The Sun-Sentinel reported today that the Palm Beach County Commission passed the buck to the Florida Legislature to see if they would enact “statewide rules for Uber’s car service instead of creating local rules for the popular alternative to taxis.”
The decision represented a major dereliction of the Commission’s duties to protect the public, and the second major life-safety issue the commission has punted on. Inaction by the County Commission has allowed “sober home” halfway houses to mushroom in the county unfettered. Residents have complained for a decade that county inaction has caused quality of life issues in their communities.
One difference between the two issues is that limousine and taxi regulation in Florida has historically been delineated specifically to county governments. Punting on the taxi issue is a rare relinquishment of their “home rule” authority enshrined in the State Constitution, the Palm Beach County Charter and Florida Statute. Usually, local governments guard such authority zealously. In fact, the Florida League of Cities calls Home Rule “the most precious powers” a local government has.
The Florida Taxi Association recently financed an ad in Palm Beach County that warned of the dangers of Uber, and commissioners must be worried about a repeat so close to the rapidly approaching 2016 election. Several commissioners are running for congress in the still-to-be-drawn District 18, while others face tough re-election fights.
In North County, rumors are swirling in Republican circles that more challengers to Commissioner Valeche are waiting in the wings and closely watching his votes.
During their campaign, you can be sure these commissioners will talk about how you can trust them with the “tough decisions” facing our community.
Palm Beach County residents should remember today and demand better.