Friday, June 29, 2012

The Value & Promise of Dialogue

Today I was engaged in a conversation which gave me hope that thoughful consideration through active dialogue can and will acheive sought for resolution. The topic was one mentioned here before, the monetary audits that are currently requested by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry.  The issue, as I have previously examined, is many-sided, containing a long and complicated history. With the United States a federal democacy, states with conflicting approaches add further confusing dimensions.  What today's conversation taught me again was the value of patience.  Not everything is add water or mix unless you are pretending to be an orbiting astronaut and drinking your Tang orange juice substitute.  But no, one must be grounded in that sense, committed to the earth minus your head flying high in the sky.  The key today is that everyone listened to each other, and the result appears to be another larger conversation whose aim will be understanding and compromise minus animosity.  That is my wish and goal.  I have no other than longer plans of being permanently out of the taxi and reading and writing daily.  It is always wise to keep goals modest.  If life is a kind of intricate game, then more than winning two out of three, it appears to be more like 700 out of a thousand, taking many attempts upon the problematic mountain to reach the pinnacle.  One must try, and that is what we did today, trying to resolve the confounding routing to where we need to be, hence the value and promise of talking sensibly, possibly a kind of religiosty minus any defined deity, letting common sense be our totem and nothing else.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Inner Sanctum, Part Two

For those cabbies in and around Tacoma, you might want to check out the Tacoma Art Museums' new retrospective, "Best of NW Art."  There are some excellent painting presented.  Being a small show, it will take you 30 minutes or so to take in the exhibition.  I attempt to go to the Tacoma museum once a week, a museum habit I began way back in San Francisco 1979 when the SF Modern would have weekly free Thursday evenings.  Coming home from work I would wander round and round teaching myself modern art.  Luckily they had some amazing shows featuring artists like Paul Kline and Max Beckmann, both opening my eyes and mind.  My eastern foray last week caused me to miss my weekly outing though of course I pine for another long and solitary hike.  Walking through Point Defiance Park helps but it only acts as  a band aide. All that concentrated taxi passenger interaction makes me want to be alone or at least only be with folks I know well and care about.  Though clearly no one can do everything I at times still try to manage the impossible. 

Getting back to the inner sanctum, I can attest that Kim's surrounding could not be described as particularly spacious with filing cabinets and stacks of files hemming her in, a kind of instant Grand Canyon minus the natural ambiance.  And sitting on that stool facing the drivers is not for the fainthearted.  Despite having been given a handout dated March 21th, 2012 detailing in exacting fashion what the owner must have prepared to license his/her vehicle, owners appear to insist that what the city is demanding just doesn't matter, bringing in incomplete or improper documents or documentation.  While driving taxi can certainly be a free-form affair, making sure your new application is filled out properly isn't and never will be.  Even with the seriousness required I did detect from Kim some leniency.  It appeared to me that she was moving as quickly as humanly possible given the difficult circumstances.  Owners need to understand that having illegible or non-matching signatures and other such discrepancies and mistakes costs valuable time for everyone concerned.  My advise is to read the instructions thoroughly and again, don't leave it to the last moment even if it saves you a few dollars.  Every year plan ahead and be as efficient as possible.  Given the state of the economy it is highly doubtful whether Kim will be given an assistant anytime soon.  Try to remember that it was all of us requesting that something be done about the town cars.  Now that the City of Seattle has regained regulatory authority mountains of paperwork have been added to other peaks and valleys that makes up the office's interior.  Take your complaints to the mayor and the Seattle and King County councils requesting more funding. And why you are at it, contact the folks in Snohomish County and ask them why they send all their taxis down to Seattle to be inspected?

