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Shifting Gears: Taxi Industry Gave Lavishly to de Blasio's Mayoral Campaign

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Perhaps has no one has more riding on Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio than the taxi industry, which gave lavishly to his campaign, and which some believe has had an outsized influence in shaping his policy positions. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report, Part 5 of his series "Shifting Gears: An Uncertain Future for Taxis."

He vocally opposed the Taxi of Tomorrow, and the green taxis now serving the outer boroughs he claims to champion.

On both issues, Bill de Blasio sided with taxi fleet owners. They, in turn, rewarded him with campaign cash. Four of de Blasio's top seven bundlers, those who collect contributions on his behalf, are from the taxi industry. Top bundler Michael Woloz raised $235,000 alone. Altogether, the industry raised $450,000, not counting tens of thousands more in individual contributions.

"Bill de Blasio became popular among people in the yellow taxis, and so many industries and so many, just, individuals, because he listens," Woloz said.

Fundraisers like Woloz said that they've received no promises from de Blasio, only that he'll give them a fair hearing.

"We're going to get that from this new mayor," said Avik Kabessa of Livery Roundtable. "We never got that from the old administration."

"I think anyone who thinks that Bill de Blasio can or is bought doesn't know Bill de Blasio," said Ethan Gerber of the Greater New York Taxi Association.

During the campaign, de Blasio did vow to replace the industry's number 1 nemesis, Taxi and Limousine Chairman David Yassky.

"The guy who's there now, David Yassky, is someone who I have regularly disagreed with, and I want someone who will work with the drivers," de Blasio said on September 19.

For driver advocate Bhairavi Desai, who considers Yassky an ally, the comment set off alarm bells.

"It was definitely a reflection of the money that's come into, that went into the campaign from the industry," Desai said.

De Blasio has flatly rejected the idea that taxi money colors his policy-making.

"I have been blessed to receive support from lots of different people, but I'm still going to make up my mind according to what's in the best interests of the people," he said.

De Blasio's pick to head the Taxi and Limousine Commission will be the first sign of how much influence the taxi industry will exert here at City Hall. He also has to soon decide whether to pursue the Bloomberg administration's court battle on the Taxi of Tomorrow. The appeal in that case is due to be heard in January.

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