1929: Birmingham Assails Police Commissioner For Failing to Act on Taxicab Monopoly
Rep. Birmingham charged that the taxicab situation could have been straightened out years ago by the police commissioner if he had wanted to, reported the Boston Herald (April 26, 1929, p. 7).
Birmingham asserted that the independent taxicab operators are insulted when they appeal to the commissioner and the only place they can go for relief is to the legislature. He said that a taxicab monopoly exists, and there is now an opportunity to end it.
The Democratic minority leader was commenting on a bill proposed by Rep. Joseph Finnegan that would abolish special or exclusive taxicab stands and make public stands free and open for all vehicles whose owners were licensed.
Finnegan’s bill was reported adversely by the House committee on cities, but Finnegan continued to fight for the bill. The House voted 158 to 46 April 25 to substitute Finnegan’s bill for the adverse committee report.
Finnegan argued that the Checker taxicab company had an unfair competitive position in having exclusive stands set aside for their taxis.
“This measure is not designed as an attack on the police commissioner. It merely says then when a taxi stand is set aside by the city it shall be opened to all licensed taxicabs, which would include special or exclusive stands in a policy of equal treatment for all. Provision is made for reasonable rules and regulations by the police commissioner,” he said during debate on the bill.
Finnegan charged that Charles Innes, a director of the Checker Taxi Company, was behind the opposition to his bill and the reason that the committee on cities issued an adverse report.
Rep. James Twohig of South Boston charged that police officials own Checker company stock and want to put the independent operators out of business.
Rep. Rupert Thompson of Newton, speaking for the committee on cities, said that a bill was passed setting up a Boston traffic commission, and the committee thought that the question of exclusive taxicab stands should be left to the commission to handle.
Rep. Richard Crockwell of Medford, chairman of the committee on cities, objected to Finnegan’s suggestion that Innes was the reason the committee reported adversely on his bill. “Mr. Innes had absolutely nothing to do with the report on this bill,” he said.
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Finnegan's bill was accounted for unfavorably by the House board on urban areas, yet Finnegan kept on battling for the bill. The House casted a ballot 158 to 46 April 25 to substitute Finnegan's bill for the unfavorable council report.
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