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Originally published May 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 27, 2008 at 4:17 PM

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Taxi drivers honk in protest over King County license plan

Dozens of taxi drivers angry about King County's plan to award 50 new taxi licenses converged on downtown Seattle this morning and leaned...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Dozens of taxi drivers angry about King County's plan to award 50 new taxi licenses converged on downtown Seattle this morning and leaned on their horns as they drove past the office of County Executive Ron Sims in the Columbia Tower.

Protesting drivers said their taxi licenses would be devalued by the county's announcement Friday that it plans to issue licenses to Green Cab Taxi & Disabled Service Association.

"Now they are giving other licenses to their buddies," said driver Kulwant Singh Grewal, president of the Seattle Taxi Owner Association.

Caroline Whalen, program project director for Sims, said Friday that Green Cab was "the most able" contractor for a test program to bring in more gas-electric hybrid taxis and allow drivers to be represented by a labor union.

She denied critics' claim that Green Cab was chosen because a number of its drivers donated to Sims' 2005 re-election campaign.

Douglas Titus, attorney for the Seattle Washington Taxi Association, a group opposing the Green Cab licenses, said it will challenge them in court if the county doesn't back off from its decision. He called the licensing process "fundamentally unfair."

Bashi Hassan, a driver who said he is not affiliated with Green Cab, supported the new licenses and said the protesters are cab owners who are exploiting their nonowner drivers. "They want to dominate, monopolize this business," he said.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

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