Monday, July 6, 2009

Players & Plans: Carl Macmurdo & the Matt Gonzales Committee

When I saw MHA President Carl Macmurdo at the Board of Supervisor's meeting last week he said that he and his group hadn't come up with a plan yet. For a moment I thought that he might want to pick the brains of the members but it turned out that he won't meet with the general membership until October.

Carl appears to be a true believer in experts and their expertise (forgetting that it was just such people that sank the economy) so he and few board members intend to work up a plan with Matt Gonzales and Hansu Kim. I can't see how this could be too much different than the plan Macmurdo worked out with the same Gonzales Committee four years ago. Therefore I'm going to morph Carl's March 2008 proposal with that of the Gonzales Committe and take peek at some highlights. What the MHA would like to see would be:
  • An end to Proposition K
  • Transferability of medallions though a sealed bit auction system.
  • A "grandfathering" of medallions to the top 150 to 300 people on the list.
  • The auctions would only be open to working drivers but there would be no preference given to years of service and the list would be abolished. There would be only one owner per medallion.
  • A driving requirement would be kept in force for the new owners subject to allowances for short term disability and other emergency needs
  • A fee of around 20% would be changed to transfer the Proposition K medallions. A fee of 5% to 10% would be changed to re-sell them.
  • Convenience and necessity hearing would be required before the City could issue new medallions but, if the need arose for new permits, the City would keep 100% of the money.
  • 50% of the money earned by the City from auctions would toward promoting the health and welfare of all drivers
Since I belong to the MHA, I would like to like this plan but there are several things that I disagree with:
  • Solving the problem of fairness to List drivers by "grandfathering" medallions. Taxis should not be put on the street unless they are needed.
  • Convenience and necessity hearing aside, the plan seems to encourage the City to sell medallions as a source of revenue. Such hearing would have to have much stricter standards than they do now.
  • I don't see why a driving requirement should continue once the medallions are sold. The cost of such mickey-mouse record keeping is considerable not to mention annoying and pointless.
  • Any auction system will necessarily favor drivers able to raise money over drivers with skill and will easily open itself up to corruption - as it does in other cities like New York.
  • "Grandfathered" or not, many drivers who had committed themselves to driving because of Proposition K would be screwed.
On the other hand, transferability fees may be only realistic way to raise enough money to pay for driver's medical and retirement benefits.

I think what I dislike the most is the logic behind this plan as well as the behavior that has resulted from this logic: like the MHA's protesting of neither the $15 million MTA fee nor the plan for the City to arbitrarily put 100 cabs on the street.

Actually I don't like the logic and reasoning behind most of the plans submitted to Ms Hayashi. Many of the justifications are exaggerated, distorted or false. I'll be dealing with them in a future post.

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