Ashton Kutcher made an unplanned cameo during a Florida Senate Transportation Committee meeting two weeks ago. Uber representatives presented a clip of theTwo and Half Men star and Uber investor on Jimmy Kimmel Live blasting Miami for not changing longstanding laws to accommodate the upstart car service.
“Basically, it’s like mafioso, like village mentality of like we’re not gonna let the new guy in,” the actor said. “Like in Miami.”
Diego Feliciano might be considered one of those mafiosi. Feliciano is the president of the South Florida Taxicab Association. A man who got his start more than 30 years ago as a cab driver, Feliciano says Uber seeks to skim the top off taxis’ business while potentially threatening service to those who can’t afford the app.
See also: Uber Goes Over Miami-Dade’s Head and Takes Fight to Tallahassee
“I just don’t see the taxicab industry existing in Miami-Dade County if someone gets to do what we want to do and not doing what we have to do,” he said in a recent interview with Riptide. “It’s just not a fair playing field.”
Feliciano also says the Miami taxi industry now realizes the need to innovate. Not only are credit card readers coming soon to all cabs, but also more cab companies will likely partner with competing Uber-like apps in the near future.
New Times spoke with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last September, but for the uninitiated, the venture-capitalist-backed San Francisco startup allows users to pull up an app on their smartphone and order one of its cars, usually black luxury sedans. Payment is handled through the app by credit card, and a 20 percent “tip” is automatically added with no option to offer more or less. Instead of rewarding good or bad service with money, users are instead asked to rate their driver on a five-star scale. The driver’s average rating is displayed on the app as users wait for their cars. Prices for the service are significantly higher than taxicabs and are not fixed. The company employs “surge pricing” when demand is unusually high, such as during periods of inclement weather or holidays.
Current Miami-Dade law regulating town car services, however, makes it nearly impossible for the company to operate here. Cars have to wait an hour after being ordered to arrive and must charge at least $70. Town car and limo services are also licensed in Miami, with the current cap on licenses sitting at 625. After failing to find traction to repeal those laws on the county level, Uber has unleashed an aggressive campaign in the state legislature. It’s estimated the company has about 20 lobbyists in Tallahassee.
Feliciano says Uber’s entrance into the industry could have disastrous affects by unleashing a new fleet of unregulated cars to compete with taxis.
“These cab drivers now are not only losing because they’ve got all these unregulated vehicles competing directly with them, but then they’re also losing the cream of the crop of the business,” he says of Uber’s hypothetical entrance in the market. “Fairly said, my cab drivers gotta go pick up a couple 50-, 60-dollar fares in Gables Estates and Kendall to make ends meet. They can’t just go pick up a mom who has to go to the laundry and do all the other little jobs.”
Many drivers, especially those who own their own cabs and have shelled out for pricey permits, are financially bound to their cabs. They’re also mandated to drive passengers anywhere in the city and must abide by fixed prices.
Of course, the taxi industry, particularly in Miami-Dade, has been rightly criticized for being apprehensive to change. Long after most other major American cities required cabs to accept credit cards, the county commission passed such an ordinance only earlier this year.
“We’re moving forward. We supported these ordinances,” Feliciano says. “We need charge cards — not in some cabs, in all cabs. The public needs it. It’s part of our service. We’re a world-class city. That is a done deal.”
Feliciano says the union is negotiating with several credit card processing companies and will likely strike a deal soon so that credit card readers are installed in all cabs for free.
And the tech innovation might not stop there.
“Every one one of our cab companies is being approached by one of the three major apps that exists in the United State that is not Uber, that are their competitors,” Feliciano estimates.
One cab company, Super Yellow, has already partnered with the app Fly Wheel. The free app allows users to hail a cab, track the taxi’s progress, and pay for the transaction through their smartphone via credit card. He estimates it already makes up about 20 percent of the company’s business.
“I don’t think it will ever serve all the public, but apps are here to stay,” he says.
In fact, Feliciano says, he could imagine Uber’s app entering Miami-Dade if the company agrees to work with existing taxis. However, he says Uber has refused several times to meet.
“If Uber came into Miami-Dade County and put their app on our cabs, we’d love them,” he says. “Why not? Just follow the rules. They’re a venture capitalist company. The money doesn’t even stay here. We’re here. We live here.”
As for Kutcher, an investor who stands to profit from Uber’s continued expansion, his video cameo didn’t go over too well in Tallahassee. The video apparently rubbed several lawmakers the wrong way.
The original version of the “Uber bill” in the Florida House has since been gutted, but it would still provide a road to Uber’s operation in Miami. It passed its first committee last week, but a Senate version has yet to find similar traction.
This WMC 2014 Maya / Kinetika Showcase and Hosted by SpiderPussy with KidKiddo & RoVskee.
