Tuesday, April 14, 2015

She Can't Read It (Or Take It) Anymore

"She-who-can't-be-named," taking one glance at the posting mentioning five Uber pick-ups in five minutes, instantly gave up, unable to continue reading the bad news that's become our local taxi reality.  Her reaction is a good indicator of the consequences associated with what to many folks is just another non-captioned bureaucratic decision, something barely registering upon a greater list of important priorities. No one died or was imprisoned or even mildly censored in regards to the decision for totally disrupting Seattle's local taxi industry. No, nothing overtly dramatic occurred at all other than the upsetting of individual lives and their families. 

Instead all we have had is a thousand or more silent deaths, tiny incidents like sitting over two hours waiting for a fare, or the more sanguine worry of how will this month's rent or mortgage will get paid.  Any loud protests  will come instead from worried spouses aimed at exhausted husbands, blaming them for not doing enough when 12 hours in the cab once sufficiently fulfilled requirements to pay all the bills, even leaving something left over for the annual visit home back to Ethiopia or Somalia.

No, you won't find any mention of any this anywhere save perhaps here in my postings, because obviously I too have been relying upon taxi for my bread and butter and short-term sustenance.  I also know what it means when the wife yells at you because "You aren't earning enough!"---blame tumbling upon your head and shoulders.  So when "she-who-can't-be-named" expresses outrage or woe about a situation artificially created, I not only know, I can guarantee that not one Seattle municipal official gives a damn about her anguish. Why would they have reason to care?  As I always say in these situations,the answer too obvious to say anything but that.  What else can be said?

Finally A Good Weekend

A stretch of nearly eight bad weekends ended this past weekend with a remarkable flourish.  As I told one interested fare, my income was down by about $1600.00 during both February and March but this second weekend in April was one for my personal record books, at least in terms of airport runs, that all important taxi barometer.  Combining Saturday and Sunday's totals, I had 16 runs to either the airport itself or a Sea-Tac area hotel.  My very last was a "hooker" run where the fare was paid by the waiting "john."  Like I keep saying, I am a cabbie, not a social worker.  Despite the too many hours and not enough sleep, it was great to see some kind of normalcy return.  Tomorrow I am rewarding myself with camping two nights in the Eastern Washington high desert.  Due to the moist Spring the desert flowers should be abundantly colorful.  And how many airport trips will I have next weekend?  Only the taxi gods know!

Why I Am Not Beating Up Yellow

More than once recently I have received comments asking why am I not more critical of Yellow taxi, either implying or actually accusing me of favoritism.  This is not the first nor I am sure the last time that I am seen as the "teacher's pet."  If I'm not, the saying goes, why aren't I barking and biting the evil association owners?   My response is twofold.

One, anyone truly interested in reading a "no-holds-barred" examination of the taxi industry will have to wait when I finally write my taxi novel project entitled "Zammit."  When you see that on the racks, buy it and you will see what you have wanted to hear or know or see all along.  Of course since it is a work of fiction I won't be naming actual individuals but those in the know will understand everything I will be writing about.  Is taxi crazy?  Of course it is.  I know it and so do you.

And two, all one needs to do is read my last posting and the list of taxi evils I might theoretically talk about at the Amsterdam conference to clearly comprehend the unspoken.  What the heck do people think I saying when I say "innate taxi inferiority? "  Of course that kind of attitude leads to the industry to depend on "taxi clueless" people like Don Stark who only advocates for a particular issue because he is being paid.  His next task might be what kind of cat food you should feed your hungry domestic felines.  And will the folks hiring him consider it necessary for him to have at least one Turkish Van Cat or Domestic Short hair at home?  Let's hope so.

And what  I implying about minor taxi criminality?  And what about "association mismanagement?"

My question to everyone out there in Seattle taxi-land is, are you paying attention?  Again, what do you think I am saying?  A taxi buddy sent me a paranoid text this morning.  When will it ever end?  Maybe, just maybe when we finally get enough sleep.

