companies.</p><p>&ldquo;This isn&rsquo;t ridesharing,&rdquo; said Michael Shakman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. &ldquo;They sell services 24/7 to the general public, they charge by time and distance, and they&rsquo;re an on-demand service. They&rsquo;re exactly a taxi service, not a rideshare.&rdquo;</p><p>At a press conference Thursday, Shakman accused the city of allowing a taxi &ldquo;caste&rdquo; system to emerge, whereby Uber, Lyft and Sidecar are allowed to focus only on passengers who have credit cards, smartphones, and live in high-income neighborhoods.</p><p>&ldquo;They are not available at all to the disabled or to people who pay with cash,&rdquo; Shakman said. &ldquo;This taxi &lsquo;caste&rsquo; system excludes large portions of the population on racial, economic and disability grounds, and it thereby violates the Illinois Civil Rights Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Also joining the lawsuit is Brad Saul, President of Chicago Disability Transit, a non-profit that provides paratransit options for people with special needs. Saul said on the occasions he attempted to get a car from ridesharing companies, they did not have any that were able to accommodate his wheelchair.</p><p>&ldquo;As a platform, we don&rsquo;t force drivers to use it a certain way,&rdquo; said John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft, &ldquo;but as a broad platform there&rsquo;s drivers who do support that.&rdquo; Zimmer said in many of the 20 markets where Lyft now operates, there are people who drive wheelchair-accessible vehicles.</p><p>But while Saul and other plaintiffs argue that the companies should have to serve people in all neighborhoods, and with disabilities, the lawsuit also dwells heavily on the economic injury they say they are suffering. Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber&rsquo;s ridesharing service, called uberX, typically are cheaper than taxis, although when demand is high, they use a surge-pricing model that can lead to steeper charges.</p><p>Additionally, there is a relatively low cost of entry for their drivers. Cabbies must have city-issued medallions, currently priced at roughly $350,000 each, as well as mandated insurance, worker&rsquo;s compensation, and vehicles that are no more than four years old. Taxi and livery drivers are also required to attend school and be licensed as public chauffeurs, neither of which are necessary for rideshare drivers.</p><p>Representatives from Lyft and Uber dispute the underlying characterization of their service as a taxi service &mdash; and argue that&rsquo;s why they shouldn&rsquo;t be regulated as cab and livery vehicles.</p><p>&ldquo;A taxi can hail someone from the street, and when you have something like a street hail, it creates different dynamics and different safety requirements,&rdquo; said Zimmer. &ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have choice over the company, you don&rsquo;t have information on the driver, you haven&rsquo;t agreed to a terms of service, and you have a lot less information. And with a service like Lyft, you&rsquo;re choosing to use Lyft, you see information about the driver, about the car, and there&rsquo;s many more differences.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawsuit comes a day after lines of disagreement surfaced at City Hall. Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city-moves-regulate-rideshare-companies-109639">introduced an ordinance to create regulations</a> for the industry, designating a new category of transportation called &ldquo;Transportation Network Providers.&rdquo; The proposal would allow the ridesharing services to continue many of their operations, but would require them to register annually with the city, maintain minimum standards of general commercial and commercial vehicle liability insurance, pay the city&rsquo;s Ground Transportation Tax, and have drivers&rsquo; cars inspected annually.</p><p>Plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the proposal falls short, and they don&rsquo;t like the idea of a separate set of rules.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s bad public policy to create a second taxi system designed for the elite who happen to be fortunate enough to live in neighborhoods where taxi drivers are willing to take them,&rdquo; said Shakman.</p><p>At the same City Council meeting, Aldermen Anthony Beale (9th) and Edward Burke (14th) proposed a <a href="https://chicago.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&amp;ID=2902650&amp;GUID=AE467792-6BF2-425E-85C7-6C05D0CFBD3C">resolution </a>calling for the Police Superintendent and Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to immediately apply the existing taxicab rules to the ridesharing services.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to make sure that the consumers are protected,&rdquo; said Beale, &ldquo;and so we need to take the steps on shutting them down and then work towards a solution to make sure they&rsquo;re regulated.&rdquo;</p><p>The resolution is not binding, but will go to a joint committee on Transportation and Finance, of which Beale and Burke are chairs, respectively. As such, they may ask enforcement officials to offer testimony as to why the city has not applied its rules on taxicabs and livery to the ridesharing services.</p><p>Representatives of Uber and Lyft say they expect there will be regulation of their service, and that they are in favor of measures to promote safety. But they say the push by cab and livery companies to have them adhere to the same rules that they do will stifle technological innovation.</p><p>&ldquo;Hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans rely on uberX precisely because it is a faster, safer, and cheaper way of getting around their city,&rdquo; wrote Andrew MacDonald, Midwest Regional Manager for Uber, in an e-mail. &ldquo;After years of neglecting Chicago drivers and passengers alike, the taxi industry has resorted to name-calling and frivolous lawsuits. While they spend time in court, we&#39;ll be working with Mayor Emmanuel (sic) to design a forward-looking regulatory regime that creates economic opportunity, prioritizes safety, and ensures access to the best, cheapest rides ever available in the city.