November's "Mean Streets
" detailed how politicians with financial ties to existing taxi companies stood against attempts to start additional cab operations. Take City Councilman Michael Hancock, who strongly opposed any new companies: He scored $3,250 from Metro Taxi affiliates in his last city council campaign. And now that Hancock is running for mayor? Metro Taxi folks have forked over more $5,000.
The company actually tried to donate more. According to campaign contribution records, Metro attempted to provide $4,000 to Hancock's campaign, but since that exceeded the maximum allowed, $1,000 of the sum was refunded. At the same time, Metro Vice President Sean McBride contributed $1,500 and Metro manager Kyle Brown offered up $1,000. Not only that, but David J. Cole, a prominent lobbying firm that's worked for Metro, ponied up $1,350.
It all adds up to a nice chunk of change, not including the fundraiser Robert McBride, Metro's owner, co-hosted for Hancock in New York City last year.
It's not the first time Metro Taxi has been generous with politicians with whom it sees eye to eye this election season. The company also provided $10,000 in January for the inauguration of new Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who as mayor came out against Mile High Cab, going so far as to list concerns about taxi over-saturation that turned out not to be true.
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But Hancock, for one, doesn't have any problems with the money from Metro Taxi, says Amber Miller, communications director for the Hancock for Denver campaign. "More than 600 individuals and businesses throughout the city have contributed to Michael's campaign, demonstrating broad-based support for his grassroots candidacy," says Miller, noting the campaign covered all expenses on the New York fundraising trip. "Metro is a progressive business that has been a strong corporate citizen for years -- supporting nonprofits, transporting Thanksgiving turkey dinners to poor families, and creating hundreds of jobs in Denver."
For several years, however, Hancock opposed attempts to start new companies, ones that might have created even more jobs. He told the Public Utilities Commission, which regulates such matters, that the Denver area already had enough taxis -- even though, as it turned out, his office had a copy of a little-known city report that suggested otherwise. Westword obtained the document from an open-records request.
Considering Hancock's active involvement in taxi issues in the past, what does the mayoral candidate think of the new legislation introduced by State Senator Ted Harvey that could ease cab regulations and may finally allow Mile High Cab to hit the streets? According to Miller, "Michael has not followed the current legislation."
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Denver taxicab controversy: Read Yellow Cab lawsuit alleging discrimination and abuse." Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner