The chairman of the City Council’s committee charged with overseeing e-hail companies created an “unproductive,” combative environment, according to the city’s outgoing Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi.
Joshi, who is planning to step down from her post in March, said she hopes there will be better communication between the Council’s For-Hire Vehicle Committee chairman, Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., and the city in the future.
“We have very different approaches to legislation, policymaking and lawmaking,” Joshi said, in regards to Diaz Sr., while speaking at Crain’s New York Business breakfast Tuesday. “In the Council environment, I am limited. I am under oath when I speak. He doesn’t operate under that same limitation and we have a different way of gaining support for our positions. And so that just created what I think is a very unproductive clash.”
Diaz Sr., known for his eccentric personality, had occasionally swapped testy exchanges with Joshi during meetings of the committee, which was formed last year as Council Speaker Corey Johnson took the helm of the legislative body.
The committee did help Joshi shepherd in a long-sought, temporary cap on e-hail vehicles. And even though local lawmakers also play an important oversight role of the mayoral administration, Joshi still felt the relationship between the committee and the TLC could have been more harmonious.
“At the end of the day, taxpayers pay my salary. They pay council members’ salaries,” Joshi continued. “So unless we’re working together to get to an end that’s better for New York, it’s not an effective use of time and money.”
Diaz Sr., who was also reportedly the subject of an unrelated ethics probe at the Council last year, defended his approach and what the committee accomplished over the year, specifically pointing to the temporary e-hail cap.
"When I put my mind to something, I’m a fighter and I’ll fight to get something done," he said, adding: "The taxi and limousine industry never has been more productive than this year, since I’ve been there."
A representative for Johnson, who appointed Diaz to his post, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Joshi did feel there was a definitive need for such a committee at the Council, reasoning that “there is a lot going on in the industry and there certainly is enough for an entire committee to be devoted to it — but mak[ing] that relationship as productive as possible would be the best thing for New York."
The de Blasio administration announced that Joshi would be stepping down on Saturday, after a series of incidents where the mayor and Joshi had openly opposing positions on new policies. Joshi didn’t seem to be phased by the apparent distance that had grown between her department and the mayor’s office.
“I don’t know if it’s the worst thing,” she said, “to not play politics well.”