Birmingham Council postpones Uber vote as 5 councilors no-show

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A scheduled vote on whether to approve new rules allowing ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in the Magic City was postponed Tuesday afternoon for lack of a quorum required to vote.

Council President Johnathan Austin, Councilman Steven Hoyt, Councilwoman Sheila Tyson, Councilwoman Lashunda Scales and Councilman Marcus Lundy did not attend the meeting, requiring members to adjourn before hearing the ride-hailing item on the agenda.

The Birmingham City Council was slated to take up an ordinance that would allow so-called ridesharing firms to set up shop in the city by next month, along with other issues.

Council members Jay Roberson, Valerie Abbott, Kim Rafferty and William Parker were in attendance. They waited about an hour before telling an increasingly restive audience the meeting would have to be scuttled.

The delay may push back the beginning of Uber’s operations in Birmingham until 2016.

“It’s disappointing that Birmingham residents have to continue waiting for safe rides and economic opportunity,” said Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh Tuesday.

“We look forward to the draft ridesharing regulations from last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting crossing the finish line next Tuesday, so that we can bring ridesharing to Birmingham in advance of the New Year,” said Durkosh.

Some Birmingham residents took to the “Magic City Movement” Facebook page established to support Uber’s efforts to voice their displeasure with the councilors’ actions.
“Collusion,” is what user Sam Lewis chalked it up to. “Everyone in the BCC ignoring the people’s voice on this extremely important matter deserve to be reprimanded by not receiving your vote during the next election.”
Another group member, Kris Reeves, opined: “These people, who were put in charge to lead our great city, are holding us back. I constantly defend Birmingham, but things like this make it extremely difficult. They are keeping us the laughingstock of major US cities.”
Planned votes on several road improvement projects and re-upping the contracts of city consultants also were casualties of the no-show.
Council President Austin said the members missed the vote because “most people are out of town visiting family for Thanksgiving.”
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