Sunday, September 27, 2015

Realities---Taxi and Others

My last Sunday afternoon in Vilnius allows me the time and space to do something I haven't done before, compose two consecutive entries over a two day span.  It is almost 2 PM and my bus for Warsaw doesn't leave until just past 10:00 PM so I have plenty of time, that is if I put my mind to it and not screw up the works like I did yesterday.  Today I spent a good hour repairing yesterday's damage.  Anyway, now it is time to address issues concerning Seattle taxi.  Too soon I will again be immersed in that world.  You don't have to ask whether I am looking forward to it.  I am not.  I repeat, I am not!

One important issue that needs addressing is the ugly rumor concerning major impropriety connected to Yellow taxi's reporting of out-bound Sea-Tac (airport) trips.  Rumor has it that Yellow, from the very start of its contract, intentionally misstated figures given to the Port of Seattle. What makes little sense concerning this, is that given the level of official scrutiny, why would Yellow, after making this huge effort to gain the contract, intentionally sabotage their own good work?   It doesn't make sense, especially given who was in charge when Yellow won the contract, that being the very conservative and cautious Frank Dogwilla.  I held many disagreements with Frank but I never saw him as a fool, and you would have to be very foolish to think you could present bogus figures over a five-year span without anyone noticing

Now of course I could be naive but what makes this so suspicious is that this accusation occurs just when the Sea-Tac contract is up for renewal in October of this year. Another taint upon the rumor is who is doing the whispering, that being the same folks who, at least up to this juncture, have been allowed to get away with stealing from the Seattle taxi industry for over a three-year period.  Where is the accountability, my friends, is all I ask?  There are people I trust in the industry and others I do not.  Concerning this rumor, I will leave it at that.

Not just idle rumor is that the much anticipated "Seattle taxi medallion lottery" is coming nearer to reality.  A taxi colleague emailed me the City of Seattle's draft copy of the lottery proposal.  You have to have driven taxi  in Seattle for at least five years.  I wanted the City to make this first in a series of medallion lotteries to be open to only the truly long-term veteran drivers but of course, who listens to me?  As I have said more than once, your first five years serves as your initial taxi apprenticeship, meaning you now have the basic foundation to really start learning the craft.  I unfortunately know too many 20 year taxi veterans who are little better than rookies.  Taxi is a stern master.  It is important to pay attention, something many of my cabbie comrades have refused to do.

And if you ever wondered just how we in this country arrived at where we now find ourselves, I suggest you read the book I just finished (all 634 pages, 1995 edition, HarpersPerennial), Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States."  Read it and I will guess you will suddenly be more informed concerning US history than 90 percent of our nation's population. 

I call this a "must read" and after reading it yourself, I know you will agree.  Given my large collection at home, I am going to begin reading other complete US histories because, as good as Zinn is, I want to know more.  Or more precisely, I NEED to know more.  I end today with a quote (chapter 13, page 345, 3rd paragraph) that pertains to how we in the local Seattle & King County taxi industry got to where we are today.

The quote relates to the first part of the 20th century, around and about the year 1914:

"In this period, cities also put through reforms, many of them giving power to city councils instead of mayors, or hiring city managers.  The idea was more efficiency, more stability.  "The end result of the movements was to place city government firmly in the hands of the business class," Weinstein says. What reformers saw as more democracy in city government, urban historian Samuel Hays sees as the centralization of power in fewer hands, giving business and professional men more direct control over city government."

Above references: James Weinstein, "The Corporate Ideal in the Liberal State" & Samual Hays, "The Politics of Reform in Municipal Government in the Progressive Era."

Think about recent City of Seattle Council decisions concerning the local taxi industry and you should be able to see why and how we got screwed.  

On that note, off to Poland!



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