Wednesday, July 27, 2011
What Happened to the Good Old Days?
The taxicab industry has always been divided but not that long ago we all came together in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation and saved the business with a plan that gave a little to everybody but not too much to anybody.
Look at that picture. They're all there: representatives from all the major companies and driver's organizations and drivers themselves sitting or standing around the mediator of that peace, Deputy Director Christiane Hayashi.
That was only a year and a half ago. Hard to believe isn't it? Look what's happened since:
We've had a Taxi Advisory Council that, as one of their first acts, voted to give their own members and their kin medallions as key personnel, without having to follow the same rules as everyone else.
We've had Tariq Mehmood (sitting so politely in the second row) turn himself into a local fool by running around making asinine slanders against Hayashi at every city meeting he can find and to every public official who will agree to listen to him - as if lies could become truth through repetition.
And, of course we've had endless protests lately - including a few against agreements that many of the protesters themselves helped to formulate at Town Hall Meetings. And now they're threatening to strike even if they get what they want - despite the fact (as previously noted) that the protesters have no unified goal. And, if they do strike on August 2nd, it will be on a day when (in all probability) new medallions will be issued to the Waiting List and drivers will get a 22% raise.
Adding to this absurdity, we have Luxor, Yellow and Desoto Cabs going behind Hayashi's back to temporary Executive Director of the SFMTA Debra Johnson, trying to undercut a plan that was developed through Town Hall Meetings for the issuance of 50 Single Operator Permits and 35 medallions to the List (25 issued to the top of the list and 10 sold by the SFMTA). And, this is a plan that their own company representatives agreed to at a TAC meeting.
They don't want no Single Operator Permits or 35 new medallions right now because issuing a these few medallions might relieve the pressure to flood the city with taxis later. They don't want no studies of whether new medallions are needed or not. They don't want no outside input. They want 500 taxis, they want them immediately and they don't want to give anyone else a chance to speak. Corporate oligarchy at its finest.
As if Ms. Johnson would be stupid enough to unleash another whirlwind of protest over 500 new medallions during her last few weeks as SFMTA chief, just before she steps down to work for her successor, Ed Reiskin.
When Johnson didn't go along with their plan, the company reps went running off to peddle the same soap to Mayor Ed Lee with hopefully the same result. Why would Lee undermine Reiskin, his own favorite candidate for SFMTA director?
And all this when the country is on the brink of a politically induced recession.
I'm tempted to make a call for unity - like the Beatles' song "Come Together Right Now." But, with all these clowns running around out there, I don't know if it's worth the gesture.
At least we in the taxicab business don't need to worry about being divided and conquered from the outside.