New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Accused of Blackmail in Taxi Boss Battle
(NEW YORK) -- This is the case of the F-bomb that's landed New York City's mayor in federal court.
One of the leaders of the Big Apple's taxi industry filed suit against Michael Bloomberg this week, claiming a violation of his constitutional right against retaliation in the wake of news reports that a fuming, swearing Bloomberg threatened to destroy the yellow-cab industry once he's out of office next year.
Taxi Club Management CEO Gene Freidman claimed Bloomberg has been trying to "blackmail" and bully city hacks because of their unified opposition to his administration's plans to require all taxi owners to convert their fleets to the new "Taxi of Tomorrow" design.
The mayor and his aides have been "relentless in their retaliation ... in their stubborn determination to override any opposition, from any quarter, to the Taxi of Tomorrow," according to the lawsuit filed late Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court.
Those efforts, Freidman's suit said, were compounded by Bloomberg's recent comments when the mayor "personally threatened ... Freidman during halftime at the Knicks/Pacers playoff game at Madison Square Garden, stating, 'When I am out of office, I will destroy your f---ing industry," and then stating, "after January, I am going to destroy all you f---ing guys."
The tirade made the front page of the New York Post and the mayor has not denied it.
City Hall had no immediate response to the lawsuit.
After three terms in office, Bloomberg will return to private life on Jan. 1, 2014.
Freidman, also a board member of the Greater New York Taxi Association, has been a key voice in the battle against the Taxi of Tomorrow plan, arguing that it eliminates competition and would put unfair burdens on cabbies and those who own taxis.
His lawyer, Steve Mintz, said Bloomberg "is threatening hard-working taxi entrepreneurs, and it's un-American, offensive and we won't give in. We have won every case in court and will continue to."
Even before the mayor's purported colorful halftime commentary, the Bloomberg administration has been pushing Freidman to abandon his opposition to the mayor's taxi plans, his lawyer said. The key tool, Mintz alleged, is a barrage of summonses against Freidman's fleet that would cost the taxi owner more than $3.5 million.
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