Thursday, May 30, 2013

It Just Goes To Show..........That This Has Been Going On For A Long Time

Yesterday at the Tacoma Library I was thumbing through a National Geographic book containing 400 worldwide destinations that you MUST visit.  In addition to full page features the book contains lists of top attractions.  What really caught my attention is that Seattle's own Pike Place Market was listed Number One of all the open air and farmer markets in the country, making it the place to go when visiting the Emerald City.  For those who are not recent Seattle historians the City of Seattle tried to knock the entire market down, only to be blocked from such foolishness by the local citizenry. Thankfully the market remains, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.  Who knows but some years I would not be surprised if the actual number of tourists strolling through the crowded aisles actually surpasses a million, it is that popular.  What struck me is a related decision, when added to current City government managerial style, tells me that little has changed regardless who is in charge.  If the City can make the worst choice, they will.

Back in 1987 when I started driving taxi in Seattle there was a large taxi stand (zone as the City likes to call them) at the NE corner of 1st and Pike Street.  It was big enough for two taxis and it was always busy.  It was perhaps the best place to find a fare in the entire city because it was right across from the main entrance to the market.  In other words the demand was and remains high, as tourists loaded down with bounty take rides back to their hotels, and reasonably often, after picking up their luggage, off to Sea-Tac.  Everything was wonderful until the City made a very poor and unwise decision.  They removed the stand.

It was something like 10-15 years ago that the city eliminated the taxi stand from the busiest pedestrian corner in the city and what appears to be the top tourist destination in the entire state.  The major problem with this was demand remained but the ability to pickup passengers easily and legally was taken away.  What was accomplished was to make the tens of thousands of  annual passenger pickups on that corner illegal and fraught with difficulty now that there is no place to stop.  That is why the list caught my eye, just another glaring example of the disconnection that passes for governance in the City of Seattle. 

I say this as the City Council and the Mayor allow the problem with the illegal for-hire and limo pickups to fester.  Bruce Harrell, a city council member who wants to be mayor, has even made public statements that appear to be in favor of new unregulated ersatz taxi services that potentially endanger the public.  I don't think Mister Harrell realizes that the Seattle voters  are not interested in another Mike Nickels.  One was certainly enough, as local basketball fans will validate.

Tomorrow I meet with the two fellows who have been hired by these same incompetent folks to do what amounts to be a potential taxi passenger head count during all hours of a given Seattle taxi day.  The said purpose of this demand audit is to determine whether current service availability is sufficient or will other considerations be necessary to fill the service gap.  As I have already commented upon this in earlier postings, all I will say is that I have tired of the City's operating style which gives resident experts short thrift, instead importing non-taxi personnel to do the study.

My message to the City government is this: Why do you think we are interested in anything this study has to say?  Using the eliminated 1st & Pike taxi stand as example number one, you folks do not know what you are doing.  And how many more mistakes have to be made before you look at yourselves and recognize that?  Next to the old stand was the Mirror Tavern which offered one dollar glasses of beer.  I advise all city officials elected and appointed to look into a mirror but please no beverages as you seem tipsy as it is. See what you see and get back to all of us.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Taxi Bulletin: Drivers Are Preparing To Sue & Getting Ready For Taxi

Letter of Intent to Sue

Late last Saturday night while parked at a signal, a driver handed me a flyer entitled "Letter of Intent to Sue" that is being distributed by a group calling themselves the "Taxicab Drivers of Seattle King County, Washington."  They can be contacted at the following addresses: or POB 34523, Seattle, WA 98122.  Briefly the letter states that if the City of Seattle does not begin following its own regulatory codes, enforcing the rules regarding for-hire and town-car "on-street" pickups, they can expect a class-action suit requesting thirty million dollars in damages.  They give the City a sixty-day period to negotiate a settlement of some kind.  If after that this group is not satisfied with the City response, a suit will go forward. 

It might seem surprising, but I have only a vague idea who these folks are.  I have emailed them requesting more information.  I am extremely curious about their financial condition and whether they have lined up attorneys. In spirit I support their effort but I feel it is somewhat premature. By issuing their 60 day warning it is a clear expression that they want the mayor's office and the city council's attention.  The one reason I feel it might not work is the attitude the industry has come up against, what I  could describe as a parental injunction against the recalcitrant child. 

