Sunday, September 28, 2014

An interview with Tony Kelly Who is running for District 10 Supervisor

This is the first time I've endorsed anyone for a political office and I confess that my initial motivation for doing so was simply that Tony Kelly is not Malia Cohen.

That's current San Francisco District 10 Supervisor Malia Cohen who in the past tried to block fines against illegal cabs and wanted to punish taxicab drivers for not picking up enough in her Bayview district by voting against a meter increase.

More recently Cohen together with Supervisor Scott Weiner blocked an attempt to improve public safety by regulating Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. This would've included requiring full insurance like taxis carry and thorough background checks administered by the Department of Justice using fingerprints.

Supervisor Cohen also wanted to officially name Uber, Lyft and Sidecar part of the city's transportation system despite the fact that none of these companies even include most of her District 10 in their maps of San Francisco.

I met future Supervisor Kelly at Farley's Coffee in Potrero Hill where Kelly has lived since 1994. It was an appropriate choice. It's the kind of unique neighborhood place he favors over national chains because it keeps money in the local economy and is part of what makes San Francisco "the San Francisco that everybody in the world thinks we are."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Impressions of the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance

Since I'm working with impressions instead of facts, I think it's best to start with photos. They tell most of the story. Nine out of the eleven member San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA) board are in this shot. Another is included below sitting behind a National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA) organizer who is speaking in the following photo.

The final member of the board is Rua Graphis of the United Taxicab Workers (UTW). The SFTWA represents the merger of the UTW and the San Francisco Cab Driver's Association (SFCDA) with a bunch of guys I don't know and who haven't, except for an occasional protest, been part of the SFMTA's decision making process for the last five years. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. I'm not enamored with many of the people who have been part of that process.

The person most responsible for bringing all these different groups together is the blond at the table, Beth Powder, who is a film maker and short time cab driver with clearly exceptional organizational skills.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Who is John Galt? Uber, Lyft, Sidecar & the Culture of Deception

One answer to the above question is that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick thinks he is. Why else would he have t-shirts printed with the Uber "U" asking, "Who is John Galt?"

Kalanick obviously identifies with the hero of Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged. For those unfamiliar with Rand's philosophy, she sets the innovative genius against a society rife with democrats, communists, unionists, socialists, corrupt politicians, seedy journalists, the overweight, sleazy lawyers, environmentalists and their various shills.

I confess that I was a big fan when I was 19. Naturally, I identified myself as a potential fellow genius but beyond that I was attracted by the integrity of Rand's characters: Galt, Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, and Rand's persona Dagny Taggart. The books were not only about greatness vs mediocrity but truth vs lies.