Monday, July 27, 2015

A Big Mistake & Opportunity Presented ByThe King County/Seattle August 4th Primary

Today some kind of "who will get the airport concession" meeting was held at Sea-Tac.  Finding out about it about an hour prior prevented my attendance.  Though ultimately a Port of Seattle decision, I see it, as I see everything concerning the local transportation industry, as connected to the governmental primacy that is the City of Seattle.  As I have been saying the past two weeks, most of the issues facing us can be laid at Seattle's bureaucratic feet, their tarnished toes our local itchy, annoying fungus. With the flat-rate for-hire folks in particular, along with Uber and Lyft, they want what they feel is only their just and fair share of the lucrative Sea-Tac market.  Viewing themselves as new Reformation reformists, sects and off-shoots from the main church, their core argument is that since we share the same faith, sacramental communion should he offered to all minus any and all religions deviations.  Yes, one can easily understand their approach, given piety and enthusiasm expressed. 

But as my schizophrenic brother said today at lunch, "it is all the devil" and maybe in that sense it is, a governmental "demon realm" spreading mayhem and fear.  Our big mistake is to embrace what was created to divide and destroy.  I suggest instead we unite and oppose the source of our turmoil, those malignant spirits in progressive clothing occupying those "business district" skyscrapers, our diluted "Sodom and Gomorrah." Caution is advised before we all turn into Biblical "pillars of salt," inert and lifeless.  Again, remember to ask yourselves, just "what are we arguing about?" 

Your First Opportunity For Justice

A much simpler avenue toward addressing our great betrayal is to vote "the bums out."   Thankfully a number of the City Council members who voted for an "uncapped" TNC/Ride-share industry have left but a large core remains.  Join me , depending on your district, in voting against

Tim Burgess, Council Position #8

Sally Bagshaw, Council Position # 7

Jean Godden, Council Position #4

Kshama Sawant, Council Position #3

Bruce Harrell, Council Position #2

All five of these individuals are suspected to be in Uber's political pocket.  Scan the "Voters' Pamphlet" to begin making your decision concerning alternatives.  The one incumbent I recommend is

Mike O'Brien, Council Position # 6

He alone questioned what the council was doing.

Ending with a Philip Larkin (1922-1985) Poem

I will let that wonderful British writer have the last word.  It is quoted from his "Collected Poems" published in 1989 by Farrar-Straus-Giroux and The Marvel Press.

Homage to a Government

Next year we are to bring the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working.  And this is all right.

It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.

Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Connecting The Dots

When I was in my pre- and post kindergarten years I loved receiving the child's magazine, Humpty Dumpty, the first subscription I ever received, a rare parental gesture by my usually self-absorbed mother and father.  One feature I enjoyed were the drawings where "connecting the dots" revealed some creature or object concealed in the outline.  Taking my pencil I would obediently draw connecting lines from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on until a gaggle of ducks quacked at me.  Often I would already see what I was  creating but the fun was in the process, in the doing.  That I was not having any fun Sunday afternoon when 478's fuel pump failed on the west-bound 3600 hundred-block of 15th Avenue West is an understatement; a situation further compounded by waiting 3 hours for the tow truck.  And believe me, Seattle's drivers don't see an inch beyond their noses!  How did these people qualify for driving licenses when obviously they are not ready for the experience.

I utilize my Humpty Dumpty example from many years ago to illustrate something self-evident from Sunday's experience: connecting the dots bringing into view a series of events taking me to that moment where I was mere seconds away from breaking down in the middle of the Ballard Bridge, not something any cabby would want, the sheer danger scary to consider.  Though I could lay all the blame upon Yellow, it wouldn't be either fair or accurate, a history far more complicated than the mere pointing of fingers at convenient targets.

