Seven days after receiving a letter from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holderdenouncing his plan mandating that Uber drivers in Chicago get fingerprinted, Ald. Anthony Beale (9), chair of the Council Transportation Committee, responded.
Holder, who left Obama Administration in 2015 and now works at law firm Covington & Burling, sent Ald. Beale a letter earlier this month telling him his efforts to strengthen background checks on drivers for ride-hailing services actually disenfranchises minorities.
“Requiring fingerprint-based background checks for non-law enforcement purposes can have a discriminatory impact on communities of color,” Holder told Ald. Beale in the letter, first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Yesterday, Aldertrack obtained a copy of Ald. Beale’s response to the former Attorney General. In it, Ald. Beale maintains his efforts to require fingerprinting for all Uber, Lyft and other ride-share drivers is about equity. “There is no reason why Uber should be exempted from the rules that every cab driver, bus driver, business owner and city employee follow,” Ald. Beale writes, before accusing Holder of bias.
“I understand that your firm has a member serving on Uber’s Safety Advisory Board,” Ald. Beale says. “Perhaps, this is from where your opinion calling for Uber’s exceptionalism is derived.”
Holder had told Ald. Beale that when he served as U.S. Attorney General under the Obama Administration, he had asked Attorneys General in every state and Cabinet officials to “consider how they could eliminate policies and regulations that impose unnecessary burdens on individuals reentering society.”
Holder claimed Ald. Beale’s proposed regulations counter those goals. Holder also noted that the FBI’s database, which Ald. Beale hopes to tap into with the fingerprinting requirement, was designed to help law enforcement officials during investigations, not to “determine whether or not someone is eligible to work for a company.”
Noting that the database, referred to as the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), is “incomplete and lacks information about the final outcomes of a significant percentage of cases”, Holder said a person could be flagged for an arrest, even if it never lead to charges.
But Beale counters that all taxi drivers and city employees are already required to get fingerprinted, so exempting Uber and Lyft drivers from the requirement gives them an unfair advantage.
City Council has held one subject matter hearing on Ald. Beale’s proposed ride-share regulations. Ald. Beale’s office told Aldertrack yesterday that he still plans to hold a joint Transportation and License committee vote and advance the plan out of committee in time for the June 22nd monthly City Council meeting.