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Remembering the west suburban state lawmakers who tried to ban Uber

Politics

By LGIS News Service | Nov 15, 2017

Zalewski
State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) sponsored a bill to ban Uber in Illinois

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.


House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs)

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.

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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?

State LawmakerPartyCityAmount
Sen. President John CullertonDChicago$50,000
House Speaker Michael MadiganDChicago$25,000
House GOP Leader Jim DurkinRWestern Springs$15,000
Senate GOP Leader Christine RadognoRLemont

$12,500
State Sen. Karen McConnaughayRWest Dundee$10,000
State Sen. Martin SandovalDCicero$10,000
State Rep. Mike UnesRPekin$5,000
State Sen. Dale RighterRMattoon$5,000
State Rep. Lou Lang DSkokie$5,000
State Rep. Art Turner IIDChicago$5,000
State Rep. Edward AcevedoDChicago$2,500
State Sen. Steve LandekDBridgeview$1,500
State Rep. Ann WilliamsDChicago$1,500
State Rep. Mike ZalewskiDRiverside$3,000
State Rep. Elaine NekritzDBuffalo Grove$1,000
State Rep. Esther GolarDChicago$1,000
State Rep. Marcus Evans, JrDChicago$1,000
State Rep. Anthony DeLucaDChicago Heights$1,000
State Rep. Camille LillyDOak Park$1,000
State Sen. Mike JacobsDEast Moline$1,000
State Rep. Jack Franks DMcHenry$1,000
State Sen. Kim LightfordDMaywood$1,000
State Rep. Bob RitaDBlue Island$1,000
State Sen. Bill BradyRBloomington$750
State Sen. Tim BivinsR

Dixon$750
State Sen. Dave LuechtefeldROkawville$750
State Sen. Michael HastingsDOrland Park$750
State Sen. James Clayborne, Jr.DEast St. Louis$750
State Rep. Elgie SimsDChicago$750
State Sen. Terry LinkDGurnee$750
State Rep. Barbara WheelerRCrystal Lake$500
State Rep. C.D. DavidsmeyerR

Jacksonville$500
State Rep. Fred CrespoDStreamwood$500
State Rep. Norine HammondDMacomb$500
State Rep. Joe SosnowskiRRockford$500
State Rep. David HarrisRArlington Heights$500
State Rep. Jay HoffmanDCollinsville$500
State Rep. Daniel BissDEvanston$500
State Rep. Anna MoellerDElgin$500
State Rep. John CavalettoRSalem$500
State Rep. Larry Walsh JrDJoliet$500
State Rep. Carol SenteDBuffalo Grove$500
State Sen. Chapin RoseRChampaign$500
State Rep. Deborah ConroyDElmhurst$500
State Rep. Emily McAseyDLockport$500
State Rep. Fran HurleyDChicago$500
State Rep. Jaime AndradeDChicago$500
State Rep. John D'AmicoDChicago$500
State Rep. Kate CloonenDKankakee$500
State Rep. Ken DunkinDChicago$500
State Rep. Luis ArroyoDChicago$500
State Rep. Natalie ManleyDJoliet$500
State Rep. Robert MartwickDChicago$500
State Rep. Sam YinglingDGrayslake$500
State Sen. Sue RezinRMorris$500
State Rep. Silviana TabaresDLyons

$500
State Rep. Thad JonesDSouth Holland$500
State Sen. Sam McCannRSpringfield$500
State Rep. Silviana TabaresDChicago$500
State Sen. Sam McCannRSpringfield$500

Source: Illinois State Board of Elections

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Organizations in this Story

Uber- ChicagoIllinois Representative Michael J. Zalewski (D-23rd)Illinois Transportation Trade Association Political Action CommitteeThomas J. Walsh ConsultingIllinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin

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