Used to be that bureaucrats were predictably dull and boring. You could go to a meeting, take a seat and sleep behind a person with a weight challenge knowing that you wouldn't miss a thing.
Then along came Christiane Hayashi. Not satisfied with the new plan she presented on Friday, the Deputy Director came on yet another, more radical, one on Monday.
Did I say radical? In the long history of labor conflicts, there be may nothing quite like this.
What Ms Hayashi wants to do is negotiate an agreement between all the interested groups that would give something to everybody in such a way that what is taken away magically balances out. If that doesn't make any sense, it's because I don't fully understand everything that she is trying to do.
It'll take hours of discussion to begin to work this plan out. For the moment, all I can try to do is give you some highlights.
What Ms Hayashi proposes (if I understand this correctly) is a structured settlement agreement between the city and all other parties with a "recognized interest" in the taxi business to do the following things:
- Suspend the lawsuits regarding the ADA and the Gates thus feeing up money that would be spent on legal fees by the city, the MHA, the UTW and others.
- Raise $18 million for the City of San Francisco by selling 100 cabs to drivers on the list for $180,000 a piece.
- Give another 100 cabs to people on The List without charge.
- Qualified (10 years of driving + age 65) medallion holding drivers would be allowed to retire for the next three years. This retirement would be guaranteed regardless of whether the settlement continued or not.
- There would be no permit fees for anybody during the next three years.
- A driver's fund would be set up for non-medallion drivers.
- Taxi companies would be allowed to pass their credit card charges on to the drivers.
- But the drivers would pay the corporate rate of 2.5%
- In return, the Companies would reduce the Gates 5%.
- Drivers on The List would have the choice of buying a medallion or taking one for no charge.
- It was assumed that most of them near the top would take pass on the buy option.
- But, at a certain point, people down on The List would opt to buy and could thus jump the people ahead of them. It was unclear whether there would be a fee charged for this or not.
- It was also unclear as to what guarantees the drivers buying the medallions would have that they would get their money back.
Over the three year period $18 million would be dived thusly:
- $6 million would go to the MTA for no apparent reason.
- $6 million would go to the SFPD for enforcement of laws against phony taxis, illegal limos and other things.
- $6 million would go to the Taxi department to pay for staff, materials, driver training, etc etc.
The settlement would be binding as a legal contract, would last for three years and the signees would include:
- Credit unions
- Taxicab companies
- Color schemes
- Litigants in related lawsuits
- Taxi coalition
- Department of Human Resources
At the end of the three year period, the agreement could be renewed, modified or dumped.
There were a lot of questions asked and scenarios worked out. Most of the people were very interested. Some, including myself, were enthusiastic. The usual hardcore suspects, however, remained hardcore.
Mark Guberg of the UTW thought the plan too complicated and instead wanted to continue his vendetta against medallion holders by making these worthless freeloaders pay for the retirement of all drivers.
Barry Korengold of the SFCDA didn't like the idea of selling cabs for a fixed price because the buyers would lose money on the interest. He was also afraid that this would open the floodgates for future auctions which would unfair to the average driver.
Hansu Kim, who only last week was telling me that he could accept fixed price sales and wanted to maintain The List, reverted to form by singing a lengthy praise to auctions and saying that drivers not on The List should have a right to bid too.
Michael Spain claimed that everyone would think like him in 20 years so we should do the inevitable and start auctions now.
Deputy Director Hayashi said that what the final plan would consist of would be what everybody would agree to in writing.
"What if everybody won't sign the agreement?" a man asked.
"That's not an option," she told him. "We'll keep having meeting until we have an agreement."
Does she intend to take a page from Robert Kennedy Jr. and lock us all in a room until we all sign a settlement?