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Airport cab drivers may have licenses suspended for refusing blind passengers January 4, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Discriminate, Discrimination.

Related previous story:

Muslim Cabbies Discriminate Against The Blind

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport officials say too many cabdrivers are refusing to carry airport travelers, apparently due to religious beliefs.

So during a Wednesday meeting of the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s management and operations committee, officials suggested a heavy-fisted solution — drivers who refused such fares would have their airport licenses suspended.

Airport director Steve Wareham asked the committee to suggest to the full commission that they slate public hearings on whether to revise its taxi ordinance. The revision would suspend the airport license of any cabdriver refusing a passenger who is not life-threatening or intoxicated. Suspension would last 30 days on the first offense, and two years for each offense after that.

The committee unanimously approved the request for public hearings. The next meeting of the full commission is at 1 p.m. Jan 16 in the Commission’s chambers at the Lindbergh Terminal.

About three-quarters of the airport’s taxis are driven by Somalis, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan; such drivers are commonly Muslim, and many believe their religion strictly forbids the transport of alcohol or dogs.

Hogan said that one year ago, 77 people a month were refused transport due to alcohol, and others were refused because they only had to go short distances. He added that about a half-dozen people a year were refused transport because they had animals traveling with them, including service animals such as guide dogs.

Hogan said that since September, when the government placed restrictions on liquids carried aboard airplanes, the number has dropped (to what, he was not certain), but it was “still a problem.”

No members of the taxi industry were present during Wednesday’s committee meeting.

A formal discussion between airport officials and those in the taxi industry began last summer but have yet to produce results. In October, airport officials were firming up plans to allow Muslim taxi drivers to alert potential fares of their beliefs with a different-colored light atop their cabs. But following a barrage of negative public feedback, they scrapped the idea.

A memo from Wareham and assistant airport director Arlie Johnson to the committee stressed a need to set a deadline for discussions “to provide eventual closure to this process.”

Hogan said airport officials hope to have a new ordinance in place before May 11, when cab drivers must decide whether to renew their airport licenses.

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Twincities.com

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