State Sen. Salvatore DiDomenico told a group of rallying taxi drivers and medallion owners last week that he is behind them “1,000 percent,” pointing out that the support of the cabbies helped him win his special election in 2010. A day later, he was one of just two senators to vote against a ride-hailing bill seen as friendly to Uber and Lyft.
But what DiDomenico didn’t tell the crowd, or the chamber, is that he is so entrenched in the taxi industry that even one of his aides is a medallion owner.
In fact, James Henry — DiDomenico’s director of constituent services — owns two of them in Cambridge, according to state ethics disclosures.
“The passage of any legislation relative to ride sharing has the potential to impact the value of taxi cab medallions,” DiDomenico wrote in a filing dated March 14, 2016.
In a brief interview after his remarks, DiDomenico dismissed concerns about his decision to take such a prominent stance in the debate about regulations for Uber and Lyft.
“This is not something that I have just been talking about since I was a state legislator,” DiDomenico said Tuesday. “I’ve been working on this issue as a city councilor in my hometown of Everett — and I have been working hard. ... Even before I knew this person had any kind of stake in this, I was an advocate and an opponent of what’s happening today and a proponent for the taxi industry.”
DiDomenico also said Henry has not done any work on ride-hailing legislation.
Medallion values have plummeted in recent years as cabbies have continued to lose business to Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing start-ups. Boston cab drivers have been kept afloat largely because of almost exclusive access to
Logan International Airport, but taxis in Cambridge have been hit particularly hard.
The Herald reported earlier this year nearly two dozen Cambridge medallion owners have returned their once-valuable investments to the city. The owners said at the time they couldn’t find drivers for the cabs, or couldn’t afford payments on the loans they took out to buy the medallion.
In many cases, it was both.
Henry was not on the list of owners who returned medallions.
“I have heard the personal stories of people in my district, I have heard the personal stories of a multitude of people who are really getting crushed by this,” DiDomenico said. “And the fact that I know someone — I know everybody who has a stake in
every issue, and we’re fighting for the people who need help the most.”
Still, there is no question the value of a taxi medallion is now closely tied to how restrictive the regulations are on Uber and Lyft, a question that likely will be answered by the end of the legislative session this month.
Pols & Politics: DiDomenico’s
aide owns two taxi medallions
One of two Mass. senators to vote against Uber, Lyft