Taxi War at Long Beach Train Station

Long Beach Taxi and Beech Street Taxi compete for prime position.

An ongoing rivalry between cab companies, Long Beach Taxi and Beech Street Taxi, is coming to a head. 

According to Beech Street Taxi owner Thomas Cipolla, Long Beach Taxi’s ability to saturate the Long Island Rail Road station on Park Avenue takes away a third of his business. Cipolla is pleading with City Hall to help get what he calls a fair chance to grow his business. 

Cipolla said the rivalry between him and Long Beach Taxi owner John Marsala started once Cipolla opened for business in June 2008 and the two companies jockeyed for positions at the taxi stand on the west side of the train station. Cipolla said that it became such a contentious issue that then City Manager Charles Theofan and his assistant, the late Garret Rooney, called both owners to City Hall and after a discussion instructed Long Beach Taxi to stay on the east side of the station, where they rent space and normally park their fleet of cars. No contract or any kind of document was signed, Cipolla conceded.

“For four years this has worked,” he said.

But both Marsala and his attorney and Long Beach Democratic Party Chairman Michael Zapson stated that this meeting never happened. Zapson said the west side of the station is public property that is used as a taxi stand.

City Councilman John McLaughlin, who did not attend the meeting in 2008, recalled that both owners made this agreement with Theofan. “It was done as kind of handshake to try to keep the peace,” said McLaughlin, who added that Cipolla agreed not to park at the taxi stand in front of Marsala’s auto business, West End Auto, at 927 W. Beech St. (Beech Taxi is at 1046 W. Beech). “I think it was equitable. Each party gave up a little bit.”

Meanwhile, Cipolla said that when he woke up on Feb. 17, his drivers had left multiple messages on his phone stating that Long Beach Taxi cabs were monopolizing the west side of the station where Beech Street Taxi usually parks, all the while keeping some cars on the west side.

City of Long Beach bus dispatcher, Bill Marks, confirmed the incident last Friday, saying that buses were unable to get through to the adjacent bus depot. “I had problems Friday when they first brought the cabs to the other side,” he said.  

Cipolla suspects that because there is a new City Council and administration, that no one will remember the agreement he and Marsala had with the prior administration. He took the issue to the council members, both at their Long Beach Listens forum at the West End Community Center on Feb. 20, and at the following day’s council meeting at City Hall. “I have been in touch with Legislator Denise Ford,” he continued. “She is the only one who called me back, set up a meeting with me and would like to help.

Gordon Tepper, a spokesman for the city, said the city declined to comment.

Zapson, who said he has represented Marsala for the past four to five years, recalled that a lawsuit Long Beach Taxi has against the city started around that time, after the city took away 22 of Long Beach Taxi’s 47 medallions, of which his client purchased for more than $1 million. Zapson said eight medallions were given to Cipolla. The case is pending a decision in the Supreme Court in Mineola.

Zapson alleged that Cipolla is not allowed to own medallions because he was convicted of a felony for selling them. “They (Beech Street Taxi) are in receivership because they couldn’t pay their bills,” he said. “I think he’s grasping at straws.”

But Cipolla denies that his company was selling medallions. “We were taking in a partner,” he said, noting that his bills are paid. “There is no felony conviction.” He explained that last year he was in negotiations to take on a partner to expand his business with a limousine service, but he didn’t realize he couldn’t do so when in receivership due to the lawsuit. 

“You’re not allowed to sell medallions, it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “They are licensed by the city. What does that have to do with anything going on today?”

When asked if, as chairman of the Democratic Committee in Long Beach, he believes there is a conflict of interest for represents Marsala against the city, Zapson dismissed the charge because he said he took the case prior to his chairmanship: “No, this has been going on for four years.”

* This story was updated at 12:17 p.m. on 2/29/12.

