Burlington Taxi Drivers Object to Porn Prohibition, City Councilors Say | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Burlington Taxi Drivers Object to Porn Prohibition, City Councilors Say

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It's not every day that one Burlington city councilor tweets another about porn.

But last week, Councilor Joan Shannon (D-Ward 5) fired off this titillating tweet to Councilor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak (P-Ward 3):

@emmajmsvt how many taxi drivers have pleaded w u to allow them to have porn in cabs? I’m up to 5 #WTF #BTV #BTVCC

Shannon chairs the committee that’s presently rewriting Burlington’s taxi regulation, which, as written, would replace the city's zone pricing system with taxi meters and require licensed cab drivers to follow a host of other rules. Shannon tells Seven Days that numerous cabbies have asked her — in private conversations and at a recent public meeting — to strike the section that forbids them from using or possessing pornography in their taxis while on duty.

Mulvaney-Stanak, who notes that current regulations already prohibit porn, says two cabbies have asked her to change the rule, one of them in a hand-written letter that complained the ban infringed on cabbies' "rights."

With the full city council set to take up the new taxi regulations as soon as July 11, both councilors say sanctioning, or tolerating, the use of porn is out of the question.

"We’re not trying to limit their use of pornography on their own time,” says Shannon. "And we’re not trying to limit what their customers bring along with them."

Benway's Transportation, Burlington's largest taxi service, doesn’t allow its drivers to carry porn, says owner Paul Robar. But Robar's still a little uneasy with the city banning drivers from having it.

"Do I want them looking at naked stuff? No," says Robar. "But on the other hand, the city is so out there on the reaching, so who knows what they’re calling porn at this point?"

Not surprisingly, Shannon's tweet earned the city councilor some unwanted attention.

"It turns out if you tweet ‘porn,’ strange people start following you,” she says. “I got some very scantily clad followers and knocked them off."

Anthony Weiner, the councilor says, was not among them.

File photo by Jordan Silverman

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