Here is the story about my arrest August 26th, and the reasons for it. I met Chris Nielsen, owner of Electric Cab of Austin, during my recent campaign for Austin City Council.
Chris has been waging a three-year-long battle with the City of Austin over his idea for a green energy business giving pedestrians rides in low-speed electric vehicles–all on a “tips only” basis. He does not charge for these services, as the mobile marketing company generates its revenue from advertising on the sides of the vehicles.
There is no law actually prohibiting him from operating this business, it is true, but, the enforcement side of the city–the police–have determined that the lack of a law regulating a business constitutes operating in violation of a law. Nielsen’s drivers have received around 200 tickets and arrests now, over a law that does not exist.
The Austin City Council has had this issue in front of them multiple times, Chris said, yet never seems to vote on it, always deciding instead to continue to “study” it, thus delaying it a few more months.Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent “studying” his very small business. The Urban Transportation Commission has recommended multiple times that the city issue him a permit to operate. Yet, our Austin City Council refuses to act, and ignores the business repeatedly and pretends that nothing is wrong.
I have been told by multiple City Council members that nothing is “preventing” this business from operating. I met with multiple council members and made several phone calls, wrote e-mails, etc…. and came to realize that Chris Nielsen was right: He is being ignored, and the City of Austin does not wish this business to exist. Why? The taxi lobby is concerned about competition, and donated $36,700 between all of the sitting members of the city council and the Mayor. I’m not making any direct accusations against anyone here, but I will say it gives the impression that we have private businesses buying harassment of their competition.