This upcoming Friday the president of Yellow Cab and I are meeting with the demand study auditors, at their request.  The major question I will be addressing is why do they think that they can know or do know something I or others in the industry don't.  It is clear that the City Council regard all of us collectively as less than bright, certainly incapable of knowing our own business.

All of this is insulting, and on their part, very naive. Why does the City Council think that we will be accepting the results generated by the audit?  Just because Mother and Father tell us to?  If anything, it is this prevailing attitude that will bring litigation into being.  In reality, the opposite is true, the immature party in this discussion is City government, not the taxi industry.  Hopefully this threatening letter will wake Sally Clark and Mayor McGinn up.  McGinn is asking for industry support for his reelection campaign.  Well if he wants it he better clean up this mess and do it quickly.  The time is now for the mayor to show real leadership.  And that of course also applies to the City Council president.  We in the industry have had enough.  But since we are true refined ladies and gentlemen, we are providing you an additional sixty days to get your act together.  It appears the clock is ticking.  Start your engines, and GO!

Preparing For the Taxi Experience

One purpose of this blog all along has been to communicate to the secular public just what it means to be a taxi driver, to demystify myths and misconceptions.  Most don't know that I live between Tacoma and Seattle, averaging about 3 nights in Seattle and four at my current home, a condominium a few minutes away from that great Tacoma city park, Point Defiance.  Each Friday night and Saturday morning I prepare for my weekend taxi ordeal or shall I call it odyssey.  Whatever it is I have found that it requires some preparation if I expect to survive.  This then is a short narrative of my typical routine.

At about 6 or 7 PM Friday, I try to have my duffel bag stuffed with all of the necessary clothing, requisite white shirts, socks etc, along with anything else I might at the moment think reasonable as I won't be coming back until very late Monday or sometime Tuesday.  Rushing around I take a shower and throw myself into bed by the latest 8 PM but often I find myself reading a few extra minutes just to calm my mind.  Last Friday for instance I read a few Robert Frost poems, thinking a bit about his writing before falling asleep.

It at 1:00 AM that the real fun begins when the alarm blares and I rush to the next room to turn it off.  "Oh no, here I go again!" or something else upon that theme I sometimes utter out loud.  It is a gross understatement to say that all of this has gotten old.  Or am I just a spoiled brat?

I have found that it is essential that I do everything correctly or the taxi routine I am demanding of myself quickly drags me down into a pit of my own making.  If any of this seems excessive, it truly isn't.  I am 59.  I am asking much from my body let alone brain and soul and all other theoretical states. At one in the morning I am suddenly a frantic flurry of motion. Where is the video?  This past Saturday morning will serve as normal example of the abnormal.

I immediately turn on the oven to bake two organic vegetable pot pies while simultaneously filling up a kettle and pot of water for tea.  I measure out the soup I made earlier and add broth.  I remember also to grab the apple sauce I made the week previous.  I quickly peel grapefruit and lemons and lime for my fresh juice to wash down my handful of vitamins and supplements.  I turn on the computer to check last minute emails.  All of this turns into quick routine as I as fill preheated thermos' with fresh organic English Breakfast and fill a wide mouth thermos with bubbling soup.  I make juice and gulp down the vitamins.  I jump into the shower.  Read my emails. 
I take the pot pies out and allow a few minutes  for cooling. I remake the bed.  Brush my teeth and hair. Finally I dress while admonishing myself to "hurry up, hurry up!"

I put everything in boxes and bags and take four round-trips from my second floor apartment to the car and back, remembering the bananas but damn! forgetting the yogurt.  The compost bucket is heavy! 

Finally I am in the car and off.  It is now just past 2:30 AM, 2:33 to be exact.  For 1 1/2 hours it has been a personal marathon.  I am in the cab by 3:20 AM.  I head north and exactly at 4 AM my first bell to the Northwest Hospital ER.  The nice guy who thought he was having a heart attack lives in Ballard.  His fare is ten and he tips me ten.  I then get a time-call to the airport.  It isn't quite 5 AM and boom! bang! a $89.00 hour in total. I am started!  The weekend is on!  Just a few more hours to go. HA!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Double Yikes! The Appropriate Interjection!

