2011-05-19 / View From the Middle

Building A Cab In Brooklyn Means JOBS, Mr. Mayor!

Charles Rogers

My teeth are still loose as a result of riding a city taxicab about two months ago in Manhattan.
Yes, potholes throughout the wet, snow-and-sleet-covered streets of the city in February were the initial culprits, but the cab itself held a good deal of the responsibility as it rattled over the cobblestones of the West Village like an 1890s horse-drawn carriage, rolling me and my friends from side to side with every turn. At one point, I thought we would tip over, with the car’s springs loose enough to make us look like we were shooting a movie as we raced through the streets; and we were only doing about twenty miles per hour!
A look out the window at passengers in other cabs on Sixth Avenue and it was clear they were, just as my friend and I, captive passengers in a rambling, rumbling tin can too old to remain in service for much longer. Just like an old horse, it was ready to be sent to pasture.
This episode took place a couple of months before Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement that New York will, within the next ten years or so, have a brand new fleet of cabs. Bidding from two major car manufacturers, Nissan and Ford, and one “minor,” a Turkish manufacturer named Kasan, was heavy. Eventually, though, the mayor decided (“just about”) on the Nissan to be New York’s Taxi of Tomorrow.
For the most part, the car will be designed and made in Japan, with a few locations in the U.S. contributing various components. As for looks — all the cabs will be yellow, of course — and, frankly, there wasn’t much difference between the Nissan and Ford. One point to be made as far as the third choice: the Kasan was to be wheelchair accessible.
Of course there is more controversy at this point as far as where the cars would be built. Why choose Nissan? Although it is, for those most part, a Japanese brand, company officials say that vehicle will be made in Mexico.
Mexico?
Why? Because it’s cheap? First of all, it seems to me that when you get a cheap product at a bargain price, ultimately the bargain turns out to be a lemon. And right now, trying to get a cheap car in MEXICO of all places, sounds like the loser of all investments. Why in the world would Mayor Bloomberg do that? No, I don’t think there’s any funny business going on. He doesn’t need funny business. I just think it’s GOT to be a wrong move.
I mean, despite the no-name public relations of a little vehicle from a company based in Turkey, the Kasan would be built HERE. BY AMERICANS! And by here, I mean in Brooklyn — with at least 200 jobs to start and eventually as many as 800.
Bloomberg, et al, say the Turkish manufacturer doesn’t know how to make and market cabs for the American customer. Duh! What’s wrong with hiring Americans who are experts at it? Is that too simple for the mayor...or what? There aren’t any union problems, either. Hell, there are JOBS. How can anyone argue against it in this economic miasma. Jobs, Mr. Mayor.
This is where your arrogance comes in full force. Too many times you’ll get what you think is a capital idea (capital!). And when it, after all, doesn’t seem so good in retrospect, your arrogant stubbornness takes over. No reason; no rationale. It’s like a parent telling a son or daughter a reason for a decision: “BECAUSE I SAID SO!”
Mr. Mayor — stop and think for a minute. At least two hundred and eventually as many as eight hundred jobs. In Brooklyn.
You’re a businessman, after all. Sounds like a logical business decision to me. How about you?

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