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. -- The Charlotte City Council narrowly voted Monday night to delay a plan to reduce the number of taxi companies operating at the airport from 12 to 3. It also directed city staff to start over with a new proposal to select the winning cab companies.
The 6-5 vote was met with applause by more than 100 drivers, who said the proposal would cost them their jobs.
The taxi proposal is controversial because many drivers said they were being shut out of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, and because of City Manager Curt Walton's recommendation Friday to drop King Cab as one of the three companies.
King Cab is owned by Kashmary Enterprises, which is partially owned by two brothers who served time in federal prison. Walton recommended that the city not select King Cab because it would not be in the city's and the public's best interests.
Walton instead recommended the city select City Cab in its place. City is an owner-operated company, and is relatively small and has been operating for less than a year. Some council members said they had questions whether City Cab was experienced enough to be one of three companies at the airport.
Democrat Warren Turner was the first council member to suggest the city start over. After 2 1/2 hours of discussion, council members voted to delay the vote until at least June. Council members said they wanted more information from staff as to why and how the companies were picked.
The city has been working on the taxi plan since 2008. But it became particularly controversial last month when WCNC-TV and The Observer reported that two of King Cab's owners had felony records - a fact that surprised city officials. The airport didn't know about the felonies and said it relied on the Passenger Vehicle for Hire Board of the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Police to vet the companies.
Monroe Whitesides, an attorney for King Cab, said the company was being unfairly punished.
He also questioned why the city would pick City Cab, which, at the moment, doesn't have cars that meet the airport's new requirements for vehicles no older than three years.
That's like Bojangles not having chicken, Whitesides said.
During the council's dinner meeting Monday, aviation director Jerry Orr said that City Cab has told the city it would acquire new cars.
Orr said he wants to reduce the number of companies working at Charlotte/Douglas to improve customer service. By reducing the number of companies allowed to pick up people at the airport, Orr said it will be easier to make sure the taxis are clean and the drivers courteous.
Taxi drivers said the change would put them out of work.
Two companies that weren't selected said they believe the private Hospitality and Tourism Alliance played a role in the decision. Two of the winning companies - Crown Cab and Taxi USA - give $5,000 to the alliance. One of the members of four-person selection committee was Tim Newman, chief executive of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, and a board member of HTA.
City Attorney Mac McCarley said the city doesn't believe that Newman or anyone else on the selection committee has a conflict of interest.
King Cab is owned by Kashmary Enterprises, which is two-thirds owned by Javed Kashmary and Naheed Kashmary.
Javed Kashmary served almost three months in federal prison in Beckley, W.V., for identification document fraud, according to court records and the US Bureau of Prisons.
His brother, Naheed Kashmary, served 14 months in federal prison in Gilmer, W.V., for transaction structuring, a financial crime associated with sending cash outside of the country without legally reporting it.
Council member Andy Dulin said there seemed to be a leadership void at the Passenger Vehicle for Hire Board.
Council members Andy Dulin, Michael Barnes, Jason Burgess, Patsy Kinsey and Warren Cooksey voted against the extension.