Last night a for-hire industry colleague (yes, we still communicate) sent me both a startling and puzzling link named "New Entrants" outlining all of the new Uber and similar services.  What I found confusing is that it appeared to be some kind of promotional advertising which was going to be presented to the Seattle City Council today, created by the Uber folks.  My home PC was not being cooperative so it took me a few minutes to realize that it actually was a comprehensive and formal presentation created by some of Sally Clark's legislative aides.  One way of putting it is to call the graphs and charts inclusively gone amok, illustrating what I have said about Sally's tendency to examine everything to the point of exasperation.  I would not be surprised if the council had a resident radiologist at today's hearing X-raying every document.  Thorough yes but necessary is certainly another question.  Do Sally's fellow sub-committee members really require spoon feeding?  Why isn't it possible for them to do some independent research? 

With all this comprehensive evidence it appears to me that the council has failed to ask one very important question.  Just why is it that Uber and these other "johnny-come-lately" operations are surfacing, attempting to exploit what really is a finite market?  The answer might be very simple.  Profit yes but not from directly carrying passengers as none of these services appear, at least yet, to own vehicles.  What they are profiting from is from the drivers' themselves, extracting money from their pockets, taking advantage of the drivers' desire to operate as someone who delivers a passenger from one point to the other.  That is the Uber incentive and little else.  They are not entering markets because of increased passenger demand.  That is a fantasy.  They have entered the taxi market because like good opportunistic business MEN, they have found a vulnerable class that they can manipulate for their personal benefit, and of course, profit.

Hey, none of that was mentioned in the glossy presentation.  I wonder why but I don't. The people who created it know nothing about taxi. Oh what a surprise!  Or am I just an unkind and hard hearted individual who under estimates everyone?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hellish As In Taxi As Usual

"She-who-can't-be-named" commented that I am devoting too much time describing the local taxi situation. "I know it is your priority but does anyone else care?''  I said I am writing for the drivers but she remains unconvinced.  She wants me to be more "commercial" and make the blog more entertaining.  "You mean you don't find political gyrations comical?"  In a nod toward her sentiment I will relate a couple stories I view as the "more mundane that is the usual taxi," the taxi I don't love and truly hate.  Is it really entertaining to have your meter die on a busy Saturday night?  Haw, haw, haw, let me perish laughing!

Yes, just before 8:00 PM Saturday my meter suddenly said "sayonara" and stopped working.  Of course it would have to happen when a passenger like Candace gets in and is instantly suspicious when I tell her that I will have to estimate the fare.  With the shop closed I was stuck dealing with the problem myself.  After dropping sweet Candace off (she even tipped me) I headed toward the only shop that might be open but no, the mechanic was gone for the night.  I tried an auto parts store and a truly nice guy tried to figure it out.  We both thought it was a blown fuse but couldn't find the correct fuse box.  Saying goodbye to him I was left to my own taxi devices to stumble along as well as I could.  Taking "flags" most of the night I did okay, everyone was very understanding and unconcerned as I multiplied $2.70 per mile times the miles driven. The only other person the slightest circumspect was a visitor from California going to the Bellevue Hyatt from Capital Hill but after some pleasant conversation he tipped me ten bucks. 

Waking up early I sped to the lot where Taki took all of five minutes to replace the fuse.  I told him that I was so pleased that if he was a woman I would kiss him which made him laugh and make a similar silly comment in return.  We all need a little levity in the midst of madness!  All I wish is that someone would realize that we are a 24/7 company and have more assistance available after 5 or 6 PM.  At least now I know where the meter fuse is and might have some chance of figuring it out myself if the worst happens again.

The cherry on top of all this was my very last fare of the night, a package from Children's Hospital to Harborview.  Because of the hour I had to drag myself the entire length of the hospital, a round trip of over four blocks to retrieve the package.  Of course once arriving at HMC I had a similar journey of about 1 1/2 blocks.  As I joked to the security personnel at Children's, it was the most exercise I had gotten all day.

