NEW ORLEANS—Tourism provides a steady stream of money for cab drivers in New Orleans. The city has laws in place to help ensure only qualified drivers get behind the wheel.
"It's a very sensitive piece because one of the rules of our ground transportation bureau is to ensure the safety of our citizens and our visitors when they're in a taxi," said Deputy CAO Ann Duplessis regarding a law that prevents felons from driving cabs in New Orleans.
WGNO asked Duplessis about the process following a previous report on a man named Lenard Veal. Veal served nine months in a boot camp program for a drug conviction in 1993. Veal was convicted of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Since then, Veal has worked to rebuild his life. He works three jobs, has a chauffeur's license, a security guard license, cpr and first aid certification, and a conceal carry permit in Jefferson Parish (people with a single non-violent conviction on their police records are able to regain their Second Amendment rights after ten years if they are not convicted of any other crimes).
Veal currently drives a cab in Jefferson Parish, but he wants to work in New Orleans. Veal can't work as a cabbie in New Orleans because the city does not allow people with certain convictions to get a permit. Veal says he's earned the opportunity, but the city says Veal should take another route. "Obtaining a pardon from the governor, once they've served their time, and the governor has given a pardon," said Duplessis.
Governor Bobby Jindal's office refused to comment on any questions regarding pardons.
But there is another possible cure for Veal. The city law that prevents him from becoming a cab driver in New Orleans dates back to the 1950s. Currently, the Landrieu administration is reviewing all of the city's regulations regarding the ground transportation bureau. Duplessis could not make any promises or give a timetable, but said perhaps the city could relax the law for people who have proven they want to improve themselves but just need the opportunity.
"Actually we are in the process of really doing some radical changes and reforms in ground transportation from top to bottom," said Duplessis, "And hopefully, after we've talked to all the key players and the stakeholders and community, we should be able to come out with a better regulation."