Council honors mayor's decision to revoke Mitchell taxi owner's license after drug arrest
During Monday’s meeting, Mayor Bob Everson said there have been recent complaints against Speedy Taxi owner Dustin Feistner that have surfaced. In response, Feistner said “That’s understandable.”
MITCHELL — “Quite frankly, this is extremely disappointing.”
Those were the remarks Mitchell City Council member Susan Tjarks said to the owner of a local taxi service who had his taxi license revoked on Monday due to his recent drug arrest.
Despite attempts from Dustin Feistner, owner of Speedy Taxi, pleading for the council to not strip his taxi license, which he claimed would be a decision that imposes “punishment before a conviction,” the council unanimously agreed to revoke his license on Monday.
The council’s decision comes a few days after Mayor Bob Everson took matters into his own hands and revoked Feistner’s taxi license when he learned he was arrested in early March for possession of methamphetamine, a Class 5 felony. Although Feistner denied any wrongdoing on Monday, he confirmed he was arrested for drug possession.
“I’m charged with a crime, not convicted. We live in the United States where you’re innocent until proven guilty. I think that holds true to the Constitution. I don’t believe in punishment before conviction,” Feistner said during Monday’s council meeting.
City Attorney Justin Johnson emphasized the council’s hearing on whether to uphold the revocation of Feistner’s taxi license does not apply the same rules and standards as a criminal case.
“You’ve heard Mr. Feistner speak about innocent until proven guilty, and that is certainly the case for criminal matters. That’s not what we’re dealing with tonight. We’re not dealing with having to prove these claims by beyond a reasonable doubt standard. We’re not here under the strict rules of evidence that apply in a criminal case,” Johnson said. “The council has the information that’s been presented, and it’s up to you to make a decision whether to your satisfaction whether those events occurred and whether they were credible.”
Being denied a taxi license isn’t new to Feistner. In 2021, the council denied his license due Feistner’s criminal history, poor business practices and citizen reports of dangerous driving habits. The council changed course in 2022 by approving Feistner’s taxi license and highlighted the decision as a “second chance.”
During Monday’s meeting, Everson said there have been recent complaints against Feistner that have surfaced. In response, Feistner said “That’s understandable.”
While Feistner didn’t deny he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, he claimed the arrest didn’t occur while operating his taxi vehicle. He informed the council that his bond conditions require twice-weekly urinary analysis testing, which he said would ensure he isn’t using drugs while operating his taxi business.
“My bond conditions require twice-weekly UAs, which to me is very sufficient on detecting any substance,” he said. “I’m charged with a crime, and it’s not violent. Nobody is to say whether I’m going to get convicted or not convicted.”
Feistner pitched a suggestion for the council to consider, which entailed the council imposing additional drug testing while his court proceedings play out for the possession of meth charge.
“I wouldn’t have a problem with you guys imposing daily UAs,” he said.
Council President Kevin McCardle didn’t see any reason to entertain discussing the matter, pointing to the repetitive controversy that’s shrouded Speedy Taxi for several years.
“I don’t think there’s any need for discussion. He’s been warned, he’s been warned and had second chances,” McCardle said prior to making a motion to deny Feistner’s taxi license.
In Everson’s letter to Feistner, he wrote “the regular use of methamphetamine poses an undue risk to public safety.” Everson explained Feistner’s arrest and alleged confession to law enforcement officers that he was “using meth on a daily basis” was also grounds for the city to revoke his taxi license.
Everson reminded Feistner of his past claims to the council when he was pursuing a license. In 2021, Feistner deemed himself as a changed man after spending a little over a year in prison for firearm crime.
“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 at the June 2021 council meeting. “I’m asking for a conditional license… First and foremost, I am a changed person, and I’d love a chance to prove that.”
Prior to his latest arrest, Feistner’s criminal history while owning Speedy Taxi included a 2019 arrest that stemmed from him leading officers on two vehicle pursuits and possessing a firearm after a violent crime conviction. Feistner 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.
Koster informed the council in 2019 that Feistner previously operated the taxi service for a period of time without a license.
Feistner fielded questions from the council, including one that asked if he was using meth on a daily basis to which he replied “no.”