In April of 2011 your paper did a bold story about corruption concerning doormen insisting taxi drivers pay them illegal kickbacks (cookies) at the major hotels in Santa Monica if they wanted to be allowed to pick up hotel guests (“Slaying the cookie monster: Cab drivers say doormen demand bribes for fares,” April 13, 2011).
The story was picked up by the L.A. Times and USA Today and had the effect that the drivers had hoped for when the City Council amended the taxi franchise law and made it illegal for doormen to solicit or accept kickbacks (cookies) in exchange for rides.
Since that time little has changed and it’s business as usual for the doormen. Not one doorman has been cited for solicitation of kickbacks even though taxi drivers are asked for kickbacks each and every day. It remains that if you’re a taxi driver and refuse to give a kickback then you’ll not get a good ride in most cases.
It would be nice if the taxi commissioner and police in Santa Monica did some type of investigative sting operation and held these doormen accountable for breaking the law and making it difficult for taxi drivers to earn a living and support their families. What good is having the law on the books if it’s not going to even be attempted to be enforced? It’s about time sting operations were set up so the offenders can be held accountable.
I both live and work in Santa Monica and I’m ashamed of the lack of enforcement of the law as it relates here. Taxi drivers are forced by City Hall to jump through hoops every day, but the doormen are not?