Wheels Off Controversy Continues

Uber report unmasked: Dallas mayor says nothing illegal transpired

Uber report unmasked: Dallas mayor says nothing illegal transpired

Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs
Council member Scott Griggs is leading the charge for more transparency at City Hall. Scott Griggs/Facebook
Uber Car
Uber is giving Dallas cab companies a headache. Photo courtesy of Uber
Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston
Council member Philip Kingston called for an investigation into Uber, Yellow Cab and the Dallas Police Department. Photo courtesy of Dallas Voice
Taxi cab light
Taxi drivers in Dallas say Uber's business model is against city code. Courtesy photo
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings
Mayor Mike Rawlings says he's "highly disappointed" with interim city manger A.C. Gonzalez. Photo courtesy of Mike Rawlings for Mayor
Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs
Uber Car
Dallas City Council member Philip Kingston
Taxi cab light
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

An investigation into the Uber cab situation in Dallas concluded that nothing illegal had transpired and gave the interim city manager a slap on the wrist.

Uber is the technology-based car service that came to Dallas last year. Threatened by its arrival, Yellow Cab placed pressure on interim city manager A.C. Gonzalez and the Dallas Police Department to limit Uber's growth. Gonzalez tried to fast-track an ordinance thwarting Uber's business model through City Council in August.

The report was presented by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. It concluded that the city's decision to work with Dallas police on a sting operation to ticket Uber was lawful, though all of the charges against Uber drivers have since been dropped.

 "I believe that several wrong decisions and bad judgments were made throughout this process," said Mayor Mike Rawlings.

"I did not hear of or discover any potential illegal or unethical activity or behavior that I believe should be investigated further," Rawlings said. "I believe that several wrong decisions and bad judgments were made throughout this process."

Rawlings called Gonzalez's behavior "highly disappointing" but characterized it as a case of bad judgment.

"This small group of city individuals believed they alone could solve this problem. That judgment was naïve," Rawlings said. "Mr. Gonzalez should not have asked city attorneys to draft ordinances using Yellow Cab’s lawyers draft as the primary guide.

"Even if he thought they were correctly written, it creates the after-the-fact perception that one private company was getting too much influence at City Hall."

He called Gonzalez' decision to place the new ordinance on the council agenda without any private or public hearing "an overreach."

"Furthermore, to put it on the council agenda as a consent item, assuming the City Council might not want to discuss or debate exacerbates that initial bad decision," Rawlings said.

The press conference was the mayor's effort to prove transparency, following a behind-closed-doors executive session by the City Council on Wednesday morning.

Council members Scott Griggs and Philip Kingston, who first called for an independent investigation, also requested a vote on whether to make the review open to the public or move it to executive session. They were the only two who voted for a public meeting; the remaining members of the council voted to hold Wednesday morning's meeting in private.

With the report complete, the Transportation Committee will take a crack at crafting an ordinance to bring Uber into the fold of Dallas limousine services. 

Rawlings said city staff had a "significant lack of awareness" of the changing marketplace dynamics of the car service industry and the public's opinion on the matter.

"We love new business in Dallas, and we want to attract as many new businesses and different types of businesses [as we can]," Rawlings said. "But we all live in the rule of law, and we are going to do this in a lawful manner."