PORTLAND — The Maine Heritage Policy Center is threatening to sue the city of Portland unless it changes the city taxi ordinance that requires a college student who offers free rides on his golf cart on Peaks Island to be licensed and insured.

The Portland-based organization claims the ordinance, which was adopted last week by the City Council, violates student Matt Rand’s constitutional rights because it is aimed at eliminating the sole competitor for the city-subsidized taxi service on Peaks Island.

The center has scheduled a press conference for 10:30 a.m. today at City Hall to explain its position.

“It’s a matter of over-reach by the government and a violation of economic liberty,” said David Crocker, an attorney for the organization’s Center for Constitutional Government.

The City Council voted 5-3 on Aug. 16 to require that Rand, a 19-year-old student at Tufts University, be insured and licensed like his competitor, the Peaks Island Transportation System.

For the past two years, Rand has offered island visitors and residents free rides on his golf cart during the summer months.

Rand accepts tips as donations, which he said Tuesday helps pay for books and spending money at college. Rand is majoring in economics and history.

But a majority of city councilors felt the arrangement was unfair and potentially unsafe.

Peaks Island Transportation System is a nonprofit group that spent $20,000 in city money last year to buy a van. It also must pay about $5,000 a year for insurance. Operators said Rand’s venture was taking business away from the island taxi service.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]