Barry delays D.C. taxi deal

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Photo - Cabs in the District will soon be equipped with credit card machines, GPS technology and NBC television monitors. (Examiner file photo)
Cabs in the District will soon be equipped with credit card machines, GPS technology and NBC television monitors. (Examiner file photo)
Local,DC,Alan Blinder

Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry is trying to delay the District's deal to pay the costs of installing smart meters in the city's 6,500 taxicabs.

Barry filed a disapproval resolution Wednesday, putting the $1.3 million deal on hold during an extended review period of 45 days. If the full council, which learned of the former mayor's proposal Thursday, doesn't kill the contract within that period, the agreement will move forward.

The District's agreement with VeriFone to install smart meters, which feature GPS technology, credit card machines and panic buttons, has drawn criticism since the city picked the winner of the contract in early July. Two companies have since protested the award, though D.C. officials have repeatedly said nothing improper took place during the bidding process.

The city initially planned for taxi drivers and operators to pay to install the new meters, but that prompted an angry backlash. Soon after, the city agreed to foot the bill.

Barry was not immediately available for comment Thursday. In the past, he has used disapproval resolutions against contracts that he felt didn't have sufficient guarantees of jobs for District residents.

A spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray criticized Barry's legislation.

"We are hopeful that, once informed about the importance of the contract, Councilman Barry will drop his objections," Pedro Ribeiro said. "Unfortunately, the practical impact of his disapproval be that taxi drivers will have to pay for the installation of the new smart meters, and we think that is unfair."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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