Following the dots brings you more correctly to the source and cause of Sunday's not-so-pleasant mechanical failure.  While Yellow and the other associations have a well-known history of poor decisions and chaotic organization, it's clear that at the same time you need money to operate and coordinate, and the current business pressures presented by Uber & friends, the flat-rate for-hires and the town-cars have had an ill and debilitating effect.  The inescapable reality for BYG/PSD (Yellow) is that it has less money than it needs for the moment to efficiently operate what is a multi-million dollar business.  So let's begin connecting the dots, revealing the true villains in this story.

I begin with King County's attitude eight years back or so when they decided to issue 50 King County licenses while completely disregarding their own RFP (Request for Proposal) requirements.  What they were really telling us was that we in the local Seattle and King County taxi industry held little or no standing with local regulators, neither liking or respecting us.  That was further clarified by allowing the eventual "Green Cab" operators to not follow the stated guidelines.  KC thumbed their nose, saying, "Screw you!"  I now have reports that those same "Green Cab" licensees, having never followed the mandated "employer/employee"dictate, have now transferred those "limited" licenses to other associations in clear violation of how and why they were granted.

Continue to the next dot when Seattle and King County finally filled the seats of the dormant Seattle & KC Taxi Advisory Commission, peopling it with unqualified candidates, setting it up for failure.  One appointee failed to show up even once for an entire year, and was never seen by the other commission members; while another only appeared twice before vanishing, never to be seen again.  Any attempt to remedy the sorry situation fell upon deaf bureaucratic ears.  The commission currently resides in governmental limbo, which is exactly where the City of Seattle and King County wants it to be, residing in an imaginary netherworld somewhere in the City Council's collective brain.

Take your pencil to the next dot which is the Seattle & KC decision to release over 200 Seattle flat-rate for-hire licenses and a County-wide unlimited licensing entry, meaning if you were dumb enough to put on a million flat-rate County cars, you could.  This decision was made despite the legal option and demand for over an additionally permitted 300 plus City taxi licenses.  All this was done knowing that the flat-rate for-hire licenses were released minus any immediately viable operational model.  After that, for the next three-plus years, the flat-rate licensees were allowed to essentially operate illegally upon Seattle's streets minus any viable enforcement.

Your next dot is the Seattle and King County decision not to immediately put a stop to the illegal incursion in a regulated market by Uber Lyft & Sidecar.   That they did nothing said everything about their attitude toward the local taxi industry.  While the taxi industry complained, Uber & friends soared unhindered over Seattle's roads and byways.  Adding insult to obvious injury, Uber wailed that they, not us, were the afflicted party.

Now turn your pencil to the Seattle City Council and their decision to pay $100,000 to an outside team of so-called transportation experts, Professors Cooper and Mundy, to conduct a "passenger demand" study.  That the City Council ignored our complaints that one, Cooper & Mundy knew nothing in real terms about taxi in general and our situation in Seattle in particular; and two, their ultimate conclusions were amateurish and inaccurate, setting us up for the Murray fiasco.  Cooper and Mundy continue to masquerade as "taxi experts," spreading havoc across the known taxi landscape.  While not quite "blood money," I wonder how Cooper and Mundy sleep at night?

You can now begin to see the ugly, snarling creature taking shape upon the page, further brought into focus by connecting to former Mayor McGinn's doomed decision to create his "after midnight" part-time taxi stands while completely ignoring industry's real needs, allowing the University of Washington to rebuild a new and giant college football stadium minus taxi stands and wheelchair and disabled access.  As the new Husky football season approaches (1st home game 09/12/15), not one solitary stand has been created.  How can that be in one of America's most well known "liberal" cities?  Composting is important but picking up the disabled after the game appears not to be a priority.  Who is being treated like garbage?

Continue connecting to the City Council's grand announcement that they had settled upon a 250 car cap for all TNC/Ride-share companies, where self-congratulation was the order of the day.  How proud they were, still hearing Sally Clark's pronouncements to this moment.

Next make a wiggly line to the next post-Mayoral election City Council announcement that they were cancelling their much debated ordinance in favor of a new one orchestrated by the new mayor, Ed Murray.  And they never gave a plausible reason as to why they were dumping their bill.  It was just something we in the taxi industry had to accept minus any options.  One single owner said it was the best deal they could get.  "Nothing whatsoever" was the best deal?  Unbelievable!

