by Joe Wilhelm Jr., Staff Writer
Three committees recommended that Gator City Taxi & Shuttle be awarded the exclusive contract to provide on-demand taxicab service at Jacksonville International Airport for the next five years, and the final decision is in the hands of Jacksonville Aviation Authority Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman.
Grossman likely will decide on the exclusive contract in September.
Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for JAA, explained why an exclusive contract was necessary.
“An exclusive contract makes it easier for us to regulate the type of vehicle used and its condition, the drivers and fares,” said Stewart.
The recommendations came from the JAA Review and Evaluation Committee, the JAA Awards Committee and the JAA Appeals Board.
The appeals board was called into action when Checker Cab Co. of Jacksonville filed a protest letter in an effort to appeal the first two committees’ recommendations to award the contract to Gator City Taxi & Shuttle.
Attorney Geoffrey Heekin represented Checker Cab and attorney Paul Harden represented Gator City Taxi.
Heekin claimed that Gator City did not meet the mandatory requirement of the JAA’s request for proposals for on-demand taxi service at the airport that stated, “Proposer must have successfully managed or owned at least one On-Demand Taxicab Services Concession/Contract with a fleet of 50 vehicles in a single contract for three continuous years within the past 10 years ending January 31, 2011.”
He said that both parent companies for Gator City Taxi — PTG Enterprises LLC and Peninsula Transportation Group LLC — opened for business in 2010, so they couldn’t have owned a fleet of cars for the mandatory three years.
However, members of the City’s Office of General Counsel and Harden pointed out that the qualification stated that the proposer could either have successfully managed or owned the fleet of at least 50 vehicles.
“If you follow that line of thinking, then Checker Cab should also be disqualified,” said Harden.
Checker Cab Co. of Jacksonville was founded Aug. 8, 2010.
The board was comfortable that Checker Cab’s concerns had been addressed through the work of the General Counsel’s Office and JAA, and it voted unanimously to recommend denying the appeal.
“I did go through a lot of the information referring to the legal opinion that our legal counsel provided to us. They felt comfortable with the way the corporation was set up. It’s normal business practice to allow for the parent company to be included in the agreement process, so that answered a concern of mine,” said appeals board Chairwoman Rosa Beckett.
“I support the board’s recommendation to deny appeal.”
Heekin also pointed out past legal troubles of Cullan Meathe, who is listed as manager of both PTG Enterprises and Peninsula Transportation Group, according to records from the Florida Department of State.
The board and the members of the Office of General Counsel pointed out that past legal or financial problems weren’t part of the selection criteria.
In judging the proposals, Gator City received 85 out of 100 points and Checker received 73.