Now aren't you glad I lightened your taxi day?  Are you now ready to join our steady fraternity?  Ha ha ha! and say you will, eager like me to swallow the bitter pill!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Parsing The City Council President's Words

If you missed it, you might want to check out KOMO Television's investigative report concerning all those illegal pick-ups off the streets of Seattle.  Reporter Jeff Burnside went "undercover" while flagging for-hire cars cruising the downtown streets.  To no one's surprise every available for-hire driver stopped for him.  It was only when he revealed who he was did their tune quickly change.  For most viewers this shocking exposure was probably what caught their attention.  Since weekly I have a taxi birds-eye view instead I found Sally Clark's comments the most interesting.  KOMO only featured her and Burnside twice but what she didn't say in that broad sense said everything about the issue. 

As I have said, I like her and recognize that she is attempting to be inclusive.  One could call her the city council's "secretary of weights and measures" as she balances a particular situation, examining it from all sides.  The only problem being is that it is not always possible to please everyone, and as in this case, one side is completely in the right and the other in the wrong.  Impossible then to balance the lopsided. Burnside's report clearly illustrates that. My advise to Sally is that she stop giving interviews because as this case nears litigation, as the shouting intensifies, the kind of responses I heard only weakens the City's legal position.  Again, that the release of the for-hire licenses was done minus foresight is glaringly obvious.  Acting like this crisis is normal, or that it isn't even a crisis, is I feel a huge mistake. 

In snapshot one, Sally Clark tells Burnside that "if you ask the for-hire drivers, they are not being allowed to serve market demand."  If Sally wasn't so genuine I would call that completely disingenuous. This is why.  She knows that nothing is preventing them from serving the rider public in the manner intended, that is by prearranged trips.  The intent was never to allow them to act as taxi cabs within the boundaries of Seattle.  She knows that but her response clearly sidesteps the obvious.  She knows that the for-hires know they are operating illegally.  She knows they purchased the licenses fully understanding and agreeing to the inherent limitations.  Her response then to Burnside is nothing but evasive.   Market demand has nothing to do with it because the spontaneous customer found on the street waving at a taxi has nothing whatsoever to do with the for-hire market.  All involved know this.  It is not a secret.

Perhaps more egregious is snapshot two, where it appears she is saying that since the for-hires see people flagging on the streets, they are responding to "market demand", somehow implying that the demand isn't being met by the taxi industry solely by the example that the for-hire driver is seeing someone waiting on the street and is not in a taxi.  Huh? is my response.  Wait a few seconds and a taxi will be there. Just because someone is flagging a cab means that there is an unmet demand?  That is nonsensical. 

Now that these two quotes are on film, permanently archived, the City Council position, however confusing and conflated, is now on record.  It appears there might be an unwitting complicity between the City and the for-hire industry.  Is this why Jeff Burnside was able to find unlimited examples of drivers breaking the law?  Is it because the City has issued a whispered tacit permission to them saying go ahead, we will not arrest you?  If none of this is true then what is going on?  Doesn't the City have the power to both suspend and recall the licenses?  Surely improper operation is grounds for such actions.  What should be alarming to the citizens of Seattle, those folks who by their property taxes are paying the City's bills, is that their representatives appear to be perpetuating a completely indefensible legal position, and ultimately it will be the taxpayers forking over the millions of dollars in any class-action lawsuit.

The problem and issue is well documented, including the City sitting on its hands.  My advise to the City is to quickly institute real enforcement, begin suspending violators and instantly the City will have credibility.  Currently as I see it they are standing on a foundation of sand.  What do you get when large volumes of water is added to porous sand?  Why quicksand of course swallowing everything up.  I can see all of us waving "bye-bye" to all those good city council members and city officials as their heads disappear beneath the surface.  All so unnecessary, don't you think? 

