The following letter was sent to The Boston Globe by Edward J. Tutunjian on Feb. 8, 2013, in response to inquiries by the Spotlight Team during an investigation into Boston’s cab industry.
Mr. Jonathan Saltzman
Dear Mr. Saltzman:
I received your letter dated January 30, 2013. It is clear from the tone and the content of your letter that you have no intention of writing and publishing a fair and balanced story about me. The allegations that you make against me and your description of the way I run my taxicab businesses are false and troubling to both me and my family. However, based upon the advice of my attorneys, and due to pending litigation, I will not agree to an interview. Nevertheless, I wish to briefly address the issues raised in your letter as follows:
I have owned corporations which have owned medallions in the City of Boston for over 25 years. I have also owned a dispatch company for over 15 years. During this period of time, I have always run my business in compliance with the law and the rules and regulations of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston Hackney division. I am very proud of the way that my businesses have served the citizens of Boston, Massachusetts, and those visiting Boston for the past 25 years.
In response to the specific questions raised in your e-mail of January 30, 2013, I want to add the following:
1. No taxi driver has ever complained to me that they have paid or been encouraged to pay small bribes to dispatchers behind the window to get keys to cabs. I have never been informed by the City of Boston Hackney division that any driver has complained to Hackney about this. When this issue was first brought to my attention by a Boston Globe reporter, I met with each of the dispatchers and made it clear to each one of them that accepting any bribe was unacceptable and would lead to their termination if it ever happened. I was assured that it never happened and never would happen.
When a driver returns to the garage with a vehicle, the vehicle’s gas tank is topped off if necessary in order to make sure that the next driver has a full tank of gas. If it is unnecessary to top off the tank, then it is not done and drivers are not charged for the top off. This practice benefits each driver in making sure that they receive a full tank of gas when they lease their vehicle. Since EJT Management is not in the business of selling gasoline, it costs EJT more to purchase gas. Drivers are told that if they top off their tank around the corner from EJT, then it will be unnecessary to do that again upon their return to the garage.
Drivers who lease taxi cabs from companies I own are neither encouraged nor discouraged from buying $5.00 collision damage waivers. Many of the drivers do not buy the $5.00 collision damage waivers. Any driver who requests a receipt is entitled to and does receive a receipt. According to my employees, some drivers have “shorted” payments or submitted empty pouches.
2. I am not going to comment on the out of court settlement of a class action lawsuit filed against Boston Car Service other than to state that your settlement number is inaccurate. Boston Car Services’ limousine business is totally separate from and organized/run in a totally different fashion than the leasing and dispatching of taxicabs run in accordance with the Hackney division’s regulations.
3. The corporate structures of the various companies which own medallions comply with all federal, state, and city legal requirements and are no different than the make-up of other medallion owners. The insurance programs are run through the state self-insurance program and fully comply with all insurance requirements. The insurance program is run through an insurance agency which fulfills all its responsibilities to run it in a legal and ethical manner. While you make note of one large settlement in the course of 25 years, you fail to note other instances in which trials have been won when individuals chose to go to trial rather than accept very reasonable settlement offers. Your choice of one large settlement over 25 years and the comments of one judge suggest the negative slant of your upcoming article and your willingness to accept the biases of a small number of unhappy drivers and litigants.
4. I believe my companies have had a very strong environmental record over the years. While 1992 is a long time ago, my best recollection is that my company paid a very minor fine that was nowhere close to $93,000 for alleged tampering with emission controls on cabs. Again, this alleged improper disposal of hazardous waste resulted in a small fine due to the possible error of one employee. Finally, with respect to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, a mechanic was terminated when his improper conduct was brought to my attention. The Registry temporarily suspended our ability to inspect cabs but quickly returned it when the error was brought to my attention and immediately corrected.
5. With respect to the financial records of my companies, they are prepared by an independent, professional accounting firm. So far as I am aware, all such records are accurate and compliant with all laws and regulations. With respect to a 2001 loan application, I cannot recall who completed the application or what the application states. However, EJT Management does not own any medallions. Rather, it manages the leasing of taxicabs through management agreements between it and the companies that own the medallions.
I realize that I cannot prevent you from writing your story. I only ask that you write a fair, true, and accurate story that does not contain slanderous allegations.
Edward J. Tutunjian