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Tuesday, December 09, 2003 - Page updated at 12:31 A.M.
Cab Elvis to City Council: 'A-thank you verrah much'
By Bob Young
Taxi passengers in Seattle could soon be ridin' with The King again.
The City Council revised taxi regulations yesterday so that drivers will be allowed to sport costumes like the Elvis get-up worn by cabbie David Groh, who shook up City Hall with his rebellion against Seattle's cabbie dress code.
"Uh, a-thank you verrah much," Groh said after the vote.
"I really am surprised," said Groh, who appealed a $30 city fine in May for violating the dress code and then filed a lawsuit.
So was his lawyer, Mark Funke, who took up Groh's cause as his first case in private practice. Funke, who graduated from University of Washington law school last year, had taken a ride on his wedding night in Groh's cab and learned that Cab Elvis, as he likes to be called, couldn't find a lawyer.
Funke took up the cause, and the duo found a sympathetic ear in Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin, who chairs the council's transportation committee.
Yesterday, the council approved Conlin's ordinance to encourage costumed cabbies. The new regulations will take effect in 30 days if Mayor Greg Nickels approves them.
Groh, who drives at night for Red Top, favors the 1973 "Aloha from Hawaii" Elvis attire. "That's the white outfit with the cape that weighs 60 pounds," he said.
The 37-year-old started wearing his costumes to cheer up travelers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since then, he has become an Elvis expert, and he makes more in tips than he did as plain old David Groh. He has launched a Web site (www.cab-elvis.com) and landed on CNN.
He also has become a minister in the Universal Life Church, an organization that sells ordination certificates on the Internet.
The costumes will have to depict a well-known public figure, personality or fictional character.
The costume must cover the body at least to the same extent as what's now required by the dress code.
The driver cannot wear a mask or makeup that obscures facial characteristics.
The driver cannot impersonate a police officer, firefighter of any other public-safety officer.
Councilmembers defended the new rule.
"Cab Elvis does add to the vibrancy of the city, and it's no conflict with professionalism," said Heidi Wills.
Council President Peter Steinbrueck cast the only dissenting vote. "While I'm a great fan of Elvis, I don't think we should be devoting time to an issue so narrow," Steinbrueck said.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report. Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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