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Taxi Industry Paper: Did Fundraiser Change Alderman’s Mind?

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A taxi stops to let off a passenger on Clark Street downtown. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Questions are being raised about the timing of a fundraiser held for an influential Chicago alderman.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, a Chicago Sun-Times story says the fundraiser was for Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), who heads the City Council Transportation Committee.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

The fundraiser at Doostan Restaurant, 2546 W. Peterson Ave., was put on by the Chicago Taxicab Operators’ Association, just days before Beale’s committee was to consider reforms of the taxi industry, the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reported.

The industry publication the Chicago Dispatcher pointed out that Beale had favored tough restrictions on using wrecks as salvaged cabs. But the Dispatcher said after the fundraiser, he softened his view and pushed ahead lighter reforms, the Sun-Times reported.

The original plan had called for a $1 million bond and a maximum mileage 75,000 for cabs going into service for the first time, but the committee agreed to cut the bond to $200,000 and phase in the mileage cap over three years, the Sun-Times reported.

The mileage limit had been 150,000, and the bond only $100,000.

The Dispatcher ran the story on Beale titled, “How Much is that Alderman in the Window,” the newspaper reported.

But Beale tells the Sun-Times there was no connection between the fundraiser and his change of heart.

The newspaper says a city spokesman says Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosemary Krimbel actually came up with the changes, not Beale.

Last month, the City Council approved sweeping changes to regulations on taxis. Under the new regulations, on-the-road training is required before cab drivers are licensed and driving records will be reviewed more than once a year.

A new tiered lease system will also begin, which would allow for with discounts on medallion fees for companies that buy fuel-efficient and wheelchair-accessible vehicles. But some cabbies have complained that the savings would be obliterated if fares are not raised.

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