Mayor now says Uber’s $54M offer a “Hail Mary” and a “Distraction”

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Editor’s Note: This story is constantly being updated

Crusader Staff Report

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday, November 18,  called Uber’s $54 million offer a “Hail Mary” and a “distraction”  that will not ease traffic congestion downtown.

Lightfoot is sticking to her plan, which she believes will be approved by the City Council.

Lightfoot recently softened her story after she accused Uber of offering Black ministers $54 million to persuade her to “back off” a fee hike on ride-sharing services.

“My understanding, as I said yesterday, was that they offered up $54 million in — I’ll put in air quotes — ‘investments.’ What they’re trying to do … is divide and conquer and pit one group against another. We’ve seen that happen historically in Chicago. We’re not gonna tolerate that,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot said Uber floated an alternative fee that would raise $21 million more than Lightfoot’s plan because it would apply to taxis and ride-sharing services. Uber said its plan would treat the poor more fairly than Lightfoot’s plan.

Uber’s proposal calls for dividing the city into three tax zones and applying the tax to both the pickup and drop-off points for either a shared or single passenger trip. For medium and low-tax zones, it would be 50 cents and 30 cents, respectively. In the high-tax zone, covering downtown and the Near North and Northwest sides, the tax would be 85 cents.

Uber competitor Lyft supports the plan.

“They offered up Black ministers $54 million — a one-time deal — if they would convince the mayor to do away with any other kind of regulation. And as we walked these ministers through the realities of what’s actually at stake here, I think they realized that, frankly, they’d been hoodwinked.”

Lightfoot said she “had a number of ministers who’ve met with us and said, ‘Uber promised us $54 million if you [convince the mayor to] back off.’ … We’ll get those names to you.”

Lightfoot dismissed Uber’s proposal saying that the company “doesn’t hold any water and, tellingly, what it doesn’t do is address congestion.”

“We’re gonna keep seeing Uber throwing lots of Hail Marys, because what they don’t want is to actually be regulated by the city of Chicago because they have had virtually free rein [since] the inception of this new industry,” the mayor said of Uber, whose investors include former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother.

Uber public relations manager Harry Hartfield denied the mayor’s accusation and had no immediate response to the mayor’s accusations.

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