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Ride-share companies need to be better regulated

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The editorial regarding Uber and Lyft leaving the Twin Cities as a cautionary tale for Chicago contains a number of omissions and incorrect assumptions (“Uber, Lyft leaving Minneapolis would be cautionary tale for Chicago’s progressives,” March 21).

First of all, ride-share services are popular because they are easy and cheap. Why? Because they are less regulated than taxicabs. Unlike cabdrivers, there is no requirement for a driver to hold a chauffeur’s license, and the background checks of drivers performed by Uber and Lyft don’t come close to the scrutiny employed by the cab industry. One need only scan the internet to find allegations of sexual assault made against ride-share drivers. Further, there are insurance gaps inherent in the ride-share industry.

In short, ride-share services are cheaper because the consumer gets less protection.

But it gets even worse for the drivers. They are typically considered independent contractors of these “technology companies” — when, in reality, they are unable to pick up fares or much else without following the ride-share companies’ rules. In other words, they are employees and should be treated as such.

If, and that’s a big “if,” ride-share services were regulated like the taxi industry, they would be on equal footing. Perhaps members of the public prefer ride-share services because their apps are easier to use. But we don’t know what would happen since the industry has skated outside most regulation for much of its existence.

Rather than caution a city like Chicago not to regulate an industry in dire need of it, such as Minneapolis and St. Paul did, how about recognizing the need for such regulation for the protection of customers and drivers?

Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” describes the failures of regulating industry. We seem to have survived government regulations on the hours worked, the inspection of our food and the abolition of child labor. Maybe ride-share companies will make lots of money under reasonable regulations, but perhaps the revenue will be a bit less than it is now.

That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

— Stephen L. Hoffman, attorney, Chicago

Cabs are better than ride-share

The editorial about Uber and Lyft leaving Minneapolis faults Minneapolis’ City Council members for imposing a minimum level of compensation for ride-share drivers. The Tribune Editorial Board should instead ask why such legislation is necessary.

Uber and Lyft have built a business model that is based on underpaying its drivers. One-day strikes this past Valentine’s Day took place in 17 U.S. cities, including Chicago, to protest Uber and Lyft taking increasingly large cuts out of their drivers’ fare revenues. In New York state this past November, Uber and Lyft agreed to pay a combined $328 million for withholding money from drivers in what New York Attorney General Letitia James called the largest settlement for wage theft her office has secured.

Uber and Lyft market dominance has devastated the taxi industry by using gig workers. Therefore, it’s no wonder that the Minneapolis taxi industry has been reduced to fewer than 100 licensed cabdrivers. In Chicago, the number of taxis has also been reduced due to ride-share competition, but now Chicago taxis have become more competitive through a ride-hailing app, and taxi prices are now often lower than ride-share fares.

I use cabs almost exclusively and prefer them to ride-share services because taxis are generally better maintained than most ride-share vehicles, and I feel much more secure with the more comprehensive insurance coverage offered by commercial insurance policies of the taxi industry.

Maybe Minneapolis will find out that the already-regulated taxi industry with an app is preferable to largely unregulated ride-share services.

Meanwhile, here in Chicago, I am hoping that more people will choose taxis over ride-share services that continue to underpay their drivers.

— Bruce W. Mainzer, Highland Park

Tax on carbon is a real solution

Thanks for Karina Atkins’ informative article “Hydrogen energy delivers hope, concerns” (March 10). The article describes how hydrogen could play a significant role in achieving a net-zero future. Hydrogen can be created by electrolysis without carbon emissions if the process is powered by wind, solar or nuclear. It burns clean and can be used where renewable energy cannot, like in steel and glass production.

The problem is that if we use all our clean renewable and nuclear energy to produce hydrogen, we’ll have to backfill that demand by producing even more dirty fossil fuel. That could make the climate problem worse.

The solution is to accelerate the growth of renewable energy so there is enough clean energy to power a hydrogen future. The way to do that is with a carbon price. Even a small “fee” on the carbon emissions of fossil fuel producers would be effective in meaningfully speeding up the transition to carbon-free energy.

The key is to have automatic small increases in the carbon fee each year and to rebate the fee back to every household as a quarterly dividend check. With this type of “cash-back” carbon pricing, households would be unharmed economically from fossil fuel increases, while job growth would accelerate in the new clean energy economy, and harmful carbon emissions would diminish.

Readers should consider telling their U.S. representative to support cash-back carbon pricing.

— Andrew Panelli, Homer Glen

Push to rename Columbus Drive

Regarding the article “Ordinance would rename Columbus Drive for Obama” (March 21): The proposed ordinance to rename Columbus Drive after former President Barack Obama has already caused angst in the Italian American community, and while the intention to rename the road is praiseworthy, this brewing controversy could have been totally avoided with some foresight.

