by Michael Lowrey
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned… or a major metropolitan newspaper that didn’t uncover a corruption scandal before someone big got arrested. So now the Charlotte Observer is out to atone for not nailing Patrick Cannon before the FBI did, which means that anything that even to the slightest degree suggests self-dealing makes the paper in a very big way.
Which brings us to Tuesday’s curious piece on the city’s selection of taxi cab companies that would be allowed to pick up fares at the airport. Could this have possibly set off the FBI targeting Cannon? Maybe. The timeline would be about right, but there’s little that actually ties the taxi cab affair to the now former mayor — a rather inept con allegedly trying to collect bribe money for Cannon to determine who gets taxi rights at the airport is far from a smoking gun. He could easily have just been collecting money for himself, while pretending to be collecting money for Cannon. (I kind of doubt Cannon is that clumsy.)
More than anything else, what this shows is how unfortunate a piece of public policy the airport’s taxi policy is. By reducing the number of cab companies that can serve the airport from 12 to three, the city was creating a process that could easily be corrupted. At best, it’s likely to favor well-run and well-connected cab companies. Upset the wrong person for whatever reason and your company might not be able to pick up fares at the airport much longer. And even if the selection process weren’t per se corrupt, a lot of tax cab operators were and are angry about what happened, and have little faith in the outcome. Such lake of confidence is in and of itself a problem.
Bonus observation: If this is the airport rumor that Sen. Bob Rucho claims helped push the drive to take the airport out from city control, then perhaps he should have put less effort into protecting Jerry Ore and more time into making sure local governments don’t engage in such crony capitalism.