Taxi Authority Corruption
Secret Cash Cow Revealed
- No Action Taken
State Taxi Officials Under
"I believe we are about
to crack open one of the biggest
corruption cases in southern
Nevada in recent times."
Scott Lewis, former Nevada
Taxicab Authority Airport Control Officer
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
May 17, 2010
LAS VEGAS - One of the greatest mysteries
of our town over the past several decades involves two state agencies that
seem to stand back and allow a new mafia of sorts to run roughshod over
certain local businesses and the tourists who frequent them.
Taxicab Authority (TA) and the Nevada
Transportation Authority (NTA) are state agencies charged with enforcing
a number of laws designed to protect the traveling public from being ripped
off. Both agencies are governed by appointed directors, a position
coveted by many aspiring politicians, or those who like to be wined and
dined in exchange for favors -- favors that include the maintenance of
our state's monopolistic transportation industry.
(Editor's note: Steve Miller is a former
Clark County Regional Transportation Commissioner.)
"The purpose of this letter is to apprise
you of future regulatory enforcement actions
added) that may affect employees who work within your property's valet
parking and transportation areas."
These were the opening words of a June
27, 2008 letter
authored by Mendy K. Elliott, Director of the Nevada Department of
Business and Industry. The letter was sent to most local hotel and casino
"As you are probably aware, the Nevada
Taxicab Authority (TA) regulates the taxicab industry within Clark County
and the Nevada Transportation Authority (NTA) regulates, among other things,
the charter limousine industry statewide. The two agencies have entered
into a cooperative agreement in an effort to combat a sharp increase in
unlawful activity including, but not limited to: soliciting passengers
in violation of Nevada Administrative Code 706.228, charging non-approved
tariff rates in violation of Nevada Administrative Code 706.329, and unlawfully
operating as a 'broker' of transportation as defined by Nevada Revised
Statutes 706.021. The NTA and TA have observed and/or received complaints
concerning the aforementioned violations occurring at your property.
Of particular concern is the prevalence of unlawful broker activity. The
observed increase in unlawful conduct in and around passenger loading areas
is at minimum facilitated—and often coordinated—by property staff. Passenger
loading zone coordinators and in particular, doormen, direct passengers
to certain limousine and taxicab drivers. In return, the drivers
provide 'kickbacks' for such business referrals. This activity
is expressly forbidden by the Nevada Administrative Code and Nevada Revised
Statutes. Accordingly, the NTA and TA intend to fulfill
our statutory and regulatory duty to issue citations to the individuals
who have committed—and continue to commit—these violations."
"Please be advised that enforcement
officers from the TA and NTA have been instructed to issue a verbal warning
upon the first instance that an individual is observed unlawfully brokering
transportation services. A citation will be issued
to the individual upon a second or subsequent alleged violation."
Following the release of the letter, Mendy
Elliott was immediately transferred to another state agency. After her
sudden departure, no verbal warnings or citations were ever issued. The
subject was swept under the carpet and never mentioned again.
Mendy K. Elliott, was replaced by a hand
picked woman with ties to Governor Jim Gibbons and his handler Sig Rogich.
Rogich is a paid lobbyist
who performs duties for several Las Vegas cab and limo companies.
Since the removal of Elliott, the Nevada
Taxi Authority has become a rogue state agency allowing a multitude of
illegal activities to continue that benefit a few taxi and limo companies,
certain topless bars, and a number of hotel doormen and concierges who
divide cash taken from tourists with certain taxi and limo drivers who
are in on the scam.
On August 10, 2009, I wrote about the problem
in an AmericanMafia.com column entitled "Officials
Allow Limo/Doorman Extortion Scam To Continue." In the column, I published
Elliott's letter in its entirety and questioned her removal. Even after
putting the two state agencies on notice, they ignored Elliott's letter,
and refused to stop what had become a multi-hundred million dollar per
year cash extortion racket.
Other reporters were also writing about
the blatant malfeasance of the Taxicab Authority, and several confidential
news sources were developed within the above industries and state agencies.
Several state employees -- some with peace
officer status -- contacted journalists. They said they wanted the public
to know what was going on within their agencies because it was adversely
affecting tourism during a down time in our state's economy. Soon thereafter,
Gordon Walker, the Administrator of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, went
into a protective mode and has since begun a more-than-obvious campaign
to punish some of those whistle blowers and news sources.
Walker's attorney is coincidentally Nevada
Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto, the daughter of Walker's predecessor
the late Manny
Cortez. Manny served as Administrator of the state Taxicab Authority
during the 1970's, so his daughter is well versed on the how the agency
runs. At taxpayer's expense, she is currently prosecuting one or more TA
The following KLAS TV News
stories and streaming videos by veteran reporter George Knapp describe
several of Walker's very questionable actions. In order to understand
the basis of this INSIDE VEGAS column, please take a few minutes and watch
The above TV news stories are just the
tip of the iceberg when it comes to political corruption on our state.
Many of the owners of the transportation companies involved do not pay
living wages, and welcome any form of private entrepreneurialism that will
keep their drivers driving without the need of a union to guarantee fair
wages and healthful
safe working conditions. This has also led to certain companies
condoning the practice of "long hauling," or taking the longest route in
order to inflate fares.
Two Nevada governors, both with ties to
a lobbyist who does work for transportation companies, have refused to
step in and govern the privileged license holders.
One of the governors even allowed hundreds
of cab drivers to use their company's equipment to shut
down the Strip in protest of a proposed law to stop kickbacks. That's
how much power some cab and limo company owners have in our state!
As a former Clark County Regional Transportation
Commissioner (RTC), I did not have authority over cabs and limos, but I
did have influence over the former operator of our town's bus system. Within
weeks of being appointed to the prestigious RTC board, the former president
of the city bus company offered me a $10,000 bribe. I had pledged to improve
the public transit service in our valley, and that would cost the existing
company dearly. So the bribe was presented.
After I turned it down, I devoted my term
on the RTC to putting his transit bus company out of business. The company
sued me for interfering in their business, but I continued working undaunted
until their fifty year franchise was revoked during my last year in office.
In other words, here in Nevada it does
not surprise me to see directors and commissioners appointed to serve on
public boards and bodies secretly doing the bidding of the entities
they're entrusted to oversee. Therefore, I believe that some of the appointed
members of the Nevada Taxicab Authority and Nevada Transportation Authority
are on the take. Otherwise, why was Ms. Elliott's letter ignored? And why
are those within the agencies who stepped forward to tell their stories
to journalists being arrested and harassed by our state's Attorney General,
the daughter of the former TA Excutive Director?
The actions shown in the KLAS TV News
stories linked to in this column indicate a deep rooted corruption that
is hurting our city's primary financial base; tourism. Also, the fact that
Nevada state agencies who are letting this happen continue to exist without
scrutiny signifies a reason why Nevada is unable to diversify its economy.
Legitimate businesses would not want to operate in such a corrupt political
The crimes being committed have been allowed
to continue for too many years to just be coincidence! And what is happening
to the whistle blowers tells it all.
The Internal Revenue Service recently began
into transportation driver and hotel doormen cash pay offs and kickbacks
They did so because those entrusted to enforce laws within our state refused.
Now that this story is being told, I hope
that those who bring shame upon our state and rip off our tourists, are
brought to justice promptly. The citizens of Nevada deserve better.