In short, I have been critical though perhaps not in the way desired.  But I can assure you that the majority of the "power structure" know my opinion of their operations because I have told them, more than once about  what I see needs to be done.  That they haven't responded tells me they like doing things their way, no matter how inefficient that may be.  Yes, much that occurs at Yellow appears to be nonsensical.  Is that really some startling revelation?  I don't think so.  I know everyone can agree to that, everyone already understanding the full and unwritten story.

Uber Insurance Bill Passed Yesterday 4/14/2015

HB 2231 was passed yesterday, doing two things.

One, it made the statement that ride-share providers like Uber, Lyft Sidecar must carry the minimum insurance required of all types of for-hire vehicles.

Two, relating to us in the cab world, that L&I insurance will be optional.  More on all this when I have the details.

The bill now awaits the governor's signature.

An Editorial Note 4/15/2015 4:42 PM

If you notice errors of any kind, I can assure you that they will be remedied sooner than later.  This particular posting had more mistakes than usual.  The simple explanation is that the coffee shop I was working at closed before I could thoroughly go over my text.  I regret any confusion caused.  Like "What the hell is that guy saying?"  God knows, maybe, or perhaps not, writing and taxi driving remaining profound metaphysical mysteries. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Doesn't Look Like I Will Be Going To Amsterdam

Allow we a little "taxi" comedy when I tell you that on Thursday and Friday, April 23-24, 2015, there will be something held in Amsterdam, Holland called the "Taxi Intelligence Conference" led it appears by none other than James Cooper, partner of  Professor Ray Mundy who jointly caused all kinds of trouble for Seattle cabbies by telling those stalwart intellectuals known as the Seattle City Council that demand for taxi-type services were on the upswing.  That the dynamic duo received $100,00 for their erroneous study says everything about the City of Seattle's approach to the local taxi industry.  Believe anyone and everyone other than the industry itself who yelled that what Cooper and Mundy were saying just wasn't true.  Now some may say, "Hey Joe, calm down! That was over a year ago." but as I have been repeating these past weeks all of us here working beneath the top-light suffer through the Cooper/Mundy generated reality. I have tomorrow not to look forward to.  And as I have been describing, it ain't a pretty picture.

Now toward the end of  this month we again have James Cooper, a perfectly nice and pleasant human being, masquerading as a taxi industry expert.  He, along with something called the "Taxi Research Network" will examine the industry's immediate future as if they knew anything of its past.  Yesterday I half-jokingly emailed James Cooper, saying that if I was made a keynote speaker I would join him in Amsterdam, a city I have spent some combined weeks in.  I like it there and I sure it is clear to anyone familiar with this blog that I would certainly add something to the late April proceedings. 

One topic amongst many I might expound upon would be, "Just How Did We Get To This Miserable Taxi Juncture?"

In order I would talk about,

1) Innate Taxi Inferiority

2) The Industry's Latent Criminal Mentality

3) The Regulatory Riddle:  The Confusing Contradiction of Lax & Heavy-handed Governmental Administration

4) Association Mismanagement

I am sure everyone would find it all very entertaining.  Unfortunately I have yet to hear from Mister Cooper, though I am not surprised.  Why present reality when you instead can theoretically drone on forever. 

Or perhaps, since I am known as slightly feral, the fear is that I might be impolite but I assure you there should be no worry.  Pay my airfare and lodging and modest speaking fee and I will become quite domesticated.  A muzzle wouldn't be required.  Not even a short leash.  Instead of barking I would politely wag my taxi tail.  What more could they ask for?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Is Doing Nothing Our Only Choice? I Don't Think It Is.

Usually an event like this past weekend's "Hopscotch" in the Fremont neighborhood generates a steady flow of pleasantly inebriated passengers, and it did though unfortunately most all of them were stepping into Uber vehicles instead of my taxi.  I am not exaggerating when I say that in a five minute span I observed five Ubers pull up and take away what in the recent past would have been my customers.  Since Yellow now has the same app, that isn't the sole factor determining a potential rider's choice.  Instead, it is now mostly price oriented, Uber's per mile rate of $1.09 undercutting the taxi's regulated per mile by a whopping $1.61.  For most folks cheaper is clearly better even when it means uncertain insurance coverage which obviously could cost you much more in the long run if you are unlucky enough to have your Uber car hit by an uninsured driver.  That is when the bargain  disappears, instantly transforming into a modern nightmare. Life-long paralysis, anyone, and all the costs coming out of your own pocket.  Of course you would sue Uber but good luck with a company that calls three billion American dollars "pocket-change!"

