Malachi Hull, who has served as director of the city’s Taxicab and For Hire Bureau since June 2011, “is no longer employed by the city,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration said Friday.
The announcement came about 7 p.m. on the Fourth of July holiday, apparently in an effort to attract as little notice as possible.
Hull, who was recruited for the job by Landrieu, had become increasingly controversial in recent months.
As Taxicab Bureau director, he was responsible for the oversight of for-hire vehicles and companies, tour guides and brake tag stations.
Safety and Permits Department Director Jared Munster and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Ava Rogers will oversee the bureau’s day-to-day operations on an interim basis, the City Hall announcement said.
Hull, a New Orleans native, previously served as director of the taxicab bureau in Atlanta.
He led the Landrieu administration’s drive to impose stricter controls on New Orleans taxicab drivers and their vehicles, winning numerous critics among taxi owners and drivers in the process.
However, what appeared to be his biggest problems arose from actions by some of the bureau’s inspectors.
In October, a cab driver was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed by a taxicab inspector during an altercation in the French Quarter.
After Landrieu viewed a video of the incident, charges against Alliance Cab driver Emmanuel Esterlin were dropped, inspector Ronnie Blake was suspended and later fired, and Hull was reprimanded “verbally and in writing for not responding adequately to inappropriate actions by employees,” a city spokeswoman said in January.
Esterlin this week filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, Hull and other officials.
Earlier, a similar suit was filed by Wendy Bosma, a Haunted History Tours guide who scuffled with bureau inspector Wilton Joiner the night of Nov. 9 outside the LaLaurie Mansion on Royal Street.
Joiner tried to seize Bosma’s license, alleging that she had violated the city ordinance that mandates tour groups stay at least 50 feet away from one another. Bosma said she saw no other group in sight and refused to hand over the license.
Joiner, captured on video by the tourists in her group, pushed Bosma against a car and twisted her arm behind her back to pry the license from her fingers.
Joiner was booked with simple battery. He also was later fired.
Hull was present and watched the entire incident on Royal Street but did nothing to intervene.
Tour guides, buggy drivers and cabbies under the authority of the Taxicab Bureau organized a protest outside City Hall.
Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux is expected to issue a report soon on the actions of Taxicab Bureau employees, including Hull.