Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MTA Board Tells Hayashi - "Yes"

The MTA Board gave their unanimous vocal approval to the plan that Director Chris Hayashi outlined for them yesterday.

The experimental plan calls for the limited fixed-rate sale of taxis by medallion holders over 70, the preservation of The List, the one-time sale of 60 taxis to raise $15 million for the MTA and the establishment of a driver's fund - among other things.

It was a contentious meeting with the UTW bringing out it's troops in force to attack the plan. The proposal was also dissed by numerous others. Many of these dissenters had attended few, if any, of the 175 hours of Town Hall Meetings and much of what they complained about was either beside the point or already covered in the plan.

For those of us who have attended most of the Town Hall Meetings, some of these rants were amusing.

For instance, one speaker railed against the MTA for not taking corporate taxi medallions away from the companies and giving them to drivers on the list. Had he gone to a few of the later meetings, he would have known that Chris Hayahsi's plan already included exactly what he wanted.

And Bud Hazelkorn of the UTW gave an impassioned speech about how the companies would cheat and control the drivers by loaning them the money to buy their medallions. If he'd attended the meetings, he would have known that cab companies won't be allowed to loan money to drivers under Hayashi's plan.

Rua Graffis and Mark Gruberg, on the other hand, regularly attended the Town Hall Meeting. They simply didn't like the outcome. Gruberg, as usual, said that the City had no right to overturn Prop-K and Graffis still wants medallion holders to pay all the bills for a driver's fund.

However, the majority of speakers (most of whom had taken part in the Town Hall Meetings) backed the plan. Most of them also rightly praised Hayashi for negotiating a compromise among numerous, strongly (some thought "impossibly") divided factions.

Those speaking in favor of the plan included:
  • Barry Korengold, Victoria Lansdown and Francois Speigelman of the SFCDA.
  • Carl Macmurdo and Mike Spain of the MHA.
  • Jane Bolig of Desoto, Dan Hinds of National, Jim Gillespie of Yellow and Charles Rathbone of luxor.
The most surprising speaker in favor of the plan turned out to be Director Malcolm Heinicke. He praised Deputy Director Hayashi, not only for working out a compromise plan, but for convincing him to discard his own previous ideas. He professed to like the experimental nature of the plan and said that "metrics" should be carefully chosen to study the measure's effects. He said he'd also like to see a retirement option re-introduced.

But although he did seem sincerely interested in "reform," Heinicke was clearly even more interested in the "revue streams" that these changes could bring into the city. He liked the retirement option because it could provide a "steady revenue stream." He also said that getting 15% from taxi medallion transfers wouldn't be enough. Heinicke said that the medallions were a City "asset" and he wants more out of them. In short - $15 million just won't cut it.

Director Bruce Oka praised Chris Hayashi for doing the "impossible" in unifying the cab drivers to support her plan.

Executive Director Nat Ford ended the meeting by stating that he would instruct the Chief of Police to aggressively go after illegal cabs and limos.

Deputy Director Hayashi will present a final plan complete with details to the MTA Board on January 29th. The Board will then formally vote on whether or not to accept the proposal on February 16th.


  1. Dear Crocker,

    Great reporting of the events. Journalism at it's best. Especially the parts about Gruberg and his disgruntled co-horts. Very funny stuff.

  2. Ed, I'm curious how you so resolutely back this plan when last year you walked out of our coalition with Barry Korengold's Cab Drivers Association, saying you'd never support anything that sent cab money to the city, period. Well, here you are waving the flag for just that. Moreover, by your logic, YOU never attended the meetings because you weren't at the meetings I was at (Careful: quoting Jane Bolig does not a journalist make). The fact is that Mark attended on behalf of UTW and regularly reported back. Also, I regularly wrote letters to Chris Hayashi and the MTA board. And, too, I and UTW, for all you and your elitist friends' disdain, is involved in aspects of driver rights that you have nothing to do with, e.g. fighting -- and winning -- against Yellow Cab's deposit schemes, our continuing battle against bandit cabs and limos, getting retirement for all drivers, not just you privileged few, and on and on. Finally, I have a family, which suggests a life outside cab driving that you may lack. But that's neither here nor there. Your support for this proposal falls right into the arms of Yellow and Luxor, as I said at the MTA. For you to sweetly and innocently accept Chris Hayashi's assurances that "cab companies won't be allowed to loan money to drivers" neglects a basic political and legal conundrum: how you gonna stop 'em? And, two, who's gonna lend the money in their place, since banks aren't doing it? I suggest you be less adversarial and hard-headed and try thinking in terms of what's best for ALL drivers. That's what we at UTW do and of that I couldn't be prouder. Love, Bud

  3. Dear UTW and Bud,

    Before you go and attack anybody, perhaps you can clear up the question of how Green Cab obtained its 7 pre-k medallions (the Welsh medallions) There are some who know about the skeletons in the closet. Maybe Director Hayashi should take a look at these medallions as she has others which should be returned to the city. A mother with dementia forgets to pass them along to a son? Sure. The house counsel for Yellow Cab. All hushed up when the extortion demands were met. Suddenly Green Cab is formed. That story may have washed with the corrupt Taxi Comission, but this is a new regime.

    If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones.


    CTD (Concerned Taxi Drivers)

  4. My Goodness Hazelkorn.

    1. I was at about 160 hours of the meeting and I don't recall seeing you there. I thought that you probably didn't go to the meetings because what you said at the MTA board meeting was so full of false information.
    2. Cab companies will not be allowed to buy medallions under this plan. If you went to the meetings, why didn't you know this?
    3. I've never been accused of being either innocent or sweet before. Thanks, I guess.
    4. If Chris Hayashi says she won't let the cab companies lend the drivers money, she won't let them. She may look frail but I won't want to fight with her in a dark alley.
    5. She already has finance companies lined up to lend the money. They will be lending it to drivers regardless of credit scores.
    6. Actually I can't see where Luxor or Yellow are getting much out of this plan at all except business as usual.
    7. And I can't see where the UTW has had a new thought in 20 years. Gruberg gave the same speech five different times during the meetings. He sounded like an old 78 rpm - complete with static.
    8. To answer you first question last, I back this plan because I helped create it along with a couple dozen other cab drivers who tried to find a solution to the situation we are in. It's a lousy plan except that it's better than all the other ones out there.
    9. I walked out of the the Meeting on the MTA because they wanted to raise $30 million by taking it away from me and had no plan to put it back into the cab industry. This is a whole different situation.
    10. Everybody tries to do the best they can, Bud.

    Sorry for getting back to you so late.