New York City Council’s For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) Committee was shut down, in response to a controversy stirred up by its chairman, Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr. The Council’s Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections voted Feb. 13 to dissolve the year-old FHV Committee, which oversaw the taxi, livery and black-car industries.

When speaking on a Spanish-language radio program aimed at cabdrivers a few days prior, Diaz complained that the council is “controlled by the homosexual community.” Chastised by colleagues, the Bronx Democrat refused to apologize, tweeting that he had only been giving the gay community “credit for the power and influence they have.”

On Feb. 13, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is gay, framed the Rules Committee’s decision as necessary in the face of Diaz’s unwillingness to apologize or show “any kind of remorse.”

“This is not something we do lightly,” the speaker said, “nor is it something any of us do as individuals. We are here today at the Rules Committee, taking action together, at the behest of this body, united against intolerance and striving to create an environment in which we can best serve the people of New York City.”

Diaz has had a long history of making inflammatory remarks, but despite his antics, he has been an unabashed champion of the taxi and FHV industries, and the FHV Committee had a productive year. Operating under a new, more activist City Council leadership, and aided by members who long had wanted to regulate Uber and other ride-hail services, the committee passed a slew of bills addressing the challenges facing taxi and livery operators and drivers. The Taxi and Limousine Commission also conducted a study on driver economics and put new rules on the books to support the FHV Committee’s recently-introduced laws.

The FHV Committee’s role will be absorbed by the Transportation Committee, which previously had responsibility over the hired-car industry. Taxi-industry advocates have said they hope City Council will continue aggressively dealing with the industry’s serious problems.

Source: Crain’s New York Business

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