And if you think this is a fairytale, it is, like one of the features from the animated "Rocky and Bullwinkle" show, a "fractured" fairytale.  Also remember the story of that big egg sitting on a wall, and all "of the king's soldiers and all of the king's men" could not glue that egg back together again.  The yolk is spreading across the street, making for a sticky mess.  Watch your step!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Fallacy Of The Consequent: What The Taxi Drivers Want

Did Aristotle ever drive a taxi?  Highly doubtful given he was born in 384 BC.  He probably never conceived anything concerning the business but he did know a thing or two about specious logic and how it could be used to manipulate or control a situation or a group of people, even a configuration as large as a city state.  As you will soon understand, this relates to some consternation occurring earlier this week. Perhaps a little philosophic assistance will  help unravel the Gordian Knot we have wound so tightly for ourselves. What we are dealing with is an erroneous circularity of reasoning that implies when one is treated as an inferior it is because you are inferior. Just as Justice Taney ruled in the 1857 US Supreme Court decision that Dred Scott was the equivalent of a mule, that by a 7-2 vote, the only true donkey was Taney himself.  Aristotle's name for this kind of logical inaccuracy, was the "fallacy of the consequent." Too often in the taxi industry we see this in play.  Since the taxi driver is _____, then he is deserving of ______. In other words since you are bad you deserve to be treated badly. Or applying that logic back in 1857, since the rich slave owners viewed you as their personal property, with even the US Constitution stating you are only 3/5ths human, then you damn well must be that. This kind of attitude is highly useful when motivated to justify the unjustifiable.  The Eugenicists back in the late 19th Century even used science and Darwinian theory to back their prejudicial race theories which, using their distorted logic led to the extreme antisemitism exemplified by post-WWI Germany. Fallacious reasoning is just that.  It is not something that can be called constructive or instructive.  It certainly should not be used as some version of regulatory enforcement. That is why I call it specious because it is based upon unsound premises. It isn't wise to pretend or wish something is something else when it just isn't.  No Judge Taney, a man or woman is not a horse and never will be.

This preamble brings me to what the taxi drivers (both lease and owner) are in the City of Seattle and King County.  We are independent contractors, or put another way, independent business operators, and we are nothing else.  Now in Las Vegas, Nevada they are employees.  Recently the cabbies there went on strike because they objected to their working conditions.  Here we create our own working conditions.  We do that because we hold that ability just like any other type of business owner.  It is that basic and simple.

What then do the local drivers want?  To be recognized as who they are, as independent owners, and nothing else.  When that standard is understood and implemented, peace will reign and everyone will begin recognizing their inherent duties and responsibilities.  In short, I am saying let professionalism begin by all parties involved. Let's quit making excuses and do it right. I also suggest that we embrace and support each other.  Enough of the infighting.  Regardless of our position, administrative, driver, mechanic, we are all united beneath the collective top-light. Let our light shine!  Let it shine! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

England Comes To America

I have been sightly amiss not reporting on various taxi meetings that continue ever on.  Part of it is that I have had enough.  Friends and colleagues alike express disbelieve when I announce that June is it, I am done with political related activities.  Upon request, I will stay on the commission into July if my replacement isn't found.  At that point I would no longer be the Chair as we are rotating responsibilities, the Vice-Chair taking over.  What differs me from the majority is that I instinctively reject objectionable and usually conventional requests.  My response to the Selective Service System back in 1972 was just that.  You want me to do what? 

Currently the City of Seattle and its various levels of government are expecting an acquiescence I am not interested in associating with.  The further away I can be from such nonsense the better.  I no longer enjoy sitting in the front row seat.  One friend said today "but we are starting to gain some achievements, making some progress" which is true, I replied, "but you will have to continue on without me."   Too many folks  mistake my taxi money making talents as some kind of commitment or even affection.  As my friend Stacy knows, I am the accidental cabbie.  Like a social scientist, it has been an interesting experiment, taxi the living cultural lab. During the commission meeting, one non-taxi member, expressed astonishment that one of the two members of the demand study is coming from the United Kingdom.  As I told him welcome to taxi!

I know some will find this assessment harsh, but simply the message being delivered here is "when you don't care you don't" even though you say you do. I am past believing that anyone at the City and County cares what happens to the taxi drivers.  "Of course we do!" is their protest.  I am not buying that product, no, not at all.  Why import someone?  Is everyone on the City Council a closet Anglophile?   Doesn't anyone remember that there was a war fought in 1776?

