Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 6.12.14: TPD to start citing Uber drivers?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 8:32 AM

click to enlarge Uber.jpg
Whatever you think of the car-share riding service Uber, you gotta admit this burgeoning behemoth has a lot of stones, not content to let mere legislators decide whether or not they should operate in a particular community.

Along with the whole craft brewery/growler issue, the question of Uber getting  a foothold in cities like Tampa, Miami and Orlando was one of the most interesting sideshows of the recently conducted legislative session in Tallahassee. Despite the best efforts of St. Pete state Senator Jeff Brandes to get rid of barriers like minimum fares or minimum times, legislation at the state level failed, theoretically stopping  the San Francisco-based transportation committee from doing business in those cities (it already operates in Jacksonville).

Or so you would think. 

But a few months ago Uber (and another ride sharing company, Lyft) essentially dismissed those cumbersome rules, and began offering service in Tampa, flaunting the powers invested in the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Committee (which Brandes and Representative Jamie Grant had attempted to do with their first piece of legislation on the issue late last year). The PTC has cited some scofflaws, but now wants the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriffs Department to help in cracking down on these illicit rides.

As the Times' Caitlin Johnston reports, however, both those law enforcement agencies say it's a civil process, not a criminal one, and they shouldn't be involved. At least not yet, saying that once they hear directly from the PTC, they'll determine whether they'll deploy their law enforcement resources on Uber and Lyft drivers....stay tuned for more.

In other news: 

Debbie Wasserman Schultz's quite public opposition to Amendment 2 and the legalization of medical marijuana is turning off some of her fellow Democrats, including one Tampa member who wants her ousted as DNC Chair.

Tuesday night at Blake High in Tampa, more than 100 folks came out in the second public hearing on the proposed remaking of Riverfront Park, and (surprise!) not everyone is on the same page.

And despite the strong efforts by leaders in Tampa and St. Pete in recent years, a new listing of the top 20 LGBT-friendly cities in the nation excludes them and any other city in the Sunshine State.

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