As the hardreading staff at It’s Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town reported yesterday, the Boston Globe debuted its fascinating and Pulitzer-seeking three-part series on the corrupt Boston taxicab industry in its Sunday edition, which included this helpful chart:
And this intriguing note:
Just days after receiving his license to drive a city cab, a Spotlight Team reporter heard whispers of payoffs and then witnessed the bribes-for-keys scheme that is considered a common cost of daily commerce at Boston Cab, whose operator controls 372 — or 20 percent — of the city’s 1,825 taxi licenses, the city’s biggest fleet.
“This is like a Third World country,’’ one driver told the Globe reporter. “You need to give them money. That’s how they do business.’’
That is to say in a slipshod – read, self-serving – manner.
[W]hile this sounds like a small matter, it is not: Many cab companies routinely fail to provide drivers with legally required receipts for the payments of $100 or so they must make at the end of each 12-hour shift. With no receipt for these daily lease payments, drivers are defenseless if cab companies accuse them of paying less than the sum due — a regular occurrence in some garages.
“I’ve never seen a receipt,” said longtime cabbie Michael N. Holley.
The Globe reporter who drove eight nights for the city’s largest taxi owner also was never given this required proof of payment.
Police say they have no record of ever citing an owner for breaking this rule.
And we have no record of which Globe reporter testified to it.
The Spotlight Report did feature this forenote:
This article was reported by the Globe Spotlight Team: reporters Bob Hohler, Marcella Bombardieri, and Jonathan Saltzman and editor Thomas Farragher. It was written by Farragher and Hohler.
But it doesn’t specify which of them – if any – got the hackney license.
Inquiring minds want to know, yeah?
UPDATE: Splendid reader Ratty sent this, in which the Globe identifies the cabbie/reporter.
The Globe Spotlight Team spent nine months examining Boston’s $1 billion taxi industry. The team interviewed scores of drivers, owners, cabbie advocates, and specialists in the economics of the industry. In addition, reporters reviewed hundreds of court documents and other public records to compile a portrait of the city’s largest fleet owner, Edward J. Tutunjian. One team member, reporter Bob Hohler, who worked as a taxi driver in the 1970s, obtained a city-issued license and drove eight shifts for the city’s largest fleet owner. The team, in its three-part series, has chronicled an industry in which cab drivers are routinely exploited, subjected to petty bribes and commonly overcharged by cab owners. Moreover, the series demonstrates the Boston Police Department fails in many ways to do its job. It intensely regulates drivers but almost never imposes discipline on owners who disobey city regulations with impunity. And Hohler’s work behind the wheel of a city cab gives readers a front-seat view of what it’s like to work in this gritty industry.
In the hardworking staff’s defense, the above did not appear in Sunday’s print edition.