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Charlotte Area

King Cab Says Rejection By Airport Was Unfair

The Charlotte City Council's community safety committee will once again debate changes to the taxi ordinance today during a noon meeting. Among the proposed changes is a requirement that cab company owners get criminal background checks every year - and face losing their operating permit if serious convictions are found. Taxi drivers in Charlotte can't get a permit if they've been convicted of serious crimes, but the criminal history of cab company owners hasn't received much scrutiny until now. Charlotte airport officials were recently embarrassed by the revelation that two owners of King Cab did prison time for felony convictions associated with soliciting fake driver's licenses. King Cab was one of three companies airport officials had chosen to receive lucrative airport contracts. The city manager overruled the airport's decision and disqualified King Cab from a contract. Now King Cab is suing to have the entire process overturned. "If the airport wanted the criminal histories of its owners to be a factor in their decision making process, then they should have said so," says attorney Monroe Whitesides, who represents King Cab "But the RFP says nothing about criminal histories, whether it be felonies or misdemeanors, and therefore it is disparate treatment." King Cab's lawsuit points to criminal convictions of owners at three other cab companies that were considered by the airport - City Cab, Universal Cab and Checker Cab. However, those convictions were for misdemeanors - not felonies. One involves writing a worthless check and dates back to 1984. The other two were for reckless driving and abuse related to disciplining a child. Both were resolved without sentencing. Still, Whitesides maintains his clients at King Cab were treated unfairly by a flawed process in which the airport changed the rules after the proposals were submitted. "We're asking that the RFP process be declared unconstitutional and that the airport start over with a fair RFP that is both acceptable to the city as well as the taxi owners." The Charlotte City Council is scheduled to vote June 13th on awarding exclusive airport contracts to three taxi companies: City Cab, Yellow Cab and Crown Cab. Today a committee of the city council will consider changing the citywide ordinance to prohibit certain types of felons from owning cab companies at all.