Deputy Director of Taxis Chris Hayashi had an epiphany the other night which led to a change of emphasis during the October 16th Town Hall meeting. Originally she had intended to discuss two separate plans: one offering medallions holders a chance to buy a retirement and the other offering the chance sell a medallion at a fixed rate.
Ms Hayashi's revelation was that the two ideas could be combined into one. She only saw the broad strokes in her vision so the details have yet to be worked out. However, the outline goes something like this:
- Medallion holders could opt for either retirement or sale.
- The List would be maintained and drivers on it apparently would have a choice between getting the medallion by paying for it or not.
- The City would take fees of at least $10 million for brokering the deal because they are giving us public access to the streets ... or something.
- Some of these fees would go back to the taxi industry in the form of enforcement against illegal taxis and limos as well benefits for the non-medallion drivers.
I think the idea was generally greeted with enthusiasm - especially by those of us who thought that the twain could never meet between the plans; and that the people favoring one side or the other could never reach an agreement.
There was hostility loudly expressed against the high percentage of the fees (ranging from 20% to 50%) that the MTA wants to charge the taxi industry for putting Deputy Director Hayashi's plan (or any other plan) into effect, mostly by medallion holder Jim Templeton and myself. Jim argued that it was absurd for us to be contributing to the salaries of MTA personnel who make more than twice as much money as we do. I concentrated my attack on the fact that we would be hit by much higher taxes than anyone else pays.
I'm afraid that we both of got a little carried away. Jim had the good grace to apologize for his outburst but I did not. I should have. My Irish temper had the best of me. My animosity was (or should have been) directed at the idea not the person. Let me apologize now.
In any case, our complaints had no effect. Ms Hayashi told us that we should talk to an attorney. Her legal opinion is that the MTA has the right impose any fees that they wish.
She saved the best news for last. She told us that the plan that wouldn't die is finally dead.
"I tried to get one of you to say something good about the plan but couldn't," she told us.
She deflected all attempts to get details about this radical change of direction with a series of impish "yes" and "no" answers to all queries on the subject. In the shadowy Byzantine world of the MTA, the force apparently is finally with Deputy Director Hayashi.
The people in the taxi industry are apparently to be given the chance to decide their own destinies.
Let's hope the wind stays at her back.