Just because Portland’s Private-for-Hire Transportation Board of Review is an obscure body doesn’t mean it lacks a Rogue. In fact, board member Butch Miller goes into our driver’s seat this week for his Third World approach to elections.
The nine-member board adopts and enforces all regulations and rates for the city’s private-for-hire vehicles—858 taxis, shuttles, medical transport vehicles and town cars.
One of the board slots is set aside for a rep from the private-for-hire drivers. And town-car driver Mostafa Mabkhouti hoped to be the first non-cab driver to hold the position since its creation a decade ago.
When Mabkhouti learned Miller’s two-year term would expire Dec. 1, Mabkhouti went to a drivers meeting Nov. 4 and nominated himself for the election on Nov. 21. Miller, a Broadway Cab driver, was also nominated.
At the meeting, Mabkhouti said the proposed process of leaving ballots at Broadway Cab and Radio Cab offices excluded non-cab drivers. He also dared to suggest mailing the ballots to all private-for-hire drivers.
A Radio Cab driver then responded that present committee members should elect a new driver rep on the spot before the Nov. 21 election. Done. Miller was re-elected.
“It’s not American at all,” says Mabkhouti. “This gentleman’s supposed to be representing the drivers. But drivers’ having a voice in who they want to represent them is not taken into consideration.”
This wasn’t America’s most important election Nov. 4. But since taxi and town car drivers compete, all drivers should get an equal shot at having a vote on the board.
“We were perfectly within city code,” Miller says. Code does leave this subject open-ended. But open-ended shouldn’t mean rigged.