Mayor Bill de Blasio has withdrawn his nomination for the head of the Taxi and Limousine Commission, in a sign of an increasing standoff between the City Council and the administration over the embattled industry.
“The Mayor is temporarily withdrawing Jeff Roth’s nomination so that we can continue conversations with the Council to address their concerns,” de Blasio spokesperson Seth Stein told Politico.
Stein indicated that the mayor planned to resubmit Roth's candidacy at a later date. “We still believe Jeff is the best candidate for the job, and as Chair will fight to help drivers regain their livelihood," he said.
De Blasio nominated Roth back in June. Roth’s resume boasts a range of city jobs, including a stint at the TLC, where he served as deputy commissioner for policy and external affairs. Citing his TLC experience, Bhairavi Desai, of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, has said she was open to working with him.
During a confirmation hearing last week, however, Roth suffered under an intense grilling from City Council members who wanted to know how he thought the city should regulate the medallion market and whether the cabbies who suffered as a result of artificially inflated prices should receive restitution from the city. A New York Times investigation showed that the city over the years has been complicit in creating the circumstances that led to a bubble in the medallion market.
After Council Speaker @CoreyinNYC asked a 4th time, @NYCTaxi nominee Jeffrey Roth just acknowledged the medallion market was not properly regulated.@CoreyinNYC immediately pivots: Given that, should the city bail out the victims?
"I think it’s got to be discussed," Roth says.
— Brian M. Rosenthal (@brianmrosenthal) July 18, 2019
Roth’s failure to answer those questions and to provide his thoughts on the package of council bills seeking to reform the industry caused City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to become visibly frustrated. “This is awful,” he muttered at one point.
Taxi drivers along with several City Council members have urged the administration to come up with some form of bailout for affected medallion owners, thousands of whom are still saddled with debt after entering into risky loans with extremely onerous terms. The mayor, however, has said a bailout would be prohibitively expensive for the city.