Remembering the west suburban state lawmakers who tried to ban Uber
Three years ago this week, State Reps. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) and Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) were plotting to override a veto of their bill that would have regulated Uber and Lyft out of existence in Illinois.
Despite best efforts, their try for a statewide Uber ban would fail.
This attempt to protect oft-criticized taxi services from competition, depriving consumers of cheaper, more reliable options they clearly wanted, seems absurd in hindsight.
On demand car services in the western suburbs, once something of an impossibility, are today ubiquitous. Supply is plentiful, and demand is soaring.
Hailing an Uber in La Grange, Burr Ridge or Hinsdale takes less than five minutes. Calling a taxi cab used to take 30 or more-- if the taxi even showed up.
But in their anti-Uber conspiracy, Zalewski and Durkin had plenty of company.
Chicago’s taxi cab cartel organized, then spread more than $180,000 in campaign donations around Springfield, amassing a who’s who of legislative allies.
Their first check -- for $15,000 -- went to Durkin. Their second, for $50,000, went to Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago)
Democrat House Speaker Michael J. Madigan ($25,000), then-Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont ($12,500) and Democrat State Sen. Martin Sandoval of Cicero ($10,000) were also big taxi cab cartel beneficiaries.
Top lobbyists were on retainer to kill Uber, including Chicago law firm Daley & Georges, home of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s brother, Michael, and former west suburban State Sen. Thomas J. Walsh of Western Springs.
Walsh and his brother, David, who works for House GOP Leader Durkin, grew up in La Grange Park, where their father was a state senator.
Supply meets demand
In 2017, more than than 30,000 Chicago-area Uber drivers stand to earn more than $320 million, according to a study released by the company in October.
Before the emergence of ride-sharing, the City of Chicago artificially capped the number of “licensed” taxi cab drivers allowed at just under 7,000. Suburban cab companies did the same.
This kept prices high-- and supply low, leaving most Chicago neighborhoods-- and virtually every Chicago suburb-- without any semblance of reliable on demand car service.
Today, they all do. But that hasn’t stopped Chicago’s taxi cab industry from trying to kill Uber, or at least severely hinder it.
Chicago Ald. Anthony Beale, who represents the Ninth Ward on the far south side, has proposed ordinances that would force Uber to leave the city, including requiring city bureaucrats to fingerprint all drivers and check their vehicles.
These regulations seek to cripple Uber in Chicago, like Zalewski and Durkin's proposed bill did statewide.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel claims Uber has “cost” the city $40 million in tax revenue; he has proposed raising taxes on ridesharing, already the highest in the U.S., even higher.
Currently, the City of Chicago gets 52 cents per Uber or Lyft ride, plus an additional $5 for every pick-up or drop-off at O’Hare, Midway, Navy Pier or McCormick Place.
Emanuel has proposed raising taxes to 67 cents per ride in 2018, then to and 72 cents in 2019.
Which state legislators took money to ban Uber in Illinois?
Chicago's taxi cab cartel donated $180,750 to 61 state legislators in 2014-15, encouraging them to help preserve their traditional monopoly by banning ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft in Illinois.
West suburban legislators backing the cartel included State Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), State Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero), State Sen. Steve Landek (D-Bridgeview) and State Rep. Silviana Tabares (D-Lyons).
Was your legislator one of them?
|Sen. President John Cullerton||D||Chicago||$50,000|
|House Speaker Michael Madigan||D||Chicago||$25,000|
|House GOP Leader Jim Durkin||R||Western Springs||$15,000|
|Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno||R||Lemont||$12,500|
|State Sen. Karen McConnaughay||R||West Dundee||$10,000|
|State Sen. Martin Sandoval||D||Cicero||$10,000|
|State Rep. Mike Unes||R||Pekin||$5,000|
|State Sen. Dale Righter||R||Mattoon||$5,000|
|State Rep. Lou Lang||D||Skokie||$5,000|
|State Rep. Art Turner II||D||Chicago||$5,000|
|State Rep. Edward Acevedo||D||Chicago||$2,500|
|State Sen. Steve Landek||D||Bridgeview||$1,500|
|State Rep. Ann Williams||D||Chicago||$1,500|
|State Rep. Mike Zalewski||D||Riverside||$3,000|
|State Rep. Elaine Nekritz||D||Buffalo Grove||$1,000|
|State Rep. Esther Golar||D||Chicago||$1,000|
|State Rep. Marcus Evans, Jr||D||Chicago||$1,000|
|State Rep. Anthony DeLuca||D||Chicago Heights||$1,000|
|State Rep. Camille Lilly||D||Oak Park||$1,000|
|State Sen. Mike Jacobs||D||East Moline||$1,000|
|State Rep. Jack Franks||D||McHenry||$1,000|
|State Sen. Kim Lightford||D||Maywood||$1,000|
|State Rep. Bob Rita||D||Blue Island||$1,000|
|State Sen. Bill Brady||R||Bloomington||$750|
|State Sen. Tim Bivins||R||Dixon||$750|
|State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld||R||Okawville||$750|
|State Sen. Michael Hastings||D||Orland Park||$750|
|State Sen. James Clayborne, Jr.||D||East St. Louis||$750|
|State Rep. Elgie Sims||D||Chicago||$750|
|State Sen. Terry Link||D||Gurnee||$750|
|State Rep. Barbara Wheeler||R||Crystal Lake||$500|
|State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer||R||Jacksonville||$500|
|State Rep. Fred Crespo||D||Streamwood||$500|
|State Rep. Norine Hammond||D||Macomb||$500|
|State Rep. Joe Sosnowski||R||Rockford||$500|
|State Rep. David Harris||R||Arlington Heights||$500|
|State Rep. Jay Hoffman||D||Collinsville||$500|
|State Rep. Daniel Biss||D||Evanston||$500|
|State Rep. Anna Moeller||D||Elgin||$500|
|State Rep. John Cavaletto||R||Salem||$500|
|State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr||D||Joliet||$500|
|State Rep. Carol Sente||D||Buffalo Grove||$500|
|State Sen. Chapin Rose||R||Champaign||$500|
|State Rep. Deborah Conroy||D||Elmhurst||$500|
|State Rep. Emily McAsey||D||Lockport||$500|
|State Rep. Fran Hurley||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Rep. Jaime Andrade||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Rep. John D'Amico||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Rep. Kate Cloonen||D||Kankakee||$500|
|State Rep. Ken Dunkin||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Rep. Luis Arroyo||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Rep. Natalie Manley||D||Joliet||$500|
|State Rep. Robert Martwick||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Rep. Sam Yingling||D||Grayslake||$500|
|State Sen. Sue Rezin||R||Morris||$500|
|State Rep. Silviana Tabares||D||Lyons||$500|
|State Rep. Thad Jones||D||South Holland||$500|
|State Sen. Sam McCann||R||Springfield||$500|
|State Rep. Silviana Tabares||D||Chicago||$500|
|State Sen. Sam McCann||R||Springfield||$500|
Source: Illinois State Board of Elections