GoGo Grandparent is a tech company that makes it possible for anyone who doesn’t have a smartphone to hail an Uber or Lyft ride with ease. While there is a small charge for the service, it is a godsend for blind people, senior citizens and others who don’t have a smartphone for one reason or another. These individuals tend to need rides more often than average citizens and GoGo Grandparent gives them the freedom to get out of the house with ease.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the state of California has found a few absurd reasons for slapping GoGo Grandparent with a $10,000 fine.
The Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission cited GoGo Grandparent in February for “operating a for-hire transportation service without permission”. The government tried to make the case that GoGo Grandparent is a “charter-party carrier,” as the company is “involved in the activity” of transporting people by vehicle in exchange for compensation.
In addition to paying a $10,000 fine, California bureaucrats wanted GoGo Grandparent to obtain a permit, take out a $1 million liability insurance policy for its vehicles, and provide the state with a list of its drivers. The problem with the government’s case is that, quite frankly, it didn’t have one. As GoGo Grandparent pointed out when appealing the citation, the regulations were incompatible with the company’s business model. GoGo Grandparent does not contract drivers or vehicles; therefore, it shouldn’t be classified as a “charter-party carrier”.
In August, an administrative law judge sided with GoGo Grandparent, noting that the CPED could itself be labeled a “charter-party carrier” using the expanded definition of the term that the CPED sought to apply to GoGo Grandparent. One would think that this would be the end of the matter, but it’s not.
According to California law, the Public Utilities Commission has to vote on the judge’s decision in order to ratify it and dismiss the citation. However, the commission is flatly refusing to vote, and is instead postponing the vote every month to put off the final decision. It has stated that a few delays are normal, but this isn’t true in the case of minor citations such as the one issued against GoGo Grandparent.
The ongoing refusal to vote on the judge’s decision is not only potentially a violation of due process, but it’s also hurting blind and elderly individuals throughout the state of California. Until the commission votes, as it is supposed to, GoGo Grandparent cannot continue its services. Blind and elderly residents are now without vital assistance they need to get around, but this seems to matter little to state bureaucrats.
California seems to be desperate to lead the nation in creating and enforcing the worst laws anyone can imagine. The state has voted to cap rent increases to exacerbate the state’s rental housing shortage, wants to regulate charter schools to suit the whims of public school teachers unions, and is looking for ways to force people to stop drinking soda. At the same time, its regulators are also attacking those who are providing a public service to better the lives of those who need help.
GoGo Grandparent’s brush up with state regulators make it clear that California officials with too much power are always happy to misuse or abuse it.