I neglected last week  to mention, that during the subcommittee hearing in Olympia a bereaved father, sitting two seats away to my left, testified how his daughter was killed in an TNC accident occurring last year in the state of North Carolina.  He pleaded for mandatory drug testing, something that we don't have, and to my knowledge, to this point a subject never seriously discussed.  To say that his story was moving is the proverbial understatement.   As the cliche goes, after he spoke, the "silence was deafening."  Nothing like stark reality to frame an argument.

His story is typical of what I have learned while observing local "democracy in action" these past eight or so years, lawmakers making their decisions regardless of knowledge and fact, leaving the consequences behind to be faced by the innocent and victimized.  Not a pretty story though one repeated daily in Olympia, Seattle, Raleigh, North Carolina, Washington DC and elsewhere.  Pick any country and its capitol city and I am going to guess it is the same.  All evidence coming from cities like Caracas and Moscow and Riyadh appears to verify that impression.  What is true in Saudi Arabia and and a county like Belarus is also true in your local state capitol and county seat, the "human condition" biting all of us in the butt,  freedom and the choice to think and do what you want is too often theoretical at best. George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens and the American reporter Leslie Cockburn, whose wonderful and informative book, "Looking for Trouble---One Woman, Six Wars, and a Revolution," I am currently reading, all knew and know this is true.  By the way, next time anyone is in Olympia, you should check out that great local and non-corporate bookstore, Browers, located at 107 Capitol Way North.  You won't be disappointed.   Find them at browersolympia.com.  

Watching all those Uber fares, including last night's obvious "Sea-Tac" fare step into an Uber while I was first-up at the DECA hotel, has gotten me to thinking that it is past time for an coordinated response to the City of Seattle's decision to allow Uber, Lyft and Sidecar to operate unfettered while we in the taxi industry remain locked in regulation.  It is completely unfair, and the more I think about it, totally nonsensical and illegal.  I have again concluded that we somehow must respond before the situation worsens beyond repair.  The only good part of our past failures to properly respond is that I think I now know why we failed.  Even a numskull like me can learn a needed lesson when knocked upon the noggin enough times.

It is in that spirit that I will (at least I think I will) once again make an attempt to organize a cohesive effort to, one, create a functional and viable taxi driver political organization; and two, coordinating within this united framework a winnable legal effort aimed at the City of Seattle and King County.  Having just today made the decision to do this, I do not as yet have any defined timetable but when I do I will certainly let everyone know. 

One approach I am seriously considering is the formation of not one but multiple organizing committees working jointly and collectively thus removing all possibility of intentional or unintentional sabotage.  If we as a local industry make the decision to do this,  it must be successful minus all obstacles.  Given our futures, and those of our friends and families, are at stake, I suggest that this time we  DO NOT allow anything, stupidity, hubris, etc  to trip us up.  If starving upon a taxi stand isn't motivation and justification enough to stand up and fight, then I don't know what it will take.  Talking to taxi colleagues in the cashier line has convinced me that finally my fellow cabbies are ready to "duke it out" with our governmental opponents.  One thing I can assure all of you is that I will make every effort to simplify both the process and the language involved.  I think it will be best to keep our lawyers local and those with a personal stake in the game.  Again, as I make my contacts during the upcoming weeks I will keep everyone updated.  And of course I encourage everyone to contact me and express your thoughts and concerns and ideas. 

That Full Moon Has a Sense of Humor (sort of)

This past weekend was filled with crazy incidents and situations.  Saturday bar break had two brothers fighting in the backseat as we headed up to Northgate.  Getting them to calm down I gave the brothers and their companion chocolate truffles, saying it was time for all of us to take communication together.  Since it was then Easter Sunday morning I could not think of anything more appropriate.  Last I saw of them the younger brother Caleb was lying on their apartment building's driveway in a drunken clump, the friend telling him to get up.

