By on April 27, 2012

The Portland city council two years ago put in place regulations that force limousine and sedan services to charge a $50 minimum for rides to and from the airport, and at least 35 percent more than taxis for trips to any other destination. And these transportation companies cannot pick up customers until at least an hour after the customer calls for a ride… “The main thing is that you don’t want the Town Cars to take all of the best fares, which are to the airport, and not leave any for the taxi industry,” [a city official] said. “That’s why there’s a minimum fare and a one-hour wait requirement.”

That’s right: the city of Portland is attacking the Lincoln Town Car, by name, in legislation and public speech. To the diminishing community of people in the United States who give a damn about the so-called “Constitution”, that’s called a “bill of attainder”. Nor is it empty talk: the city recently fined TownCar.com $635,500. Why?

According to The Weekly Standard, two sedan services, TownCar.com and Fiesta Limousine, had the nerve to offer “Groupons” for service last year. The city responded by throwing down six-figure fines on both companies, which then had to nullify the Groupons or go bankrupt as a consequence.

Is that even legal? These people say “No!”:

YouTube Preview Image

Regardless of the legal implications, however, a few facts are clear:

  • Some company out there has the kick-ass domain name, TownCar.com.
  • The city of Portland is speaking out against Town Cars.
  • The Town Car is the most American car of all time, notwithstanding the inconvenient detail that it was temporarily assembled in the 52nd state of Ontario for a few years.
  • Speaking out against the Town Car is basically the same as speaking out against America.
  • Which makes the Portland City Council terrorists.
  • This means that, under recent legislation passed while you were all watching the media shooooping George Zimmerman’s face to look whiter, President Obama can authorize remote drone killings of the Portland City Council, without “due process” or any of that other hippie/teabagger crap.
  • But one drone might not be enough to do it.
  • But, given the enthusiastic way the government has interpreted the interstate-commerce clause, surely “drone killing” can be expanded to “ICBM launch”.

That’s right. If Portland doesn’t stop persecuting Town Cars, it may be necessary — patriotic, even — to nuke Portland. However, once the announcement is made that Portland is being nuked, local TTAC readers may want to call a taxi to take you to the airport, since the Town Cars have to wait a mandatory hour before picking you up.

Thanks to TTAC reader “Curvy McLegalbriefs” for the heads-up on this one!

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71 Comments on “This Aggression Will Not Stand, Man: Portland Declares War On Working Panthers...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    The NERVE of those people who want more legroom and no divider between them and the driver!

    Top two “taxis” (using the word very loosely, maybe I should say “cars for hire”) I’ve rode in for comfort and isolation were the Town Car and Ford Flex.

  • avatar
    Hank

    Note to self: Never flying in to Портланд.

  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    Follow the paper trail to the more detailed Huffington Post article. When the Huffington Post thinks your regulations are going to far it must be pretty bad.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    Counterpoint:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/why-you-can-8217-t-get-a-taxi/8942/

    This bill is addressing what’s discussed in that article. It’s just straight-up protectionism for the taxi company. Who probably also use Panthers, for what that’s worth.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    I wonder whose relative owns a taxi company. Gotta get the government to stifle competition.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    If you want to be a strict constructionist then applying the Federal Constitution to a city is an overreach. The Supreme Court only started applying the Bill of Rights to state and local governments last century, under selective incorporation and due process interpretation.

    You can call this anti-American, and pull out the Cyrillic script, but nothing is more American than one group of businesses paying off politicians to screw over another group of businesses. We just don’t like to admit it, just like we don’t like to admit that our large sedans are made in Canada.

    Still, it is sad to see this Panther-on-Panther violence between the taxi drivers and professional car drivers.

    I was going to go off on these Institute for Justice guys for cherry picking bad laws, but I have to give them credit for being involved in Kelo:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London

    • 0 avatar
      drivelikejehu

      This is a pretty clear equal protection violation, and the 14th Amendment of course applies to states specifically (and is not part of the Bill of Rights).

