Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Barred From Our Traditional Workplace---Questionable Decisions Saturday Game-Night By The University Of Washington And The Seattle Police Department

Anyone familiar with my taxi history knows I started driving on the weekends back in the autumn of 1987 with a three cab association, Classic Cab, a company minus any real dispatch other than special requests made by individuals interested in riding in a genuine Checker taxicab,  It was an excellent introduction to "all things taxi" since not having an organized dispatch system forced me to figure all of it out "by the seat of my taxi pants."  If I was going to make money, it was going to depend totally on my ability to understand where the business was at any given part of the taxi day.  I would have to learn, minus formal  instruction, how to fish the taxi seas, studying the "schooling patterns" of the various passenger species swimming Seattle's streets.

Being the "restless sort," I didn't naturally take to sitting on downtown hotel stands waiting for undetermined fate, good or bad, deciding my fortune; instead intuitively comprehending that passenger volume increases your potentiality for taxi success.  I found that sporting events, like football and basketball and baseball games, especially when taxi was the only transportation option, usually translated into a reliable source for ride-seeking customers, often providing business otherwise absent. When the teams are winning, you too will score your share of taxi home runs and touch downs.

This late 1980s time period just  happened to be UW Husky football coach Don James' heyday, a boon era when those "big and bad" and top-ranked football Huskies chewed up and spit out its pigskin opponents each weekend, game-day Saturdays becoming my personal taxi "gold mine," providing me business from morning to the late of night, numerous crazed fans storming the taxi gates. While not always pleasant, the frenzied "UDub" fans supplemented my Monday-Friday "Day Job," attending to a psychiatric client community too dangerous to mention, perhaps preparing me for the taxi asylum and my weekend mobile milieu.  Suddenly I had more money than ever before, preventing any whining over letting my ex-wife have all of our savings, her selfishness nothing new to me.  That first Christmas minus her and her family, I instead traveled to Holland, Belgium, England and northern Wales, having a great time, taxi financing the journey.

It was a good time to be a Seattle cabbie and working those Husky weekends, taxis allowed both direct access to the front of the stadium and to the University Hospital, which at that time featured a four-car stand. While not always the friendliest, UW and Seattle police were generally accommodating, knowing that it was beneficial to have all those drunks in a taxi instead of erratically careening in their own cars.  Anyone clad in "purple and gold" and wearing a plastic penis nose on their face told everyone all they needed to know concerning their reliability.  These folks simply were nuts, alcohol-fueled lunatics, and the faster we could transport them away from the game the better. Along with making money, it was, and is, a genuine public service.

Unfortunately, coming back to the present, that recognition has evaporated, demonstrated by actions taken Saturday night by UW and Seattle police after the University of Washington and Utah game, blocking access to Pacific Avenue, University Hospital and the stadium for over an entire hour. Not only has that once sublime era of mutual cooperation and collaboration disappeared, it has been flushed down the bureaucratic toilet, perhaps never to be seen again, marking a relational deterioration threatening our very existence. If we in the taxi industry are to succeed and prosper, we must have free access to to our work space and customers.

Suddenly, last Saturday night, that operational reality vanished, making me wonder why and how this could have happened. Too typical of course was the total lack of communication from the City of Seattle, sending a clear message to the local taxi industry that we are unworthy of consideration given to other business communities.  If you think Boeing or Microsoft or Amazon would be so cavalierly treated, think again. It just wouldn't happen, the Mayor and the City Council rightfully fearing immediate legal action.  The best they get from us is one obscure, solitary blogger shouting against the beadledom sky.  Not very scary, I must admit. Even when impersonating a taxi driver, my fangs less than lethal, only shocking myself in the early morning mirror.

Still, regardless of the effectiveness, we have to respond, telling everyone involved that we are unhappy; and with the big game, University of Washington playing at home against their hated rivals, the Washington State Cougars, coming up soon on Friday, November 27th, we require complete and open access to our workplace all day long.  Anything less is unacceptable.

Yesterday I emailed Mayor Murray and City Council president Burgess.  That is just the beginning of my personal campaign to reverse what occurred on Saturday night.  I urge all of you to contact everyone I have listed below, telling them it is a violation of our for-hire license agreement, and possibly far more serous, a civil rights violation. All of us drivers and owners, whether we are driving taxis or flat-rate for-hire or Uber or town-cars, all hold City of Seattle business licenses acknowledging, that just like Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, we have the legal right to operate in our recognized work place.  Anything short of that is, from what I can tell, an illegal and arbitrary obstruction to our ability to make a living.  It is past time that we in the taxi industry sit down with the City of Seattle and examine their treatment and attitude toward a business community that is older and pre-dates Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon.  Before there where 747s and computers, there were taxis.  We must demand the respect we deserve, and of course, not taking the blame for dysfunctional taxi associations.  It is not my fault nor yours that local associations have operated inefficiently. We are independent operators and business owners.  We must demand the legal recognition that we deserve.  There is, and can be, no other option.  We are equal to all other businesses in Seattle and King County. It is time, minus all exceptions, that this basic fact is acknowledged 24 hours a day and 365 days a years.  It is basic. It is simple. It is our reality!

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

206-684-4000

Email----go to seattle.gov website and access "contact the mayor."

Seattle Police Department

Non-emergency number---206-625-5011

Traffic Division---206-684-8757

Go to SPD website and submit a general inquiry.

