NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A newly-formed City Council committee on for-hire vehicles is holding its first-ever public hearing to review Taxi & Limousine Commission oversight.
Dozens of livery and taxi drivers who gathered outside City Hall claim they’re being harassed with excessive fees, unfair practices and abusive practices by the TLC and that they can’t make a living.
They say it led to one of their own committing suicide outside the gates of City Hall last week.
“Our drivers we went from assaults, homicides and now we are in suicides,” said Cira Angeles, of the Livery Base Owners Association. “This is a very critical moment in which we need to pay attention.”
Last Monday, Douglas Schifter, 62, shot and killed himself while in a car near the east gate of City Hall Park, according to police sources and the Independent Drivers Guild.
Police sources said the black-car livery driver left a note and a post on Facebook expressing his frustration with licensing, competition and ride-sharing services such as Uber. Police sources said he was financially distraught.
Before the City Council hearing got underway, the drivers stood in the rain and held a prayer vigil for the driver who took his own life.
Committee members asserted that the TLC enforcement officers used entrapment and that drivers in the turbulent industry are double-ticketed during stops by the NYPD and TLC, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
Committee Chairman Rubén Díaz Sr. said drivers are frustrated and pointed to big numbers on summonses.
“I’m saying, ‘Why so high? $1,500? $3,000?'” he said, which was met with a loud applause from the audience.
“It will always get an applause when you throw out large numbers like that,” TLC Chair Meera Joshi said.
Joshi explained local law requires maximum fines to be printed on the summonses and offered to look at that with the Council.