Joe Morgan, investigator for the Taxicab Authority, tried to do the right thing when he overheard and taped a disturbing phone conversation between senior investigators. His actions have landed him in court, being prosecuted by the Attorney General, Catherine Cortez Masto, for interception of wire communication and surreptitious intrusion of privacy by a listening device, charges his lawyer, Robert Draskovitch, is vigorously defending him on, with motions indicating that the circumstances of the alleged crime do not fit within the statutes of a case of wire-tapping or wire fraud.
Jessie Walsh, the District Court Judge, has yet to make a ruling on this case, even though, Joe, his lawyer, and the prosecutor have shown up on two different dates. In this case the only ruling serving justice would be to throw this case out of court. Properly regulating the taxicab industry in and for the benefit of the Citizens of Clark County is clearly being called into question by Joe Morgan, the whistle-blower at the Taxicab Authority.
The corporate entities that make up the cab companies have taken advantage of the fact that the Taxicab Authority (the agency that regulates cabs in Clark County) is self-funded. The Taxicab Authority doesn’t accept taxpayer money or Federal Highway Funds because $.20 of every single cab ride (approximately 25 million rides per year) funds the agency.
In addition to medallion fees, driver fees and fines, the agency’s total budget is close to $10,000,000 per year. The cab industry likes the dysfunction that has occurred and has little incentive to correct itself, and has caused Investigator Joe Morgan to be prosecuted for it. He is ready to testify about the lack of integrity as well as the injustices of the cab industry. While attempting to shine light on the collusion of a handful of cab company owners, he has found himself to be the center of an investigation. He alleges the Taxicab Authority actively prevents and deters its sworn officers from writing tickets for driver misconduct or any other infraction.
Moreover, the investigators are being discouraged from writing any tickets or enforcing the laws their job description mandates. Tickets are written by investigators but handled by the Taxicab Authority’s own court, which is administrative. The case is heard in an office, not a courtroom. The offense is handled internally and does not get reported to the DMV, so negligent and unsafe drivers continue to drive without concern. The investigator’s job is to monitor cabdrivers by writing administrative citations for cabdriver’s offenses with fines that start at $80. The penalties often involve no defensive driving classes, and no points on driver’s licenses.
The Taxicab Authority does not want to disclose any infractions of the law to the DMV because cab companies don’t want to lose profitable drivers as a result of their driving history and those bad drivers continue to be protected by this self-governing process. There are ways to fix this mess. The fixes are not necessarily in the best interests of the cab companies and would be difficult if not impossible to implement unless political pressure is applied.
The Taxicab Authority and the Transportation Authority (which regulates limousines, shuttle buses, moving storage facilities, AND taxicabs outside of Clark County) fall under the State Department of Business and Industry, which is not a transportation agency nor are they skilled in the regulation motor carrier laws.
There are three regulation options; none are being embraced by the cab companies at this time.
1. Transfering the Taxicab Authority to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC): Cab companies are opposed because it allows the RTC to regulate an industry with the strong possibility that there would be increased free market within the industry.
2. Merging Taxicab Authority and Transportation Authority into one agency under the Transportation Authority and moving the combined Transportation Authority to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
3. Moving ALL sworn employees, dispatchers, and taxicab vehicle inspectors to the DMV Compliance Enforcement Division, and keeping the Taxicab Authority and Transportation Authority separate under the management of the Office of Business and Industry.
The cab companies want to remain privately held, highly profitable entities. They’re not interested in the public’s safety, their driver’s reliability or being integrated into a governing body that may change the status quo.
Joe Morgan attempted to shine the light on what appears to be a corrupted system and has found himself not in the Taxicab Authority’s “court,” but instead, in the District Court, which is impacting his life in a very real way.