City council members say Uber, Lyft running ‘deceptive’ campaign

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Council members criticized Uber and Lyft for a _misleading_ campaign in support of Proposition 1_273778

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Council Member Delia Garza, joined by other members, took aim at the campaign in support of Proposition 1 by Uber and Lyft, Tuesday.

“Uber’s misleading campaign ads are simply reprehensible and are a huge disservice to our community,” she said Tuesday. “They claim that a vote for Prop 1 would keep Uber and Lyft doing criminal background checks when it would actually eliminate the fingerprint requirements, which is the most accurate way to ensure the true identity of a driver.”

On May 7, voters will decide if they support Prop 1, which, if passed, would get rid of city council-approved regulations on rideshare companies, including a controversial fingerprinting requirement.

Voting yes on the proposition would put into place regulations favored by the ridesharing companies. 

Council Member Ann Kitchen took issue with an Uber advertisement’s claim that the background checks would be city-run. She said the council ordinance clearly states that “an approved third party,” possibly including a transportation network company (TNC) like Uber or Lyft, could implement the background check.

City ordinance does say that the city may assist drivers with compliance including fingerprints, according to a statement released by the council members. They say it does not commit the city of Austin to paying those costs. If the city does assist drivers, that assistance would come from the additional 1 percent fee paid by TNCs for a Compliant Driver Education Fund that is removed from Uber’s Proposition 1, the statement continued.

Mayor Pro Temp Kathie Tovo was the only member on the Council who participated in the first TNC Ordinance in 2014. She referred to it as “heavily written” by Uber and Lyft, with “obvious gaps.”

Council Members Ora Houston, Sabino Renteria and Leslie Pool joined their council colleagues at Tuesday’s press conference.

Houston said, “If Uber and Lyft leave our fair city, it is because they choose to, not because we want or have asked them to leave. In fact, it’s just the opposite.”

A spokesperson for Ridesharing Works for Austin, Travis Considine, responded to the city council members remarks Tuesday, saying, “Nothing is more misleading than the ballot language crafted by the city council, whihc is a powerful example of voter information.” He added, “It is because the ballot language was crafted to be misleading to voters that the vote for Prop. 1 campaign is necessary at all.”

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