The renaming of Lake Shore Drive after Jean Baptiste Point DuSable was totally unnecessary since he is justifiably honored elsewhere. These include the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, DuSable Harbor, DuSable Bridge, DuSable High School and DuSable Park.

How much better it would have been to rename Lake Shore Drive as Barack Obama Lake Shore Drive. Not only is Lake Shore Drive more prominent and well known than Columbus Drive, but also, it lies just east of the site of the Barack Obama Presidential Center.

It would have been a fitting gesture to honor our 44th president.

— Larry Vigon, Chicago

Banners announcing the upcoming Chicago Marathon hang along Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. (Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune)
Banners announcing the Chicago Marathon hang along Columbus Drive in downtown Chicago on Oct. 1, 2021. (Antonio Perez/ Chicago Tribune)

What is up with aldermen’s focus?

I am always amazed by the focus of Chicago aldermen, who are currently debating the idea of naming a street after Barack Obama. Are they not aware of the high crime levels, the migrant crisis, the city’s financial problems and the horrendous traffic gridlocking Chicago?

It would seem so, if they have time to waste discussing street naming.

Focus on the real problems, aldermen!

— Mike Kirchberg, Chicago

Rename the Dan Ryan for Obama

Why give gratuitous offense to the Italian American community over Columbus Drive? Clearly, Barack Obama should be honored as Bill Daley recommended years ago that a president from Illinois should be: with a renamed expressway. Consider the Kennedy, Eisenhower, Stevenson and even Reagan. The interstate highway needing the change is the Dan Ryan.

Please eliminate unnecessary controversy and division. Let’s have the Barack Obama Expressway!

— John Fitzgerald, Chicago

Letters on judges and immigrants

I enjoy reading the letters to the editor. In the March 20 issue, retired Circuit Court Judge Marcia Maras writes about Injustice Watch and its reports on each judge (“Issues with Injustice Watch”). Actually, Maras does not address what I find most useful: the short description of highlighted cases, demeanor during court cases and controversies. Some candidates do not respond to questions that Injustice Watch asks. Yes, the bar association recommendations do appear biased. That is for each of us to evaluate. But the recommendations are not the main event.

Secondly, Grace Whiting wrote a gracious letter about treating immigrants in a way that promotes their well-being (“Practical view on immigrants”).

My concern with the immigrants is sanctions on Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Residents of these countries are likely the most numerous who are arriving in the United States. Readers should familiarize themselves with the Magnitsky Act, which seems to give Congress and the administration a free hand to mistreat countries of Latin America.

The politics of each country surely are complicated, but to sanction and blockade Cuba since the 1960s is simply too much. If the U.S. thinks that people will rise up and overthrow their government, that would have occurred long ago. To maintain this status quo simply causes people to leave the country due to a ruinous economy that the U.S. did everything to create.

If the Magnitsky Act instructs our government to sanction a country due to human rights abuse, look in the mirror.

— Janice Gintzler, Crestwood

Members of Congress not serving us

Every single day, I watch and read the news that Congress has conducted yet another hearing about some egregious thing that the opposing party has done. I’m now very, very concerned about the fact that our elected Congress is no longer in the business of overseeing the government “by the people and for the people.” Members of Congress are consumed with vitriol for one another, and we the people are nothing in the grand scheme of things. The waste of taxpayers’ dollars to conduct these often meaningless hearings in appalling. Don’t they have better things to do, like make laws, protect the environment, keep our country secure, and protect children and other citizens from unlawful guns?

If they can’t focus, then we as citizens must. Let’s vote them out so that we can get representatives who want to govern and protect us and our democracy instead of focusing on their petty arguments and egos.

— Arleen Armanetti, Arlington Heights

The Capitol building in Washington on Thursday, March 21, 2024. (Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times)
The Capitol in Washington on March 21, 2024. (Maansi Srivastava/The New York Times)

We need a clear-thinking president

I commend letter writer Guy Rosenthal (“Fitness to be the president,” March 3) speaking to the complexity of the jobs we all perform every day. Yes, a president needs advisers. However as then-President Harry Truman famously said, “The buck stops here.”

Bill Clinton attributed his affair with Monica Lewinsky to the stress of the presidency. And who do we hold accountable for the misguided Iraq War? George W. Bush cannot place responsibility on his advisers.

A vigorous, alert, clear-thinking president is essential to our safety and to that of the world. The United States is not a minor player in world affairs.

I am in my eighth decade of life, and I am especially critical of those seniors who would claim the mantle of leadership. Candidates’ age allows us to judge their body of work.

— Jim Halas, Norridge

Profound thanks for newspaper carrier

Our paper is delivered to our doorstep daily by Chris Tangorra, regardless of the weather. Due to our advanced age, my wife and I wouldn’t be able to retrieve it from the curb.

Please extend our profound thanks to him.

— Carl and Beverly Fenske, Willowbrook

Submit a letter, of no more than 400 words, to the editor here or email [email protected].



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