Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Medallion Reform: For Discussion Only?

Deputy Director Christiane Hayashi (seen here next to David Khan with Mike Harris sitting behind them at a TAC meeting) has come up with her own plan for medallion reform which she presented at the Taxi  Advisory Council and a Town Hall Meeting in February. If adopted this plan would replace the Pilot Program when it runs out of salable medallions.

Ms Hayashi emphasized that her plan was not chiseled in stone and was for discussion only. 

I take this to mean that she thinks of her plan as a draft that is likely to be changed and modified during future meetings and discussions.

In any case, a great deal of original thought and work clearly has gone into her plan and it deserves a long look by all those who care about the future of cab driving in this city. I intend to do exactly that during the next few weeks or so. 

We Don't Need No Stinking Discussions!

Others of course have already made up their minds. This includes the usual suspects like Tariq Mehmood who thinks that a honking horn is better than a clear idea and prefers personal insults to in-depth analysis. Mr. Mehmood led a protest at the MTA Board meeting yesterday - which is fine. But, he's also repeating his snarky attacks on Hayashi - which is not. 

Since he's at it again, I feel it's my duty to remind my gentle readers that Tariq's animosity toward Hayashi stems not from noble ideas but from his sense that she's interfered with his attempts to manipulate taxi reform for his own personal gain. (See Tariq: Or, "It's True If I Say It's True." and Tariq - Or Actions Speak Louder Than Words. )

Some Thoughts are Verboten.

There is another driver who recently wrote to the MTA Board that it should fire Deputy Director Hayashi merely for suggesting that the MTA lease out some medallions to the companies. The driver especially dislikes the idea that the MTA would be making money off these leases. Leaving aside the issue (which I'll deal with later) for the moment, I want to point out both the absurdity of his demand and the ignorance that motivates it.

I happend to like this person (which may be why I'm not using his name) but he's a dilettante when it comes to San Francisco taxicab politics. He often shows up to make stirring speeches but hasn't put in the time necessary to know what has gone on in this business for the last three years. 

His demand is analogous to insisting that a crime syndicate fire one of its employees for loan sharking. 

It's the MTA that wants the wants the money, fella. Hayashi's just doin' her job. 

One of the first things the Deputy Director said during one of the first Town Hall Meetings in 2009 was that, if she didn't get a certain amount of money for the city, she'd be replaced. She's went on to add that she also wanted to help create the best taxi business she possibly could for both the drivers and the public - a desire that she's fulfilled to an amazing degree. 

The Plan that Might Have been and Still Could Be.

On September 1, 2009 Chris Hayashi was demoted from Director to Deputy Director for not enthusiastically embracing a plan drawn up by MTA Director Malcom Heinicke. The same Heinicke who has received a letter from my pal to fire Hayashi because she wants too much money from the taxi industry. Talk about biting the wrong end of the stick.

That Heinicke's plan was not adopted was largely due to the later efforts, determination, creativity and negotiating ability of Hayashi. 

Without her, there would be:

  • No list.
  • No driver's fund.
  • No medallions sold.
  • No medallions bought.
  • No medallions period.
Drivers would be treated far worse than they are now with no hope of ever improving their lot. Service would rapidly decline as a result.

Hayashi deserves awards not attacks.

Heinicke is still pushing his plan.

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