And if you have any delusions where the taxi industry fits into Seattle's long-term priorities, you might take note of all that construction taking place just west of Consumer Affairs.  The City of Seattle is building of all things a nice new home for a fleet of new trolly buses similar to those clogging up the streets in and around the south side of Lake Union.  I call them Paul Allen's pets and you can be sure that if he ever invests in taxis the City and County will be whistling a different tune.  Having more or less 40 billion dollars commands respect.  And since we don't, you can expect to remain crammed in that tiny cubicle of a room staring down Kim while she frantically attempts to take care of all of your very important documents.  Clearly a new inspections facility is needed.  Tim needs a new machine to test the hybrids instead of having to drive them a mile down the street calibrating the meters.  All of this is wasted time and the regulatory authorities truly do not care.  The taxi industry, despite its importance to the community is very small economic potatoes.

Remember that as you watch the trolly buildings being erected.  Craig and the other hard working folks are dedicated to making things better for the industry.  Soon two new half-time employees will be on the streets handing out tickets to all those renegade for-hire and limo operators.  Consumer Affairs needs your understanding and support, not your abuse and disregard. Write letters and contact those who hold the purse strings.  Tell them that Consumer Affairs requires a new building and equipment and triple the staff.   Blaming current staff for having to stand out in the rare blazing sun or more usual rain is misplaced.  Tell the mayor to put a canopy out on the north side of the building. Some benches too would be extremely helpful.  I agree that unless major changes occur like new buildings small changes must take place. All of us drivers and owners deserve respect and consideration.  Unfortunately we will have to work harder to earn it.  That is the simple truth.  That is our sorry shared reality. Or maybe we should all be become Mister Allen's dogs and cats but from what I have seen up close picking up at his Boeing Field and other facilities I think not.  He appears to like professional football and basketball players.  Taxi drivers may not be as entertaining. 



Entering The Inner Sanctum, Part One

I  am pleased to report that I was indeed allowed entry into the city taxi licensing center located at 805 South Dearborn Street, or more officially known as the Consumer Affairs Unit.  My visit, which lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours was motivated by the incident of last Wednesday June 20th when approximately 35 or so taxi and limo and for-hire drivers were left "hanging out to dry" while attempting to do their yearly license renewals.  Given the level of emotion I thought it would be reasonable to do some investigative reporting, attempting to dredge up fact from fiction that always seems to prevail within the taxi industry. Why know the actual situation as it really is when instead it being far more fun creating your own version.  My initial comment to everyone concerned is that you might not want to wait to the last minute or day to file all your paperwork.  By continuing reading you will have a much clearer idea of what is occurring behind those windows.  It may not be what you are imagining.  I do believe it is past time to toss out the conspiracy theories and realize that Consumer Affairs is both under resourced and under staffed, attempting to do too much with not enough to it with.  

I first sat behind the much maligned Kim and saw from her perspective all those impatient operators.  One of the major problems is that Consumer Affairs is an antiquated facility that was not designed for the kinds of responsibilities they now hold.  In addition to dealing with the 929 Seattle and King County taxis, add all the new for-hire vehicles plus the hundreds of limos and you have a number nearing 1500 plus vehicles and license holders to oversee and inspect and manage. Consumer Affairs is also responsible for all the scales and gas pumps in Seattle.  Especially during the cold seasons they have to measure the tank capacities of home fuel trucks.  Clearly they are overwhelmed with multiple responsibilities.  And I will be back later with many more specifics.

Monday, June 25, 2012

In Three Parts: Four Fares & "They Are Treating Us Like Animals!" & Quoted in the Seattle Times

I am sitting here too tired to write, a 14 mile sun drenched hike on the past Thursday plus 3 full trip sheets plus 5 additional, the last West Seattle to Federal Way at 2:15 this morning from the Poggie Tavern, sixty-six sweet but fatigued dollars ending the weekend on a positive note. Number of items to comment upon but first my inital four fares upon a Saturday morning, the latter three illustrating well taxi as I know and despise it.

The first orginated from the only Denny's extant within Seattle, located at 4th & S. Forest, four tourists from Vancover, BC who were amazed that their hotel, the old time, long time Moore still used actual room keys.

