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Taxi Drivers Protest Vote on Contract

'Unfair,' they chant outside the supervisors' meeting over March deal giving a new rival rights to airport.

May 31, 2000|DAVID REYES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than 30 taxi drivers demonstrated outside the county's Hall of Administration in Santa Ana on Tuesday, protesting the Board of Supervisor's decision in March to award a contract at John Wayne Airport to a competing firm.

Drivers from A Taxi Cab said they are upset with the board for giving a new company, American Taxi, the exclusive contract to handle airport business.

"We will hold demonstrations every Tuesday when the board meets," Kamron Mashayekhi said. 'We can't win before the Board of Supervisors, but maybe we can win in the court of public opinion."

Protesters carried signs that read, "Board Unfair," and loudly chanted "Unfair!" for nearly two hours.

In March, the board replaced A Taxi, which had held the airport contract for four years, with American Taxi, which had been in business barely four months, but will pay the county a higher fee per taxi passenger.

A Taxi had the backing of the county's Airport Commission but failed to provide a state certificate of self-insurance, prompting the supervisors to hire the other firm on a 3-2 vote.

The county's internal audit department has initiated a preliminary survey at the airport after questions were raised regarding the taxicab contract. Airport officials are confident that a review of the bidding process will find that the system was fair, airport spokeswoman Nghia Nguyen said.

Meanwhile, A Taxi drivers will continue to protest at the Hall of Administration, Mashayekhi said, and are planning an airport demonstration once they obtain permits.

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