City council drafts stricter rules for taxi drivers

City council drafts stricter rules for taxi drivers

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by STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @stuartwcnc

STUART WATSON / NewsChannel 36

Posted on May 18, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Updated Friday, May 27 at 5:07 PM

CORRECTION as of Friday, May 27, 2011:

In several website postings on WCNC.com, the criminal records of the two individuals who are part owners of Kashmary Enterprises, which owns King Cab company, were inaccurately reflected. The postings should have reflected that Javed Kashmary served almost three months in federal prison in Beckley, W.V., for identification document fraud, and that Naheed Kashmary served 14 months in federal prison in Gilmer, W.V., for transaction structuring, a financial crime. Naheed Kashmary did not plead guilty to any charge regarding the purchase a fake driver's license. WCNC regrets this error.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After the NewsChannel 36 I-Team broke the story that the owners of King and Royal cab companies had felony records, Charlotte City Council has drafted a new ordinance requiring more criminal background checks for the operators of taxicab companies.

The I-Team broke the news after an advisory panel of officials at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport recommended a lucrative contract for taxicab work at the airport.

With the Democratic National Convention on its way to Charlotte next year, Charlotte's City Council is particularly sensitive to Charlotte's image. And many visitors form their first impressions of Charlotte in an airport taxicab.

But three months ago the I-Team broke the story that two of three brothers who own one of the taxicab companies recommended for work at the airport had served time in federal prison.

Javed and Naheed Kashmary pleaded guilty to felonies. The two brothers represent two-thirds of the ownership of Kashmary Enterprises, which operates King and Royal Cabs in Charlotte.

Wednesday afternoon, City Council's Public Safety Committee looked over a draft of a new taxicab ordinance, which calls on operators of taxicab companies to submit to a full criminal background check before they get or renew a license.

The proposed ordinance would block taxicab operators with felony records who have not had their civil rights restored from being licensed to own taxicab companies.

"Right now that's not something I'm interested in doing or allowing and I know a number of my colleagues feel the same way," said Charlotte City Councilman Michael Barnes.

The Kashmary brothers also held taxicab driver permits in apparent violation of the city's existing ordinance, which forbids felons from driving cabs without having their civil rights restored.

A city spokesman said Passenger Vehicle for Hire manager Burhan Al-Shaikh made a mistake in granting the driver's permits to the Kashmary brothers. Al-Shaikh himself refused comment and has not shown up at Public Safety Committee meetings.

In Wednesday afternoon's meetings, Councilman Andy Dulin questioned Al-Shaikh's absence. "Why isn't that guy here?" Dulin asked aloud in the meeting. "Is he not showing up because he's on the hot seat? Cause he's certainly pushed a lot of heat down to me."

Later Dulin returned to the subject saying, "You get the feeling he's too busy to come down here or he's hiding."

The Kashmarys filed a lawsuit late last week arguing that the city manager's decision to drop them from the competition for the airport taxi contract was unfair and arbitrary, since the request for proposals did not specify that the taxi owners have no felonies.

Regardless of how the lawsuit and the city's contentious airport contract turn out, the legacy of the Kashmarys bid may be written into a new city ordinance.

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