Monday, March 22, 2010

Chris Hayashi on the Amnesty Program

The SFMTA send shock waves though the medallion holder community with a letter that said it would be, "YOUR ONLY NOTICE AND OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SFMTA'S MEDALLION AMNESTY PROGRAM."

This gentle message appeared a third of the way down the letter but it was the first thing that I read. Only later did I lean that the "amnesty" was being offered to drivers who were "under the age of 70" as of 12-31-2010 and had not fully met the full-time driving requirement of 156 shifts or 800 hours each year.

Under this amnesty, a medallion holder who had not followed the rules would still have to turn his or her medallion back into the city but would not have a pay a fine of $24,000 a year or $30 for each hour that is "short of satisfying the requirement" ... if the medallion is returned by April 2, 2010.

This follows in the wake of medallions that were turned in by four former members of Royal Cab who were made infamous by Dan Noyes for allegedly never working a single shift: Lauretta Tacchini (a police captain's wife), muli-millionaires Jack and Sylvia Dudum, and Martha Barrakah (a paralegal).

The incident and the letter raised a some questions that I was able to put to Director Hayashi after Mayor Newson's hybrid sound-bite yesterday. I forgot my tape recorder (amateur!), so what follows is a summary of the conversation.
  1. Taxi Services is going after the medallions (which no previous director has done) in order to make the Pilot Program work. The permits are needed to move The List and give the SFMTA medallions to sell.
  2. Although she would not tell me how many medallions the SFMTA is going after, Hayashi said, "30 revocations are already in the works and 30 more are on the front burner."
  3. Director Hayashi is mainly going after "egregious offenders."
  4. If the medallions are not turned in by April 2nd, Taxi Services will revoke the permits and hit the violators with the above fines.
  5. Although the Dudums, Tacchini and Barrakah have turned in their medallions, the SFMTA still wants it's money, which could be as much as $240,000 each. A hearing is set on the matter for early April.
  6. Minor violations (like being a little short of 800 hours) will be dealt with by fines, not revocation.
  7. Hayashi wants to emphasize that although the companies must also keep records, the main responsibility for proving that they have met the driving requirement belongs to the drivers.
Jarvis Murray, Enforcement and Legal Affairs Manager for Taxi Services, added that his "main emphasis is to clean up this situation once and for all" so that by next year "we won't have the perpetual problem of medallion holders who don't follow the rules."

Hayashi finished by saying that the "goal and mission" of her department is to make San Francisco a place where people from all over the world praise the quality of the taxicab service. "That starts, " she said, "with having general compliance with enforceable laws."


  1. Not giving anybody the chance to see the charges against them before dooms day does not seem fair. I doubt anybody will turn in their medallion because there has been no enforcement and plenty of threats with no action in 30 years. The Tachini file shows that complaints were made over ten years ago and nothing was done.
    I believ Ed is incorrect when he says MTA still wants their money from her. I was told she gave up the avoid penalties. Chris is renting her med. as well as the other 3 to Royal which seems to be unprecedented.

  2. 1. Nobody has tried to take the medallions back in 30 years.
    2. Tachini and the others did indeed turn their medallions in to avoid penalties. However, the MTA made no agreement with them to accept the medallions in lieu of money.
    3.Chris Hayashi still wants the money and there is a hearing coming up on the matter.
    4. I don't understand your last sentence. Do you mean that Hayashi is continuing to allow the medallions to be Royal until she can either sell them or give them to people on the list?
    5. The whole situation is unprecidented,

  3. I don't know when those 4 meds. will be given/sold to a driver.

  4. Addendum: yes she is letting Royal pay the MTA for the meds. and they continue to run them.

  5. From what Chris tells me, the only reason these medallions (and others) aren't being given out is that she is understaffed and the MTA is making it ridiculously difficult for her to hire the investigators she needs.

  6. Here's an idea. I'll be the first to volunteer. Taxi driver's can come in and count the way bills for her. That could get the list moving along and save the city money. Who better to count them than taxi drivers who handle them every day. This should be the kind of outside the box thinking that Director Hayashi prides herself on.

  7. Sound like a good idea to me. Why don't you contact her?

  8. Oh good. Won't have to volunteer. All the Taxi companies just got a letter from the SFMTA to get all their way bills ready to be counted. I guess they have an army of people on the pay-roll now. I'm sure they will be sending letters to a bunch of people on the list now. Dust off that pile of Medallions that have been sitting in Director Hyashi's office for over a year and get them on the street. I HAVE A STRONG FEELING THAT WON'T HAPPEN.

    Very strange set of priorities the SFMTA has. Do they have staff to count way bills or not? And then you wonder why the trust has already been broken.