      Local governments are constitutionally irrelevant (beyond the fact they are entities like a business, association, etc.) and exist only on the whim of state government.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “..nothing is more American than one group of businesses paying off politicians to screw over another group of businesses.”

      Except for the screwed over Americans settling the issue with blazing guns and boiled rope. Which current day Americans, unfortunately, seem to have forgotten how and why to do.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    Nationwide issue. Free country, my ass.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I bet Portland has scads of red light cameras too!

    This law looks like the text book definition of “rent seeking” through a corrupt local government.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    As long as TTAC continues making choice Lebowski references, I will continue reading.

    Anywho, based solely upon a reading of this article, Portland’s city council seems to have overstepped its bounds. I hope someone steps up to challenge this silly law in court.

  • avatar
    jfranci3

    Portland wants everyone on public trans or on a bike. To be fair, the train goes from the airport to downtown and they do provide a bike assembly station at the airport ( http://bikeportland.org/2010/06/28/pdx-airport-now-offers-bike-assembly-station-35768 ).
    I fly there weekly, most of the cars take folks out to the Beaverton area anyway.

  • avatar
    PintoFan

    I wasn’t aware that Portland had such a cutthroat taxi market that it required “protection” of some sort. I wonder, is there some kind of tax on yellow cabs that the black car services don’t have to pay?

  • avatar

    Town Car: The most American car.

    Portland: The least American city.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    So what you’re saying is that if I buy up all of the remaining “Grand Marquis” badges FoMoCo has left in the parts warehouse, I would make a ton of money selling them to limo companies in Portland?

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I have to say upon researching the matter further, that this article does not describe the matter accurately. What actually happened seem to be a war of sort between regular metered taxi service and “livery” type service. Yet the article makes it seem like that it is about the city of Portland declaring war on Lincoln Town Cars. Afraid the city’s going to come to your house at night and took away your Panther, Jack?

    Still, is it American to handicap a competing business in such a way simply to protect another business? I thought capitalism means businesses would compete pretty much all out for customers, and the winner takes all? Let the market sort them all out? Regulations are needed only in so far as to protect the consumer, and in this case, it seem to be doing the exact opposite. So what if the livery service took all the juicy airport runs? Consumer prefer it, and it’s not the government’s job to interfere. How do the city managed to get away with it?

  • avatar
    Syke

    Slamming the Town Car? First bit of intelligent thinking I’ve heard of from that part in the country in years. Next step is to ban and crush the pieces of crap.

  • avatar
    stroker49

    Like 30% of the best and strongest left Europe for North America, then you got the strongest and best from Africa and then from Asia!
    In the American car industrie the malaise halted some years ago, in the rest of the society it continues. How can something so great come down in such a short period?

  • avatar
    TW4

    The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland. We ban Lincoln Towncars sometimes.

    The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland. McLaughlin loves his taxis yeah

    In Portland, it’s almost like cars don’t exist, right? People ride bicycles or double-decker bicycles. They ride unicycles. They ride the tram. They ride skateboards.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Jack, you’re damn good at this kind of baiting. Ever consider a political career for when this gig starts to wear on you?

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    The regulation has a point. The ‘Town cars’ are cherry picking. The city wants a taxi fleet that goes everywhere without cherry picking.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Yeah, and in Columbus, Ohio, we wanted people to visit the replica of the Santa Maria, but if you didn’t do it, we didn’t fine you $635,000.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        I came for the replica of the Santa Maria, I left for the strong smell of urine.

        Maybe they’ve done something about that now…

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Well if it’s an authentic and historically correct replica (which it apparently is), then it would lack sanitary toilets, wouldn’t it? It’s just being historically accurate…

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      If the Town Cars are a privately-owned service, then damn right they can “cherry pick” if they want to.

