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Due to an editing error, Oswego City Councilman Michael Todd was incorrectly referred to as a registered sex offender and co-owner of D&M Taxi company with Brian Savage. Todd is not a registered sex offender, nor is he Savage’s brother or in any way affiliated with D&M Taxi. D&M Taxi is not managed by Savage. The company being referred to was intended to be Lake City Taxi, which is managed by Savage. We regret the error and apologize to both Todd and D&M Taxi.
Tensions rise in the city of Oswego, as a law barring previous felons from driving taxis has been repealed. Oswego City Councilman Michael Todd, along with other Oswego city officials, passed a law that any person who committed a felony within the last ten years or are considered a sex offender would be unable to attain a chauffeur’s license, making it impossible to drive a taxi.
The purpose for the law was to keep the sex offenders out of the driver’s seat. According to Councilman Michael Todd of Oswego, when the truth about the Oswego Cab services employing various sex offenders was revealed, he, as well as other officials, were horrified. Todd said that passengers of taxis should not have to risk their safety when getting into a taxi, especially when the city of Oswego has the convictions of these offenders on file.
“Why aren’t we doing something before something terrible happens?” Todd said. “We know we have drivers who are child rapists. Light bulbs should be going off. We should prevent a potentially harmful situation before it is too late.”
Todd relayed a story where he went to pick up his twelve-year-old daughter from an Oswego Middle School dance. He said he found young girls leaving the school dance and getting into Lake City cabs. Todd sees a problem with drivers that are registered pedophiles picking up young girls.
The law was repealed when The Workforce Advocacy Center from Montgomery County, started and run by Jeremy Zielinski, got involved. Zielinski’s purpose is to stop discrimination against people with criminal records. Zielinski himself is a registered sex offender. Zielinski said he became involved in this case after a controversy with the bus company issues brought up the law in the news. Zielinski said that state law is enforced over city law; and a law that keeps felons out of the drivers seat would go against the New York State Correction law article 23-A, which protects those who have committed crimes from being discriminated against. The replacement law that is currently in place makes for those applying for a chauffeur’s license to only be subjected to a background check.
Zielinski’s argument to protect former felons (in Oswego, the focus is on sex offenders) is that when felons are released from jail, they need opportunities to get back onto their feet. Obtaining a job as a taxi driver might be a good option for someone who has a criminal record or has been recently released from jail.
“So article 23-A provides a robust and comprehensive right to make a productive life,” said Zielinski. “Sex offenders are the least likely to re-offend.”
A woman named Shana Rowan who maintains a website usafair.org with statistical data showing a low percentage of recidivism (repeated offenses) in sex offenders, works with Zielinski.
Rowan’s personal blog is titled “I Love a Sex Offended.” The blog has a graph with a heading “Sex Offender Research” and Rowan claims on her page that she has dedicated her life to obtaining justice for sex offenders. Rowan’s official website shows that the recidivism rate after three years following their release is 5.3 percent. Anderson Cooper, in a report done in 2009, cited a Justic Department study to report the same rate of recidivisim as Rowan claimed.
Todd said he hopes to re-instate the law that people with the past ten years cannot attain a chauffeur’s license, and also hopes to make it statewide legislation.