There are very serious questions about a panel that took place at City Hall regarding ridesharing.

This forum was organized by Mercury Public Affairs, a lobbying firm for Uber. There’s a banner up at City Hall with Uber’s logo. Why is City Hall allowing Uber to use it as a billboard? Why is the city promoting one ridesharing company over others?

Here’s one possible reason why. Jeremy Cooney, Lovely Warren’s former chief of staff, is now working for Mercury Public Affairs. Cooney is considered a lobbyist for Uber under state law, but isn’t registered as such. The disclosure laws were designed to prevent this very thing from happening — an official leaving a government job and immediately lobbying his former employer. There are serious questions about why Cooney is allowed to participate in this activity so soon after leaving city employment.

Rochester could still opt out of ridesharing. That means Uber absolutely has every reason to cozy up to government officials. That’s why Uber still has a lobbying firm. That’s why Uber employs Cooney.

Today City Hall allowed itself to become an ad agency for Uber. A company was allowed to profit off our government. A former city official was allowed to break rules to make it happen on behalf of his client.

I’ve long promoted ridesharing in Rochester. But this conduct by Uber, Cooney and Lovely Warren is unseemly. Warren is clearly not doing what’s best for Rochester, but what’s best for herself and her inner circle.

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