Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Breaking A Sacred Covenant

For those not familiar, the word or term "covenant" means an agreement, or more formally, a solemn compact between persons or parties.  It can even be taken to be contractual, an agreed upon course of action taking both respondents to a mutually acknowledged destination or end.  Covenants take various forms, be they signed and notarized or simply mutually understood.  A marriage vow is a good example, bonding two souls in holy matrimony.  Two important examples taken from Webster's Collegiate Dictionary's 1941 Fifth Edition, one validating Scottish Presbyterianism in 1643, called the "National Covenant" which opposed English or Royal episcopacy (King Henry VIII's argument with Pope Clement VII and the establishment of the Anglican Church);  and another, from 1919, the post-WWI "Covenant of the League of Nations," (President Woodward Wilson's grand scheme), richly illustrate how important the concept is taken and accepted.  And equally, when an agreed or assumed covenant is broken or maligned, all hell breaks loose, releasing untold dire consequences.  Bad things happen, and too often chaos and anarchy reigns, grinding foundational expectations into dust.

Clearly, in regards to the taxi industry, locally this has occurred, Seattle having seen the breaking and destroying of a fundamental covenant between the City of Seattle and its regulatory relationship with the major taxi associations and the thousands of single owners and lease-drivers dependent upon official and implied guidance. A further erosion of trust has simultaneously occurred on the association level between company and drivers. These betrayals shout out a gross injustice that will not and can not be quickly mended.  The fabric is torn, a cold wind chilling us to the bone, freezing wallets and expected incomes. Both covenants are intertwined,the municipal and the taxi association, each mirroring the other, but as recent events have shown, expected certitudes can vanish, leaving one reaching for something that isn't there.

Without going into history already mentioned in previous posts, the City of Seattle's administrative betrayal for the past four years left the taxi industry vulnerable to both the Uber wolves, and that creation of the Office of Consumer Affairs, the flat-rate for-hire industry.  Communicating that we in the taxi industry don't matter, the City of Seattle has put every conceivable obstacle in our path while saying this medicine is both what we deserve and should have expected given our historically, according to them, bad and irresponsible behavior. That the local taxi associations should have sued the City of Seattle, in my mind, is without question.  Mayor Murray's "negotiating committee" was bogus from the onset, requesting that we "slice our own throats."  Why would anyone participate in their own demise? 

Last week, looking at a history of the Jewish people of the 20th Century, I saw photographs of a Nazi mandated "Jewish Police Force" enforcing German ordered rules for the Polish "Warsaw Ghetto."  Maybe an extreme example but somehow appropriate given the outcome both then and now, unlimited Uber, Lyft and Sidecar drivers allowed to operate in our work place along with unfettered street access for the flat-rate for-hire industry.  This in no way can be called a victory, which explains why I wasn't invited to the mayor's table.  My response would have been an adamant "no way are we going along with this," thus rallying the taxi industry toward an opposite and positive outcome.  The book on Jewish history also showed Jewish Underground member holding machine guns while assisting the D-Day invasion.  That was a far better response given the existing conditions.

This brings me to what has been happening the past two months at PSD/BYG (Yellow Cab).  As previously described, the ongoing debut of George Anderson's dispatch remains troubled though signs of improvement continue to grow. Reports of a friend's unknown three hour-long system de-authorization, even though his computer confirmed was operational, is disturbing. The breach here has been the loss of what appears to be a large percentage of our customer base.  Saturday I was furious when, after six hours in the cab, I had grossed only $83.00 dollars.  And Sunday, what used to be a guaranteed pre-Seahawk rush to the game never materialized. 

What this means, especially for the lease-drivers, is that while operating costs remain high, expected income has dramatically decreased.  Our, the single owners and lease-drivers agreement or covenant with Yellow, is simple.  We pay for dispatch services and expect in exchange a reasonable monetary return.  Until recently, despite the City of Seattle's intentional sabotage, we having been doing okay.  But now, due to the new system's less than impressive performance, we are all suffering. 

I can say though what differentiates Yellow from the City of Seattle is their recognition that something is wrong and are attempting to remedy the situation.  What last Wednesday's TAG meeting made clear is that on the municipal level NOTHING will be changing.  They have screwed us and the screwing will continue unabated.  There is only one word suited to describe that wasted 1 1/2 hours: farcical.  Why the meeting could have been authored by Moliere  (1622-1673) himself if we had all instead been somehow transported back to 17th Century France.

"Que l'on parle bien quand on parle dans le desert."  quot Andre Gide (1869-1951).  The rough translation is thinking we are smart while talking in a parched and heated environment.  All I can say watch out for the sand in your eyes.  In 1997 "she-who-can't-be-named" and I encountered a sand storm in Death Valley.  Something to be avoided!



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