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Taxi Power-Broker?

Stuart Watson of WCNC-TV reports that two cab operators say a representative of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance promised they would get contracts to provide service at Charlotte Douglas Airport if they paid $5,000 to join the group. Frank Hinson of Charlotte Checker Cab says he was approached by Mohammad Jenatian about joining the HTA. From the WCNC report: "I think it was an appeal to be part of the good ol' boy network in uptown," said Hinson, who bid on the airport deal and lost. But Hinson thinks he could have won the bid if he had paid $5,000 to join the HTA. "I was approached a number of times by Mohammad Jenatian of the HTA. He called my cell phone. He suggested to me my problems at the airport would go away if he were representing me as a member of his organization. " Mohamed Moustafa of Universal Cab makes a similar charge. Jenatian denies the accusations, saying "I absolutely did not make that promise (to secure the airport contract) to anybody." The airport is reducing the number of taxi providers from 12 to 3. A committee has recommended three companies, including one run by convicted felons. The WCNC report notes that two members of that airport committee also serve on HTA's board - Tim Newman of the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority, an ex-officio member of HTA's board; and Charlotte City Councilman Patrick Cannon, who serves on HTA's board representing of his company, EZ Parking. Cannon, according to the Charlotte Observer, is now calling for Council to delay a vote on the taxi contracts. Two of the three cab companies that the airport committee recommended for contracts did pay $5,000 to HTA, WCNC reports. They were Yellow Cab and Crown Cab.