Soon thereafter I parked in a discreet location near the Northgate Transit Center for a necessary "urination stop" when amazingly a stranded gentleman walked up to me and negotiated an early morning flat-rate to the Sea-Tac area.  Not wanting to wait another two hours for a bus, he was ready to go.  Having first argued with his girlfriend's father, then the girlfriend, he was now it appeared to be heading for some questionable moonlight  rendezvous.  Again, I am only a cabbie, not a marriage counsellor.

My very last fare early Monday morning was this "rough & tough" early twenties big African-American guy who was gruff, to say the least, directing me to his house, then surprising with the request that he needed my assistance to help him unlock his sliding door with my car key.  "Reading" him properly, good natured as I am, said "Okay!" literally chuckling as I got out of 478, understanding how outlandish his request was, following him down the path to the rear of the house and the aforementioned door.  Immediately seeing it had been left open for him I bid a quick goodnight, saying, "You know, I bet I am the only taxi driver in Seattle who would have followed you to this door!"  And I know that is true.  No one else is that nuts but hey! taxi is all about risks and taking chances.  Besides his smile as he entered his home was worth everything.  He might be a thug but he too appreciating a friendly gesture.  All I can say, don't try this "at home" especially with $600.00 dollars plus in your back pocket!

Mount Vernon Murder Update

The suspect has been charged with 2nd degree murder and first degree robbery.  Those charges usually result in at least a 30 year minimum prison sentence and possibly a lot more.  Mert's Taxi has yet to call me.  When they do I will relate our conversation. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Update On Murdered Cabbie: gofundme.com

It is unfortunate but true that most victimized cabbies are rookies, and in this case, the  46 year old driver murdered in Mount Vernon, Washington, Lisa Marie Eason, had only been driving for Anacortes, Washington-based Mert's Taxi , a small three car company, for just a few weeks.  Why licensing authorities continue to think that anyone can drive a taxi minus any and all serious preparation remains a mystery because indisputable evidence screams otherwise.  In NYC in the mid-1980s the annual taxi driver murder rate averaged over fifty cabbies shot down and stabbed. One of our last murdered Seattle taxi driver had been working for just over a year, leaving behind a wife and two children.   We now can add Ms. Eason to the list of victimized cabbies, victimized by both the murderer and the unthinking and nonsensical licensing system itself.  I have said it before and I repeat it again.  It is unjust  and immoral to insert untrained drivers into what is an inherently dangerous work environment.  Again, City and County and State officials need to be more responsible, it is as simple as that.  Do I think this new tragedy will suddenly make them more aware and responsive?  No!

The man who allegedly shot Eason in the head with a 45 caliber revolver, Solomona Fatu Luteru, appears not be particularly bright nor devious.  Security cameras at the Swinoish Casino shows Luteru entering Eason's taxi.  After killing Eason, Luteru forcibly pushed a female driver out of her Toyota Camry and drove south to Lakewood, Washington.  Thankfully he failed to notice that there were more than one "live" cellular telephones in the car, allowing police to track him to near to where they ultimately found him, still wearing a white blood-splattered T-shirt and processing the actual gun used in the two crimes.  He is being held under a one-million dollar bail.

Surviving family members are currently seeking funeral costs through "gofundme.com."  Donate please what you can.   We are one taxi family.  On my various travels, the driver "lights up" when I identify myself as a fellow cabbie, clearly acknowledging our shared reality, that being the "deranged" occupation we all share.  Always "know" who gets in your cab.  Don't allow yourself to be surprised by what should be obvious.  One way or the other, "trouble" always communicates their hidden agendas.  "Read" that face, your very survival dependent upon reading all situations properly. "Taxi illiteracy" can be fatal.

Editorial note:  Most of the information contained in this posting was taken from local and  national news services.  I have spoken to a Mert's dispatcher.  I am awaiting a call from the company owner.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Testimony In Olympia & Cabbie Murdered In Mount Vernon, WA & Please, No More Early Full Moon!

This morning I somehow pulled myself out of bed and joined the taxi crew down in Olympia, Washington to attend Rep. Steve Kirby's House sub-committee  hearing on his "striker" amendment to Bill 5550.  What brought me and everyone else down to the state's capitol were the two provisions under discussion: insurance requirements for Uber, Lyft and Sidecar; and relating directly to taxi, a provision making the purchase of Washington State Labor & Industry insurance optional, meaning it would remove the current mandatory requirement we are all operating under.

