Taxi controversy: Mile High Cab to fight Public Utilities Commission rejection in court

The November feature story "Mean Streets" detailed how frustrated taxi drivers, faced with alleged discrimination and abuse, have spent years asking the state's Public Utilities Commission to let them launch a company of their own, Mile High Cab.

In January, the PUC rejected Mile High's last-ditch appeal -- so now the drivers are taking the commission to court.

"We believe justice was not served by the PUC and we believe the PUC did not follow legislative and local rights, and we believe more taxi competition in Denver will benefit the public by an large," says Jemal Turbie, representative of Mile High Cab. "It will improve taxi services in Denver." That's why Mile High's potential owner-operators are now fighting the PUC's rejection of the company in Denver District Court.

To do so, the group has switched lawyers. While DU law professor Tom Russell handled the lengthy PUC process, the drivers have now retained local attorney Ronald Podboy. "We like Tom. He is a very bold and fierce fighter," says Turbie. "We wanted to try this with a different lawyer for financial reasons. It was too expensive. We couldn't afford him."

Turbie's optimistic that the plaintiffs will have a strong legal case against the PUC. "The basis for which they denied our application was not on solid ground," he says. "They said the market is oversaturated. They have no evidence of that." Especially, notes Turbie, after the same PUC judge who denied Mile High Cab's application allowed 300 more cabs onto Denver's streets earlier this month.

And the fact that Mile High's potential drivers have already pursued their goal for several years without payoff doesn't dissuade Turbie. As he puts it, "We will pursue this to the end."

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Michael Hancock donations from Metro Taxi payback for opposing Mile High Cab?" Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner

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