The second came from 10th & E. Pike, a guy from the Super Genius Tattoo shop proving he wasn't, not knowing his address then having me stop on busy Martin Luther King Way South instead of droppin him off in back because it was difficult (according to him) to access the alley entrance.  At that point the 1600 block of MLK south-bound is on a very dangerous downward curve making it insane to to stop for any reason, cars blindly flying down the medium hill.  I informed him of such circumstances.  His response is not worth repeating, his mind a drifting cloud upon an early summer morning.

Amed.  I knew I was in trouble reading his name, and I was of course correct, another privileged engineering student from the Arabian Peninsula, in his case from the UAE.  Telling me how to go but having no real understanding of the local addressing system didn't stop him, holding in common amongst his brethren an arrogrance royal in its orgin.   He was actually better than most, providing some small faith that he might remember that Denny is the East/West dividing line.

Last and just possibly least were two gay fellows going from 1st Hill to the University District.  They appeared to be "new" to each other and perhaps poster candidates for the American Family Association based in Tupelo, Mississippi, Mister New York City asking first where I was from and a few minutes later inquiring whether I went to the gym.  Important note to all who don't drive taxi: consider that the driver may not care whatsoever that you find him attractive. Again, please take note!  Personally I am not interested in being the object of a passenger's attention unless you are of the canine or feline variety, then certainly go ahead and lick!

Message from Taxi-land

While camping out at the Quincy Lakes I would check my telephone once an evening. Wednesday at 7 PM I got this anguished message that ended with the clear sentiment that a group of single owners were being treated like animals. Inquiring further it became clear that the folks down at taxi licensing inspection center had shut down the window perhaps prematurely prompting a near riot of 35 waiting cabbies.  An intervening call to the mayor's office evidently got them to reopen. Friday I recieved an invition to observe licensing operations.  I will try to make it tomorrow.

In the Local Section

Saturday I recieved a call from a Seattle Times reporter asking what I felt about the union organizing meeting happening later that evening.  I told him this and that and got this fairly accurate quote in the Sunday paper:  "Anytime we get people involved who have not driven a taxi, they screw things up."  Yes that sounds like something I would say as it is true for the most part.  Earlier in the week while soaking up the sun I mused how the local breaucrats make all these decisions concerning the industry while knowing sum zero about us, impacting individuals for years with decisons made over after a more or less half hour of discussion.  This can't keep happening.

And PS, this Monday makes exactly one year for my blog.  Happy Birthday taxi blog!

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Time Means.......

Well having little time means when the computer you are using is not working properly I am not not functioning properly adding up to I already have to go before I am started.   I am going to the Quincy Lakes to slow down so obviously I first have to speed up hence a very brief posting.

This weekend was overshadowed by the Highway 99 Viaduct closure which impacted traffic, sometimes making for exciting airport runs as the passengers did not add in the traffic factors subtracting from any possible sanity as I flew and fought my way through the congestion. Most exciting was a series of ten dollar tips, sometimes deserved though often not.  Perhaps more of the weekend but probably not. 51 fares on Saturday and Sunday morning a fast 100 dollars in 90 minutes which is why I pry myself up and out on a cruise ship early AM.

I have started my first of many taxi training manuals last week.  Number one in the series is "what it means to be a taxi driver!"  Yes I have a rough idea.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Letter to a Councilmember & More Ordinary Plus More Books

I always keep saying I am going to write a letter about this and that and this time I have.  After last week's public hearing I knew it was necessary to provide more information to the Seattle city council.  The following letter concerning Council Bill 117465 was sent via "snail" mail to Tim Burgess who is currently steering the "Government Performance & Fiance Committee."  The idea of sending an actual physical letter is simple.  Holding a document in your hand is far more personal than reading a screen.  Holding a book or letter develops a relationship with the subject that can not be attained any other way.  Even when the book or letter or card is put down it still exists.  Its presence is known unlike the shutting off of a screen.  Though I am writing upon one at this very moment I despise screens.  Here is the entire letter minus headings that I sent to Burgess on June 7th, 2012.

