Sunday, November 15, 2009

The UTW's Nov'09 Flyer

At a time when almost everyone in the taxi industry is trying to work out a reasonable compromise reform plan, when even the arch-demon of open auction transferability Mike Spain is talking consensus, the UTW has chosen another route - an hysterical propaganda attack on the Town Hall process.

Almost everything in this flyer is false. Let me count the ways:
  1. You can't save Prop. K. It's dead. It's past. The war is over and the people in favor of preserving K (including myself) have lost.
  2. The Town Hall meetings are about how to create the future.
  3. As of yet, there is no plan to sell medallions. There is no plan of any kind. The plan hasn't been worked out yet. That's what the Town Hall meeting are for.
  4. However, people attending the meeting have been moving toward a consensus plan that would include:
  • Maintaining the waiting list.
  • Giving drivers on the list the right to choose between getting a medallion without charge as they are now or buying a medallion for a fixed price.
  • A retirement plan for medallion holders.
  • Building a retirement fund for all drivers - most likely from the sale of the medallions.
The plan has yet to be fully worked out but, because it's being attacked, I want to go into the fixed price idea in some detail:
  • The whole idea of a fixed price auction is to make the medallions AFFORDABLE for the drivers on the list.
  • It is a compromise based on the idea that most drivers would not be able to compete in an open auction.
  • There has been talk of a $200,000 selling price but this would be discounted 10% so that the buying price for those on the list would be $180,000. These drivers would later be able to sell their medallions for $200,000.
  • One thing that proponents of the plan have insisted on is that there should be NO DOWN PAYMENT REQUIRED to purchase a medallion.
  • The idea that a driver would lose a medallion for missing one or two payments is a RIDICULOUS LIE. Nobody but the mob lends money with that strict a pay-back policy.
  • In fact, no financial institution has yet provided any information on loans to cab drivers. The BOGUS STATEMENTS in the flyer are strictly UTW FANTASIES.
  • Deputy Director of Taxi Chris Hayashi will soon be taking bids from credit unions to find the best possible terms for loans to drivers.
  • No selling price will be settled on unless a working medallion holders can afford to make the payments.
Of course the devil is in the details and what the final plan will look like will depend upon what people decide at the Town Hall meetings. And more non-medallion holders should be there. But they should coming to express their ideas and points of view, not to protest against a plan that doesn't exist.

You know, I can accept other people's points of view. Certainly the UTW's concern for the people on the waiting list is legitimate and their longing for the security of Prop K is something I can identify with.

One thing I can't abide, however, is intellectually dishonestly. There has been at least one UTW member at every Town Hall meeting that I've attended. Therefore there is no excuse for the distortions and scare tactics contained in that flyer. It's a new low point in the taxi reform debate.

But if it brings more non-medallion drivers to the Town Hall meetings, it could turn into a good thing. It could give more people a chance to find the truth about what is happening ... and add their two cents to the process.

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