Since I stayed up half the night writing a speech that I never got the chance to deliver I think I'll publish the damn thing here. Although Daly's proposition did not say where the money for the benefits would come from, I assumed in my talk that they would be paid for by medallion holder fees. The City Controller's analysis tends to back up this idea.
"Hello - I'm Ed Healy and I'm the holder of medallion 572.
I believe that this amendment is based on a series of false assumption about owner/drivers like myself.
The idea that my medallion was free is false ... unless you find no value in labor ... In fact, it took me 15 years of hard work to get it. Therefore the income derived from my medallion is earned.
The idea that medallion holders don't work is false ... unfortunately for the country, we're far more closely regulated and monitored than the banking industry. We don't work. We don't keep the medallion.
The idea that we make "a lot of money" is false. Working medallion holders make $20,000 - $30,000 a year less than Muni or BART drivers with similar experience - and they make benefits on top of that.
The idea that taxing medallion holders so that they make $10,000 a year a less than they make now will improve cab service is not only false but ridiculous. In what kind of business do you get better quality people by paying them less money?
For the last several years before I got my medallion I worked three days a week as a cab driver and 3 days a week teaching driving. As my name rose on the list I had to choose between opening my own driving business and getting the medallion. I chose the later because I thought that the City owed me for all the service I had provided.
I certainly would not have made that choice for $10,000 or $5,000 or $4,000 a year less. In fact, if I'd know that I would have get up before a board like this one and plead just to keep the money I worked so hard to get, I would have been out of the cab business five years ago.
The idea that this charter amendment contains an exit strategy that will help the list move more quickly is also false. If medallion holders can't afford to retire now, cutting their income by 50% isn't going to help them do it sooner - retirement program or not.
What puzzles me most is the timing of this proposition.
For the first time in my 25 years of taxi driving the city is setting up a serious of meetings that includes everybody in the cab business under the direction of the brilliant, inquisitive and capable Chris Hayashi. The intent of these Town Hall meetings is to look at all aspects of business - including ways to provide benefits and improve service - with the idea of drafting legislation that everybody in the industry can support.
Why are you so eager to sidestep this process?"
(significant, lingering looks at each supervisor - especially Daly)
Well ... it appears that they haven't sidestepped the process after all. Or, have they? Why haven't the Town Hall meeting started yet?
Has the next battle already begun?