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 06 Feb 2014 20:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cab-livery-companies-sue-city-over-rideshare-companies-109655 Cabbies worry voter referendum could kill proposed fare hike http://www.wbez.org/news/cabbies-worry-voter-referendum-could-kill-proposed-fare-hike-109335 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cab fare increase.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicagoans will be able to weigh in on whether they think the city should increase cab fare rates &ndash; an issue that cab drivers have been pushing for years now. But rather than see this as a promising move forward, taxi drivers say the referendum could amount to a death wish for their cause.</p><p>&ldquo;Who wants anything increased?&rdquo; said George Kasp, a Chicago cab driver of forty years. &ldquo;Food prices? Taxes? Taxi rates? Nobody wants to see increases.&rdquo;</p><p>Kasp proposed a <a href="https://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=1020582&amp;GUID=8BEEA352-489F-44C5-8D66-C7563B9E6D0E&amp;Options=Advanced&amp;Search=">citizen&rsquo;s ordinance</a> in April to increase fares 13 percent, but it has stalled. He says putting the issue to voters instead doesn&rsquo;t make sense.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there&rsquo;s more important issues to put on a referendum than asking if cab drivers need a meter rate increase,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The exact wording of the referendum gives voters a sense of cabbies&rsquo; longstanding complaint: &ldquo;Should the City of Chicago increase taxi rates, which would be the first increase in eight years and bring Chicago&#39;s taxi fleet in line with other cities?&rdquo;</p><p>The economics of the cab business have undergone significant shifts in the last decade. Almost a year ago, the city made a one-dollar fuel surcharge on fares permanent. It also increased the maximum amount that cab owners may charge drivers to lease their vehicles.</p><p>Meanwhile, many cabbies are using more fuel-efficient vehicles. But they cite the the shortage of drivers, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-hunt-taxi-recruits-105421">roughly 2,000 by the city&rsquo;s estimate</a>, as evidence that the economics of the job are not attractive to potential recruits. They argue that higher rates could fix that.</p><p>&ldquo;We do understand that it&rsquo;s hard times for everybody, so we have to be conscious not only of the cab drivers, but the people who are paying for these cabs on a day-to-day basis,&rdquo; said Alderman Anthony Beale (9th).</p><p>Beale chairs the City Council&rsquo;s Transportation Committee and sponsored the resolution behind the referendum.</p><p>Beale said the referendum is non-binding &ndash; so whatever voters choose will not necessarily be the decision that the City Council follows. Still, Beale said voter opinion is a critical piece of information that city officials must know before taking any action.</p><p>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</p></p> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 19:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cabbies-worry-voter-referendum-could-kill-proposed-fare-hike-109335 Manufacturing plant coming to Chicago’s South Side http://www.wbez.org/news/manufacturing-plant-coming-chicago%E2%80%99s-south-side-108070 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pullman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A green cleaning company is opening its first U.S. manufacturing facility on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side.</p><p>Method&rsquo;s planet-friendly cleaning products are sold in tens of thousands of stores. And now, the company plans to bring about 100 green-collar jobs to the historic Pullman neighborhood by early 2015. The total project is $33 million, with the city and state contributing a third through tax incentives.</p><p>Ninth Ward Alderman Anthony Beale said more jobs will equal less crime in the community, which has suffered from decades of disinvestment.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to work with Method to make sure the community is involved in the construction of the building, make sure the community has opportunity to get the jobs and they&rsquo;re a partner in the community,&rdquo; Beale said.</p><p>Pullman has 21 percent unemployment rate. About the same percentage live below the poverty level. The per capita income is $19,000.</p><p>Method&rsquo;s new facility will be near the intersection of East 111th Street and South Doty Avenue in Pullman Park &mdash; part of a resurgence to the neighborhood. U.S. Bank has donated land for Pullman Park, a mixed-used project. Housing, big-box stores, a park and recreational facility are being planned. It&rsquo;s supposed to bring 1,700 jobs. Wal-Mart is the first tenant.</p><p>San Francisco-based Method wanted to build the plant in an urban area, said company co-founder Adam Lowry.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a facility that we hope will serve as a model of manufacturing and ultimately urban revitalization can look like in the 21st century,&rdquo; Lowry said.</p><p>The American Planning Association has named Pullman one of the country&rsquo;s top 10 great neighborhoods. Named after industrialist George Pullman, who envisioned a model community for his rail workers, the community once had plenty of jobs and a beautiful housing stock. Over time, Pullman fell into disarray as jobs disappeared.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people over the years have written about the rich history of Pullman as a past. I think today we&rsquo;re turning the chapter,&rdquo; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. &ldquo;A lot of people said it couldn&rsquo;t happen on the South Side. It can&rsquo;t happen in Pullman.