Connect to Murray's preordained negotiation hearings where Uber & friends were given unlimited entry while the taxis remained capped.  Anything major (like licenses changing to medallions) gained by the industry was already in the bureaucratic pipeline.

If you are still able to grip your pencil, connect to the City Council 8-1 vote disavowing all their hearings and meetings and hard work, giving Uber everything they wanted while Murray quickly set his signature to the deal.  Only Mike O'Brien voted in opposition to what was clearly a fatal stab in the taxi industry's back.  That ersatz socialist,  Kshama Sawant made a strange statement to the effect that "big money's" victory was inevitable, somehow explaining her vote for sinking the taxi industry.  Huh!?  To be further nauseated, check out that great liberal rag, "The Nation---150 years old and counting" and their feature about the heroic Sawant.  Whatever she might be, she ain't no dalit leading the caste-trodden masses.  Can anyone say "Brahman?"

Take that pencil and now connect to BYG/PSD's winter "mothballing" of a large percentage of its fleet and the laying off of invaluable shop mechanics along with the curtailing of cashier and driver superintendent hours.  The annual Thanksgiving Feast provided by BYG was cancelled for the first time in over 20 years.  The lesson here is you can't spend money you don't have.

Your pencil now moves to the second to last dot and Washington State Legislature's decision ending mandatory Labor & Industry insurance protection for owners and lease-drivers.  July 23rd is the new opt-in/opt-out date.  Another "great" liberal, Governor Jay Inslee, signed the bill.

For the final dot completing the monster's toothy, menacing grin, grab another pencil and  make a thick red line to new City of Seattle statistics stating that we in the local industry last year lost nearly one-third of our gross income while working harder for what we got.  Not funny which brings me to my original thought, that everything isn't what it seems upon first glance, a short story expanded to novella.

Now that money is in shorter supply, routine  maintenance has been downgraded.  Perhaps that faulty or failing fuel pump would have been caught before I was stranded way out there on 15th West.  And more tow trucks would have resulted, in the usual fashion, of getting the disabled cab back to the lot within a hour or so.  In 28 years, the 3 hours was my longest wait, 45-60 minutes being usual. 

In conclusion, what seems simple, isn't.  After hearing the tow truck driver's explanation, I even gave him my customary $5.00 tip.  He was a good guy, and I admired how he swung 478 around in a tight parking lot.  Let's lay the blame where it really belongs, and that is the City of Seattle and King County's treatment of our industry.  They have kicked us like a can down the street.  Clearly it is time for us to kick back.  Are you ready is all I can ask?  Are you ready to take your industry back from the hands of fools?  Are you tired of being stepped upon and ground into the dirt?  I am ready to hear your answer.  If losing your livelihood isn't enough, what will it take to get your attention?  Guns pointed at your heads and driven from your homes?  In short, guys and gals, this is serious business.  Understand it.  Comprehend.  Do something. Do something about it.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hey Mister Anderson, How Now, Yellow Cow? & Comprehensive Outline Of Potential Taxi Law Suit & L&I Update

Recently a San Francisco cabby emailed me asking how George Anderson's dispatch system was faring here in Seattle, his inquiry prompted by positive remarks originating from George.  Mister Anderson evidently reported that all of us at Seattle Yellow were shouting praises to the sky, thanking local celestial forces for sending us our Bay-area based savior.  Well, all I can say is, not quite, or more succinctly and to the point, we are just plainly relieved it isn't screwing up ninety percent of the time like it did during it's first three or four months of confounding operation.  That it only messes up to a much smaller degree is no cause for celebration.  No one has nor will they compensate everyone for money and customers permanently lost.  Clearly the fiasco we faced was not entirely of George's making but his contribution was major, clearly not understanding the industry he was entering. Instead of putting all of the blame upon his slender shoulders, Yellow (BYG/PSD) holds at least fifty percent of the responsibility for allowing incompetency to make multi-million dollar commitments.