 As previously stated, I already know the results.  Part of the problem is that the City of Seattle has a "middle-class everything must be college related" approach and mentality.  The governmental folks have been trained to accept Oxford over the street.  The only way they would accept my knowledge is if I presented my Harvard Taxi Doctorate and an published thesis.  Being knocked over the head for twenty-five years isn't the proper learning process they respect.  Only the formal diploma will be accepted.  All other credentials originating from a diploma mill, lacking authenticity. In their eyes I will always be illegitimate, an odd infant wailing away.  The question I have is what ever gave these people the right to hold such erroneous opinion?  Why conventional culture, who or what else?

Meeting With The New GM

Last Tuesday our driver committee met with Tommy, the new PSD general manager. He created a positive impression, presenting himself as someone governed by commonsense.  When I arrived at 74 South Hudson, he was crouching beneath a bush picking up garbage.  He views himself as an equal amongst equals, not interested in pretense or superiority.  My prime concern is that the PSD Board of Directors has thrown this very nice guy into the boiling cauldron.  That they didn't choose someone in-house says everything you don't want to know.  Even my less-than- sympathetic oldest sister asked why I wasn't interviewed.  I wasn't offended because despite my knowledge I understand that I am not the usual or conventional figure.  I am what I am said Popeye the Sailor man (or in my case, hippie-man.)  Regardless, the new GM will do fine.  Sincerity is a plus.  That is all the situation truly requires.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekend Anecdotes: He Didn't Understand & Other Quick Taxi Tales

Taxi is a river I am plunged into each weekend, carrying me along until I emerge soaked to the taxi bone.  Along time ago back in August 1969 when I was 15 and under the influence of a particular substance I leaped into a swiftly flowing river suddenly a fish dodging rocks and logs.  Now under the benign sway of organic tea I leap into the taxi stream not dodging but cautiously befriending my taxi clients for the few minutes we fly along the road together.  I meet everybody and see everything, much I would rather avoid.  Tonight I am briefly writing about a few fleeting scenarios from a rare very sunny mid-spring Seattle weekend.

Not Ready

My first fare of the weekend was a Sea-Tac run originating from West Seattle.  They were on their way to Hawaii.  The terminal at just about slightly past 4 AM was fairly deserted.  I parked at the inside drop-off lane (there being two parallel lanes) and bid the nice folks a good morning.  As I pulled forward an Eastside For Hire car pulled up in the outside lane quickly putting himself and his passenger directly in front of my moving taxi.  Once his passenger stepped onto the curb I pointed out to him what he had just done, endangering everyone by his poor decision making.  He of course immediately protests, not capable of understanding what I was saying.  I understood that again this was a repeat example of another individual licensed by the City & County who is essentially clueless concerning his new occupation.  I continue to find this unconscionable.  I immediately thought back to the rookie Yellow driver a couple months back who lost control on the Ballard Bridge, crashing into a car and killing an occupant.  Month after month new graduates are put out here completely unprepared.  Like this guy at Sea-tac, they don't even know how to safely drop off their passenger.  As I keep saying, is anyone paying attention?

From North Dakota

His Buick Le Saber died 10 miles outside of Wilkerson, ND and I found him at the train station with more luggage than one might think possible.  He was on his way to Victoria, BC Canada to meet a complete stranger that he was marrying.  At least he hoped to but now she was getting "cold feet."  He had been a mortician for 35 years and was thinking of getting back into the business.  I took him to the Victoria Clipper pier and left him as he just got the news that they wouldn't be accepting at least half of his belongings. I wanted then and there to buy him a car but unfortunately I am not in position to instantly fork over a couple grand.

Skiing Accident

He had been waiting 2 hours and dumped at least three times by fellow Yellows when I answered the call and carted the guy to First Hill.  Having broken his neck and spine skiing atop Stevens Pass he was now free from the rehabilitation center after 6 weeks of care.  He had lost his job and his apartment and faced months if not years of recovery.  His right arm remained partially paralyzed.  He talked about how much he loved skiing.  I advised him to take up something less dangerous.  He was young and still dumb.  He celebrated his first minutes of freedom by buying a six-pack.

Originally from Iran

Second call on Sunday morning introduced me to a friendly gentleman coming from a  Ballard pain clinic.  He had fallen off a roof and lost his marriage, his three houses, his livelihood and was now residing in his car.  HopeLink delivered him back to Kirkland.  If I win the lottery tonight I will immediately rent him an apartment.  I know where he is parked.


