No Vote on Uber Amendment

Dallas City Council postpones Uber vote and moves it to committee

Dallas City Council postpones Uber vote and moves it to committee

Uber Car
Uber is giving cab companies headaches in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Uber
Uber
Uber is billed as “everyone’s private driver.” Courtesy of Uber
Taxi cab light
Taxi drivers in Dallas say Uber's business model is against city code. Courtesy photo
Uber Car
Uber
Taxi cab light

In a rather anticlimactic move, the Dallas City Council voted on Wednesday to push back its vote on the Uber Amendment, an attempt to regulate the technology car service. The council moved the matter to the Transportation Committee for further study.

The amendment was one of the first topics to be discussed at Wednesday's council meeting, which drew nearly a full house of spectators armed for bear, ready to speak out in favor of Uber and against the proposed amendment.

 "We will get to the bottom of these issues," said Mayor Mike Rawlings. "We will do the right things to make sure we do the right thing by the city."

The high attendance followed an uproar from Dallas citizens in response not only to what was perceived as meddling regulation that would take away a beneficial transportation option, but also act as a hindrance to the city's ability to attract startup businesses.

The controversy has increased since the revelation that the Dallas Police Department assigned undercover vice officers to to investigate Uber, with 61 citations written to 31 Uber drivers.

The involvement of the vice squad, combined with the fact that the Uber item seemed to have been inserted onto the city council agenda sneakily, has raised eyebrows about who is pulling the strings. To that end, the DMN made note of the political contributions by dominant cab company Yellow Cab, as well as its hire of politically-connected consultant Carol Reed.

At the council meeting, councilman Sheffie Kadane spoke first, making a motion to send the amendment back to the Transportation Committee; Lee Kleinman seconded. But Philip Kingston offered a substitute motion that was more probing.

"I suggest we pull this item and send it for briefing, and authorize a full charter investigation of how the language of this ordinance was proposed, including subpoena power to investigate the circumstances under which the language of this amendment was crafted," he said.

Kadane rejected Kingston's amendment, and that sent the council into an executive session. When they emerged, Kingston withdrew his substitute motion with a request that the investigation "be defined by and administered by Mayor Mike Rawlings." The council approved, and pouf, it was over.

"Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming down here," Rawlings said. "We will get to the bottom of these issues. We will understand them and do the right things to make sure we do the right thing by the city."