City Transportation Board Revokes License Of All American Taxi Company

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The City Transportation Board voted Thursday to revoke the license of All American Taxi after hearing testimony about fares being charged that are above the city maximum.

The panel also heard witnesses say that the company owned by Randy Van Hooser often put drivers to work who did not yet have their city permit.

Mr. Van Hooser said he made "an honest mistake" in raising the fares, saying he did so after the Transportation Board in May 2011 agreed to make that recommendation to the City Council. He said he never heard that the council did not act on the recommendation.

As a result, inspector Charles Topping said, All American has been charging $28.75 for a 10-minute ride that should cost $23.

Mr. Van Hooser said he did not get any of the extra money, saying it all went to his cab drivers.

Mike Shuford and Brent Matthews were the only ones voting against revoking the license.

Officer Topping noted that the taxi board earlier in 2011, at the request of Mr. Van Hooser, had agreed to raise the maximum fare for a 60-day period. Then it went back to the former rate.

The officer said after All American raised its fares in May 2011 that Mr. Van Hooser had posted hand-made signs in his cabs with the higher rates.

Officer Topping said the rate cards for all taxi companies are supposed to be supplied by the city.

On the issue of unlicensed drivers, Officer Topping said he now requires that the drivers themselves come in and pick up the permits - not the owners.

Officer Topping said he did not know why he did not catch the higher All American fares when he examined the firm's cabs in the annual inspection in February 2012. He said, "I don't know why I did not pick up on that." 

Among the witnesses were two former cab drivers for Mr. Van Hooser who had gone over to rival Tim Duckett, who owns Millenium Taxi and is also on the Transportation Board. Officer Topping said Mr. Duckett passed on several complaints about Mr. Van Hooser.

Manny Rico, City Council member who serves on the Transportation Board, said he did not buy Mr. Van Hooser's story that it was an honest mistake. He said, "Mr. Van Hooser is a businessman. He knows the rules. This isn't his first rodeo."

He added, "This is very serious. He's taken advantage of our poorest people. And he took advantage of our tourists. A taxi driver is often the first people they see."

James Hurst, attorney for All American Taxi, quoted Mr. Duckett as once saying that when taxi drivers raise the price, they actually lose business because word gets around.

Mr. Matthews asked, "If he (Van Hooser) thought the rate went up, why didn't he go to the office (of the inspector) and get a new rate card?"

Attorney Hurst acknowledged, "That's a good point."

He said, "The facts are what they are." 

  


Upcoming City Council Agendas

Here are the upcoming City Council agendas: Tuesday: I. Call to Order. II. Pledge of Allegiance/Invocation (Councilman Mitchell). III. Minute Approval. IV. Special Presentation. V. Ordinances – Final Reading: VI. Ordinances – First Reading: PLANNING a. An ordinance to amend Chattanooga City Code, Part II, Chapter 5, ... (click for more)

Boyd Using $11,670 Of Discretionary Funds For Public Art At Brainerd Hills

County Commissioner Tim Boyd said he was using $11,670 of his "discretionary funds" to pay the final debt owed on a piece of public art that was installed in mid-April in Brainerd Hills. County Commission members get $100,000 per year to spend as they deem fit. Other commission members appeared to have no objection to the expenditure. He said members of the Brainerd Hills ... (click for more)

Why Ferguson Matters In Chattanooga

The recent verdict in Ferguson has thrown race relations in the spotlight again. It is far too easy to get caught up in the debate as to who was right. But the plain fact is that the community lost, the police force lost and the nation lost. So why does Ferguson matter in Chattanooga? Because a police force mainly composed of whites got into a conflict with a community mainly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)

UTC Men Defeat Robert Morris, 61-46

For the Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team, it’s good to be home. Just ask sophomore point guard Greg Pryor whose 13 points, including a trio of   3–pointers sparked a second half offensive surge as the Mocs defeated visiting Robert Morris (Pa.), 61-46 Wednesday afternoon in McKenzie Arena. The Mocs (2-3) advance to Thursday’s championship game at noon of the ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Soddy Daisy Rolls Past Rhea County

The Soddy Daisy Trojans remained unbeaten after four games in basketball, including Tuesday night's 70-31 romp over the visiting Rhea County Golden Eagles, but please keep in mind that Rhea County is still playing football and at least seven regulars on the basketball court are still trying to win a state title on the gridiron. Preston Pugh scored on a layup with 6:39 to play ... (click for more)