Busy, so busy this weekend.  Trying to get to Chinatown for dinner I keep encountering fares.  On Capital Hill he gets in looking for a place to stay but doesn't have any ID.  He relates this amazing story about his car and trailer being impounded in Northern California where he was intending to buy some property.  His ID and passport etc is inside the impounded vehicle.  It is a crazy story and I drop him off at the 4th South and South Forest Denny's where he can spend the night.  In the morning he was going to the local licensing office.  Good luck! is all I can say.

So you see, human misery is endless.  Taxi is the front row seat.  Come buy a ticket and take in the show.  But be careful not to choke on the popcorn!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Letter That The City Of Seattle & The City Council Should Be Writing

Twice this past weekend for-hire drivers swooped and stole fares rightfully (and legally) mine.  I didn't like it and I know all you fellow drivers can sympathize.  It is clear that the for-hire industry have not toned down their thievery.  Does anyone out there, including for-hire drivers, think it is going to stop?   I know there has to be other legal responses that the City of Seattle can take other than the weak enforcement measures that is its current approach.  It is only a matter of will.  As far as I know Seattle's Prosecuting Attorney is looking into incorporating local police enforcement but clearly that won't be enough.  It just isn't the answer.  The only approach worth considering is the actual SUSPENSION OR RESCINDING  of the physical for-hire license allowing individuals to operate their cars on the streets of Seattle.  Nothing short of that will get their attention.  Believe me, just have one license taken away permanently and I assure you that you would see 100 PERCENT COMPLIANCE.  That is all it will take. Make an example and all of the others will follow suit. 

Currently they know they have a tacit permission to keep picking up off of the streets whether  in the cover of night or in the light of day.  They are not worried about consequences.  Some percentage of the mayor's office appear to be active supporters.  They also appear to have allies at the City Council itself.   This will not do.  We in the local taxi industry cannot find this situation sustainable.  The demand study is only a ploy delaying what I believe will be an inevitable outcome: the sanctioning of the for-hire industry, allowing them partial or complete taxi status.

 Sitting on that city council panel I clearly saw the direction the three council members are heading.  One of the primary reasons they are taking the side of the for-hire industry is because we, meaning the taxi industry, are neither liked nor respected.  Their attitude is reflected in what we see occurring on the streets. Don't be fooled for a moment that the representatives at the council and the mayor's office are our friends.  They clearly are not.  Given that, I am calling their bluff poker-style and presenting a draft of a letter to the for-hire industry that they, the City & the City Council MUST write themselves.  If a letter outlining what I am saying is not written, then it is clear we have to quickly take actions to communicate our displeasure.  We will have no other option.

Dear For-Hire License Holder,

We are writing to inform you that the picking up of passengers without a prearranged appointment will no longer be tolerated.  We have seen clear evidence that the for-hire industry are flaunting the rules under which the industry have been mandated and created.  You know there can be no exception to your prescribed business model. Illegal behavior will result in the strictest consequences. You can only pick up passengers that have called you before hand and are registered on your daily log.  Any other type of pick-up will be considered a violation and will result in the following penalties.

Any verified illegal passenger pick-up will result in the immediate suspension of your for-hire vehicle license.

Upon further investigation it is determined you have violated your operating agreement multiple times your for-hire vehicle license will be permanently revoked and taken back by the City of Seattle.  There will not any new considerations and you will be permanently barred from owning any future taxi or for-hire vehicle licenses.  You will be held liable for any and all relevant fines and fees.

This regulatory enforcement begins 30 days henceforward.


The City of Seattle

See how simple that is.  If you violate the rules you either temporarily have your vehicle license suspended or worst, permanently revoked, taken away.  If the City of Seattle sends a similar letter written in the proper legalise I know all of the improper pick-ups will stop instantaneously.  The taxi industry wants the illegal for-hire activity to stop now.  The City of Seattle, like a teenager's parent, hold the keys.  All the City of Seattle has to say is no, no more dates for you.  Over and done!

Now that this draft is known, I will be waiting for the real letter to be written.  I wonder how long it will take?  The placating of thieves must end, and end now!