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De Blasio nominates Meera Joshi to lead taxi commission

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a Feb. 28, 2014 news conference. Credit: Craig Ruttle

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday that he would nominate the Taxi and Limousine Commission's onetime top lawyer to be its new chairwoman.

Meera Joshi last worked for the commission as deputy commissioner for legal affairs and general counsel during the final years of the Bloomberg administration, where she oversaw more than 160,000 licensees and a program to let livery cabs accept street hails in the outer boroughs and northern parts of Manhattan.

De Blasio, as a mayoral candidate last year, opposed the program, which was implemented under Joshi's former boss, David Yassky, that authorized thousands of green-painted "boro taxis." De Blasio also said he would oust Yassky.

Asked Saturday afternoon about promoting Yassky's deputy, de Blasio said: "As I got to know her -- and I talked to people of a wide range of views in various parts of the industry -- what was striking to me was, everyone thought she was an honest broker. Everyone thought, regardless of their philosophy, that she was fair, she was open, she was smart, she was resourceful."

The green-taxi plan was opposed by the yellow-cab industry, which viewed it as an encroachment on their turf.

Nevertheless, Joshi's nomination was hailed by sometimes feuding federations of cabbies, medallion holders and livery-cab owners. Fleet managers, medallion brokers, cab owners and the city's yellow taxi industry were among de Blasio's most generous donors, a Newsday analysis of his contributions found during the campaign.

In a statement yesterday, de Blasio said she had "the experience and energy to move our Taxi and Limousine Commission in a progressive direction, ensuring we prioritize New Yorkers' safety."

The nomination requires City Council confirmation.

Joshi helped spearhead a settlement with advocates to make half of cabs wheelchair-accessible by 2020, and the requirement that all taxicabs be crash-tested to federal standards by the end of the year.

Joshi received her bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

"I am committed to the de Blasio administration's agenda of providing equitable taxi and for-hire transportation services and safe streets for all New Yorkers," Joshi said in a news release.

Separately, de Blasio dismissed the relevance of a Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/ Marist poll last week finding that just 39 percent of New Yorkers approve of the job he's doing.

"The one mandate that counts is the one that happens in November of an election year, and that happened overwhelmingly, and that's the mandate we're working from," de Blasio said.

With Candice Ferrette

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