Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chris Hayashi: More Appreciation

I owe Deputy Director Christiane Hayashi an apology for the limp article I wrote yesterday in her defense. I was trying to walk on egg shells and sidestep the critics. What a joke! To act is to create critics.

Let me make a correction: Hayashi is the best thing to happen to the cab industry in the twenty-seven years that I've been in it. And, if you don't like it, you can suck those egg shells.

I was speaking to a MTA official yesterday who said that she thought Hayashi was doing a pretty good job. That's like saying Beethoven was a pretty good pianist.

Putting the Pilot Plan together was not a "pretty good job" it was an impossible feat. The only other person who I thought might have been able to bring the taxi industry together would have been the Obama of 2008.  Maybe you had to be there but I'll try to explain.

The recent protests should give you some idea of how hard it was to put the plan together. For instance, Tariq Mahmood and Brad Newsome are both loudly calling for drivers to strike. They both agree about the 5% but little else. Brad wants to stop the sales of cabs and return to the sentimental days of Prop K while Tariq wants open auctions. How could you make a policy that they will both want out of that?

Hayashi was faced with the same challenge a year and half ago - only it was much more complicated. The sides were:
  • Pre-K medallion holders who despised
  • Post-K medallion holders who snobbishly looked down upon
  • Non-medallion holding drivers not on the Waiting List who hated all medallion holders and disliked 
  • Non-medallion holding drivers on the List who, along with all the other groups, hated 
  • The owners who hated the medallion holders and each other and, along with all other groups, hated
  • The MTA who thought of everyone in the cab business as potential serfs in an endless money stream.
Of course I'm greatly over-simplifying but I'm running out of time. The general wisdom of the day was that nobody could get cab drivers to agree on anything.

Hayashi's dictum was that "everyone will get something but no one will get everything they want."

She listened to everyone's ideas and gradually crafted the plan out of the hostility and chaos using an awesome blend of creativity and critical analysis. She put plan after plan up on her famous white boards, constantly crossing ideas out, adding other ideas, merging thoughts - always working toward something everyone could accept, if not love. Day by day, meeting by meeting, the boards changed as if they were blank music sheets being worked and re-worked by a master composer. In the end, only the UTW failed to go along and they still got a Driver's Fund and a Waiting List left intact.

But what about those damn back-seat terminals?

Once again, Hayashi wanted the back-seat terminals put in because she had been led to believe that the VeriFone prompting system would make the cab drivers way more money than the 5% they would spent on credit card charges. The jury is still out on this but, if she's wrong, she's wrong. It's not a crime.

When she discovered that many drivers did not like the back-seat terminals and hated the 5% she looked around and found Square as a 2.75% alternative.

Perhaps the greatest quality that Chris Hayashi has is her flexibility. If you show her a better option she'll more than likely go for it.

The Town Hall Meeting starts in about an hour. Let her know what you think. She's a great listener.

I don't time to proof this because I have to make the meeting. My apologies for any errors.


  1. I'll be anon. so I won't be thought of as kissing up. Yes I agree she is quite amazing. She takes political risks, works like a dog and is always the smartest guy in the room. Town Hall meetings? Unheard of.
    She let me down a bit by going fishing in Alaska with Nate Dwiri but I know her well enough to know she is calls em like she sees em but it looks bad.
    She listens and pays attention and if it makes sense all round she will do it even if those in power don't like it.
    Too bad idiots like Tariq and Town Taxi can throw conspiricy theories around at will no matter how stupid they are.
    As someone on the list I'd like to see just one med. holder get caught doing fake waybills though.

  2. Ed,
    The SFMTA is hiring, so now you can drop the pretense and go work for

  3. Ed,
    Your blog would be better suited in Cuba with the censorship you engage in!

  4. Hi Ed,

    you are right on about the great work Chris Hayashi and her team are doing for the taxi industry.

    Thanks Art Lembke

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    Once again, let me repeat that I don't print personal attacks or obscenities.

    If she didn't have such a bad temper I'd be more than happy to work for Hayashi. Twice the pay of being a greedy medallion holder and think of those benefits.

  6. "Too bad idiots like Tariq and Town Taxi can throw conspiricy theories around at will no matter how stupid they are."

    It's not right for you to single people out by name, and then call them derogatory names, while you hide behind a veil of anonymity.

  7. And what is my conspiracy theory? Reiterate my "theories".

  8. Reiterate them yourself. I've got better things to do.

  9. I don't have a conspiracy theory, and that's why you can't repeat it unless you make it up.

  10. Dear John,

    I find it interesting that you want to defend Tariq against being called derogatory names when he has trouble opening his mouth without insulting or slandering somebody.

    As for the conspiracy theory ... in one of the taxi forums you suggested - on the basis of no proof at all - that Chris Hayashi might be being paid off by Verifone and that the mere fact that you had not proof was not proof that such a thing wasn't possible.

    Excuse me if I didn't quote you exactly but that was the gist of what I thought I read. If I'm wrong correct me.

    On the other hand, if I did get the gist correctly, I guess I'd have to ask if this was indeed a conspiracy theory or merely low-ball slander.


  11. Hi John,

    You're defending Tariq against people calling HIM derogatory names?

    This is getting more and more bizarre by the day.

  12. Ed, Shut your mouth. Your are most non-sense,
    jerk and stupid person. You are looking under
    the skirt, people got no time for your love
    story. Wait and see once this all is over.