Monday, April 12, 2010

The Phantom Answers Anyonymous

Lately I've been besieged with comments from a character hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. Sometimes he gives a name like "Dave" or "Anonymous #1" but more often he refuses to give a name claiming that he's afraid of retaliation from the companies or the Taxi Division.

As an ex-non-medallion holder who openly tried to form a driver's union and openly criticized policies of the companies I worked for, I can't say that I admire his courage. However, I believe that the main reason he is being anonymous is that he's one person pretending to be several and thus bogusly claiming to represent "how members of the Taxi community really feel."

He's hostile to the Pilot Plan and keeps looking for weak points to attack. If you respond to one of his jabs, he comes back and attacks from a different angle. Some of his rhetorical assaults are beyond ridiculous. For instance, he claims that if people who buy medallions are forced to follow a driving requirement, they would lose their medallion if they had to go away for five years to take care of a sick relative.

What can I say? ... Anybody who left any business for five years would probably lose it. At least a medallion owner would be able to sell the medallion and would be a lot better off than a driver who would lose his or her place on the waiting list.

Having answered that pseudo-question, I'm sure I'll have to field another equally ridiculous one in response. It's like dealing with an eight-year old who knows he's smarter than you are. However, I do think that he has some legit questions or concerns that I'll try to address:
  • Buyers of medallions will be able sell them right away: They will not have to wait until they are 70.
  • Director Chris Hayashi is not sitting on medallions. Since she's taken over she's put them out at a rate consistent with the years in the past as you can see from this chart.

YEAR # of Medallions Awarded
2000 85
2001 83
2002 26
2003 53
2004 28
2005 18
2006 52

2007 56
2008 106
2009 55
2010 9

  • In the year since the SFMTA took over, the Taxi Division has put out 37 medallions. They will be putting out 5 more on April 20th.
  • 2000, 2001 and 2008 were all years where new taxi medallions were issued. If you remove these from the equation, the average number of medallions issued per year is 41.
It is true that the Taxi division has a backlog of about 25 medallions but Hayashi says that this is only because she has been unable to hire enough staff to investigate and issue the medallions to new owners.

Anonymous is certain that the real, the true reason is that the SFMTA wants to hold onto the medallions until the Pilot Program is over, when the nefarious Hayashi intends to sell the medallions instead of giving them out to drivers on the list.

There are a few things to say about this:
  • On April 16, 2010, SFMTA will be interviewing people for the investigator positions that Director Hayahsi needs.
  • The medallions being held now are being given out on a basis of one medallion to drivers on the list for every medallion sold by the MTA. That is to say that she can't sell the medallions if she doesn't also give them out.
  • Therefore it doesn't make any sense for her to hoard them.
Anonymous has also criticized the Fixed Price sales plan as leading to a possible bankruptcy tsunami like what happened when the old Yellow went down the tubes in the mid 70's.

When the final financing plan is my hands (hopefully in the next few days) I'll go into more detail, but the above scenario is very, very unlikely to happen for the following reasons.
  • Old Yellow owned most of the medallions in the city. It's hard to see how 300 or so individual medallion holders could conceivably all go bankrupt at the same time.
  • The failure rate of loans to cab drivers in New York City is 1/2 of 1% (0.5%) and New York sells their taxis at much higher prices than they will sell for here.
  • Although I don't have the final figures, I've been assured that the loan payments the medallion holders will have to make will be about the same as the amount these medallion holders will be paid for leasing out their medallions when they aren't working them.
  • Thus the medallions will pay for themselves. If anything, I would expect the failure rate on these loans to be even less that it is in New York.
For now, I guess that is it.

I've enjoyed the comments that I've had on this blog but I really don't want to continue to deal with the silly little games that this character has been playing. I would appreciate it, if in the future, people who want to post here would identify themselves in a consistent manner. Not that you have to use your real name (I'm not using mine on this blog) just that you do use a name and use the same one every time.

Thanks in advance.


  1. Dear Crocker,

    Thank you for that valuable info. You obviously spent a lot of time researching the facts. I appreciate it greatly.

    Hugh Gordon (no longer anonymous)