Hello.  I wish to convey my appreciation for your committee's consideration of matters of such great importance to the local taxi industry.  Given that the full councils' vote could actually have an impact heard statewide, I am taking a few minutes to provide yet more background to a confounding issue, namely whether independent taxi contractors are employees stemming from a new definition or as they are generally viewed, independent business owners.  As I said in my too quick minute yesterday, this question must be fully and correctly answered because it is the heart of the Labor & Industry issue.  The meter rate is the "knee connected to the thighbone" but is this entire issue truly part of the taxi anatomy or is it somehow being manufactured, the good folks at L&I taking the role of mad fiscal scientists and the statewide taxi contractors the unwitting objects of their experimentation.?  That I believe L&I have made us into an "artificial creation" is beyond question.  Their brethren at the Department of Revenue view us as independent business owners.  Do these public servants ever speak to each other?  It appears doubtful.  Now the background to the situation, the facts creating and providing the foundation of a sorry saga that threatens to become an epic.  An additional subtext is that an earlier personal intervention on my part appears to have influenced Labor & Industry to halve their original request.  Few of the drivers and owners appear to understand that they could be looking at rates double what are being requested.

How did the industry reach this juncture?  Why was SBHB 1367 ever written and passed?  None of this is accidental.  It all originates from a Labor & Industry attitude taken in part  from State Title 51 that created a broad category called "covered workers."  I am not the complete historian but I believe this all dates from the second decade of the twentieth century relating to injured and killed loggers and mill workers.  I would seek clarification upon this and other questions from Labor & Industry.  Let's just say that for years they have been looking at the taxi industry with a jaundiced eye.  A few years back they began auditing the industry and coming up with outrageous estimates.  I believe they said BYG (Yellow) was liable for a cool million.  Even tiny (3 taxis) Redi-Cab in Yelm/Lacey is still looking at about $234,000 dollars.  This is how they got every ones attention.  And now all of us are dealing with the subsequent industry response.  That the industry acquiesced to this kind of bureaucratic bullying and blackmail is clear.  Why they did is twofold.

They were told there there could be a compromise and that it was guaranteed, as long as the industry cooperated.  A good practice is to make sure that all promises are put on paper and signed and notarized.  Otherwise those guarantees can forever vanish into the Capital Dome which is exactly what happened, Labor & Industry kicking the industry while it was most vulnerable.  The industry was operating in good faith, wanting to avoid the past audits, which was the promise made. Instead Labor & Industry has gotten the last laugh and just about three weeks ago sent out notices that money was still owed, not just beginning from January 1st of this year as the industry thought it had agreed to.

And secondly, the statewide industry wanted to avoid a costly and protracted battle.  This would have meant marshaling in part the independent contractors as an important part of the legal defense.  As you might have noticed yesterday, even after listening to Mister Jenkins few in the assembled audience appeared to understand the greater consequences of potential council decisions, for again this is all about independent contractors and no one else.  As in the manner most of the companies and associations are currently operated, none of them act as employers.  The guarantee we receive is the ability to search for fares in rented equipment and hopefully make a living.  From the L&I perspective, perhaps home renters should be suing because a given apartment or house is somehow not creating a happy household.  To me, L&I are using a distorted and fanciful logic.  And now they are telling you at the city council to rubber stamp their imaginary ruminations.