billob March 07, 2012 at 09:30 PM
OK "FRIEND OF THE OWNER OF 5200" Like I said before I HAVE NO AFFILIATION WITH EITHER COMPANY!!!! So Once again I ask you Who is dipping into who's pockets??? It sure seems that 5200 has way deeper pockets than 4444. LETS BE HONEST HERE tommyt.
tommyt March 07, 2012 at 09:46 PM
The owner of 5200 should just go away and let the city take away his investment for nothing. How about this Mr Cippola put up the money that was lost and maybe the owner of 5200 would sell it to him for a equitable price. I dont speak for the owner so i do not know what he wants. I hope you understand that Mrs Cippola rents the medallions and they were never bought. So the city lost out on approx 300,000 to 400,000. I think the city could use that money now. So lets be honest billob . Whats Fair.
tommyt March 07, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Also billob you can check city clerks office there have been several times when medallions have been put up for sale i beleive the last time in the 90s they were auctioned for a fair price and since then they have incrased in value just like medallions in NYC which are valued over 100,000.00. So as you see BS got one hell of a deal and intsead of worrying about monopolys you should be saying i wonder why i could'nt get a deal like that.
orlando p March 07, 2012 at 10:24 PM
tommyt so do you think 5200 should get a monoply here in long beach or do you think there should be 2 cab companys here in long beach owned by different people.lol not pulling a scam like having 5200 and then 7500 and calling them 2 different companys.whats your opinion.
tommyt March 07, 2012 at 10:28 PM
My personal opinion is that the person be made whole and then after that let it be put up for discussion.
Lisa March 08, 2012 at 01:49 AM
It's clear your an employee or owner of 5200- what you and zapson r trying to do is disgusting. Boycott 5200!!!
billob March 08, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Take away his investement for nothing???? The man is a multi millionaire because of the people of Long Beach and he lets his nasty drivers/dispatchers/vehicles try to dictate who we can get a ride home from???? I THINK NOT GOOOOOOO 431-4444
billob March 08, 2012 at 02:07 AM
tommyt=monopoly that=NO GOOD!!!!! Who wants to be treated like garbage from a monopoly? Then we have no choice!!
Leoni March 08, 2012 at 03:52 AM
Touche! Mr. Marsala is greedy and trying to use dirty politics to get what he wants and run his competition out of business. Shame on you Mr. Marsala, and shame on you Zapson for being this dirty! Let's hope the new admin sticks to their promise of being a "new" dem team not into the corruption zapson is all about. This is a diservice to Long Beach to not give us a choice! I'm all for a boycott of 5200... In fact, mine started about 4 years ago when I finally had the option to not have to call 5200 and get harrassing nasty dispatchers on the phone and drivers in the cabs. 4444 has got my business 100%
billob March 08, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Once again tommyt do you think a monopoly is good for the city and people of Long Beach? PLEASE ANSWER.
Lloyd March 08, 2012 at 05:59 AM
Im all confused over this. Gonna rent a DecoBike or walk home from the train.
billob March 08, 2012 at 06:07 AM
I hear ya Lloyd!!!lol
tommyt March 08, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Leoni I see this is you first comment on patch. The dirty politics started when Mr Cippola was given medallions for nothing by the coalition which has bankrupted this city. Do you homework and see what occured than maybe you can comment with some knowledge. Also Mr Zapson has been his attorney since the days he started being harassed by the coalition.
tommyt March 08, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Good Newsday article. Laid out whats going on. Mr Cippola when asked by me in a earlier post agreed that Mr Marsala did not agee in a handshake to a center mall give back and that Mr Theofan had probably reached that decision on his own. So today Mr Cippola goes back to the handshake version again. Wheres the truth. But Mr Mcloughlin at least stated the obvious that a previous adminstration hand shake holds no water today. Maybe Mr Mcloughlin see's the light that what the coalition did was wrong and that maybe a fairer process should have taken place in my opinion. So as i have said the courts will decide. But if you did notice it did say Beach Street is in receivership which Mr Cippola has previously denied.
tommyt March 08, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Another false statement in article Mr Cippola states when the city sold him 8 medallions . They were not sold they were rented to Mrs Cippola. When will the misinformation stop.
MikeC. March 08, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Let's look down the road apiece; If 4444 loses out on this, I say the fare will be $7. by the time the beach opens.
Kel March 08, 2012 at 09:07 PM
@datt Matt, regardless of when zapson was hired we all know WHY he was hired. No successful business owner would hire a real estate attorney as their lawyer.... Unless of course that lawyer could do something shady for them. Case in point- the hiring of real estate attorney and dem leader, zapson
Lloyd March 08, 2012 at 10:09 PM
It looks like a total stalement. So..... I propose a duel between the two warring opponents to settle the score for once and for all. How about a pistol shootout at High Noon on the beach in front of the Alegria? First clear the beach and let us Patch posters observe the duel from the boardwalk and from behind the hotel lounge windows. The winner/survivor gets to keep all the medallions and is permanently granted the entire taxi stand at the train station. The loser gets a free ride to the mortuary of his choice in the winners cab. I dont think I've heard a fairer and more decisive solution yet.