Thursday March 2014 / 9pm till 5am
Matt Sassri: http
and Performing live
“Everbody Get Up”
@ Kill Your Idol, NO COVER
222 Espanola WayMiami Beach FL 33139
Photo by: WorldRedEye.com
Popular South Florida DJ Mark Leventhal is unconscious and in intensive care at a local hospital after he suddenly fell ill, his sister says. NBC 6’s Keith Jones reports.
Popular South Florida DJ Mark Leventhal is unconscious and in intensive care at a local hospital after he suddenly fell ill, his sister says.
“He’s got (a) systemic infection that’s affecting his brain, it’s affecting his body and we’re really scared for him,” Amy Leventhal said.
Her brother, who has been a pioneering force on the South Beach club scene since 1992, initially presented symptoms including excruciating back pain and fatigue. He was hospitalized last Wednesday and is in the intensive care unit at Jackson North Medical Center.
“He’s not responding, he’s not talking, he’s not conscious,” Amy Leventhal said.
A machine is breathing for Mark Leventhal, and doctors don’t know what caused him to fall ill.
Now, his family is hoping South Florida helps come to the rescue of the DJ, who has been spinning since the early ‘90s at clubs such as The Spot, Warsaw, Groove Jet, Liquid, Lua, and Mynt and at parties for Ocean Drive magazine and countless private and celebrity events.
“He doesn’t have insurance. He fell without a safety net,” his sister said. “He’s a guy who would give you the shirt off his back. If he didn’t have a shirt, he would promise you his shirt the next day.”
Mark Leventhal’s Facebook page has been flooded with notes from well-wishers, and his sister has set up a website on his behalf. Click here for more information.
In just five days, more than $22,000 has been raised for the father of three.
Supporters have also organized a special fundraiser on Tuesday night at Haven lounge, where Leventhal spins regularly. The party starts at 7 p.m., guests are asked to make a minimum donation of $25 to go towards his medical expenses. To date more than 12 local DJs have offered to spin in his honor.
Leventhal has built a following among his fans, and played for big names such as Madonna.
“He’s touched them with his music. They have positive memories of going to his parties, but he’s got a big heart,” Amy Leventhal said.
She said the outpouring of support and love already has been amazing.
And she is holding out hope for his recovery. An encouraging sign came on Monday.
“They played Bob Marley and his heart rate went up,” she said.
By Keith Jones And Mary Jo Shore
New details have emerged from Justin Bieber’s recent run in with the law. The young star was arrested this morning, January 23, in Miami for driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving on an expired license.
According to the police report, the officer approached Justin’s vehicle, after pulling him over for drag racing, when he noticed multiple indicators of being under the influence, including alcohol on his breath, blooshot eyes, and slow movements. The officer then proceeded to ask Justin to step out of the vehicle causing Justin to verbally lash out at the office stating, “Why the f*** are you doing this”.
After stepping out of the vehicle, Justin began placing his hands in his pockets. When he was asked by the officer to place his hands on the car Justin had difficulty complying. After multiple times being told to keep his hands on the car the officer placed Justin under arrest.
On the way to Miami Beach jail, the police found that Justin was driving with an expired license. Justin is currently being held at Miami Dade prison awaiting bail.
Multiple reports state that Justin can face up to six months in jail and probation. Justin’s mugshot from his arrest this morning can be found in our gallery.
UPDATE: Justin’s dad, Jeremy, was apparently one of the people helping block the street where Justin was racing Khalil. His dad was seen with him all day yesterday and was with Justin at SET nightclub last night.
Sources state Justin’s father was also present when Justin was arrested early this morning. We’ll continue to update as more information becomes available…
This just in- Justin Bieber has been arrested in Miami Beach for drag racing and DUI. Sources say that Bieber was arrested early this morning in his yellow Lamborghini Aventador Roadster. It’s been reported that the Canadian celebrity bad boy was arrested after cops spotted him drag racing another car (reports say the other car was either a red Lamborghini or Ferrari). The other driver is reportedly fellow musician Khalil, a rapper and entertainer on Def-Jam records.
Police say that along with being busted for street racing under the influence of drugs, he was also charged with resisting arrest and driving on an expired licence. Apparently, Justin and his crew tried to block off a street specifically so that the street race could happen between the two (sounds like someone’s watched The Fast and The Furious one too many times). When cops pulled them over, Bieber was asked to perform a field sobriety test where he promptly failed. Reports also say Bieber had a unnamed model riding as a passenger when this all the mayhem occurred.
As the time of this writing, Bieber is on his way to jail and being booked for all the above charges. At that time, bail will also be set for his presumable immediate release back into the world. This story is sure to develop and we’ll have more to report when it becomes available. Check out the news report videos, below.
This isn’t the first time that the kid has been in trouble with a Lamborghini.