From my experience, today's rally was effective, the turnout of over one hundred taxis and perhaps more making it clear we are not interested in future excuses from City officials. A bill of $300,000 dollars representing an estimated three years of losses to the "for-hire" cars and others was presented to the City Council. Some feel that amount is only a fraction of what me and others have in reality lost. My guess would be more like three to five hundred thousand dollars annually. One friend put it as ten percent of the entire state industry which he says would make it seven million yearly. Another way of computing the losses is to multiply expected income times the number of "rogue" operators out there which number from 1000 to 1500 individuals. Even with these rough numbers you can see why the local taxi industry is upset. We are being pick pocketed while the City of Seattle watches.
Personally my day was complicated by the absence of an available key for YC 747 upon arriving at the lot. Extremely frustrating because I called last night and left a message expressing my concern about key availability. This has happened to me before. The sole existent key was locked in the shop, meaning I had to wait for the mechanics to show up before I could go to work. The new general manager will try to resolve the intractable, this being a known problem decades in length. Why not waste my time? I'm not doing anything else, am I? Unbelievably I appeared to have the only key to the car in known existence, prompting me to demand another be made. Logical don't you think? I certainly don't want another driver to face the same dilemma tomorrow morning.
Returning to the demonstration, we effectively surrounded City Hall, with cabs three lanes deep on Fourth Avenue. It was the first time I was proud of my brethren, seeing friends and long time colleagues coming together and uniting around a common cause. Bravo! And thanks to everyone who made it all possible, including Teamsters Local 117. Traffic problems were kept to a minimum, allowing for sympathetic curiosity, acrimony no where to be seen. Most interesting to me was the total absence of the Seattle police. Having long experience with them after games and large events, I was pleased they allowed the Teamsters and others to keep traffic flowing. I had a SPD motorcycle cop snarl at me last Saturday, while he was parked in my official Hotel W taxi stand! It never ends is all I will say about that.
Finally, just fours blocks from the protest, I encountered a doorman at the Red Lion Hotel flagging a passing town car. Honking loudly I intervened, taking the folks to Pier 91 myself. It was only $16.00 with tip but it was my money the guy was stealing. The fare made me nearly 35 minutes late but I had no other option other than interrupt the ongoing crime. The City isn't stopping this theft so instead we have to do it ourselves. By my tone you can guess I have had enough. Yes it is true!
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