Wednesday, May 21, 2008
CUSSER'S LAST STAND ... BLEEP! BLEEP! CITY FINES CRABBY CABBY FOR FOUL TALK
Cuss and be fined, a foul-mouthed Manhattan cabby discovered.
Zbigniew Sobczak dropped the f-bomb on another hack on the Upper West Side, jumping out of his cab at Central Park West and 65th Street and cussing a blue streak at driver Malik Rizwan.
The trigger for the outrage?
Rizwan apparently honked at Sobczak for 10 seconds after Sobczak cut him off, according to the testimony at an administrative-law hearing sparked by the incident.
"What the f- - -? You have problem? Why you beeping?" Sobczak allegedly said, later adding "motherf- - -er!"
Rizwan answered in kind, "You f - - -! You go in your car."
Neither of the drivers had passengers in their cabs, freeing them up to follow each other around and get into two more confrontations. Rizwan eventually called the police on Sobczak, and even accused him of assault. But as a result of the tirade, the days of the foul-mouthed New York hack are going the way of the Checker cab.
The Taxi & Limousine Commission promised to slap big fines on cabbies who swear and possibly revoke their licenses, The Post has learned.
Sobczak was suspended for 30 days and fined $1,000 - even though he was found guilty only of verbal harassment, not assault, after a hearing before administrative-law Judge Alessandra Zorgniotti.
Although Zorgniotti recommended Sobczak pay $350, the least possible, TLC Chairman Matthew Daus dropped a real f-bomb: a fine.
He ordered Sobczak be given the max penalty to set an example to any other cussin' cabbies. He also said that foul-mouthed hacks face the threat of losing their licenses if they cut loose with their lips.
"The time for more civilized drivers has come, as the industry has been radically transformed for the better since the 1980s," Daus said.
The old view on cursing dates back nearly three decades, to a time just a few years after Robert De Niro turned the character Travis Bickle into a legendary hack in "Taxi Driver."
A 1982 legal decision in a case called TLC vs. Baudin found that a "driver's use of profanity during a fight with a pedestrian was not misconduct given cognizance to the realities of life in New York City."
But Daus, in a May 9 letter to Sobczak, said, "To the extent that decisions issued before my tenure, such as TLC vs. Baudin, may be read to overrule the penalty of license revocation for verbal harassment or abuse, I would override those decisions."
Sobczak's lawyer, Cynthia Fisher, called Daus' decision unduly harsh since no passengers were involved and since her client was provoked.
"You're asking cabbies to be inhuman and not react to . . . things any one of us would react to," she said.
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