If you drive a taxi in Portland, Maine the best place to wait for a fare is the Portland Jetport. But, you need a special permit. There are only forty-five permits to be had and all are held by Somali and Iranian immigrants. Paul McDonough of Timely Taxi in South Portland claims that is discrimination against him as a white man and he filed suit against the City of Portland. Most of the jetport is in South Portland which is a separate municipality, but the terminal is in Portland, and that city owns the entire facility. It’s city council decides who gets a permit.
|Paul McDonough - credit: Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Portland Press Herald|
The Portland Press Herald ran a story about the suit January 2nd. I’ve been checking into it, but few city officials want to talk about it. It didn’t help that radical Muslims this past week murdered people in Paris and focused the world’s attention on Islamic terrorism. Most Somalis are Muslim and so are most Iranians. I’ll keep digging though.
Not getting much out of city hall or the jetport, but I’m learning a lot researching online. According to an article in the Bangor Daily News back in 2011, forty-nine out of fifty jetport permits were held by Somali immigrants and they held a press conference that year to announce legal action against the City of Portland. They were having difficulty renewing their jetport permits in person. Many were traveling back and forth to Somalia and it was hard to show up at the jetport to renew their permits. Hmm. If they’re here in Maine fleeing oppression in Somalia, why are they going back so often? The civil war is still on. And, how can they afford it?
|Jama Farah with orange-bearded man credit Bangor Daily News|
When Somali taxi driver Jama Farah spoke at the 2011 Portland City Hall press conference, behind him was an unidentified man with an orange beard and orange skullcap. The beard struck me. According to another article by former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy on Somalis in Minnesota, a man named Abdullahi Ugas Farah with a “tangerine beard” once spoke for the radical “Islamic Courts” in Somalia and later was in Minnesota campaigning for Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN). When I punched “Abdullahi Ugas Farah” into Google Images, up popped a man with a tangerine beard and matching hat sitting next to Congressman Ellison. He wore glasses and a tan jacket just like the man at the Portland City Hall press conference. Both he and the spokesman were named Farah. Is it the same guy? Was a radical Muslim from Somalia at the Portland City Hall press conference? So far, I’ve gotten no response from Somali cabdrivers I contacted about the man’s identity. Somalia’s “Islamic Courts” spawned the terrorist group Al Shabaab which last year pledged allegiance to al Qaida.
|Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) with Abdullah Ugas Farah|
Stephen Salamone of S&S Taxi said he’s been trying for years to get a jetport permit. “It’s blatant discrimination,” he said. A retired Portland firefighter, Salamone told me those permit holders get the best riders. “Fares go all over the state,” he said, and “I can’t even get an application. What do I need to do?” He suggests the city open a bidding process or make it a lottery. He wants a level playing field for everyone.
An online commenter to the Press Herald story, wrote that she prefers to call McDonough’s Timely Taxi and added: “[W]hen I arrive after his hours and must use a Jetport cab, I invariably get flack from the driver: ‘no dog, no dog’ when he is confronted with my Seeing Eye dog.”
The Portland Jetport is significant in the annals of Islamic terrorism since al Qaida terrorist Mohammed Atta boarded a plane there early in the morning of September 11, 2001. Three hours later he crashed another plane into the World Trade Center. Present and former FBI officials with whom I’ve talked still don’t know why Atta was in Portland.
According to former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy: “Somalis began pouring into America in the mid-Nineties thanks to the State Department’s refugee resettlement efforts . . . In 2008, State was forced to concede that there had been immigration fraud on a massive scale: nearly 40,000 aliens admitted into our country after falsely claiming family ties to immigrants already here.” Somali immigrants in Maine got national attention twelve years ago when nearby Lewiston, Maine Mayor Larry Raymond said his city couldn’t handle any more of them because welfare money was running out. Charges of racism and bigotry rained down on him here in the blue northeast, but he didn’t back down. Since then, mayors in Manchester, NH, Springfield, Massachusetts, and in many other American cities have said the same thing.
Last August, a Lewiston Somali woman’s ex-husband, Abdirahmaan Muhumed, died fighting for ISIS in Syria. He worked at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and even had a security clearance! He had multiple wives and left nine children, including two from when he lived on Bartlett Street in Lewiston. He and his Maine wife traveled back and forth between Maine and Minnesota many times before they divorced. KMSP-TV in Minneapolis reported that at least 22 Somali immigrants traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to fight for Al Shabaab and twelve more went to Syria to fight for ISIS. Three quarters of the 900 taxi permits at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport are held by Somali drivers.Though some have passed through here, my research shows no radical Muslims living in Maine at present. Somalis with whom I’ve come in contact at various businesses in the Portland area seem very nice. As long as they’re here legally, work to support themselves and assimilate, Mainers would welcome them. That so many are driving taxis is a good thing. That virtually all the plum jetport permits issued by the city went to Somali taxi drivers, however, is, at best, suspicious. I shall continue to investigate as Mr. McDonough’s lawsuit goes forward.