Public Watchdog.org

Taxi-Cab Confessions – Part II

03.25.09

In Taxi-Cab Confessions, we wrote about how Park Ridge Taxi, the Oakbrook Terrace based company apparently owned by Oakbrook Terrace resident Dean Dinev, was putting on a public relations blitz that might be directed to the renewed application of American Taxi for five taxi licenses that would allow it to pick up residents in Park Ridge – a market Park Ridge Taxi currently monopolizes.

In that same post we also wrote about how, back in February of 2005, when Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark was still just an alderman and mayoral candidate, he voted against American Taxi’s application for a Park Ridge license. Two days later, Frimark’s mayoral campaign fund got a $500 contribution from the wife of Park Ridge Taxi’s then-owner, Lee Carpenter.  What a coincidence!

So Monday night’s City Council Committee of the Whole meeting should be of interest to Park Ridge residents, especially those who consider themselves free-market types, because it featured a guest appearance by Dean Dinev and about 10 of his drivers.  Mr. Dinev spoke at length in favor of his company’s monopoly and against American Taxi’s even getting so much as a City Council hearing on whether the residents of Park Ridge might be better served to have a more open taxi market.

Which makes sense, given that his monopoly extends not only to the regular taxi service that most of us know and sometimes use but also to a proposed contract [pdf] for transportation services for high school District 207’s Special Education Program – because a Park Ridge license appears to be needed in order to qualify for that contract.

Can you say “Bingo!”?  We’re betting Mr. Dinev can, both in English and in Russian.

This being the final weeks of a hotly-contested mayoral election between Frimark and 1st Ward Ald. Dave Schmidt, however, the focus of the COW discussion went beyond just taxi service.  Schmidt noted that Dinev’s company recently (Feb. 25) made a $1,000 contribution to Frimark’s campaign fund, and he suggested that the contribution might look like classic Illinois pay-to-play government in light of Dinev’s lobbying of the Council to deny a licensing hearing to competitor American Taxi.

That last remark drew an immediate rebuke from meeting chair and Frimark lapdog, Alderpuppet Jim Allegretti (4th Ward), who banged his hand for lack of a gavel and sharply noted that, as mayor, Frimark doesn’t vote. 

But that’s not quite true.  Or maybe Allegretti just didn’t remember the January 28, 2008, Council meeting when he and fellow Alderpuppets Don “Air Marshall” Bach (3rd Ward) and Robert Ryan needed and got Frimark’s vote to break the 3-3 deadlock and give Napleton Cadillac (a $1,000 contributor to Frimark’s 2005 campaign fund) up to $2.4 million of our tax dollars in what amounted to a quasi-bribe to keep his dealership in Park Ridge. The relevant excerpts from the minutes of that Council meeting can be found by clicking here [pdf].

So while Frimark normally doesn’t vote on matters before the Council, who’s to say that he wouldn’t get a chance to vote on American Taxi’s license application if it were to come to a vote and…oh…say…Alderpuppet Tom Carey (6th Ward) decided to once again vote “Present”?  Or if…oh…maybe…Ryan missed yet another meeting?

On the other hand, it’s looking less and less like there will be a vote on taxi licenses, given the comments of Frimark’s alderpuppets Monday night that American’s application doesn’t even deserve a public hearing, much less a Council vote.  “There obviously is not a need [for taxi competition] because no one has said that there is,” posited “Air Marshall” Bach. 

Yes, we guess that a cool $1,000 to help get ol’ “Let’s Make A Deal” re-elected says more than enough for Bach and the rest of Frimark’s Council.  

16 comments so far

Hey, you missed the part where Mr. Dinve made comment about the “blogs” in town and even in his country would be considered EVIL. Does that at all sound familiar to anyone? Seems Howards puppeteeering reaches beyond Alderman. What are the chances that a Russian Taxi driver/owner, not from Park Ridge, would even read let alone know about a local blog?!

For gods sake, do people really buy this shit?

Isn’t a monopoly like a no-bid contract? If so, then Park Ridge Taxi has had years of no-bid contracts from the city of Park Ridge.

So Howard Frimark is emulating Richie Daley. Man, are we screwed if this guy Frimark gets re-elected, because we don’t have a Skyway or a Midway Airport that we can sell off to avert bankruptcy.

Why does Park Ridge Taxi get to determine the supply/demand parameters of the taxi market in Park Ridge?

The City has seen fit to allow for 35 licenses to Park Ridge Taxi. One must presume the City believes that the taxi market in Park Ridge can support 35 taxis.

However, Park Ridge Taxi chooses to utilize only 27 of those 35 allowed licenses. Why? Is Park Ridge Taxi squeezing the supply?

