The owner of a controversial taxi service’s attempt at getting a license to operate in Mitchell once again was denied by the Mitchell City Council on Monday night.
The taxi license that the council unanimously denied during Monday’s meeting was requested by Dustin Feistner, who previously ran a controversial taxi service known as Speedy Taxi, which came under scrutiny several years ago for allegations ranging from poor business practices and dangerous driving habits. However, several council members pointed to Feistner’s extensive criminal record as a major factor that played into the decision to deny the taxi license on Monday night.
“Personally, I am rooting for you and your path to recovery. But sitting here as a public official, I can’t support giving you a license for the safety of the public due to your track record,” Smith said. “It’s just too soon given the actual crimes you were convicted of, including running a taxi business without a license when it was denied.”
During Feistner’s testimony to the council, he emphasized he’s been successfully rehabilitating from his past legal troubles, asking the council for a “second chance.” Following Feistner’s testimony, the council agreed to include a contingency that allows Feistner to reapply for his taxi license in six months.
“In January, I did go to prison and served 15 months. I believe I am a changed person… It gave me a lot of time to think and reform myself,” Feistner said, noting he’s currently on parole.. “I’m asking for a conditional license… First and foremost, I am a changed person, and I’d love a chance to prove that.”
Fesitner’s most recent legal trouble stemmed from an August 2019 incident, in which he was arrested for leading officers on two vehicle pursuits and possessing a firearm after a violent crime conviction. He pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm after a violent crime conviction in connection to the August 2019 incident and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2017, Feistner was convicted of aggravated assault, which prohibited him from having a firearm in his possession.
According to Police Chief Mike Koster, Feistner previously operated the taxi service for a period of time without a license.
The application to get Speedy Taxi operating again in the city comes roughly two years after the Mitchell City Council unanimously denied the taxi business’ license due to both Feistner’s criminal background and the previous allegations made by community members and businesses.
Despite the controversy surrounding Speedy Taxi and Fesitner, he asked the council to “give him a second chance” at running the transportation business in a more professional and respectable manner.
“I don’t like the thought of anybody being thrown under the bus for a number of years or for life for past mistakes… I think they deserve a second chance,” Feistner said. “I can guarantee I won’t let you down. I can guarantee you, I’d follow all the guidelines and restrictions. In the 15 months I ran the business, I didn’t have any accidents.”
Fesitner said the city is in “serious need” of another taxi service, noting there are only two taxi businesses actively operating in Mitchell.
“Currently, there are no taxi services on Monday and Tuesday after 10 p.m., so there is a lack of taxis and a need for transportation services,” Feistner said.
Brint Jorgensen -- a former Lyft driver in Mitchell who was among the community members urging the council to deny Feistner’s taxi license in 2018 -- spoke in support of Feistner on Monday night. Jorgensen said Feistner “has truly changed” in the past few years, which is what motivated Jorgensen to issue his support for Feistner's quest to get back in the local business.
“I participated in getting Dusty’s (Feistner) license revoked last time around. Since he got in trouble, he contacted me and apologized for our issues in the past. I thought I would come tonight and tell you I think he has truly changed,” Jorgensen said. “I think there is a real need for another cab service. I think a third cab company is needed, and the reasonable rates are nice. I think people deserve a second chance. I think he will prove a lot of people wrong.”