  9. Show up the MTA Board meeting and tell them to give Hayashi more staff so she can process the new medallions

    She hasn't been sitting on the medallion. More than 30 have been put out since she took over which is the same rate as it was before.

    If you guys are too chicken to use your own names, please use a pen name. I don't know if I'm talking to one person or seven.

    From now on I'm going to wast my time answering unidentified people.

  10. Dear Crocker,

    I appreciate your answers. You created the forum. A forum does not demand an answer. It is a place to express one's view. You ought to be happy your forum is taking off. I can remember not long ago when everything you posted generated zero posts. I just hope Chris Hayashi looks at your web site. She could learn a lot about how members of the Taxi community really feel when they are able to express their views without threat of retaliation. Keep up the good work.

  11. 30 medallions in well over a year. In the last 6 months of the Taxi Commission when 69 new Medallions were approved, they were approving 10 to 15 every month. At least. The list was moving by 25 names a month. If the SFMTA isn't giving Director Hayashi staff, it's because they don't want them given away. There seems to be enough to pay their overwhelming salaries. It is on big game and any driver on the waiting list with half a brain can see they are being had.

  12. 1. I don't have a sense that this is forum - at least not from your anonymous critics. I think the same few people with an axe to grind are trying to use my blog as a forum for their own ideas and misleading information.

    2. Are you telling me that I shouldn't be answering comments on my own blog? If so, you're setting a new standard for arrogance.

    3. Chris Hayashi does in fact read my blog as does almost everybody in the cab business and in City Hall. For some reason most of them respond by letter.

    4. Is it one person or two who keeps sending these anonymous posts? And you're claiming to be the "Taxi community." What nonsense!

    I talk to enough members of the real taxi community to be able to classify you as the lunatic fringe. You're a couple of malcontents who won't be satisfied with anything other than your own plans - whatever they are.

    5. Your math is interesting. The taxi commission approved 69 new medallions in the last 6 months ... and the list was moving by 25 names a month = 150 in six months? Which is it? Make up your mind. Or, more likely, make your fantasies more consistent.

    Thanks - you've prompted me to call Vickie to find out what the actual figures were.

    6. One thing you say may well be true. The SFMTA may well be playing a game by not giving Hayahi staff. If they succeed in making her fail, Heinicke will take over, sell the cabs at open auctions and try to take 50% of the money.

    At least the drivers on the waiting list will then know where they are.

    From now on, I'm not going to be accepting any comments without a name.

  13. Please Crocker, take a look at what I really said. I didn't say you couldn't respond to your own blog. I just said you didn't have to if you didn't want to. It seemed like it was becoming a burden for you. It's your choice whether you respond or someone else responds. That's the beauty of a comment section.

    Secondly, if the list moves by 25 names, we all know that at best only 1 out of 3 qualify for a Medallion. Thus, the waiting list moves much faster than the actual number of Medallions issued. Also, out of those 69 which were approved, around 20 were never issued before the Taxi Commission folded. It is easy to see how many people were being approved by looking over the archives section of the old Taxi Commission which is still available on the SFMTA web page.

    If you want to start censorship on your blog because there are anonymous people posting, why did you start a comment section in the first place? What do you have against a spirited debate within a spirited industry? If no one is threatening anyone or using obscene language, why stomp on opposing view points? Keep it interesting.

  14. I think it's pretty standard to ask a person to identify themselves on a call in radio show or a blog.

    I don't know if i'm talking to one person or several.

    Frankly i don't find your comments spirited, I find them mean-spirited, unproductive and boring.

    Everything you say is distorted or taken out of context. It's a drain on clear thinking and a waste of time.

    I don't see why I should provide a form for a put-down artist with no ideas of his own. I don't even see a point of view - or do you think nit-picking other people's work constitutes a point of view?

    If you don't have the courage and curtesy to identify yourself, start your own blog.

  15. No problem, you've heard the last from me. Your site is beginning to stagnate anyway. I feel sorry for you. You want to be a 1/4 millionaire so badly, your judgment has become clouded. You are operating from the old view point of medallion holders being superior to non medallion holders. Our strength comes from combining 1500 Medallion holders with 3000 plus drivers on the list. The city does not want to take on almost 5000 angry taxi drivers. But, if they can divide and conquer, they will succeed. You act like it is charity if those on the list ever get Medallion. That's how you got yours. All the Town Hall meetings did was dangle a carrot in front of everyone so that they would not revolt and file lawsuits in mass. Isn't that becoming obvious now with the never ending delays of implementing this pilot program? If the list falls, you Medallion holders will be next. Once they take away from one, they will move to the next. Now, if you find those comments unproductive, boring and lacking of any ideas then don't complain in two years when you get the letter to turn your Medallion back into its rightful owner. The City of San Francisco.

  16. Dear non person,

    I'd like to say I'll miss your paranoid rants but I won't.