Three Taxi Cab Industry Donors Maxed Out to Cannon and Mayor Pro Tem Barnes

In 2013 three men from Florida, California, and Virginia with ties to the taxicab and parking industries made $24,000 in donations to Charlotte City Council Mayor Pro Tem Michael Barnes and $24,000 to former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon. One of the men, William H. Bodenhamer, Jr. is an executive with Standard Parking (SP+), which had bid on a large airport-related contract that was voted on by the Charlotte City Council in early 2014. All three men are part owners of NBRS USA Holdings, which owns Yellow Cab in Charlotte. Yellow Cab was one of three taxicab companies selected to work out of the Charlotte Airport in 2011 in a controversial decision.

During the campaign in 2013, Cannon made no bones about the fact he wanted Michael Barnes as his mayor pro tem, so it isn't surprising to see what looks like an attempt on his part to help Barnes's campaign with an influx of cash. The two men were briefly business partners, they campaigned together, and are close friends. The $24,000 in campaign contributions represent more than a third of the total money Barnes raised for his campaign.

Issues Swirl Around Taxicab Contract at Airport

In 2011, the Charlotte City Council reduced the number of taxicab companies with airport contracts in an attempt to regulate the overall quality of service provided to visitors arriving in Charlotte. The move was controversial with accusations that the process was rigged.

Much of the controversy surrounded the Hospitality and Tourism Alliance (HTA), a group of businesses like hotels, motels and cab companies, which at the time numbered around 800. The claim from multiple cab owners is that they were solicited to join the alliance and allegedly told that at the $5000 contribution level they were guaranteed a recommendation for the airport contract. The alliance is represented by a board, and Patrick Cannon was a member of that board.

At the time, airport director Jerry Orr said that the HTA had no influence over the selection of cab companies that would be allowed to serve the airport, but the cab owners weren't buying it. According to WCNC:

That's because one of the four men on the small committee to pick the winning taxicab bids, Tim Newman of the Charlotte Regional Visitor's Authority, is an ex-officio member of the HTA board and a close ally of HTA president Mohammad Jenatian.

And Charlotte Councilman Patrick Cannon, who will cast a vote on the airport contract, is also a member of the HTA board representing his business, EZ Parking.

:::snip:::

Councilman Patrick Cannon chairs the Public Safety committee which oversees taxicabs. When asked if his presence on the HTA board gives the group more influence at city hall, Cannon replied, "Absolutely not - and let me tell you why. Patrick Cannon is there by way of his private company - his business. He's not there by way of his public hat that he wears."

You can learn more about the taxicab contract controversy here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Who are the Donors?

William H. Bodenhamer, Jr.

Bodenhamer is an executive with USA Parking Systems. From his bio:

Mr. Bodenhamer is Executive Vice President of Central Parking's Hospitality Division. He also is President and Chief Executive Officer of USA Parking System Inc., which Mr. Bodenhamer founded in 1980 and which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Central Parking in 2001. USA Parking operates in 12 states and Puerto Rico... USA Parking's specialty is the management of high end, service intensive parking facilities that serve resorts, office and mixed-use projects, retail and entertainment venues, and airports. (emphasis my own)

Bodenhamer is also Executive Vice President of Standard Parking as a result of the 2012 merger with Central Parking.

Charlotte Douglas Airport accepted bids in January for parking management and valet services. On February 24th, SP + (Standard Parking) was awarded the staffing contract for airport parking services. The vote carried unanimously. The contracts were evaluated by individuals unrelated to the Charlotte City Council and their recommendations were presented to the council prior to voting.

Bodenhamer's contributions to Charlotte City Council members include:

  • 2/1/11 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 2/25/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 8/9/13 - $4000 - Michael Barnes
  • 10/11/13 - $1000 - Claire Fallon
  • 10/18/13 - $1000 - Vi Alexander Lyles
  • 10/20/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 10/24/13 - $4000 - Michael Barnes

Mitchell Rouse

Mitchell Rouse and his wife Alice Alice, built a multi-company taxicab co-op based in Gardena that included among several other companies, United Checker Cab. Rouse is also a voting past president of the Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA). According to TLPA's website they:

Today, TLPA represents the interests of airport shuttle, executive sedan, limousine, non-emergency medical transportation, paratransit, and taxicab fleets. TLPA is the largest trade organization in the industry, with 1,100 members operating over 100,000 vehicles and serving 900 million passengers per year.

Rouse's contributions to Charlotte City Council members include:

  • 2/2/11 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 2/25/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 8/9/13 - $4000 - Michael Barnes
  • 9/2/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon from Alice Rouse
  • 10/16/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 10/24/13 - $4000 - Michael Barnes

Neal C. Nichols

Neal C. Nichols is the owner and founder of Red Top Cabs in Arlington, Va. Like Rouse, Nichols is also a voting past president of the Taxicab, Limousine, and Paratransit Association (TLPA).

Nichols's contributions to Charlotte City Council members include:

  • 2/25/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 8/9/13 - $4000 - Michael Barnes
  • 10/21/13 - $4000 - Patrick Cannon
  • 10/24/13 - $4000 - Michael Barnes

Is the Money Tainted?

There is no doubt that many in the public will feel donations arranged by Patrick Cannon are tainted by default. There is no proof the donors expected anything specific in return or that anything was promised. Still, three donors from out of state gave a total of $48,000 to Patrick Cannon and Michael Barnes and it seems a bit of a stretch to say it was simply out of the goodness of their hearts.

Comments

The Charlotte Observer chimes in....

Funny...this post has been sitting unpublished as I worked on it and decided whether to publish. All of the information is public information, but my mother has to work with Barnes and I don't want to do anything to make her life more difficult.

Here are links to the Charlotte Observer's articles. Here and Here



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

This is interesting

I found this article from 2009 and two of the donors are mentioned...it is about a fire that was intentionally set at a gated Yellow Cab Company building. The damage was estimated to be around $750,000. The building was insured. Wonder if they ever caught the culprit.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.