Good Morning
Good Morning

Uber deal sparks falling-out between de Blasio, allies

Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber New York,

Josh Mohrer, general manager of Uber New York, speaks to the media, while a group of Uber supporters rally outside City Hall in Manhattan, on June 30, 2015. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Mayor Bill de Blasio found himself on the outs with usual allies Thursday after his team announced an 11th-hour deal that put off his plan to restrict growth of the popular Uber e-hail service.

The yellow cab industry that had been in de Blasio's corner condemned the deal.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito -- typically in political harmony with the mayor -- was livid over what she depicted as a lack of recognition by de Blasio and his aides for her role in brokering the Uber agreement as the company waged an all-out public-relations war on the mayor. Nor was she pleased at any suggestion that she was bending to the mayor's will.

"I'm not going to allow anyone to attempt to save face at the expense of this council," she said at City Hall. "I find it offensive as a woman, and as a Latina who is leading this legislative body, that somehow the impression is I was forced to my position."

In place of an original plan to cap Uber's growth to 1 percent during the course of a 14-month congestion study, the council yesterday approved a four-month review.

De Blasio said Thursday that the city could still pursue a cap afterward. Mark-Viverito said that's not up to de Blasio.

"That's really not for him to decide," she said. "This council decides what bills will be discussed, what debates we will have, what will be taken off the table, what will be put on the table."

A de Blasio official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said afterward that the mayor's office acknowledges any legislative decision is ultimately the council's and that the speaker and her team were intimately involved in the talks.

Another city official, also speaking anonymously, said Mark-Viverito called de Blasio this week while he was in Vatican City to say support for the Uber cap legislation was secure but narrowing. The Associated Press first reported on the conversation, which took place just before Uber came back to the bargaining table with de Blasio officials.

Dozens of yellow taxi drivers and their supporters held a rally outside City Hall and said he should have gone ahead with the Uber cap. The yellow cab fleets, which were major de Blasio campaign donors, have been outpaced by Uber.

The mayor remained critical of Uber, telling reporters at a Queens event that he wants the multibillion-dollar corporation subjected to the same handicapped-access regulations and mass transit surcharge requirements as yellow cabs are.

Denying he had caved, de Blasio said, "The victory here is that Uber understands that there has to be a set of rules."

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has thwarted de Blasio on several fronts, introduced the possibility of regulating Uber at the state level after saying the city should not restrict the job growth. Uber is spreading upstate, he said.

"I want to make sure we have a regulatory structure: insurance, taxes, vehicles, they want access to the airport," Cuomo said on Syracuse radio station WCNY. There was no direct response from de Blasio's press office.

Uber representatives declined to comment.

With Matthew Chayes

and Rebecca Harshbarger

More news