By simple fate, the first four witnesses were all from Uber, including one poor soul admitting to being in the quasi-taxi business for two whole weeks.  Once my two minutes arrived, I JUST had to mention I have been driving for 28 years, and attempted make my brief testimony as nuanced as possible, mentioning that too many TNC (Uber, etc.) drivers were operating minus their official app and picking up passengers illegally, thus automatically driving without insurance coverage. 

My stance concerning L&I coverage was more neutral, stating the obvious that at least all of us in the local industry are now protected, stating that before mandatory insurance not one of the approximately three thousand plus cabbies had bothered with personal insurance.  What astounded me about the Uber folks is that they pleaded poverty, that having Proper and Legal insurance coverage would be an unjust and unaffordable burden.  This from a company valued at 40 billion dollars?  What are they talking about?

Unintended comedy came from the Lyft lobbyist who made reference to some new "insurance language" currently in negotiation between Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and a national insurance group.  When Kirby requested from the Lyft lobbyist that the "language" be provided to his ten-member committee, the lobbyist responded that "he too was trying to get the information," leaving the clear impression that, while presenting the ongoing national negotiation as an alternative, he himself  yet to read the very same information he was promoting.  If pomposity can be called a disease, its clearly epidemic amongst the Uber, Lyft and Sidecar folks.  Please, is there a vaccination available?  Stay tuned as all this progresses thought the various House and Senate committees. 

We can thank those wonderfully inefficient elected officials in Seattle for handing the problem of insurance requirements to their State colleagues.  After all that talk, talk talk it is amazing that the administrative "walk" remains hobbled and crippled.  Do you think the voters will hold them accountable? I for one don't believe they will, for all the reasons that one can think of, accountable democracy purely theoretical, and little else, the fate of the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders and the Huskies far more important.  Why do people care about millionaires doing nothing that is conceivably productive unless I suppose you view them as some kind of cultural high priests performing metaphysical tasks?  That must be why.

Death in the Industry

Last night a female driver operating a Mert's Taxi taxi-cab in Mount Vernon, Washington, was murdered by a male passenger.  The suspect then carjacked a car and drove it to Lakewood, WA where this morning he was located and arrested.  An unintended advertisement for continued  mandatory L&I coverage was WA State Labor & Industry's official contact with the victim's family within hours of the crime.  Thankfully the family is guaranteed a settlement that otherwise might not exist.  The reality is is that L&I can be extremely beneficial if and when needed.  More on this tragedy as it becomes available.

Once Again, Early Full Moon Swoon

My intention this week, before the Mert's Taxi murder, was to be humorous, spotlighting all the stupid situations I encountered this past weekend but who can laugh when a taxi colleague has been senselessly killed?  All I can  say is that if one doubts full moon reality, you should have been behind the wheel of my taxi late Saturday night driving north on a darkened and unfamiliar Everett, Washington street when two teen aged skate-boarders suddenly appeared in front of me in the middle of the road, one of them swerving to the curb. It is fortunate I have good night vision.  My passenger complimented my driving skills.  Thank goodness I do know how to drive a car!  And those fools down at Seattle's City Hall think anyone can do this, expecting the average cabbie to achieve the near impossible.  Think again and again and again, ladies and gentlemen, think again!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Another Example Why "Not Thinking" Isn't Good Enough

What I was saying, implying in my last entry, was the failure of not thinking issues through, be it existence itself or driving mundane taxi down your local byway.  An example of such thinking occurred yesterday morning as I wandered around searching for my assigned taxi in the rain at the darkened cab lot.  A true part of the taxi experience is walking round and round in the night reading every cab's number hoping finally you have found your taxi. 

Yesterday morning, having decided to work, hopefully making some post-vacation money my first scheduled  cab of a two-taxi single shift was 378.  The reason why I didn't find 378 waiting for me at 4:00 in the morning was the day driver's failure to tell Abebe, upon calling off the shift, that he and  his night driver were operating the car from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM instead of Yellow's traditional 4-4 arrangement.  His inexcusable omission caused me a late start, a foray into a much maligned CNG (natural gas taxi) and driving not two but three separate cabs, the switching from vehicle from vehicle a true pain-in-the-taxi-ass which, on top of the incredible inconvenience, cost me money. 

