Daley: Salvaged cabs small part of city fleet; probe not done

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Totaled or rebuilt vehicles represent just a “small portion” of Chicago’s taxicab fleet, Mayor Daley maintained Wednesday, acknowledging that the city’s investigation is “by no means complete.”

Five percent of Chicago’s 6,800 taxicabs — 339 vehicles — were yanked off the street last month because they were “salvaged.”

Nearly one-third of those illegal cabs belonged to Symon Garber, a Russian businessman who was in the cab business in New York when he befriended Daley’s son, Patrick. In just a few years, Garber emerged as Chicago’s taxicab kingpin.

After the City Hall crackdown, the Chicago Sun-Times did a spot check of 100 other Garber-owned cabs.

Twenty-three — nearly one in four — had once been branded “salvaged” or “rebuilt.” The Daley administration apparently missed those illegal cabs, even though city officials say they had researched the vehicle history of each of the 6,800 cabs licensed in Chicago.

The salvaged cabs included a former Lombard police squad car broadsided and totaled two years ago. Garber — who once promised Chicago a fleet of brand-new vehicles — put it back on the streets even though it did not have a title allowing it to be driven in Illinois.

Referring to the 339 cabs yanked off the street, Daley said, “The salvaged and rebuilt vehicles identified by the city only represent a small portion of the total number of cabs in Chicago.”

But, he added, “This was the initial investigation. It is by no means complete.”

The mayor was asked whether the Sun-Times spot-check made him concerned about passenger safety.

“Oh yeah. . . . We are. That’s why we’re doing a complete investigation on it,” he said.

Contributing: Tim Novak

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