WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- A DC City Council member is calling for the resignation of the DC Taxicab Commission Chair, after he "defended racism," according to the Councilman.
During a Russ Ptacek investigation, Commission Chair Ron Linton told Ptacek that it's not racism when cab drivers choose not to pick up black passengers, "it's economics," Linton said.
Council Member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) said Linton's comments are unacceptable.
"There is a bright line here - calling it 'economic' is a defense of racism," said Wells. "It is disgusting and it has no place in our government. Ron Linton needs to go. Everybody should have equal access to taxis and transportation in our city regardless of their skin color or where they live," Wells said in a news release.
Wells, who announced he is running for Mayor last month, is challenging current Mayor Vincent Gray to do something about Linton.
"I hope the Mayor will take immediate action to remove Linton from his position and end the taxpayer funding of racism. This is just another example of the useless and archaic nature of the Taxicab Commission, the continued existence of which is a detriment to DC," Wells said.
In a written statement to WUSA 9 regarding Councilman Wells' criticism, Chairman Linton said:
"My recent comment in a television interview citing economics as a reason for failure to haul was simply incorrect. The DC Taxicab Commission places the highest priority on eradicating this violation. The only explanation for not picking up a passenger is if a taxi driver fears harm which is an extremely high standard to meet. However, the fundamental point for the public to understand is that failure to haul is unacceptable. The Commission is committed to ensuring that taxi drivers realize they are offering a public accommodation and all people have a right to use it. I reject any suggestion of racism in my intent. My over 50 years of service in the local community working with diverse people speaks volumes to the type of person that I am."