Analysis: Cab industry donors going strong for de Blasio

Mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio.

Mayoral candidates Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio. (Credit: Anthony Lanzilote; Charles Eckert)

Cab owners, medallion brokers, fleet managers and others in the city's yellow taxi industry continue to be among Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio's most generous donors, according to an analysis of campaign contributions.

The industry has given de Blasio more than $350,000, and his biggest bundler is Michael Woloz, a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents yellow cab operators. Woloz alone arranged for $147,000 from taxi contributors to de Blasio, records show.

De Blasio, the city's public advocate, has been one of the industry's most vocal allies against the Bloomberg administration's plan to bring a new, lime-colored taxi fleet to underserved upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs.


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The industry considers Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan an unwelcome invasion of yellow cab turf. De Blasio, a Brooklynite, has led rallies and helped fight the proposal in court. He said Sunday that, in his experience, taxi service to outer boroughs is "very effective and very consistent."

De Blasio's support hasn't gone unnoticed in yellow cab garages citywide, said Sebastian Olszewski, an executive of McGuiness Management cabs.

"He's for the people, you know, and for the industry -- and not just for taxi owners, but also for drivers," said Olszewski, who gave de Blasio the individual legal maximum, $4,950. "Bloomberg did a lot of bad things for the taxi industry."

De Blasio's Republican rival and fellow Brooklyn resident Joe Lhota also opposes Bloomberg's plan, but the industry has given him just $25,000, less than 7 percent of what de Blasio has garnered.

De Blasio, who is leading 3-1 in the polls a week before Election Day, said his policy proposals have nothing to do with the industry's largesse.

"It doesn't, because in the end, I have been blessed to receive the support of lots of different people, but I'm still going to make up my mind according to what's in the best interests of the people," he said.

In addition to Woloz, some of de Blasio's biggest bundlers are connected to the taxi industry: Jean Barrett, executive director of the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, helped raise $48,000; and David Pollack, executive director of the Committee for Taxi Safety, which represents medallion owners, wrangled $21,500 for de Blasio. De Blasio's top three taxi company contributors -- all based in Long Island City, Queens -- include employees and owners at Queens Medallion Leasing/Brokerage, where donors gave de Blasio $34,149; Team Systems, where he got $26,175; and Midtown Operating Corp., $24,750, records show.

Attempts Sunday to reach those contributors were unsuccessful. De Blasio has said if elected he'd fire David Yassky, head of the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission.

With Emily Ngo

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