No answers from Ucallus


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While Ucallus founder Kevin Sandberg sits in jail, bartenders at the Union Club, Charlie B's and the Iron Horse say they haven't seen his cars around lately. The phone number for the nonprofit cab service designed to get drinkers home on a pay-what-you-can basis goes immediately to voicemail.

"We are back in business," the message promises. "If you could not get a hold of us we are probably busy." The mailbox, however, remains full.

Sandberg, who started Ucallus in 2011, was arrested the week before Thanksgiving on misdemeanor charges of partner/family member assault, driving on a suspended license and one felony count of drug possession after police found meth in his pocket.

It's unclear what impact Sandberg's recent arrest will have on the cab company, but issues between himself and law enforcement have already burned bridges between Ucallus and Missoula community members.

The Missoula County DUI Task Force voted in September to stop endorsing Ucallus after Director Lonie Hutchison says that "numerous reports of unethical conduct" surfaced regarding Sandberg and his drivers.

Hutchison says last winter she was informed that several of Sandberg's drivers were pulled over for traffic violations including speeding and failing to come to a complete stop at traffic lights, in some cases with passengers onboard. Hutchison says drivers were initially let off with warnings, the understanding being that a citation could cause a spike in liability insurance costs for Sandberg's struggling company.

"We had brought it to Kevin's attention, and he just kind of, you know, shrugged it off," Hutchison says.

The last straw came on Sept. 5 when a highway patrol officer reported to the DUI Task Force that he had pulled Sandberg over for speeding in a Ucallus car, while on a suspended license. They voted unanimously to sever ties with Sandberg and to stop endorsing his service.

Hutchison hopes the idea of a nonprofit cab service can still forge ahead, perhaps under different leadership.

"We're terribly disappointed. He let us down. He let the community down," Hutchison says. "It doesn't mean his program can't keep going."

Sandberg remains in jail on $30,000 bail.


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