Final Free Uber hearing – Portsmouth (12/21/15)

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Today I attended what will be the final hearing regarding Uber and ride sharing before the Portsmouth city council.

The city of Portsmouth, NH passed an ordinance regulating ride sharing, adding additional restrictions that made Uber illegal in the city. The Free Uber campaign was launched, and various activists from around the state converged on Portsmouth to spread the word about the ordinance, support drivers, and pressure the city council to repeal the regulations.

Previously, the city council had voted twice to delay voting on a measure to modify or repeal the current ordinance banning Uber. This was the final hearing on the ordinance for the current council, as next year’s council will be largely composed of new members. Since it was a public hearing, many testified on both sides of the issue. Notably, many locals testified in favor of Uber this time (as opposed to other times, where it was mostly interested parties), as well as both a driver from Maine and an attorney representing Uber. Through much confused deliberation, the council finally decided on the same conclusion as before, that is, to kick the can further down the road and let the next council deal with the problem. [Read more…]

Free Uber hearing rally II – Portsmouth (12/7/15)

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I attended a rally supporting the legalization of Uber in Portsmouth, NH, attending a city council hearing on changing an ordinance that would relax restrictions on ride sharing services, and delivered testimony before the city council.

Uber, previously operating in New Hampshire across several cities, ran into a snag in Portsmouth when the city council, under constant pressure from local taxi companies, passed an ordinance on ride sharing. The ordinance instituted specific insurance and background check requirements, effectively making Uber illegal. Since then, the Free Uber campaign has raised public awareness about the cause, put pressure on the offending city council members and cab companies, and continued to give Uber rides in direct defiance of the ordinance. This has led to several citations being issued to defiant Uber drivers, most notably to Stephanie Franz, who has received four different citations and is intent on bringing her case to trial, and Free Uber founder Christopher David, who was arrested under felony wiretapping charges for filming a heckling bouncer during a ride.

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The Portsmouth city council had previously met to discuss modifications to the ride sharing ordinance requested by Uber. The council elected to kick the can down the road to a later date (today). This time, the council received many more public comments, especially from the pro-Uber camp, as well as much more media attention. My testimony focused on the cab companies that had been instrumental in pushing for Uber to be banned in the first place, pointing out how they have repeatedly employed bullying and harassment of drivers and their supporters. The council once again voted to delay the issue while they studied it further.

My testimony can be seen in the below video at 1:09:53. The breakdown of all Uber supporters’ testimonies is as follows:

Stephanie – 1:03:35
Harrison – 1:05:33
Christopher – 1:07:28
Joël – 1:09:53
Barry – 1:12:10

Shire Sharing unloading – Manchester (11/20/15)

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Today I assisted in unloading and organizing food and supplies for Shire Sharing’s annual Thanksgiving food drive.

Shire Sharing is a charity started by New Hampshire State Rep. Amanda Bouldin. Every Thanksgiving it seeks to feed many needy families a proper Thanksgiving dinner, giving them hope and allowing them to feel normal and without struggle during the holidays. This year’s goal is to feed around 600 families in the Merrimack Valley region of New Hampshire.

We unloaded a truck containing a good chunk of the necessary supplies, then moved the supplies into the warehouse in categorical piles to make assembly easier.

Stay tuned for further Shire Sharing updates.

Free Uber hearing rally – Portsmouth (11/16/15)

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I attended a rally to support the decriminalization of Uber in Portsmouth, NH as well as a city council hearing on that issue.

The city of Portsmouth, at the urging of cab companies, implemented regulations which had the effect of prohibiting Uber drivers from operating. These included separate liability insurance from what Uber already provides, and background checks run through the Portsmouth police.

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About 20 of us gathered outside prior to the hearing to hold signs and talk to press. Right before the council convened, most of us filed in to attend the hearing.

An Uber driver read off a written statement by Christopher David, fellow Uber driver and head of the Free Uber campaign, criticizing the city ordinance and the turf war between Uber drivers and taxi companies that it has caused. John Palreiro, owner of the Great Bay taxi company, spoke as well, warning that misdemeanor convictions would slip through background checks, and condemning Uber for “stealing money.”
The council voted to reconvene in December to decide on an amendment to the ordinance affecting Uber. We will be there as well.

Free Uber activism: night shift (10/11/15)

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For the first time I hit the streets at night to support Free Uber.

Free Uber is a campaign formed in response to the city of Portsmouth banning Uber within its city limits and threatening to detain all drivers found still operating.

Myself and several other activists had already conducted an operation several hours earlier, covering the city with flyers protesting the ban and urging consumers to boycott the taxi companies who had pushed for the ban.
[Read more…]

Free Uber activism round two – Portsmouth (10/10/15)

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I one again assisted the Free Uber team in canvassing downtown Portsmouth with flyers and conducting public outreach.

The Portsmouth city council has banned Uber, and has instructed its police department to detain and fine Uber drivers if they continue to operate in the town. Uber drivers Christopher David and Dennis Acton started the Free Uber campaign to protest against, and hopefully reverse, the council’s ban.

We separated into two teams. Mine was composed of myself, Andrew Criscione, Joan Bastek, and Uber driver Dennis Acton. [Read more…]

Free Uber Activism – Portsmouth (10/4/15)

TodayMaterials, my three children and I joined a group of activists who fanned out around downtown Portsmouth with fliers and information in support of Free Uber.

Uber, the popular app-based ride service, has been effectively banned by the Portsmouth city council along with other forms of ride sharing.  Several Uber drivers have openly ignored the ordinance by continuing to operate within the city.  Two of them, Christopher David and Dennis Acton, started the Free Uber campaign to protest the ban.Free Uber Rides

Several of us met at The Praxeum before the event to plan our approach and to organize our fliers/coupons.  Activists including myself (plus my three children), Mike Vine, Dennis Acton, Neal Connor, and Joël Valenzuela then made our way down to Market Square to begin handing out information.  We were also accompanied by a film crew seeking to document our activism and by a reporter from the Portsmouth Herald who interviewed several of us at the start of our outreach. [Read more…]

Free Uber outreach – Portsmouth (10/4/15)

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Today I joined fellow activists supporting Free Uber in an outreach operation in downtown Portsmouth.

Uber, the popular app-based ride service, has been banned by the Portsmouth city council under pressure from local cab companies. Several Uber drivers have decided to ignore the ordinance. Two of them, Christopher David and Dennis Acton, started the Free Uber campaign to protest the ban.

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I met with David to plan the operation and gather materials. We then met up with other activists involved in the operation, including Mike Vine, Dennis Acton, Neal Connor, and Rights Brigade member Kyle Mohney (including his three children). We were also accompanied by a film crew seeking to document our activism. Once at Market Square, we were joined by a reporter from the Portsmouth Herald, who interviewed several of us while we engaged with the public about our issue. We handed out coupons for a free Uber ride. We talked to a couple ladies who were pro-free market and supported our cause. One of them mentioned she moved from Long Island to get away from the oppressive regulatory environment, and was disappointed to see Portsmouth engage in the same sort of behavior she sought to flee. [Read more…]