Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ed Reiskin Takes the Reins

Ed Reiskin (pronounced Riskin) made his first appearance as Director of Transportation at the SFMTA Board meeting on Tuesday September 6, 2011.

He seems an affable, competent individual with a good sense of humor. He spoke well of some the projects completed by Transportation and gave awards to a few MTA employees.

During comment on the Director's Report, taxi driver Christopher Fulkerson asked why such awards were never given to cab drivers. To his apparent surprise, Board President Tom Nolan agreed with Fulkerson and said that he had been thinking along the same lines and that the MTA would see about putting out such awards in the near future.

A Push For A Division

Numerous people during Public Comment expressed a desire to see Taxi Services returned to it's former status as a Division with current Deputy Directory Christiane Hayashi as full Director. Among those speaking in favor of this position were drivers Victoria Landsdown, Paul Harting, Brad Newsham, Christopher Fulkerson, Mark Gruberg, Barry Korengold, myself and others.

Cab industry people, who wanted to speak in favor of Hayashi and a Division but couldn't make the meeting, included Ruach Graffis, Hansu Kim, Francios Spiegleman, Athan Rebelos, Dave Schneider and Murai.

 Making a Mountain out of a Mogul

Charles Rathbone of Luxor Cab spoke about a "loophole" (below - colored red) in a clause of the August 2nd resolution to put 87 more cabs on the street which goes like this,

"A single operator can use any model of hybrid, CNG or electric vehicle that is already being used as a San Francisco taxi, with the exception that if a vehicle costs more than $25,000 other fuel choices may be authorized depending on other vehicle performance factors such as passenger capacity, accessibility and/or fuel efficiency."

Charles made the point that most taxis now cost more than $25,000 and thought that this could open the door for "all 1,500 cabs" to once again becoming gas vehicles.

Paul Gillespie, the former head of the Taxi Commission, who is rightly credited with starting the move toward a green taxi fleet was very concerned about the "big loophole" which he saw as potentially undoing all his work. Mark Gruberg also expressed his concern about the issue.

I called up Charles this morning and asked him if he had talked to Deputy Director Hayashi. This seemed like a reasonable question since Hayashi had written the alleged "loophole."

Charles responded with a definitive "no" so strong that he sounded hostile to my query. I then asked him why he thought Hayashi had written the "loophole." He said that he wouldn't say but that I should figure it out for myself.

I'm not good at figuring out my own motives much less somebody else's so I did the unthinkable and actually called Christiane Hayashi to ask her about the resolution. She said:

1. That the exception was for Ramp taxis where there isn't a good low-emission vehicle or vehicles like the Volt that get good gas mileage even though they aren't hybrids.
2. Except for the Ramps, this would only apply to the 50 Single Operator Permits. She said that one such driver wanted a vehicle like the Ford Flex that would carry 6 or 7 people and that such vehicles would be rarely used in any case because they are so expensive.
3.  Hayashi hasn't bought a car lately and thought that almost all taxis sold for less than $25,000.

"I guess I can change the numbers," she told me, "but it'll have to go through the Board again."

Which is Another Reason Why We Need a Division

All that Rathbone, Gillespie or Gruberg had to do was call Hayashi up and she no doubt would have changed the wording of the loophole to anything that was mutually agreeable. She could have presented the change to the MTA Board yesterday and the problem would already be solved.

Instead Gillespie and Rathbone followed the path set down by former Director Nat Ford of going behind Hayshi's back or over her head but never talking to her - the only person who could understand the resolution - directly.

As it is, as I understand it - members of the Board (i.e. Director Heinicke) will talk to Sonali Bose who will talk to Hayashi who will talk to Sonali Bose who will communicate with Reiskin who will communicate with the Board who will communicate with Sonali Bose who will talk to Hayashi who will re-write the resolution and show it to Sonali Bose who will ...

Do you think this is what the Chinese had in mind when they invented Bureaucracy?


  1. "Cab industry people, who wanted to speak in favor of Hayashi and a Division but couldn't make the meeting, included Ruach Graffis, Hansu Kim, Francios Spiegleman, Athan Rebelos, Dave Schneider and Murai."

    You can add my name to the list of supporters of Chris H.

  2. gee,

    It sure is nice to know, who are hayashi's whores.

    Johnny Walker

  3. It is worth noting that there were NO persons offering Public Comment to the effect that there should NOT be a separate Taxi Division, nor were there any persons who expressed the opinion that Chris Hayashi should not be promoted with it.