Which is why I hope both Seattle and King County Councils engage the folks in Olympia in some serious conversation; asking questions that need to be answered.  One you could ask is something I have already put forth, and that is just why haven't they ever contacted the independent contractors to suggest signing up for Labor & Industry insurance?   When have they ever put their concern in writing addressed to me and the 3000 or more lease drivers in Seattle and King County?   I also suggest that your committee begin contacting taxi companies throughout the state for their opinion.  As I have implied this is far more than a simple question of meter rates and lease increases in Seattle and King County.   This Labor & Industry opinion affects everyone which is why I question overall their fairness.  In order to help they simultaneously have to cause massive pain and suffering?  An interesting approach and one I hope you find worth investigating.  Thank you.

That's it, end of the probing missive.  As usual more time taken would have made it an even more effective document.  But currently my life is all about not having enough time.  The past two nights I respectively slept 10 1/2 and 11 hours.  A full recovery from my taxi weekend required it.  Taxi is a brutal body blow.  That is how it is.  Now another quick tale from the just past weekend.  Too much of this political stuff for my taste.  Much better to talk about drunks, wouldn't you agree?  Far more amusing!

More Ordinary:  Observant Alcoholics

Picking up at the Thunderbird Tavern, that adjunct to the Sands Strip Club, four very intoxicated individuals piled into the cab.  The sodden party were accompanied by a group of escorting friends, one of whom gave me a twenty dollar bill to cover the cost of taking these harmless ruffians for about a mile northwest of the tavern.  Once there, one of the group quickly ran around a corner to vomit.  That left it to two of the remaining three, all women, to get a nearly comatose friend up the walkway and up a steep flight of stairs.  Since I had been overpaid and Mister Regurgitate tipped me three dollars I felt it best to assist the zombie up the stairs.  Having much practice I got her up to the door.  They all thanked me and said I had my pants zipper open.  Just pleased they were all paying attention!

A Pint of Books

Interesting measurement?  Monday taxi buddy Frank had his sixtieth at the Blue Moon.  Even a solitary pint was enough to send me reeling.  Exiting I understood I shouldn't be driving for a few minutes so I ambled a few blocks down to the local Half-Price Bookstore.  For just over the cost of that pint I found two brand new books, "Gods, Mongrels & Demons" by Angus Calder and "The Moral Imagination" by Gertrude Himmelfarb.  Really pleased to have them.  Thanks Frank! and Happy Birthday!




Monday, June 11, 2012

Ordinary Taxi Upon a June Weekend

I have long been a big fan of Flemish Renaissance era painting in general and Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-69) in particular.  The first major European art museum I stepped into was Musee des Beaux Arts in Brussels April 1982.  Auden's poem of the same name references Bruegel's "Icarus" painting and an interesting work it is, a deviation from his many paintings depicting peasant life in the sixteenth century.  An updated theme from Bruegel presented itself in the greater Lake City, three individuals approaching the cab limping and generally dragging themselves along, not unlike various crippled and maimed unfortunates presented by the Master himself.  My actual passenger's feet were wrapped, his swollen base supported by crutches.  Beyond stiff, he dove into the rear seat, somehow repositioning his rigid frame.  His friend with the bad hip miraculously bent down enfolding him with an affectionate bear hug.

Once off he said "49th & Phinney" so we headed in the basic direction of the zoo.  Weeks of not bathing filled the compartment but my nose has encountered worse.  Hitting I-5 south-bound he suddenly said take me to 97th & Greenwood which I did.  Turning onto North 97th he again requested the original destination.  Slightly peeved I said okay, give me twenty dollars but there would be no further changing of destinations.  He asked me to turn up the John Dowland, commenting upon the music.  Flying down Greenwood I got him to his intersection and with the usual hesitations out of the taxi.  I hate this variety of fare knowing his crisis will continue unabated and I can do absolutely nothing about it.  Once standing he said that he was at the wrong place, needing to be a block away.  With my friend John awaiting me at Hing Loon  I snapped that he was on his own and got out of there.  These fares never end.  Now it resides in my mind forever along with Bruegel and countless other touchstones building a towering wall providing a foundation to lean upon.  Tonight I am barely standing.  Thankfully I have been sitting.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Minute of Public Comment & Yesterday's Commission Meeting

I still don't believe I drove all the way to Seattle only to be granted (me and everyone else) one solitary minute before the city council committee reviewing the requested meter rate increase.  I was expecting the usual paltry two minutes.  Such are the machinations of government.  It appears that they overestimated the number of drivers signed up to comment, perhaps startled by the din emanating from outside the council chamber.  Raised voices leaking into the chambers provided the prospect of a newer version of the storming of the Bastille.  But once invited in the raging proletariat quickly became taxi lambs. Everyone remained well-behaved throughout the entire proceeding.  Actually I can not remember my fellow taxi denizens being more polite than they were this afternoon.

Having received the second allotted minute I was able to display my bright yellow pamphlet I had received from the Department of Revenue stating why I needed a business license while simultaneously pointing out the L&I contradiction. I made it clear that we were all there because of L&I and no other reason and that a positive vote would be validating an erroneous position.  Subtle I wasn't.  What I found most interesting was though the majority of the speakers voiced opposition to the increase, none of them mentioned L&I, again pointing out to me that rarely does anyone in the industry ever truly comprehend the finer points.  Frustrating but no longer surprising.  Even my friend Deb's fairly eloquent analysis of negative economic impacts failed to address the larger issue.  Friends, how many times do I have to state that this is all about a Labor & Industry definition and interpretation and implementation and nothing else?  Not a single driver mentioned a concern about losing L&I protection or that how it implicated the hearing.  Clearly I will be writing a letter this week to the committee. And will I or anyone else be successful in awakening the drivers to the real issue?  About the same chance of sunshine in Seattle.  You will have to consult the good Professor Cliff Mass upon that subject.


Well we actually achieved a quorum yesterday. The most shocking development was a late Monday evening email from Jodie Trueblood, our King County commission liaison stating that for the moment for-hire vehicle rules changes WOULD NOT be forwarded to the KC council.  As I am tired I will let the commission news rest in peace for the moment.  Sleep not agitation is my current priority, napping my favorite and most strenuous activity. Quite sick of being an unproductive slipshod howling at an unresponsive moon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Deadly UBI: The Menancing Monster?

An impolitic remark persuaded me to apply for my UBI number.  What is that?  The UBI is a Washington State Department of Revenue issued registration number.  The initials UBI represent the term "Unified Business Identifier" and it is given out after "a business owner" applies for a Washington business license.  This is required of all business licenses statewide which evidently includes those independent contractors known locally as lease taxi drivers.  That in nearly 25 years of driving taxi and never being told in any direct way that this was required says, as I keep relating, everything about taxi and nearly everything I don't want to know about local government and their attitudes toward the industry.  I called the 800 number and the pleasant voice is sending me the "taxi packet."  What is somewhat (or completely humorous) parallel is Labor & Industry's insistence that we are "covered workers", an incongruity implying that we are covert employees. You decide if this is some kind of inherent contradiction.  Of course I am biased and feel totally convinced,

I am also getting my UBI in preparation for the City of Seattle city council hearing on the meter increase that is scheduled for Wednesday.  As I keep saying, this all appears to be a matter of definition.  I hope the good council members agree with me otherwise they better have a very plausible explanation why all of us should keep obtaining annual City business license and filling out those yearly tax forms.  All of this seems to me like a comedy routine or is this just government business as usual?  We shall see.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Nearly A Full Year & Overview of the Past Two Weeks: An Analysis

My first blog posting dates from June 13th of last year, making it a few days from a full year of talking and writing about taxi.  I had no idea what it would become but I am pleased with the finished product. I am presenting the real and factual reality that is directly shoved in my face.  This is truly  a case when fact is indeed stranger than fiction.  Maybe that is why I am reading so much non-fiction lately.  Fiction just doesn't cut it when you are immersed in life in the manner taxi does, submerging you in the daily confusion of our modern so-called civilized world.  If I had any illusions concerning this earthly existence, taxi has dispelled them, replacing them with undeniable reality.  Not always fun of course but certainly what we live and breathe. Nothing like the good, old fashioned sock-in-the nose, my nose permanently crooked due to the November 17, 1995 accident I had after the Greytop mechanics assured me that the car was repaired.  Ha Ha the joke was on me!