Two weeks ago someone in dispatch told me they had overheard George Anderson sweet talking Jim O'Malley, then head of dispatch, pitching Jim a many-splendored story, saying how he would build the perfect credit/debit card processing system.  That Jim had over served his usefulness was apparent to everyone other than those paying his salary, resulting in what we got, including Jim being shown the taxi door. All of this, including ongoing errors persistently plaguing the system, might have all been avoided and made unnecessary if "sage" taxi eyes had instead examined Anderson's handiwork down at Yellow San Francisco.  Candor might have prevailed minus wishful fairy tales whispered to the half awake.

Regardless, issues persist both here and San Francisco.  I am sure things have or will get better for them but the question also remains just how long before another major problem occurs, wasting everyone's time and money.  What perhaps undoubtedly can be said is that the American taxi industry is in a great and unavoidable transition.  What we will end up looking like in 2-3 years I cannot say but applying commonsense and wisdom to our situation will greatly assist in ensuring that ultimately, we will come out stronger and more united.  Reach for the obtainable, not for the proverbial taxi pie-in-the-sky and we will survive.  Believe in yourselves, understanding that we must rely on those who know our industry, meaning you and me and all our colleagues.  The time for collaborating with taxi industry neophytes is long over. All you need to do is look at the sad  results and your malfunctioning tablet to understand.  The answer is clear, even if your computer screen isn't.

What a Lawsuit Against the Flat-rate For-hire Industry & the TNC/Ride-share (Uber,Lyft, Sidecar) Industry & the City of Seattle and King County Might Look Like

Accountability, or the lack of accountability, is the prime impetus fueling any law suit or suits against any and all potential litigants.   We cabbys in Seattle and King County know what it means to be abandoned by an unfaithful regulatory spouse.  That we were shafted, betrayed is beyond argument.  As I pointed out a few weeks ago, statistically last year we lost nearly one-third of our total gross income from the previous year.  Not only is this unacceptable, it is painful to both mind and wallet.  Drivers are becoming angry, not only at the City but their fellow drivers, conflicts arising amidst the tension of no business and the same, old  never-ending expenses.

Yes, losing your mind is one response but may I suggest, not the proper one.  Your fellow driver is not your enemy nor the cause of your pain.  Though I have included our friends in the flat-rate for-hire industry in my potential list, they are only an symptom of a much larger problem that can be sourced to those fine people running the City of Seattle and King County.  We are living their poor choices and decisions.  Uber too is solely their responsibility.  Like the Parisian and French governments who told Uber to go to hell, Seattle and KC could, and should have done the same.  That they didn't is why I am suggesting that the time is ripe to respond legally.  What do we have to lose if we don't?  Even more of our overall gross earnings this next fiscal year? 

I am not just speaking theoretically.  I too remain out here earning my bread & butter driving a taxi.  Business-wise this is the worst summer I have experienced in more or less 20 years, having to work harder to make my usual earnings.  At age 61 my poor body is telling me this isn't any fun.  No, I am not having any fun.  And who can I thank for my new aches and pains?  Why of course the City of Seattle and King County, those understanding and caring government entities.

Please note, that while I am attempting to be both comprehensive and conclusive, this outline should only be read as what it is, a preliminary exploration of what legally we might want and need, and in reality, actually achieve and do.  I am requesting that you make your own assessments of the situation.  As much as possible, if we as an industry decide to go forward with legal action, this should be an egalitarian effort. 

Over the past eight years of successful and failed taxi organizing efforts, I have learned much from what works and what doesn't succeed.  It is then only with confidence do I present this outline.  I believe, if deciding to go ahead, we will win.  And why do I think so, you immediately ask?  Because we are the wronged party on all counts.  We have played by the rules and regulations provided us.  Others, including many individuals in Seattle and King County government, appear to have done otherwise.  It is past time I believe to bring the truth forward into the shining light of judicial prudence.  When evidence is brought forward, we will win.  Again, I am convinced, which I why I am ready to make the great effort and personal sacrifice to finally return the local taxi industry back to an even playing field. 

