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.