DALLAS –– Interim Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez issued a memo on Monday morning apologizing for fast-tracking a vote to change a city ordinance targeting the transportation-for-hire service Uber without first gaining approval from a council committee.
“Even with 30 years of municipal experience (14 years in Dallas), I made a mistake. Please accept my apology,” the memo reads. “I regret the approach I took as I tried to address the situation expeditiously. I regret not bringing the issue before the Council earlier in the process and getting your input. I recognize I made a mistake and I have learned valuable lessons.”
Gonzalez’s memo comes two days before the council is briefed in a closed door session on the results of an investigation into how, exactly, the police department’s vice squad got the order to begin booking undercover rides with Uber and writing tickets to some drivers.
Uber, which allows customers to dial up a ride using its own smartphone app, argues that it’s a technology company rather than a transportation provider. This declaration puts it into some murky regulatory waters, especially in Dallas, which has a taxi industry that's dominated by the Yellow Cab Company.
On Aug. 28, the Dallas City Council was set to vote to rewrite the chapter of the city code that contains regulations regarding limousine and luxury vehicles that offer for-hire transportation services. The only problem was that the issue was never taken up in a committee, as is standard practice.
As such, Councilman Scott Griggs asked the mayor to pull the item from the agenda, which he did. As the Dallas Morning News has reported extensively, records show that Yellow Cab higher ups had the ear of city officials long before that line item popped up on the council’s agenda.
As News 8 previously reported, that ordinance would require luxury vehicles “to have sticker prices over $45,000.” It would mandate limousine services to arrive no sooner than 30 minutes following the request. It would also ban smartphones from calculating fares.
Gonzales’s memo seems to indicate that he’s stepping out in front of the controversy.
“Any future proposed changes to our code enforcement regulations will be brought to the appropriate Council committee,” he wrote. “If there is some extraordinary need for more immediate action, all members of the Council will be briefed by memo and in person.
Sam Merten, Mayor Mike Rawlings’s chief of staff, said the mayor has read the memo. Whether it will impact Gonzalez’s chances at following Mary Suhm as the next city manager should he choose to apply, that’s yet to be seen, Merten said.
“Mayor Rawlings has read Mr. Gonzalez’s memo and believes it speaks for itself,” he said in an email. “It’s not appropriate to discuss its impact until the report is released Wednesday.”
Read the full memo below: