The latest round of Town Hall meeting concluded with sessions on Monday December 14 and Tuesday December 15.
Tariq Mahmood (2nd row - left), Hansu Kim (1st row - 2nd from the right) and Mike Spain (standing - center rear) all gave presentations. Mahmood and Kim gave scheduled talks while Spain delivered his lecture (for the 3rd time) under the guise of a question - or he would have if he hadn't been interrupted after ten minutes by me (smuc standing and staring at camera).
Mahmood and Kim, who are true believers in an open auction system, put aside their own ideas to back Chris Hayashi's plan in a show of unity. Spain, who also favors auctions, has also agreed to back Hayashi's idea for a fixed price sale.
Otherwise the meetings tended toward the tempestuous. Mark Gruberg of the UTW had brought along a number of drivers who had previously not attended meetings. Many of these people were openly hostile - largely on the basis of misinformation. The crowd occasionally became rowdy - forcing the unusually calm and collected Hayashi to raise her voice in order to keep the animals -er drivers - in line. In the end, she managed to sooth the fears of most of the new people.
However, a problem with semantics caused a fuss. Hayashi changed the name of her Drivers' Fund to "Industry Fun" on the advice of some clown or other. This caused both Gruberg and Ruach Graffis of the UTW to loudly declare, "There's nothing in this damn plan for us!" After the meeting Graffis stormed out threatening to put her own measure on the ballot if the non-medallion drivers didn't get their fund.
Director Hayashi was stunned by this response since she said that she intended the fund to go for the benefit of the non-medallion drivers - no matter what the fund was called.
Realizing the negative effect that the change of name had caused, she changed the fund back into a "Driver's Fund" on Tuesday and the last session went much more smoothly. Ms Hayashi gave the fund a prominent place in on outline of her plan for taxicab reform that she finally presented.
The Town Hall meetings thus came to a temporary close with the various factions of the cab industry much closer together and more unified than they had been when the meetings began.