After four months of acrimonious inaction, members of the new D.C. Taxicab Commission finally voted last night to adopt rules of organization that will allow them to move forward with their mission of improving city taxicab service.
They also voted to prohibit drivers from keeping their "on call" or "off duty" signs within reach while working, and imposed a $100 fine for drivers who refuse to transport a customer.
The actions grew out of complaints from residents of the outer ring of city neighborhoods.
The amendments included a provision to make permanent the $500 fine that was passed as an emergency measure this summer to deal with illegal cabdrivers.
Last night's vote came after four months of often bitter debate between some of the commissioners and Chairman Arrington Dixon over the panel's rules and other issues.
On two occasions, meetings were closed to the public in what some members said was an attempt to keep the press from reporting on the continuing power struggle in the commission.
Ten commissioners present voted for the new rules. Commissioner Joseph Becker abstained from that vote and others that dealt with issues of concern to the Panel of Rates and Rules of which he is a member. Earlier in the meeting, Becker accused Dixon of "loudly expressing contempt for the rules."
Dixon denied the allegations. He later said it had taken longer than he had expected to get a vote on the rules.
"I want to decrease attention given to the amount of time it took to get the rules in place," he said. "Tonight's vote reflects a lot of debate and deliberation. It means we are now able to press forward with the work of the commission."