Uber blasts Birmingham Councilwoman over transportation code

A weeks-long, heated debate over the City of Birmingham's transportation code ends with more friction.

The City Council voted Tuesday to change its current code to allow for ride-sharing, app-based services within city limits. At the time the vote was taken, agreement among city leaders and others filled the council chambers. Many city leaders and members of the public said the city made the right move.However, Uber disagrees.{}Uber is an app-based, ride-sharing program that has been at the center of debate. The company has its own policies involving insurance, background checks and inspections. Uber wanted a separate classification for its type of business. Additionally, the company opposed part of the code that mandates businesses have full-time commercial insurance even if people use their personal cars for part-time commercial work.Birmingham Councilwoman Kim Rafferty, who is also head of the council's transportation committee, says the company doesn't want city oversight too.The new code does not allow for self-regulation. Rafferty insists all companies should meet requirements under city standards.An Uber Spokesperson Taylor Bennett released the following statement to ABC 33/40:"Councilor Rafferty's true colors shown through today after she deliberately rushed through an ordinance that does nothing but limit choice and opportunity. She has made it explicitly clear that protecting big taxi and restricting competition is more important than providing a safe, reliable way to get around town. As we expected all along, this was indeed a backdoor rush job, and we've lost all faith that we'll be able to work with Councilor Rafferty in any capacity moving forward."{}ABC 33/40 spoke with Rafferty regarding the company's claims.{}"It's due process not a rush job," Rafferty said. "Uber made demands that we change codes and {}that we change it now as well as make edits that would only benefit them. They wanted de-regulation."Rafferty also calls the company's statement an "unjustified personal attack."{}"I have no faith in the integrity of Uber because they asked me to do something unethical. I will not be bullied, pushed or rushed in the work that I produced," she added.Rafferty also said she has the backing of the City Council and the city's Law Department. She insisted Uber only met with city leaders once throughout entire months-long process. Birmingham Council President Johnathan Austin said, immediately after today's vote, he looks forward to working with Uber and other ride-sharing companies.Stay with ABC 33/40 for more on this developing story.{}