Today we are at a huge disadvantage.  I think we can "turn-the-tables" in a matter of months.  What I will be seeking, more than drawn-out trials, is negotiated settlements which will include monetary damages. Again, we have been wronged through no fault of our own.  We are innocent.  Others clearly are not.

The Outline:

This is not in any particular order.  I envision at least three separate suits and perhaps more.  As I said in the beginning, we will need to hold everyone who is legally accountable fully responsible for the reprehensible situation we now find ourselves.  I believe many of the involved have ever thought for one moment that they would be brought to the dock answering for their misdeeds.  It has been very culturally fashionable recently to speak of forgiveness.  To hell with that!  Justice and justice only is what is required.  How do you forgive when over 20 million dollars are pick-pocketed, taken directly from our wallets?  No my friends, not forgiveness.  Revenge!  Or maybe after the monetary awards, we can all share a cup of coffee and discuss about what happened but not before.  Our dire circumstances must change.  Now!

Lawsuit Against the City of Seattle & King County:

The basis & grounds: 

1) For over a three-year period, Seattle & KC failed to enforce rules governing the flat-rate for-hire industry, the town-car (limo) industry, and the TNC/Ride-share industry which includes Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

2)  For the continued and current failure to enforce new regulations pertaining to the flat-rate, town-car and TNC industries.  Flat-rate for-hires continue to sit on taxi stands and allegedly quote inflated rates to customers minus City & County intervention.  Town-cars continue to illegally solicit and pick-up and over-charge passengers minus City & County intervention.  TNC cars continue to act "like taxis," picking up passengers minus City & County intervention.

3)  That the City & County opened and created flat-rate for-hire licenses instead of expanding taxi licenses to the 1000 cap.  An examination of how this process proceeded is required.

4)  How the City & County released 200-plus flat-rate for-hire licenses minus any operational business model.

5)  How the Mayor's office intervened in the City Council "Uber" bill limiting the number of TNC cars and forced uncapped entry.

6)  How the Seattle City Council threw out their own "Uber" bill after 1 1/2 years of hearings and meetings, resulting in a much ballyhooed compromise law.

7)  How the City of Seattle uncapped the TNC industry, allowing unlimited entry while capping taxi licenses.

8)  How King County have disregarded the rules and regulations governing the creation of 50 "green cab" licenses, allowing the licensees to operate illegally minus County intervention.

One glance at this list reveals many unanswered questions.  We would be seeking monetary damages and policy changes and possibly the elimination of the flat-rate for-hire industry, whose owners receiving "just" compensation in the form of money or taxi licenses or both.  That we as an industry have stood still while all this has taken place says nothing good, and that folks, is a great understatement.  One aspect many of you many not be aware of is that there is a paper trail originating from the City of Seattle telling its designated regulatory enforcement office "not to enforce!"  Wouldn't you just love to witness the cross-examination?

Lawsuit Against the TNC/Ride-share Industry---Uber, Lyft & Sidecar:

The basis & grounds:

1) That Uber, Lyft and Sidecar entered a regulated market, ignoring all rules, laws and insurance, permits and licensing requirements, operating minus any legal sanction for over a three-year period.

2) That Uber, Lyft and Sidecar disrupted a regulated market, causing great monetary damage to said market.

3) That the TNC industry continue to flout laws, encouraging and promoting illegal airport (Sea-Tac) pick-ups.

4) That the TNC industry does nothing to stop illegal pick-ups minus app contact, thus endangering the passenger public.

There are probably other issues that an attorney could come up with, but with certainty we would ask for all the TNC profits that Uber, Lyft and Sidecar earned during that three year-plus period.  From my point of view, that money was stolen from the taxi industry, meaning the money belongs to us, not them.

