Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Post editorializes against taxi medallions

I've written about the proposal to create a taxi medallion system in DC, which appears to be nothing but a form of politically-aided rent seeking designed to reduce competition. The Post has an editorial about this today, "Taxi trouble in the District."

From the article:

LAST YEAR, ANALYSTS for D.C. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Natwar M. Gandhi undertook a study of how taxicab medallions have worked in other cities. Here’s what they found: windfall profits for a small group of people; an overall decline in service with longer waits and higher fares; and a system open to corruption. The report has been largely overlooked; its harsh findings should serve as a cautionary tale for city officials contemplating bringing a medallion system to the District.

To repeat: If DC had a master transportation plan, it would be easier to deal with this and other transportation issues. The Transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan doesn't even mention taxis once.

Hopefully this bill will die. But it will still take some time before manipulating the levers of local government--contracting, licensing, etc.--for profits becomes less fashionable among the local political and economic elites. (Also see "Window into political culture of illegal deals " from the Washington Post about the pay-to-play scandal in Prince George's County, Maryland.)

Some of the political class is opining that the great thing about the personnel hiring "problems" faced by people surrounding the Gray Administration, not to mention the scandals with CM Thomas and his unregistered nonprofit seeking donations and the financial problems and car-greed by Council Chairman Brown is that this will allow Mayor Gray to cut his coat tails and be rid of the hangers on and move forward.

I don't know if that will really happen (I think Mayor Gray is very smart but I wonder if he is too much a product of the same general political class that it's impossible to extricate himself from it), but it's nice to dream.

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