Why isn’t American Taxi’s determination that there is a demand for 5 more licneses in Park Ridge given equal consideration? Why has there been, what appears to be, a pre-determination that American Taxi’s view of the demand in Park Ridge is wrong?

Why not take 5 of the already allowed 8 more licenses and give them to American Taxi? Then, should Park Ridge Taxi choose to do so, they can utilize the remaining 3.

The total taxi supply in Park Ridge would be 32 cabs, of which Park Ridge Taxi will hold the lions share of the market with 27, and with up to a potential of 30.

In this way, the residents of Park Ridge are not forced or compelled to deal with the monopoly that is Park Ridge Taxi. At the least, residents will have another choice, and the consumer choice they make will determine who “wins” in the market place.

This is appalling. Does anyone know an investigative reporter at the Trib or Sun Times who can get this published before the local election?

anon 1:55:

I hope it gets printed somewhere but I have a feeling that those to whom this would be a big deal are already voting for Schmidt.

This kind of stuff should be mattering to every citizen, taxpayer and voter because it is the kind of pay-to-play that has made our state a cesspool of corruption. Pay $25,000 to Blago, get $5 million of state paving work. Pay $10,000 to Stroger, get $3 million in sign contracts. Pay $10,000 to Daley, get a couple of $100,000/year jobs.

In Park Ridge it’s pay $1,000 to Frimark, get $2.4 million of tax sharing and clean-up costs. Or pay $1,000 to Frimark and keep your taxi monopoly. Or pay $500 to Frimark and get appointed alderman, so that you can pay him $1,500 when he runs for re-election.

You complain about Park Ridge Taxi wanting to get that District 207 contract, but what about American Taxi? Maybe that’s all they want their licenses for, but you don’t seem to be all that concerned about their motives in this.

Anonymous on 03.25.09 4:09 pm,

District 207 puts their taxi contract out to bid, and the lowest bidder will “win” that contract.

The City of Park Ridge has given its assurance that it will waive the city license requirement for whomever wins the Dist. 207 bid.

Personally, I believe American Taxi, who is now applying to enter the Park Ridge market for the second time in recent memory but did so previously without Dist. 207’s livery service being at issue, is merely looking to expand into the Park Ridge market.

I like the suggestion about the citizens “determining who wins”. The only question is can the total business available in PR for Taxi service support 35 or 32 taxi’s.

All other things remaining equal, adding 5-8 more cabs means less money, not just for the business owners but for the drivers.

I drove a cab for several summers in the city while I was in school. I could choose to work 16 hr days if I wanted to to pay my lease and make some money. I cannot imagine there is any significant business after dark around here.

anon on 03.25.09 4:23 pm,

Park Ridge Taxi, the operating monopoly in Park Ridge, says “no”.

American Taxi, the requesting business entity seeking 5 licenses, says “yes”.

The City Council has already made allowances for 35.

Park Ridge consumers are precluded from doing business with any other taxi company but Park Ridge Taxi when they want to be picked up in Park Ridge.

Is it local governemnt’s responsibility to ensure income for Taxi drivers or any other local business interest? Or, is it local government’s responsibility to ensure citizen/taxpayer/consumer protection through open-market choice?

Think hard, anon, the correct answer will dawn on you eventually.

How does Dick Barton figure into this whole mess? I understand he was present at the City Council meeting this week when the taxi issue was discussed.

I thought I saw $25,000 in the proposed city budget for Park Ridge Taxi to offset the cost of the senior cab ride program. Wouldn’t it be difficult to disperse the funds between two taxi companies without elaborate record keeping?

Reduced rates for senior rides is a great program, but I wonder how many actually use it, and question if the $25,000 is really a gift to Park Ridge Taxi that they just don’t want to share.

Ooops – To correct my 2:13 PM comment, the amount was $23,000 to “Taxi Subsidy, Senior Services” and I noticed it in a memorandum from city staff to the Finance & Budget Committee, dated Nov. 20, 2008.

At last night’s debate Frimark said he never got any money from Napleton. I just checked the State of Illinois campaign disclosure website and it shows $1,000 to the Frimark campaign on 11/5/2004. So who’s lying – the Illinois State Board of Elections or Howard?

HOward is a big fat liar! And as my pen name implies (I chose it due to his continued use of lies and falsehoods), he is the master of bullshitting. Last night the Napleton lie was one of many.
I have come to realize it’s simply part of his make up to be such a liar but I honestly do not know how the guy can look himself in the mirror or how his supporters can look at him.

Geeee, Don’t tell Lutheran General, they always call Community cab in Des Plaines….. Oh wait, that’s for the Des Plaines drunks……Disregard.



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