Fellow citizens, you can rest easier tonight knowing that the Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Department is out there protecting the people of their fair city from a grave and gathering danger — the danger of Miamians getting a lift from somebody other than a permanent, full-time, government-licensed taxi service:
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — A man who said he thought he was just helping a woman in need is accused of running an illegal taxi service.
Miami-Dade County’s Consumer Services Department has slapped Rosco O’Neil with $2,000 worth of fines, but O’Neil claims he is falsely accused.
I ain’t running nothing illegal,O'Neil said.
The 78-year-old said he was walking into a Winn-Dixie to get some groceries when he was approached by a woman who said she needed a ride.
She asked me,O’Neil said.Do I do a service?I told her no. She said,I need help getting home.
O’Neil told the woman if she was still there when he finished his shopping, he would give her a ride. She was, so he did.
Here’s the reward O’Neil got for daring to commit this heinous act of human kindness:
As it turned out, the woman was an undercover employee with the consumer services department targeting people providing illegal taxi services.
She said the reason she targeted him (is because) she saw him sitting in his car for a few minutes,said Ellen Novodeletsky, O’Neil’s attorney.
After O’Neil dropped off the woman, police surrounded him, issued him two citations and impounded his minivan. On top of the fees, it cost O’Neil an additional $400 to retrieve his minivan from the impound lot.
There are no prior complaints that O’Neil was providing illegal transportation for a fee.
It’s not entrapment because she didn’t expect him to provide her transportation,said Sonya Perez, a spokeswoman for the consumer services department.
O’Neil claims he was just being kind and providing a ride to a lady in need.
There’s all kinds of possibilities, but the fact of this particular case, what our enforcement officers witnessed — because we had several on the scene, plus a Miami-Dade police officer — and all the information came back the same, that this was a business transaction,Perez said.
O’Neil said he never even discussed money until the woman insisted upon it.
She asked me,O’Neil said.How much you charging?I said,Anything you give me.She said,No, I need a price.
Well, thank God, says I. The last thing that the dedicated public servants of the Miami-Dade County Consumer Services Department should permit is for consumers to actually get services. Some might say that they ought to let consenting adults alone, to make their own decisions about whether to get the transportation they need by calling a full-time professional taxi service, or by making arrangements with friends, or just by finding a nice old man who is willing to help you out that day on an informal basis, in return for a little bit of money for the gas and the time. That the county government has no business at all trying to force people into a particular business model of highly formalized, full-time professional transit businesses, if they would rather make other arrangements on their own time and on their own dime. But, really, since we already have a bipartisan caucus of legislators, regulators, and professional bureaucrats running behind us all, yelling
You’ll put an eye out with that!,
Don’t drink that; it’ll stunt your growth!,
You’re not going out like that, are you?, and
You keep your mouth clean, son, or I'll wash it out for you with soap! — well, what could be more natural than for them to add a shout of
Don’t you get in a car with that stranger! to the chorus?
- GT 2007-09-15: Free Riders
- GT 2008-01-16: Well, thank God #8: Civil Tongue edition
- GT 2007-09-19: Well, thank God #7: sagging and the new sumptuary laws
- GT 2006-08-31: Well, thank God #6: Raed Jarrar and ostensive definitions
- GT 2006-07-18: Well, thank God #5: the Director’s Guild triumphs over insurgent customers
- GT 2006-06-27: Well, thank God #4: Unauthorized Erections edition
- GT 2006-02-23: Well, thank God #3: National Caffeine Awareness Month
- GT 2005-12-05: Well, thank God #2: We Are The Champions edition
- GT 2005-10-27: Well, thank God: The Bluest Eye edition