A new law regarding who is allowed to have a license which allows them to drive a taxi cab was passed in the city of Oswego.
This new law comes just months after the city’s Common Council was in talks for new regulations on private transportation buses. The law was signed by Mayor Thomas Gillen on Sept. 25. It was then sent on to New York’s Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales’ office to be made official.
“[This is a] great safety net for the city of Oswego and campus,” Second Ward Alderman Michael Myers said.
One taxi cab company in particular has expressed their concern for the new law. Lake City Taxi manager Brian Savage has said that he will lose half of his driving force if the new law is put into effect.
Article 228-4, section H of the new law states: “Applicants will be disqualified for any Felony conviction within the preceding ten (10) years, or any conviction that would designate one as a NYS Sex Offender (at any level) under the current criteria regardless of the date of offense. (For this section, one does not need to be designated as a sex offender, but the conviction of any offense that would, under current standards, qualify one as a sex offender, regardless of when the offense occurred, would qualify.)”
Under the new law, anyone who would be considered a sex offender under today’s laws would not be allowed to have a taxi license.
Savage himself would not be able to have a taxi cab license in Oswego under the new law. Savage was convicted of first degree sexual abuse in 1983. He served from that January until August 8, 1985 when he became eligible for parole.
The law does not state whether or not the law affects those who fall into these categories right away or when they renew their license. However, the law states that at any time a driver’s license or permit may be suspended or revoked for cause after a hearing by the Chief of Police. This section of the law would enable the Chief to review licenses of those who are affected by this at any time.
Those who committed crimes that today lead to being registered as a sex offender are required to register with the Division of Criminal Justice. This law was created on January 21, 1996 and does not require those who committed crimes prior to the date to register, which leaves Savage off sex offender registries.
The Workforce Advocacy Center from Montgomery County will be filing a lawsuit with the city over the new law. Jeremy Zielinski, the founder and CEO, says that the center feels that the new law violates Corrections Law Article 23-A.
“Categorically denying licenses to individuals based on the mere existence of a conviction record is precisely what Correction Law Article 23-A forbids; indeed it is precisely what the Legislature aimed to eradicate by enacting it. This applies equally to renewals and revocations, as Article 23-A prohibits both denying a license and taking one away that has already been granted,” Zielinski said in an email.
According to endsexcrime.org, run by Shana Rowan, sex crimes occur more often in a residence or home, 68.1 percent of the time exactly. 88.3 percent of the time the crimes are committed by a family member or acquaintance. Occurrences committed by strangers happen only 2.7 percent of the time.
Problems concerning taxis are nothing new to the city of Oswego. Kyle Gargan, of The Oswegonian, in a 2009 article titled “Taxi Wars,” reported first-hand the problems faced by those in the area. The article points out an incident where a student was assaulted after refusing to pay an additional fee for their ride.
Frank Timson, owner of Ontario Taxi in Oswego has felt the damages from this “war.”
“I’ve had to deal with $62,000 in vandalism,” Timson said. “There have been death threats on my daughter and they’re breaking into my house.”
Timson recalled a time when his rivals allegedly took his dog. He said that many of the cabs in Oswego are operating illegally and that he is here for the kids.
The law comes during a time when the city Common Council is trying to increase public safety measures in Oswego.
“We want to see the city get to its full potential,” Third Ward Alderman Michael Todd said.
Todd said that the Common Council will be able to get much more done with who they now have on the board than in years past. He said that the council was told of taxi cab drivers who were sex offenders and they, “investigated, [and] found it true.”
Todd does not feel that he is responsible for protecting those who have committed sexual based crimes.
“They’ve raped children, [sometimes] violently, it’s not my responsibility to provide for them,” Todd said.