Christopher Lynn, March 10, 2000
On Tuesday, March 7, the Williams administration announced that it would appoint
Christopher R. Lynn to be the Chairman of the DC Taxicab Commission. This troubled
Commission had been rocked by allegations of corruption against its former chief of staff,
and for the first year of the Williams mayoralty it had languished, neglected, under an
acting Chairman. In November 1999, Mayor Williams met with several hundred cab drivers and
committed to working with them and to reforming the Commission.
When it named Lynn, the Williams administration trumpeted him as a go-getting reformer
who had been the Taxicab Commissioner of New York City. Eric Price, the Deputy Mayor for
Economic Development who had been responsible for recruiting Lynn, issued a press release
on March 7 that said: As Taxi Commissioner in New York City, Mr. Lynn imposed
rigorous safety standards that helped clean up and modernize that citys taxi
industry. He envisions using state-of-the-art technology to assist the industry and its
regulators in addressing issues of safety, fairness in rates and accountability.
But once Lynns name was released, reporters began asking questions about his
background questions that the administration couldnt or wouldnt answer.
When more and more facts about Lynns personal and professional history were
revealed, questions were raised about the administration itself. Had anyone in the
administration researched Lynn at all before naming him to this key position?
Administration spokesman insisted that Lynn had been thoroughly vetted, but then denied
that they had heard any of the many negative stories about his career.
On Friday, March 10, the Washington Post printed an editorial that revealed
some elements of Lynns professional and managerial background, and raised serious
questions about whether he should be nominated to the post. The Washington Times
printed an article that covered some of the sleazier aspects of Lynns past. Lynn was
in Washington that day, introducing himself to the staff and the other members of the
Taxicab Commission and giving interviews to the press. But by the end of the day, he
issued a statement saying that he was withdrawing his name from consideration.
For those who want to go beyond the stories that were printed in the Post and
the Times, here are a series of links to a few of the major stories about Lynn
from the New York press that are available on the Internet.
J.A. The Company He Keeps: Chelsea Candidate Chris Lynns Suspect
Pals, The Village Voice, January 27-February 2, 1999.
In his failed campaign for a New York City Council seat last year, Lynns campaign
manager, Simon Valenzuela, was arrested for possessing cocaine, heroin, guns, and
ammunition, and for using drug-processing paraphernalia.
In the 1980s, Federal prosecutors characterized Lynns role as a criminal
defense attorney for the Baby Sam Edmondson drug gang as being the gangs
Mike, Lynn Made Crack Biz Hum, New York Daily News, October 23,
. . . [W]hen a lawyer gets involved in crack murders, perjury, jury tampering and
money laundering, as has been alleged by detectives, state and federal prosecutors and his
former clients, he surrenders his right to be a public servant. It seems as if Lynn has
been paroled after 13 crack murders. . . . City detectives, an informal fraternity, know
about Lynn and the crack gangs. They and prosecutors have talked about Lynn on the record
for the last nine months, alleging money laundering, perjury and jury tampering. There is
a name and a court document with every allegation.
Rein, Lisa, DOT Whistleblower Honks Horn at Lynn, New
York Daily News, April 17, 1997.
Transportation Commissioner Christopher Lynn hired a friend and former law client
to make No Honking signs for the Queensboro Bridge then demoted a
manger who blew the whistle. In apparent violation of city rules. Lynn ordered 100 signs
from his friend last fall to calm angry East Side residents and motorists stuck in
gridlock created by the citys rerouting of bridge traffic, Department of
Transportation documents reveal.
Lynn, New York Law Journal, October 22, 1999, finding by Justice Weissberg.
The plaintiff, an employee of the New York City Department of Transportation
(DOT), alleges that he was illegally demoted because of his having reported to
the Inspector General of the New York City Department of Investigation (DOI)
that the respondent DOT Commissioner, Christopher Lynn, had violated the applicable rules
and regulations concerning the procurement of DOT street signs. . . . Upon completing the
investigation, DOI concluded that the demotion was, in fact, retaliatory.
Dwyer, Jim, Spinning Light Blinds Bullys Civic
Senses, New York Daily News, October 23, 1997.
Christopher Lynn, the menace with siren and spinning light in his car, has
managed to top his own spectacular record for abuse of power. When we last looked, Lynn
had suspended a taxi drivers license on the spot because the drive had an argument
with Lynns boyfriend. . . . . This time, the victims are a parking lot owner and a
Rashbaum, William K., Furor Over DOT Bigs: Lynn, 2 Aides Hit
over Cop Impersonation, New York Daily News, October 23, 1997.
The citys transportation commissioner sat by as two aides allegedly passed
themselves off as cops in a dispute with a Yankee Stadium parking lot owner who says he
was bullied and threatened with reprisals for complaining. The lot owner, Rabbi Barry
Kallenberg, also charges that after his run-in with Transportation Department Commissioner
Christopher Lynn, a top agency official attempted to cover up the incident. His account
was supported by senior police sources. . . . When Kallenberg was at the stationhouse
making a complaint, the sergeant taking the information got a call from a high-level DOT
official who told him to drop it. When the sergeant a 26-year veteran with a
stellar record refused, the DOT official threatened him with an investigation by
NYPD Internal Affairs. The official also threatened to shut down the rabbis
Rutenberg, James, $1M Blown in Rush for Bus Stop Signs, New
York Daily News, November 24, 1997.
The citys sleek new bus stop signs cost taxpayers an extra $1 million,
largely because city Department of Transportation Commissioner Christopher Lynn wanted
them up before the Nov. 4 elections, according to documents and contractors who bid on the
Lombardi, Frank, and Larry Sutton, Lynn Out as Rudy Shuffles
City Deck, New York Daily News, December 13, 1997.
Christopher Lynn, the citys shoot-from-the-hip transportation commissioner,
got the boot yesterday as Mayor Giuliani began housecleaning for his second term at City
Hall. Lynn will leave his $133,000 post for a quieter but powerful position on the
citys Tax Appeals Tribunal. The new job pays $103,800. . . . Lynn, who previously
had been taxi and limousine commissioner, suspended a taxi drivers license for
allegedly offending Lynns boyfriend. As DOT chief, he got into a public argument
with a Bronx parking garage owner after confiscating one of his signs; and he caused an
uproar on Manhattans East Side by tinkering with the traffic patterns at the
Lynn Exposed, Hells Kitchen [on-line magazine]. Page with links to many
Rudy Giuliani had appointed Christopher Lynn as Taxi and Limousine Commissioner,
then as Transportation Commissioner and later demoted him to the Tax Appeals Tribunal. In
1999 Lynn lost a bid for Manhattans 3rd District City Council seat, garnering only
11% of the vote. The impression he left in the council race was one of bullyism and
arrogance. But his behavior as a member of the Guiliani administration (and before) raises
many questions. Particularly revealing is his close relationship to the real estate
industry, developers and other Giuliani stooges such as Antonio Pagan and Donald Copoccia.
The New York Daily News ran a series of in-depth articles detailing Lynns
close ties and alleged illegal actions with certain drug gangs, his misadventures as Taxi
and Limousine Commissioner and as Transportation Commissioner.