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">@natalieymoore</a></em>.</p></p> Tue, 16 Jul 2013 14:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/manufacturing-plant-coming-chicago%E2%80%99s-south-side-108070 Bloomberg ads draw candidates' ire in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/bloomberg-ads-draw-candidates-ire-illinois-105763 <p><p>Two candidates to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in Congress say voters should send a message that money cannot buy the election.</p><p>New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg&#39;s super PAC has spent more than $2 million on ads attacking former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson over her positions on guns.</p><p>Halvorson says if the ads are successful Bloomberg will try to &quot;buy seats&quot; across the country. She says &quot;we can&#39;t let that happen.&quot;</p><p>Alderman Anthony Beale says voters are &quot;extremely upset&quot; that someone from New York is trying to tell people in Illinois how to vote. He predicts there will be a &quot;backlash.&quot;</p><p>Halvorson, Beale and former state Rep. Robin Kelly are considered front runners in Tuesday&#39;s Democratic primary.</p><p>Jackson resigned in November. He pleaded guilty this month to misusing campaign funds.</p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 10:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/bloomberg-ads-draw-candidates-ire-illinois-105763 Controversy continues over sign for prison-themed hotdog stand http://www.wbez.org/story/anthony-beale/controversy-continues-over-sign-prison-themed-hotdog-stand-85049 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-11/P1000538.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The fight continues over whether a prison-themed restaurant in Chicago can hang a sign, a seemingly small issue that has generated quite a debate.</p><p>This is all about Jim Andrews' West Side hotdog stand, which he opened almost two years ago.</p><p>"Felony Franks," Andrews announced proudly before the City Council Transportation Committee on Monday afternoon. "Home of the Misdemeanor Weiner."</p><p>Andrews said there is nothing disrespectful about the name, noting that he employs ex-offenders.</p><p>He wants a sign above the sidewalk along Western Avenue to attract more business. That requires city council approval, and the local alderman, Bob Fioretti, is strongly opposed to it.</p><p>"It's a great concept, but it's a bad theme," Fioretti said.</p><p>Fioretti and some community residents told the committee that the prison theme sends the wrong message, and a sign would make it worse.<br> <br> But committee chair Anthony Beale said he worries about a lawsuit from Andrews, if aldermen deny the permit.</p><p>"If this issue would go to court, I'm pretty confident the city of Chicago would lose," Beale said.</p><p>Beale moved to delay a vote while city inspectors look into some other issues. He urged Andrews to meet with residents and come to a compromise, though the restaurant owner said his rights are being violated, and he won't budge.</p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 22:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/anthony-beale/controversy-continues-over-sign-prison-themed-hotdog-stand-85049 City Council Police and Fire Committee chairman Alderman Beale talks Chicago policing http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/city-council-police-and-fire-committee-chairman-alderman-beale-talks-chicago-polici <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/jody weiss kate gardiner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ward09.com/">Alderman Anthony Beale</a>, chair of the Council&rsquo;s Committee on Police and Fire, said Monday on &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; that &ldquo;resource reallocation&rdquo; is coming &ldquo;right after January&rdquo; to the Chicago Police Department.<br /><br />The 9th ward alderman told guest host Jason Marck that the police department will shift officers to higher crime areas from beats that have little or no crime. &ldquo;Now, we don&rsquo;t want to make these communities any less safe,&rdquo; Beale said. &ldquo;[But] when you have officers, all they&rsquo;re doing all day is writing tickets&hellip; and you have certain communities where people are shooting and dying every single day, we have a responsibility to react to those people.&rdquo; This reallocation of police officers currently happens every 30 years, but Beale said he would like to see it happen every year, because, he said, &ldquo;crime shifts.&rdquo; <br /><br />But Beale admits that police data isn&rsquo;t readily available. Despite requests from journalists and some aldermen, police officials have refused to release data about how officers are currently deployed, saying they don&rsquo;t track deployment. Beale defended this policy: &ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to stay ahead of crime&hellip; gangs, and drug dealers, and if you start giving all this information out, you&rsquo;re basically giving information to the people who we&rsquo;re trying to get off our streets.&rdquo; Still, he said, the Committee on Police and Fire will hold hearings soon to understand the department&rsquo;s re-deployment agenda.<br /><br />Beale also said the city will hire 300-400 police officers next year, but he does not expect a significant net gain of officers, because a similar number are expected to retire.<a target="_blank" href="http://www.ward09.com/"><br /></a></p><p><em>Music Button: Sounds from the Ground performing &quot;This Land&quot; from the release The Maze (Waveform Records)</em></p></p> Mon, 06 Dec 2010 15:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/city-council-police-and-fire-committee-chairman-alderman-beale-talks-chicago-polici