As we’ve learned here in Keene over a decade-plus of activism, anytime someone challenges the status quo, they are targeted by the supporters of the status quo. In the case of the Free UBER saga in Portsmouth, NH, the good-old-boys network of cab drivers and government goons are again on the attack.
Since the Summer of 2015, multiple UBER drivers in Portsmouth have been regularly committing civil disobedience by driving without jumping through the city’s arbitrary hoops. Effectively the city outlawed UBER by creating ridiculous regulations designed to protect the cab companies from much-needed competition. Despite this, UBER’s app has continued to work, so drivers like “UBER Grandma” Stephanie Franz have continued to take passengers where they want to go.
Franz has been rewarded with several $500-$1,000 tickets from police for her good deeds. Despite facing financial ruin at the hands of the city, she has heroically continued to drive – much to the disgust of the awful cab drivers who have continued a campaign of intimidation against her. She’s had her tail light smashed in previously, has been boxed in by cabbies multiple times, and just today posted this to facebook:
Interesting night in Portsmouth. Taxi drivers are all pumped up over Portsmouth’s temporary threat to “sting” uber drivers. What polite and “manly” men they are. It started last night with a pick up at the Moose. As my riders were entering my car out of the bar walks, the pillar of manhood, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, crabby cabbie [Anchor Taxi owner Merle White]. He sees me picking up my ride and endearing words were yelled “there’s that fucking Uber grandma”. My ride was so ticked off that he started yelling back at him. As the night progressed the rest of the chosen few made their statements too.
They would pull up next to my car, stop or slow down and stare at me as I was waiting for my next ride. Whoever that handsome hunk of manhood , with the well kept gray beard, Beautiful glaring eyes, and tooth was, I hope you got your eyes full as you stared at me from your taxi van.
To the Three Musketeers who stood by their vans at the bus stop on Market Square; Butts hanging out of your mouths, extending those well defined cannons for arms and pointing at me as I would leave my parking position at the end of Pleasant Street to go pick up riders. They guarded my spot four or five times as I would leave and come back. Oh, almost forgot they spoke fluent mumble. Thank you Portsmouth taxis for your enjoyable evening.
The threat of a sting operation that she’s referring to is coming from Portsmouth police chief David Mara who this week announced a coming crackdown against UBER drivers. Assistant mayor Jim Splaine says he supports a crackdown as unregistered drivers should not, “exploit the system”. They are spurred on by cab company owner John Palreiro who claims UBER drivers are “stealing” from him, as though he owns every rider in town. Check out this Seacoast Online article to read the full ridiculousness of this protection racket’s scheming to destroy the innovators in the transport market.
All of this is happening right as the state representatives in Concord have passed legislation that will (if passed by the senate and governor) regulate UBER and other ride-sharing companies statewide and will override and invalidate Portsmouth’s local regulations as NH is not a “home rule” state. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest!