One thing I will give Seattle Mayor Ed Murray full credit---he is one shrewd politician. He knows the turf. And to that end, on Tuesday morning at 9:45 AM, on the tenth floor of the King County Court Building, KC council member Pete von Reichbauer's Government Accountability and Oversight Committee was pondering the mayor's new taxi/for hire/TNC bill, subjecting it to committee scrutiny before forwarding it to the full King County Council for a vote. By the way, Murray's fellow Democrat, KC Executive Dow Constantine, has requested that the KC council accept the bill as written minus any changes. I will let you decide the reasons why.
This is all necessitated by local regulatory authority being a two-headed monster, Seattle and King County sharing in the fun. Over the years it has been suggested more than once that the regulators should be consolidated but for the moment you will discover any number of cooks in the governmental kitchen. This is when I can joke about the many burnt offerings, indigestible dishes never to be found, in say, a local Tom Douglas restaurant. Who comes up with these recipes anyway?
Amazing to me, that unlike all the Seattle City Council hearings, which were often jam-packed, standing-room-only affairs, literally no one from the contending parties, TNC, flat-rate for hire or the taxi industry were in attendance. The media certainly wasn't there. And of course the explanation is simple. No one was told about this very important session.
I believe this had to be intentional. Why would the mayor want any obstacles obstructing his Uber-favored legislation? None is the obvious answer. Boy! it was funny to note a TNC lobbyist's surprise seeing me sitting in the front row. Doesn't he know I have sources? Regardless, I found the hearing instructive and glad I attended, allowing me to report upon something that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. I can only guess that KIRO TV, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly missed their morning coffee, sleeping through the clanging alarm.
Both me and my colleague Chris were given ample time to explain our concerns. The committee Chair, Pete von Reichbauer, asked his assistant to begin researching the issues we brought up, searching for collaborating details. Joining von Reichbauer on the committee were council members Reagan Dunn, Dave Upthegrove and Rod Dembowski. I trust, due in part to our testimony, that the mayor's bill and its long-term consequences will be thoroughly examined. It seems TNC insurance coverage is a potential concern. Now why would anyone say that? I wonder........?
Later in the afternoon a discussion was held examining the odds, the pros and cons of responding appropriately to the mayor's Uber advocacy. Weighting the possibilities, an agreement was made to meet again. As early as Friday a decision could be made. Stay tuned!
PS: A good friend called me quixotic. I am not offended. Every good cabbie is accustomed to being called every name beneath the taxi sun! I accept that moniker. Just point me in the direction of the next windmill and off I charge, lance in hand!