      Doesn’t surprise me at all that Portland would be the city to try something like this. Don’t they also prohibit us mere mortals from pumping our own gas too?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the city that’s cherry picking, as referenced by JB’s bill of attainder comment. The city is singling out a group of businesses, telling them that they cannot charge a competitive price or perform a competitive service.

      This is of a kind with cities protecting brick and morter restaurants by harassing food truck vendors.

      I believe that it’s virtually impossible for a government to regulate, tax or subsidize a market, in essence for a government to do just about anything concerning businesses, beyond enforcing contracts and laws about fraud, without distorting that market. Usually, because humans are people, it means showing favoritism to one group (or individual) over another.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    That’s the lighter side of representative government for you. I’m sure most of the people that respect the rights of others fled Portland years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      It’s become a place for California and Washington burnouts to go when they’ve failed at life.

      I have to admit though, it’s fun to visit Portland and take it for all its worth. A warning: those freaks made it illegal to pump your own gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Dawnrazor

        I always enjoy VISITING the city. It really is one of the more beautiful U.S. cities and there’s definitely many opportunities for fun, but the regulatory climate there is almost facist in it’s zeal, and you couldn’t be more correct about the influx of worn-out hippies.

        I really, REALLY wanted Mrs. Dawnrazor to take her fur coat along the last time we were there (unseasonably cold) just to see some PC weenies’ heads explode, but she is just too sweet of a person to go along with antagonizing complete strangers in that manner.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        Same. It’s a neat town. I was sure to drive my Mustang down Hawthrone to have the hipsters shun me. I had never seen so many passed out junkies in the downtown area. I literally had to step over them, jab at them with my 1% occupy cane, then tip my 1% top hat. Everyone was quite friendly however.

        If you like dive bars, you’ll like Portland. It’s a dive city.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Typical Left Coast thinking. What else would you expect?

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    Let’s Waterboard Portland!

  • avatar

    I’m sure that the bureaucrats and other leeches would object and I’d have to read the fine print, but what’s to stop an enterprising owner of a fleet of Town Cars from renaming his or her company “Town Car Expediting” offering the service of picking up and delivering your luggage to the airport for a fee? If people want to ride along they can for free. The city doesn’t tell tow truck drivers that their customers can’t ride along in the cab.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I don’t think they’re going after the Lincoln Town Cars, but “town cars” in general; that is, executive luxury sedans, as opposed to taxis; a form of transportation that predates Lincoln.

    Towncar.com does not specify one way or the other whether their fleet consists exclusively of Lincoln Town Cars. Fiesta Limousine doesn’t operate a fleet of Fiestas, now do they?

    Not saying you’re wrong about the bill of attainder or whatever, but I’m pretty sure they’d fine towncar.com whether they operated Town Cars, Cadillacs, Prii, Sprinters, or LLVs.

  • avatar
    turtletop

    In Portland, airport Town Cars are for 1%ers jetting in to do a seagull run (fly in, make a lot of noise, crap all over everything, then fly out). It’s probably not their $50 that they’d be spending on a Town Car ride anyway, so what do they care?

    Otherwise, if you’re just another prole 99%er like the rest of us, you’ve probably spent hours being x-rayed by glorified rent-a-cops with attitudes, chowing on hideously overpriced airport food, herded about like cattle, wedged into a tiny, uncomfortable seat and breathing other people’s flatulence. After all of that, would you be worried about taking a short train ride to complete your journey? Because that’s all that stands between you and most all of Portland.

    Unlike most other U.S. cities, Portland has clean, punctual and reliable transport to and from the airport. For what amounts to pocket change, you can get a ride to the heart of downtown, or all the way out to the far-flung dystopian ‘burbs, if you so desire.

    http://trimet.org/schedules/maxredline.htm

    At that point, if you don’t have a friend or colleague who can pick you up for the last few miles, you can take a taxi ride or (quelle horreur!) catch a bus.

    To be sure, taxi and town car service is rife with politics and stupidity here, just as it is in most places. That’s life in the big city, my friends, and hardly unique to Portland.