In this lawsuit, we would also examine the relationship and contacts, if any, that Mayor Ed Murray and his aides has, or had, with Uber and the other TNC companies.  Repeatedly I have requested local media to investigate this potential relationship.  All I have received is silence.  You might remember, that in a taxi industry sponsored debate, McGinn vs Murray, Murray came out in favor of our local industry. Given that, Murray's quick turnabout remains a mystery.  Why did he change his mind?

Another important point to remember is that, once Murray pressured the city council members to refute and kill their own bill, Murray instituted a series of negotiations that became the Murray-version of the Uber bill, allowing unfettered access to our legitimate market.  During those series of meetings, not once was the voice of an elected or appointed lease-driver representative heard, the reason basic and simple, there wasn't one.  Instead, the City of Seattle, to my understanding, violated our civil rights by negotiating with individuals who were not, and are not our legal representatives. 

While yes, many of us lease cars and dispatch services from the various associations, not once did we appoint any of them as our legal agents.  In other words, near as I can tell, that means any agreements made between the City of Seattle and those sitting in at the negotiations are null and void.  One important potential aspect of any legal action is that we might be able to make the City of Seattle start completely over with its TNC, Flat-rate and Taxi industry overhaul.  Wouldn't that be fun?

Lawsuit Against the Flat-rate Industry

I will begin with a basic statement of how I really feel toward my many colleagues and friends and acquaintances currently involved with the day to day operations of those odd quasi-taxis known as flat-rate for-hire cars.  In NYC they are called, at least their own endemic version, livery cabs.  Even  Cooper and Mundy, the two professors who conducted that once celebrated City Council "demand study," openly wondered what those strange taxi-like creatures were, given they had never seen their ilk before.  Well, whatever these vehicles are or not, the folks driving them are mostly former taxi drivers or people who would prefer to be driving a taxi.  Of course then I do not hold any animosity toward them or anyone else who embraces taxi driving as a livelihood. 

Where my argument and disagreement begins is that they accepted the City of Seattle's offer of these distorted licences even though it was evident and clear that they also came without any viable or operational business model.  I personally was told by one City of Seattle official to "buy them."  Examining what they were, I concluded there was no way to make a living operating a flat-rate car.  The City of Seattle also knew this, and perhaps the City also knew what would happen with the new licensees.  Now in procession of cars and insurance rates averaging at least $5000. per year, the drivers did what they knew how to do, that is pick up "flags" off the Seattle streets even though they knew full well they were breaking the law. 

So in a taxi nutshell, that is how I feel about the flat-rate folks, that they, in their desperation to have a taxi license, took Seattle's table scraps, and then, feeling they had no other true option, broke the law for over three years.  This is indisputable.  The evidence  and acknowledgement is everywhere, located in TV footage, newspapers articles, in the City of Seattle's own records and reports.

Yes, I like everyone  but at the same time I feel they escaped any and all accountability minus even a slap upon the wrist.  While viewing them as having been victimized by the City of Seattle, it doesn't excuse them from stealing from their cabby friends.  As I said in the very beginning, all this begins and ends with Seattle and King County's lack of accountability toward the overall taxi business community and all those associated with it.

The basis and grounds:

1)  That the Seattle Flat-rate industry knowingly operated illegally within the Seattle city limits for a three year-plus period, disrupting and harming the regulated and compliant taxi industry.

2)  That the Seattle Flat-rate licensees knowingly purchased licenses minus any operational business model.

What we would be asking for is an examination of all gross income minus any officially dispatched calls.  As in the TNC situation, any and all profits gained in that period were at the expense and loss of the taxi industry.  That the City of Seattle, one, issued these licenses in the first place, and then, two, did little to nothing to stop illegal flat-hire for-hire business practices, is this story.   The lawsuit would seek monetary damages.

Again, above all, I hold most sympathy with the flat-rate industry.  As noted previously, a most favorable outcome would be the replacement (in whatever negotiated number) of flat-rate licenses with taxi medallions, with the flat-rate industry awarded damages from the City of Seattle.