University of Washington

Ana Mari Cause, University President

206-543-5010     pres@uw.edu

Her Chief of Staff---Rolf Johnson

rolfbj@uw.edu

UW Police

206-543-0507     uwpolice@uw.edu

City of Seattle Customer Service

206-684-2489

This should get you started and occupy your time for an hour or so.

New PSD Location

2901 South 128th Street.  Easy to find.   Just off Military Road South.  The shop is rumored to be closing December 15th.  Dispatch will be moving end of February.

Taxi Medallion Lottery Result---I didn't win

My unlucky number was 757 or something like that.  Middle of the pack out of over 1200 entries.

Election Results

It looks like all the Seattle City Council incumbents won except that today it was reported Bruce Harrell is up by only 2 percent, so there remains a small chance he might be ousted.  The good times is that some good people have been elected, meaning we might have an opportunity to influence future policy.  Maybe!

Sally Clark---Something wrong with this story

Was I hallucinating or was that ex-City Council President Sally Clark walking by my taxi at King Street station on a rainy Monday night?  If it was Sally, she looked directly at me without any howdy-do, though how can I blame her, given my at times combative attitude toward her and her former fellow City Council mates?  Did I tell you that she resigned from the council to take a high paying position at the University of Washington?  I could match her salary but it would take working 18 months straight which I ain't gonna do.

Yesterday, talking to a colleague on the phone he related a story how Sally Clark was tossed out of a Yellow Cab because she told the idiot driver she was only going 6 blocks and the fool didn't realize he had the Chief Arbitrator of his fate in his taxi.  She related this story to my friend as the final straw for not helping the dumbbell taxi industry.

I find two things wrong with this story.  One is that she told it to someone who has never driven a taxi for a solitary second.  Why not instead call someone like me who could have done something about it?

And two, if she was so outraged with this kind of stupid behavior, why then did she insist of dropping a complete day from the City of Seattle for-hire license training?  Why make a bad situation worse?   The truth is that for at least the past five years I have been lobbying and begging the City of Seattle and King County to create a comprehensive taxi driver training program, along with requiring that new applicants have held a Washington State drivers license for a minimum of five years.  What the hell do I know?  Well, when it comes to taxi, quite a lot, more than I want to.  Why listen to this taxi Bozo?  Clearly the City and County have found good reason not to.

Frustration

I got a call from a driver colleague telling me about how he and others are considering starting an independent company that will service HopeLink and Seattle School Accounts minus Yellow dispatch involvement. Sitting for hours without a call makes you crazy.  Finally drivers are understanding that the situation is serious.  What took them so long to understand the obvious?

Taxi Commission Killed

Did I mention it already?  The stumbling, bumbling Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory is now defunct. While the official word is that the death is temporary, I do not see anyone "rolling away the stone." The taxi corpse is cold, prone, just like our business.  Oh well!

At least.......

With the move to the new building, BYG/PSD have changed how everyone is "cashed out" after turning in all of our credit, debit and account paper.  All of us "Yellowites" have been issued debit cards which is where all of our money is now going.  I have already told them I am not sure that they can do this but for the moment it is what we will be dealing with.  Everyone has been given an envelope with the card and accompanying paperwork.  That this isn't a popular development is a huge understatement.  Talking to the woman in charge of all this, she said something I found extremely funny.  Telling me that scores of drivers have come to her office screaming and shouting, she said, "At least you have opened the envelope."  Now that is just like the "taxi" I know and love.  When I told "she-who-can't-be-named" about it, I said, "Isn't that funny?"  And she replied, "There is nothing funny about taxi driving!"  How can I disagree?  It's true!

Communists taking over Gig Harbor?

Anyone driving taxi in the Seattle and Tacoma area has to deal with bridge tolling and DOT's "Good to Go" offices.  They keep making mistakes but what can you do when you are dealing with private vendors under the State of Washington bureaucratic umbrella?  Given that Gig Harbor is the closest Tacoma area office it has been my location of choice.  The problem is their inefficiency and general  lack of accountability, reminding me of past experiences in Iron Curtain Hungry and Yugoslavia, where the response was "we don't care because we don't have to."  I even experienced this a bit recently in the once communist Baltic countries.  When I told a worker today at the Gig Harbor office that I wanted names and numbers to address my concerns she advised that I go to the website, having no information to give me.  After that I told her "I surrender, you win!" she looked stressed and unhappy, not wanting to deal with yet another crazy "Good to Go" malcontent.  I keep thinking back to that bank teller in Skopje.  "How dare that I wanted to change some currency," was the look she gave me.  How dare that I expect the "Good to Go" folks not to screw up and cost me money?  Why I must be out of my mind?  How could I be so rude?!  Where is Winston Churchill when you need him?  Maybe Kansas but I don't think so.

New Insurance Problems Courtesy of the City of Seattle

Those nice people governing Seattle are trying to change the insurance rating requirements back to an A rating, thus making everyone pay more than what we already are paying.  Because I have 3 drivers listed on 478 in addition to myself my cost is now over $6000.00 a year.  Yellow is paying over $11,000 per car.  And now we should pay more?  And the sorry part of this is that Uber IS NOT required to up its costs.  Talk about something that isn't funny!  What the hell is going on?  Is there a conspiracy against all of us hard working cabbies?  One might think so is all I can say.
























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