    As for those of you who like to slag on our fair city, I’d love to help you out… which way did you come in? Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to ride my bicycle, sing the Internationale and score some tasty chow at a food cart.

    “We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live. Or if you do have to move in to live, don’t tell any of your neighbors where you are going.”

    -Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      If the commentators here had their way, there wouldn’t BE a cab available to take you the last few miles. Because all the cab companies would have been run out of business by car service companies cherry picking the most profitable aspect of the business while dodging around the regulations designed to permit cab companies to stay in business while offering less common but still needed services.

    • 0 avatar
      replica

      Don’t worry. I’m just there for the Black Butte Porter and the chicks with mohawks. Oh, and Ground Kontrol. That arcade is fantastic. It’s fun to visit “fake Austin” as I’ve come to call it.

      Public transportation works so well in Portland because it’s so dang small. The Max, or whatever it’s called, is fantastic. But for that to work in a city like Houston would be impossible.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        I’ve lived in both Austin and Portland (yeah, I’m kinda a glutton for punishment), and I’m not sure which version is the fake of the other…

        If I had to call it, I’d say Portland is nuttier by far. In fact, I think San Franciscans have wised up to some of the stupid stuff they’ve done in the past…not so for Portland.

      • 0 avatar
        replica

        I think Austin has grown up a bit more compared to Portland. Portland seems to be a recent “cool” place to live so it’s a bit younger in that regard, therefore more liberal and “weird.” I like them both. Fun to visit.

  • avatar
    Banger

    After passing minimum fare regulations last fall, Nashville limo drivers and smaller limo services have been protesting. They’ve also been getting profiled by persons impersonating police officers. Check out http://www.wsmv.com/story/17754440/channel-4-i-team-uncovers-exclusive-video-in-metro-inspector-scandal

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I didn’t look into the specifics, so there’s some guess work here… Taxi’s are a regulated industry. The town cars have been performing the most profitable portion without complying with the associated regulations. They got fined. My answer: comply with the regulations and be taxi’s, or don’t and don’t be taxis. I don’t believe Jack finds the taxi regulations to be the least reasonable or most onerous in our lives, but it said town car, and Jack gets paid for clicks.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I get paid for clicks? Holy crap… my next article will be called

      THIS IS THE NUDE VAGINA THAT NAKED SEX FERRARI ENZO CRASH

      Hopefully Jalopnik won’t sue me for reusing the title.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        I’ll read it if you write it and like it enough to put your name on it. OK, the clicks to dollars aren’t that direct, but where does the money come from?

    • 0 avatar

      The livery services haven’t been complying because they’re not taxi cabs. Taxis charge by the mile. Livery services charge by the ride. Two different animals.

      Who says that passengers on the downtown/airport route belong to the taxicab companies, or the cities for the matter? Where’s the right of the passengers to have some choice? Why should a cartel of taxi companies have a monopoly on providing transportation services? Is there any limit on a municipality’s power to protect an entrenched group of businesses? What if the city council decides that driving your own car takes away revenue from the taxi companies (and from the cities who charge for taxi medallions)? Are you cool with a city mandating minimum parking fees by parking lot operators to make sure that it’s as expensive to drive as it is to take a cab? Or how about toll booths where private drivers have to stop and pay but taxis are exempt. You don’t seem to have a problem with a government agency protecting a cartel. I’m just wondering just what moral right a city has to regulate free enterprise to the extent that it does in the first place.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        I don’t care enough to get the details right. If you do, you could always start a ballot initiative to change it, or, this being PDX we’re talking about, just start some kind of tweet war with the mayor/city council. They seem to respond to those. I prefer to drive myself, the economy parking here is so freakishly cheap it’s worth it to see my own car that much sooner.

  • avatar
    Patrickj

    While I don’t know the specifics of the Portland taxi market, maybe airport passengers don’t want to ride in 20 year old Crown Vics welded together out of a couple of wrecks with air conditioners that haven’t worked in the current millennium.

