Sunday, August 22, 2010

The First Taxi Advisory Council (TAC) Meeting

The first Taxi Advisory Council meeting took place Wednesday, August 18, 2010 with Director Chris Hayashi acting as temporary chair. Although most of its business was administrative in nature, there were a few things worth noting.

Deputy City Attorney Mariam Morley gave a brief talk on the rules of San Francisco's Sunshine Ordinance which begins by stating,  "Government's duty is to serve the public, reaching its decisions in full view of the public."

Morley went on to explain that, under the rules of the ordinance, members of the council should not discuss council business, aside from official meetings, if more than a quorum of eight or more of the fifteen members are present. This means:

  • They shouldn't discuss official business at group meals or other similar gatherings.
  • There should no be mass e-mailings or mass chats among the members.
  • The members should be careful even about discussing council business in small groups because (let me do the math) if 3 members discuss an issue, than each of the 3 talks about it with 2 other members, they would be violating the Sunshine Ordinance.
A righteous ideal.

The council also had its first skirmish when Barry Korengold of the SFCDA motioned that, instead of appointing one Chair to head the council, the Chair should rotate with a different member leading each meeting. Korengold said that he was concerned that a permanent Chair would have too much power to affect the proceedings.

Such a plan probably would be unique and difficult to work with but I believe that Barry was reacting to the bias favoring ownership that is built into this council. While Chris Hayashi clearly has bent over backwards to fill the council with a "variety of voices and viewpoints," it can't be denied that either seven or eight of the council members own, manage or own stock in cab companies. (I'm not sure if Ramp Taxi Medallion Holder Laurie Graham owns stock in Yellow or not.)

Indeed, sides in the fray were drawn up along class lines with six of the seven members of the Owner's and Manager's Block (as I shall call it until proved otherwise) lining up for a single Chair and most of the non-medallion holders backing the idea of a rotating Chair. Laurie Graham, I think it was, suggested compromising by having four rotating Chairs to cover the two year period of the TAC. Jane Bolig of Desoto Cab Co-op agreed to the compromise as did Barry Korengold, drivers John Han and Bill Mounsey and most other non-medallion holders while most of the Owners and Managers Block initially held out for a single Chair.

Dan Hines of National/Veterns Cab said the he "didn't like the direction" that the conversation was going and that the important thing was for everyone to come together to save the cab industry.

If this was intended to be a unifying speech, it appeared to backfire because Hinds was clearly unwilling to accept the other side's point of view.

The members went around and around before finally arriving at a compromise. There will be three Chairs for periods of six months each, meaning that there will be a single Chair from next meeting until the council makes its report to the MTA on the Pilot Plan.  However, the power of the Chair will be greatly limited.
  • The Chair must give every member who wants to comment a chance to speak.
  • Every member of the public who wants to speak during the public comment periods must be given a chance to do so.
  • The Agenda for the next meeting will be set by the council at the end of every meeting instead of letting the Chair do it.
Call it a draw. 

The next meeting will be held on Monday, August 30, 2010 at 1 pm in the 2nd fl Atrium at the MTA building #1 South Van Ness and every second Monday after that.

Given the make-up of the council, it would behoove drivers on the Waiting List and ordinary drivers to attend. It's a good idea anyway.


    1. I believe I have an e-mail from MTA that says the Council is formed to oversee the pilot program or something to that effect. Is that correct? Even if I am I'm guessing that it will morph into a more global thing.

    2. What it says is that the TAC ... "shall monitor the issues that arise during the Taxi Medallion Sales Pilot Program, evaluate the effects of the Pilot Program on all sectors of the taxi industry, and provide advice to the SFMTA Board ..."

      You guess could very well be correct.