Overview and Analysis

I am plainly tired due to the various proceedings of the past two weeks. I am afraid I might have directly expired if I had attended yesterday's brief Seattle city council discussion concerning meter rate increases.  Tuesday's meeting with the young assistant told me that I have lost all patience with bureaucratic nonsense. I am just not interested in participating with what I see clearly as nonsensical gibberish. Turning in circles is a boring activity.  The local taxi industry, both here in Seattle and King County and Tacoma and statewide is in a major crisis.  Though certainly desirable, repealing SBHB 1367 does little except bring us back to L&I's initial directive that all taxi driver independent contractors are some version of employee which L&I interprets to mean that someone other than the drivers are responsible for their industry & labor insurance.  That is the primary issue.  As I have said often recently, I know this as a complete misnomer, even a fabrication of what it means to be an employee. The City of Seattle treats us as independent business operators.  The Internal Revenue Service treats us as independent business operators. But despite that, the industry is told by a mere handful of people at Labor & Industry that the contrary is true, and regardless of all evidence, it remains true and that their interpretation alone is the correct definition. I find this unacceptable and if possible, I would run out today and create my own individual L&I account.  This is the sole and ultimate answer to the problem presented by L&I.  All of the independent contractors should take that responsible step and create their personal L&I accounts.  Why is this all so difficult to understand?  The truth is it isn't at all.

As I have alluded to, this issue flared into the inferno it has become when the statewide industry failed to tell Labor & Industry to shove it, that your version of the situation is erroneous. Any hint of compromise provided L&I with further openings to continue the conversation.  What a serious and profound mistake that was.  Any wise taxi driver knows when a passenger is belligerent you tell them the ride is over..You pull over and tell them to get out.  Perhaps next time they will learn to be more civil.  You never let the bully keep pushing.  If not stopped you end up either being knocked on the head or prone upon the ground.  That is what happened to the industry, having been bonked upon its collective noggin its been rendered incoherent, into a concussive state.

And the foundation, the bedrock lying beneath this particular issue is the same quaking, the same internal seismic movements of that oft ignored taxi geological feature, the lease-driver or as we are legally known, independent driver contractors. When we are forgotten, then the industry has literally turned off the lights and finds itself groping in the dark. That the drivers themselves keep turning off the light switch says everything about the situation. So what can we do?

Firstly, the industry must recognize that it is a collective enterprise made up EQUALLY of owner and driver, and given that fundamental reality, must always operative collectively, never separately. This will be a difficult state to obtain, given the free-form and inherent nature of taxi driving. But despite obstacles, we must strive and search and REACH that common ground. If we don't, we will forever and a day have governmental agencies dictating to us on how to operate our own industry.

Lastly, we must know when to fight.  Clearly this is one of those moments.  Given that our opponent believes they have us in a choke hold, we have to twist and contort our legal body out of its grips.  We know who and what we are.  If we have to go to court to reaffirm our definition, so be it. But to be pushed and slapped and threatened statewide is millions of dollars in L&I assessments is not reasonable.  We should not let them do it.  We can not let them define our industry.  Let us clean up our own house.  Let us take care of business that has gone unresolved for years.  Everyone, including the lease-drivers, must start taking personal responsibly (instead of the usual whining).  If we don't, just as has been happening, we are going to get our asses kicked all the way from Olympia to Seattle and back again. This bully will not relent.  It has big governmental boots, taxi just another political football. I say it is our ball to pickup, or to fumble.  Are we making the rules, or going along with them? It is as simple as that, and as plain.