Motherboard on Pittsburgh mayor's ties to Uber; Inquirer's editorial stance on Uber since Kopelman became chairman

Tom Paine

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Motherboard published an interesting piece on the rather cozy relationship between the mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto, and Uber. The relationship goes up all the way to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. A series of related emails were obtained by Motherboard using the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act.

While I don't know if the article identifies any specific legal or regulatory issues, it does suggest that Peduto was too close to Uber and was effectively acting as a cheerleader for it in state matters. Of course, it is understandable that Pittsburgh would be willing to go to almost any legal length for Uber as it aims to be the capital of the autonomous car industry in North America, building on CMU's decades of research & development and other companies' investments.

The key issue in the emails published by Motherboard is the action of the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PPUC), which had proposed a $50 million fine against Uber, since reduced to $11.4 million, for operating in Pennsylvania without permission.
Peduto submitted a letter to the PPUC concerning the fine, also signed by Governor Wolf, which Uber helped to compose, Motherboard says correspondence shows.

Just out of curiosity, I checked the Inquirer to see if it had written any recent editorials favoring Uber, and it had (Inquirer editorial: Legalize Uber, downsize the Parking Authority, May 16, 2016, actually run again on May 31 on for some reason),addressing a somewhat different issue. But Josh Kopelman, who heads up a First Round Capital fund that has a significant stake in Uber, was announced as the new chairman of Inquirer parent Philadelphia Media Network on May 31 although he had been on the board since 2015. The editorial did not mention Kopelman's connection to Uber. I'm not implying anything except to urge transparency.

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