    Add in the crapshoot of taxi drivers who will always make an excuse as to why they can’t take a credit card, despite a visible reader and Visa/MC/Amex stickers on the door, and the black car service is usually a better choice.

  • avatar
    JCraig

    I enjoyed my years in Portland but it is a weird place. On the one hand personal liberty is protected more than anywhere else, to the point that public nudity is a protected right and unrestricted strip clubs are perhaps the most common sight around town. People don’t bat an eye at same sex couples, purple hair or the wide array of alternative style.

    OTOH you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. Liquor stores have to close by 8, and most businesses have no right to charge what they want. Even local moving companies are required to all charge the exact same hourly rate.

    Maybe it’s like a left wing wonderland. All the freedom and personal liberties of America with a government that forces business to play fair (by their definition anyway).

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I don’t agree with, or even understand, the semantics that personal liberty is distinct from other kinds.

      Starting my own business and owning my own home are the two most liberating things I’ve ever done. I don’t have a boss, I don’t have a landlord, and at a day to day level my work is in large part what I make it. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.

      The left wing, personal liberty party’s contribution to both aspects of my liberation amount to an unending stream of yearly new prohibitions, permits, licenses, and fees to no obvious benefit to anyone, least of all my customers who pay for them – and the customers I can’t serve because the tax and paperwork requirements of taking on employees are too burdensome.

      Liberty is the government staying out of your life. There are, or ought to be, more important aspects of your life than what you can and can’t stick your dick in.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “There are, or ought to be, more important aspects of your life than what you can and can’t stick your dick in.”

        The problem is that the people who have real problems with where you stick your dick (if you have one) are the same people who propose serious penalties for sticking your dick somewhere they have an issue with, even (especially) if it isn’t in them. Hence why people make such a fuss about it.

        This is a fundamental political hypocrisy, like being pro-life and for capital punishment (or pro-choice and against capital punishment), or against kids f_cking but being okay with kids going to war, or being for sexual expression but having real hangups about protected speech.

        It’s all the same slippery slope, just a different (left or right) side of the same political hill.

        (I would also hazard that another big left/right disconnect is the “official government getting out of your life = liberty” versus “the empowered classes getting out of your life = liberty”; again, same issue, different viewpoint).

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “The problem is that the people who have real problems with where you stick your dick (if you have one) are the same people who propose serious penalties for sticking your dick somewhere they have an issue with, even (especially) if it isn’t in them. Hence why people make such a fuss about it.”

        When was the last time someone anyone besides the soapbox fringe proposed let alone successfully inflicted serious legal penalties for bedroom games? That battle is over and done with and busybody government lost for a change.

        “(I would also hazard that another big left/right disconnect is the “official government getting out of your life = liberty” versus “the empowered classes getting out of your life = liberty”; again, same issue, different viewpoint).”

        I haven’t seen much of “get the empowered classes out of my life.” Because the empowered class is typically a megacorp of one kind or another – C, XOM, in Portland apparently taxis – and few people imagine life without the bank and the gas station. I see more of a “get the empowered classes out of my wallet.”

        I’m sympathetic to that, at least until it progresses from keeping profiteering reasonable to demanding free stuff. Those empowered businesses are private-public partnerships with semi-captive market and if the government doesn’t check them their customers usually aren’t in any position to.

        But macro is for philosophers and I don’t live that far removed from the world. Where I do live, a place that won’t let you build on your own property or hire an assistant on Craigslist without ridiculous tax and reporting burdens forfeits the right to talk about personal liberty. No matter how many strip clubs they have.

        That’s not freedom. It’s living with your parents albeit with Skinemax in your room.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    I travel to Portland quite often on business, and this kind of stuff is why, when I fly into PDX, I rent a Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, or (failing those two) Charger every chance I get, to cart myself and my one carryon around.

    I actually find Portland a little friendlier than uptight Seattle (to which I also must travel), but then, I lived in Madison for eight years, so I’m familiar with the mindset.


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