All the driver needed to say was, "Abebe, we are driving the car 6 to 6." and simply the situation would have been prevented.  Now granted, that might have annoyed Abebe but at least by knowing what was going on, he would have asked me whether picking up the cab at six would be okay?  But by not telling anyone the day-driver created problems he himself could have predicted.  Why didn't he say anything? 

My assumption is that he has gotten into the bad and fatal habit of not thinking life though to logical conclusions and outcomes.  This, my taxi comrades, is essentially how we arrived to where we now find ourselves in the industry.  Thinking, problem solving is, and always will be, life's necessary response to every approaching conundrum.  Avoidance leads to your victim walking round in circles cursing beneath his breath, "Where is my damn car?"  At least I did make some money, an $80.00 Virgina Mason Hospital to Federal Way fare, including a $15.00 tip, helping repair an irritating day.

 Some Explanatory History Concerning WA ST Labor & Industry and the Taxi Industry

A few years back, hearing some disturbing rumors about what was the building momentum in negotiations between taxi and L&I, I attended a hearing in Renton.  Testifying there, I found there was another round of public testimony scheduled in Olympia.  Alarmed by the Renton testimony and response, I determined I had better plan on showing up in Olympia. 

Once there I was shocked to find I was the only taxi industry person there.  No one, not from Seattle nor any other locale had made the drive.  This is where we all got lucky.  After my testimony I was invited upstairs by a then L&I official, Bill Moomau, to talk with a group of interested L&I folks.  That one hour meeting brought great results because without it we in the Washington State taxi industry would probably now be paying double what we are now. 

A few weeks after this most opportune meeting I received a telephone call from the then director of L&I, Judy S, informing me," Joe, I wanted you to be the first one to know that we decided to request half of what we have been asking."  Despite everything, it was good news.

While I know the additional costs relating to L&I coverage are high, personally costing me an additional $160-200.00 each month, can you imagine if they had kept to their original estimate?  The pain, especially in the current business market, would have been unimaginable if I was now forking out nearly $400.00 each month.  Taxi, as all of us plying beneath the top light know, is damn hard work. 

Now knowing that all of us, despite the cost, are covered is comforting but there could have been other options taken toward the same goal.  What I saw in all of this was the Seattle taxi associations failure to understand the grave threat poised by L&I.  Why was I the only individual defending us that day in Olympia?  The answer, as I keeping saying, is obvious.  Sleeping is fine and necessary but not when slumbering upon a "bed of nails."  Anyone ever attempt to clean blood stained sheets?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The End Results Of Poor & Ineffective Comprehension

Last week, while lounging around San Miguel de Allende and mulling ideas about a series of short stories, I found myself focusing upon theoretical thematic scenarios and plots centered upon  the primary charaacters' puzzling failure to understand that most elementary human reality: that of formally and  mentally recognizing they  alive upon a rotating planet flying at 66,000 miles per hour thought a blackened expanding universe.  Yes, this is my unfortunate observation concerning too many of my fellow earth-dwelling residents: that the majority, despite eating, crying, laughing have remained disconnected to having been born, and then to their unimaginable chagrin, dying, all of us of course somehow mysteriously slated to breath this planet's oxygen mix for an  un-predetermined number of years.  By not understanding this most basic premise my conclusion is that too many individuals remain alienated and  incommunicado from life itself.  Not a particularly good situation when awakening upon a new morning, the birds singing, the sun shining.

I mention this in relation to taxi only to point out that the majority of my fellow taxi colleagues can be similarly categorized,because, though sitting in a taxi day after day after month after year they seem to continually display little understanding of the minute to minute reality screaming at them.  Why this is utterly important is simple.  People both in the local government  and taxi associations are making decisions that ultimately frame those daily 12 hour forays beneath the top-light, and if you sit there like a cow grazing in a field you will suddenly and unexpectedly be facing the total horror of the fatal slaughterhouse.  Dismembering surely is something best avoided though surely that is what has occurred to our local industry, a de-facto deregulation fragmenting us into so many disparate parts and pieces.  Clearly it is hard to function with your head in the Wallingford neighborhood while your feet reside somewhere on Capital Hill, with your hands shifting sand on Alki beach.