For any of this to become reality, a great deal of time and organization and cooperation and money will be required.  I suggest that sometime during this summer, all the initially interested lease-drivers and single owners get together and have a big discussion.  I would create the format.  I do suggest sometime in August because on September 7th, I am leaving for a 6 week long trip to Europe.  Unfortunately, the issues I have listed here will still be here when I get back.  Until we meet, I encourage everyone to share what I have written here and discuss whether we truly have the commitment to finally face our entrenched opposition and seek a final and just resolution.  Again, united we stand, divided we fall.  It is that simple.

I end with a poem by the American writer William Stafford:

Yellow Cars

Some of the cars are yellow, that go
by.  Those you look at, so glimmering
when light glances at their passing.  Think
of that hope: "Someone will
like me, maybe." The tan ones
don't care, the blue have made
a mistake, the white haven't tried.
But the yellow---you turn your head:
hope lasts a long time if you're happy.

Taken from "The Way It Is"  New & Selected Poems of William Stafford,
Graywolf Press

L&I Post-script:

The new Olympia bill ending mandatory L&I coverage becomes effective law July 23rd, 2015.   All of you State of Washington drivers will be receiving a letter of explanation from L&I in the coming weeks. I will have more coverage later.

Note:re-edited 5:35 PM 07/16/2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Very Quickly---Greetings From Ashland, Oregon

Hello.  I am on the road, just having flown in to Medford.  "She-who-can't-be-named" has picked me up and soon we will be off to the Salmon River in Northern California.  4th of July was not busy until the end but anyone who knows taxi understands you need a full amd busy day to make any money.  I did have a passenger from Gasworks Park prior to the fireworks display who had been repeatedly bitten by his girlfriend.  So much for beer and fun in the sun.

During these few short allotted minutes in the Ashland library I can tell you that Google Maps lies because dispatch said 9333 International Blvd (Pacific Highway South) was a good address but I knew it couldn't be.  While going to check it out the passenger would not answer her telephone.  Finally, having detoured miles, she responded and told me that she was waiting at the Sea-Tac Comfort Inn at 19333, just as I thought.  Thankfully they were going all the way north to Pier 66, netting me $58.00 but still roaring up and down I-5 is stupid!

Ashland is home to a summer-long Shakespearean festival.  I highly recommend it.  And check out the local co-op grocery store.  It is filled with hippies, reminding me of a bygone era.  It has been a while since I have been saluted.  God I never knew I was a hippie General in the underground army chanting "We shall overcome!" 

I certainly hope so!  Shall peace reign, at least to summer's end!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Only One Taxi Representative At Tuesday's Taxicab Avisory Group (TAG) Meeting---Me!

Okay, I understand it's summer, and the meeting date had changed but regardless, given now that the taxi commission is in bureaucratic limbo, one would expect more interest and participation from a beleaguered taxi industry.  But no, I was it, clearly causing some wonderment about why no one other than me bothered to show up for this quarterly discussion.  With the apparent abandonment of the Seattle & King County Taxi Advisory Commission, the TAG remains our only available scheduled forum.  Of the 11 attendees, 5 were either City or County employees, leaving a paltry six from the "interested" pubic, including 2 guys from HopeLink.  As everybody knows, there are serious issues facing us but unless we participate politically we will be ignored and shoved aside.  All I will say is that some important people concerned with taxi licencing were not impressed by the lack of interest on our industry's part.  And who can blame them?  If you have ever wondered why Mayor Murray was able to maneuver the local taxi industry into a corner, what I am telling you now in the reason.  Our industry does not know where its own priories lie, letting you and me and everyone fade into the sunset like a bad Grade B western movie---we, having lost the shootout, are shown being buried with the final shovels of dirt pitched into our shallow graves. No one is mourning our demise. And all of us are just sitting there in the darkened theatre, staring at the screen, reading the final credits.  Oh well, pass the buttered popcorn!