STITA Wants Port To Disqualify Yellow From Airport Cab Contract

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by Jack Mayne

The Port of Seattle has been accused by a taxicab company of violating the state open meeting act and seeks to have the Port restrained from signing a contract with Yellow Cab for exclusive cab service from the airport.

The legal dispute over the taxi contract for travelers arriving at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport could make finding a taxicab impossible after the August 31 end of the current contract. The Port of Seattle and the Seattle Tacoma International Taxi Association, better known as STITA, say some sort of service will be found but no discussions have been held with any cab provider, say spokesmen for both sides.

Court orders sought by STITA and other cab companies have prevented the Port from signing a new contract with Yellow Cab as recommended by the Port staff. For 20 years, STITA has held the contract to provide all taxi service leaving the airport, but the Port was stung last year by a state auditor’s report dinging the Port for not making enough money on the contract.

The Port and STITA say there were no discussions about increasing income to the Port. Instead, for the first time last year, the Port issued requests for proposals, which resulted in Port staff recommending the contract be awarded to Yellow Cab.

STITA and other area cab companies have gone to court to stop Yellow from getting the contract, claiming various problems with the way the bid were evaluated.

In the latest filing, STITA is asking for the court to issue an injunction restraining the Port from signing a new contract with Yellow Cab because it violated the open meetings act by adopting changes in the provisions of the contract in a closed door meeting and without giving bidders notice of those changes. The changes should have been discussed in a public and open meeting, says attorney Michael A. Goldfarb on behalf of client STITA.

“Everything points to the Port of Seattle to go back to the drawing board, and clean up this mess,” says Jesse Buttar, a STITA spokesman. “We’re not asking for them to give us the contract, but to give us a level playing field. This has been stacked against STITA from the beginning.”

STITA says it also plans to appeal another case to the State Supreme Court to continue an injunction preventing the port from signing the Yellow Taxi contract. If the Court starts its summer recess before acting on the appeal, the injunction against a new contract could result in no contract for cab service being in place after the current one expires.


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4 Responses to “STITA Wants Port To Disqualify Yellow From Airport Cab Contract”
  1. Coverofnight says:

    My first impression from this article is that it sounds like STITA will continue court filings until they get the answer that they want to hear. Reminds me of a recent governor’s election re-counting that went on and on until the initial winner was declared invalid.

    However, based on the third runway fiasco, it could be that the Port screwed up the bidding process as STITA claims. Also, it seems to be common knowledge that the Port is pretty aggressive toward businesses at the Airport – maximizing Port revenues at the business’ expense. I wouldn’t put it past them to cut corners toward a favorable taxi contract that puts more money in their coffers.

    It’ll be interesting to see who the “bad guy” really is in this situation.

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  2. Perry Cooper/Port of Seattle says:

    The Port released a statement that was not included in this post:
    “The Port Commission – as it routinely does – authorized staff to proceed with the award to Puget Sound Dispatch and has delegated staff sufficient authority to achieve that end. The authorization and delegation properly occurred in an open public meeting. There has been no violation of the Open Public Meetings Act.”

    In addition, I’d also like to note a couple of inaccuracies as well. This post says it could be “impossible” to find a taxi at Sea-Tac Airport after August 31st. This is NOT the case. As we have always said, there will be taxi service for customers at Sea-Tac Airport on September 1st and beyond. Period. Sea-Tac will continue to meet the service needs of customers with reliable taxi service.

    Also, In paragraph 4, the post notes “The Port and STITA say there were no discussions about increasing income…”
    The reporter may have inadvertently included the Port in that line. It is not clear where he received that statement. However, I am not aware of anyone at the Port ever making such a statement. I don’t recall that question in my conversation with the reporter either. I can add that we did have two public meetings, organized by the City of Seattle, prior to the writing of the RFP that invited members of the taxi industry to give us feedback on producing the RFP. In addition, we had two more meetings reviewing the RFP, once it was written, to answer any questions. Those questions and answers were then posted online for anyone else to review. I understand that STITA representatives were in attendance at all, or nearly all, of these meetings. Revenue to the Port was one of the specific evaluation criteria of the RFP.

    Perry Cooper
    Port of Seattle Media Officer
    Sea-Tac Airport

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    • Coverofnight says:

      Thank you Perry, for sharing this information and adding a bit more clarity/transparency to the debate (and thank you for reading our small community’s blog). It’s a good response. I’m surprised Jack wasn’t aware of this major piece of information before writing the article. It seems to shoot holes in STITA’s arguments with their latest filing. Maybe I was too quick to jump on the Port before all the facts are known. Can’t wait for the next round, as we’re getting closer to finding out who the “bad guy” is in this drama. I wonder if STITA reads our blog?

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  3. mike says:

    they need to get rid of all the cabs whether yellow or stita that let the turban wearing population drive the cabs they stink , there rude, they dont speak english, and continually degrade the american people and our culture and way of life and insist on having beads and other foreign born idealogy floating in the cabs there should be a law against that its very offensive to white people that have to get in a foul smelling third world cab with a driver that is rude they dont speak english and they hate americans lets ship them all back to towel head land

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