A colleague commented upon my last posting, saying I have been ignoring the problems and issues and poor decisions generated by BYG (Yellow Taxi); and that there are other concerned cabbies out there other than just me, phrasing his observation as "more than just you" which of course I agree with wholeheartedly. And please, keep those all those comments coming.  I appreciate the feedback and points of view regardless of attitude and opinion  one way or the other.  Doesn't NPR say something like that during their "letter" section?  God! I am becoming an Upper-Middle-Class American right before my very eyes!

In terms of Yellow, I suggest rereading sections of my last two entries to understand that I have been both hinting and placing blame upon Yellow and the other associations, because, for one, agreeing to renegotiate a finished plan previously approved by the City Council; two, accepting the clear deregulation of the local industry; and finally, three, having the temerity thinking they held the legal authority to represent over three thousand and counting independent owner operators.  If you don't remember being asked your permission it's because you were not asked.  And of course the City of Seattle and King County are also culpable because they too assumed a representative authority neither they nor the associations hold.  Written permission from all of us was and is required.  Obviously it was never given.   One could say that all of us witnessed a "governmental" amateur hour which means many holes remain, potentially allowing for various legal openings.  Is anyone out there ready to try again?

My response to the criticism that I am or have been operating in a personally created "self-appointed universe" is to point out my many efforts over the past 6-8 years to organize all the lease-drivers into a cohesive whole.  Each time the interest has been underwhelming.  As I keep saying, while one person can be at least temporarily effective, ie my successful L&I intervention, ultimately it is group
effort that not only just provokes the notion of change but actually achieves real and final resolution.  Too often typical governmental and cooperate response is to chop off the snake's head only to find themselves strangled by the remaining body. Check out one of my all time favorite movies, "The Battle of Algiers" to see how the colonial French failed in that particular effort.  I also refer you to to the late 1940s and early 1950s struggle the French had in Indochina against the Viet-Minh. While leaders are necessary, they can only point hopefully in the correct direction.  Numbers, and their full participation, is the ultimate route to victory.  More than Martin Luther King  Jr. had to be bitten by the Selma police dogs, the blood and final redemption shared.

Oh Yeah?

Sitting on the Crowne Plaza taxi stand I notice an "old hippie" looking fellow taking my picture.  When I roll down my window, he yells, "Go back to your own country, you f___king bastard!"   It is hard to return to where you already are but hey, it reminds me how so many of my fellow cabbies are treated.  Lately I have had a spate of passengers saying 'How glad they are!" to have either a white or American driver.  I have stopped commenting upon such racism and just take the fools where they need to go, which is certainly directly to hell!

Alexa the Ragdoll, Queen of San Miguel de Allende

I mention Alexa, a 14 year-old "ragdoll" cat I met ruling the San Miguel "no-kill" animal shelter because a local Seattle cabbie, along with his wife, raise that feline breed.  Twice after soaks we walked confined pooches and visited the cats.  Alexa was found in a local field. Go to the San Miguel SPCA website and see her picture.

"Third World" down at the Coleman Dock

If we needed more examples of the City of Seattle's failure to enforce anything concerning taxi I give you  as "prime specimen number one" what is occurring down at the Pier-52 Ferry Dock.  Due to construction, disembarking foot passengers are forced to run a gauntlet of town-car (Gypsy cab) drivers who harass and grab, especially anyone having the misfortune to be carrying a suitcase.  I suggest, if bored, go down there yourself and watch the fun and games.  And don't forget to bring your luggage!  What in the world is the collective City of Seattle thinking?

Book List

As part of my working up to forming a political ad agency I have been reading various books.  I highly recommend all of these:

Washington by Meg Greenfield

This Town by Mark Leibovich

Heist, Superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, His Republican Allies, and the Buying of Washington by Peter Stone

Putin's Kelptocracy by Karen Dawisha