Leoni March 09, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Just for clarification- Mr. Klein, corporation counsel, made it seem like if Beech Street taxi and LB win their case with 5200 that the problem is solved. What the problem is, is that Zapson's democratic majority controls who gets the medallions, and in a sneaky move, the dems just re-issued the medallions only until April. Regardless if Beech Street taxi wins, it is still 100% up to the city if they will issue Beech St taxi the medallions again after April. We all know Mr. Corrupt Zapson himself will tell his dem party not to issue them.. So the question remains: Will this new democratic council do whats right for the people and give them a choice of what company to use, or will they listen to their boss bc hes getting paid by 5200 and only issue the medallions to 5200? Lets see how open and honest this administration really is! We want 4444 to stay!!!
Leoni March 09, 2012 at 03:44 AM
tommyt, I'm a lifelong residebt. Dirty Zapson politics started long before Mr. Cippola- so don't tell me to get some "knowledge". I know how this city has been working and ran for the last 50 years. Mr. Zapson has taken the book the corrupt Gene Cammorata wrote and is folling in his footsteps play by play. Maybe its you who needs some knowledge on the inner workings of this city under the democrats since the 80s. Tell me this, have you EVER heard of any other business who hired a real estate attorney to be their business attorney? No, thats because people, especially people w the money Marsala has, hire people whos background is n their particular need. Do you and zapson think we are that stupid to not see through the reason why zapson, the real estate attorney, was hired to represent the business??
jason v March 09, 2012 at 04:29 AM
mike c your on the right track but he wont have to make it 7 dollars a ride.he will have all the cab buisness in the town thanks to mike z.no choice just take whats given to you.By the way the city counsel oks the amount of raise.They are not the sharpest bunch in the group but even they couldnt be that stupid.mabye 6 dollars.someone has to pay there legal fees.
lyndz March 09, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Pay their legal fees meaning pay their democratic majority leader Mike Zapson? Well ift hat doesnt sound corrupt i dont know what does-- their democratic leader getting paid by 5200 to run their competition out of town. Zapson and his team really have shown their true colors
tommyt March 09, 2012 at 12:52 PM
You all talk about corruption but forget about the corruption that took place in giving beech street its start. I guess Mr Cippola has you hoodwinked. If Long Beach Taxi loses i would guess the medallions would be put up for bid and BS will have the opportunity to purchase them not rent them as they are doing know. BS and its investors had to know several years ago that one day the medallions which were rented would have to be paid for and subject to a bidding process. If long beach taxi wins the judge is ruling that the medallions that were taken was done illegally.
lyndz March 09, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Tommy, its clear through the posts that you are fighting a losing battle in the publics eye. No one here kikes the corruption of what zapson and marsala are trying to pull. No one here is for monopolies. People want a choice. The corruption is through Marsala and his real estate attorney who he hired solely because he's a corrupt LB hack who makes his people on council his puppets. We, the voters, see through Marsala and zapsons game and are not standing for it.
tommyt March 09, 2012 at 01:16 PM
So i guess you support the corruption that took place to give BS its start. As time goes on hopefully the truth will come out . I might be fighting a losing battle among BS supporters but the truth is the truth and if the legal system rules as it should the coalitions give away to BS will have been proven.Also im sure the ruling Judge is aware that Mr Zapson has been 5200 lawyer for the past 4 years and is the attorney of record.
Lloyd March 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
I dont know what everyone is screaming about. Marsala is free to retain the services of any licensed attorney in New York State. And if Zapson is licensed here, he can represent whoever walks in his door. And Zapson can work any type of case his client has from real estate transaction to dog bite injuries. His firm is not limited by who he knows or who you approve. Cipolla can choose from the many other "influential" law firms in town to represent him. He is nor limited either by who his attorney knows or who you people approve of. Let the courts decide upon any conflicts of interest.
tommyt March 09, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Thanks Lloyd for adding some common sense to this thread.
Lloyd March 09, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I dont know you tommyt, but I am in the legal field know that Mr Marsala is free to choose any competent lawyer who can best represent his case. And so is his opponent. Its annoying how people here are complaining about Mr. Zapson and his influence in town. If Cipolla is smart he would retain the services of Harris-Beach/Tom Suozzi's guys and let those two heavy hitters slug it out. But the more powerful the firm is, the higher their hourly rates and retainer fees. So it may come down to which side has deeper pockets to spend on legal counsel.
Larry Nicoletti March 21, 2012 at 07:48 PM
*yawn* Shut up all of you. You're all idiots to use this forum to act like whining infants. Maybe your diapers need changing, go tell your mommies. Grow up, morons.
Ronald Schneiderman May 11, 2012 at 05:45 PM
But I guess it is alright when Beech St.donates to Rep. causes. I know because I was the there


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