Thursday, June 16, 2016

Reaching Critical Junctures: Port Of Seattle Sea-Tac Hearing & Seattle Yellow's Dispatch System & City Of Seattle Collective Bargaining Workshops

There is a very old adage or idiom that states "When the cat is away, the mice will play," but in this case, dealing with Seattle's taxi industry, it is inherently unclear who is cat, who is mouse?  Is the cat taxi association leadership; or is the cat actually all the independent operators (single owners and lease drivers) not chastising the mouse that is industry management?

I say this because it truly is unclear who is ultimately in charge because association power is truly illusory, because, without me and others paying our fees, there would be no industry.  So minus all doubt, someone (and something) is clearly absent from the "taxi wheel," meaning, like some wayward vessel, if we collectively strike against bureaucratic shoals and sink, who is the captain responsible, who was at the helm?

As I am inferring, it is very unclear concerning who just is in charge and ultimately responsible for what has happened and will occur to those us currently dependent upon taxi for our livelihoods. Who is the perpetrator, who is the victim?  Like some mystery novel, maybe we discover the truth at the story's end, too late for any true victory or resolution, taxi already dead and buried.

I pose these questions due to what occurred at yesterday's Port of Seattle commission hearing concerning the pending award of the next five-year Sea-Tac outward-bound service contract.  Even after knowing better, ( or perhaps they don't), taxi industry representatives outlined some details concerning their respective RFP proposals, this in direct violation of commission rules stating that the RFP must remain private.

In theory, their leaking RFP "secrets" essentially negates their effort, legally allowing the Port Commission, if they wish, to toss out the errant applicant's RFP.  And perhaps even worse, it opens any potential award of services to legal challenge.  Impressive it isn't which is why I say, who exactly is in charge here?

That this kind of mindless transgression could destroy the lives of hundreds of Sea-Tac based taxi operators is outrageous.  How could the industry, or better put, how could all of us be so dumb?  I find it a serious question shouting out to be addressed.

Can we, in the near future, trust association management to make correct and logical decisions and choices?  The resounding answer is obvious, isn't it.  And since it is obvious, what are we going to do about it.  Maybe it is time to stop thinking in terms of cat and mouse and instead decide who is going to be the "top dog" growling at all inept and incompetent decision making.  Maybe, more than barking, it is time to bite.

For anyone interested in seeing all this for yourselves, please google the following address to access the Port Commission site:

Positive Changes to Yellow's Computer Dispatch System

I doubt anyone is sad to see "the closest cab will be belled" system mothballed but that is exactly what is happening, June 24th, 2016, the date when the newly installed computer tablet will be completely operational, allowing a return to much appreciated queuing, the first cab getting the next call.  Antiquated perhaps but us cabbies are old fashioned, thinking it is only fair that a driver, having waiting an hour, should get the next fare available, not one who just arrived a minute earlier and happens to be five blocks closer. This new system will be in effect in all the zones except downtown and the airport.  To me it would make sense to keep the "closest cab" system in the bigger county zones but perhaps not, given what happened in Snoqualmie..

In the "almost funny but not" category is what occurred with the Snoqualmie School District and a long $140.00 daily school run.  It turns out up to seven Yellow cabs would turn up, all trying to be the closest to the door in hope of being that day's very lucky cabby.  These dumbbells in general caused their own personal traffic jam, clogging the driveway and just making a nuisance of themselves.  It was this kind of nonsense that finally persuaded Yellow to revert back to our original queuing system.  Whoever thinks "total idiots" can't be helpful, are wrong, at least in this instance. Again, thank you guys, for your stupidity.  This is one time it is appreciated. Just try not make it a habit, difficult as that notion might seem to be.

In tandem with this change has been the "Union" generated review of various computer dispatch operating systems, with presentations made over the past four weeks at their Tukwila Teamsters Building.  This fact too might have accelerated Yellow's decision to alter what it was doing.  What is now more than likely to happen now is the proverbial period of "wait and see," assessing just how successful the new tablet is. Personally I don't care what system we have.  I just want it to work 24/7.  That can't be too much to ask.

There have been other problems associated with Yellow's system, especially an almost weekly shutdown of the entire operation on Monday mornings.  While they attributed this to faulty ATT relay towers, a remedy had to be found, and hopefully that galling issue has been fully resolved.  We can only hope, all of us disliking inherent dysfunction screwing up our day.

City of Seattle Collective Bargaining Workshops Are Now Scheduled

Most everyone probably knows that the Seattle City Council passed a bill allowing taxi/Uber/flat-rate driver Union formation.  That Mayor Murray remains non-supportive is another issue, something that might derail the entire effort.  Nonetheless, the City (or least one governmental part of it) is proceeding forward with the council's wishes.  Listed below are the times and locations for what are called the "For Hire Driver Representation/Collective Bargaining" workshops.  If time permits, given my curiosity, I will try to attend one of the workshops.

Saturday 6/25/2016  9:30-11:30 AM  North Seattle Community College, Center Room 1456,
9600 College Way North, Seattle

Thursday 7/07/2016  1:30-3:30 PM  New Holly Gathering Hall, 7054 32nd Ave. South, Seattle

Friday 7/08/2016  1:30-3:30 PM  Miller Community Center, 330 19th Ave. East, Seattle

Call Julie Moore/Cyndi Wilder at 206-684-0909 for further info and details.

More Real Taxi As It Truly Is:

Near Accident

Saturday midnight I am proceeding west-bound on Denny with four passengers aboard when a driver in a big VW turns straight into me, providing me the quick option of either the hospital and wrecking yard or driving directly into the curb,the latter becoming my first choice.  Surprised that the right front tire stayed inflated I continued on to Ballard.  Funny part is that three of the four passengers were so stoned on some unknown substance that they barely recognized what had just occurred.  Unfortunately, the tire was, after closer inspection, found to be deeply cut, meaning $150.00 later I again had a new tire, curb damage not covered under my new tire warranty.  Oh well, least we and 478 remained intact.  Thank goodness for that.

Departing Rich Chinese Student Largess

Since it is semester's end and UW graduation days I decided to check out some apartment building dumpsters for items better left for the thrift store than the garbage.  Striking it rich, I found many wonderful items including a very expensive black wool jacket; and a beautiful rice bowl intended for that troublesome person, "she-who-can't-be-named."

As I was gathering my new found bounty, I was belled into the UW ER.  Picking my passenger up, I saw that the coat might be a perfect fit.  Dropping her off nearby, I asked if she might be interested in the garment.  Upon trying it on, I exclaimed, "It's you!" and it truly was, fitting her like a  thoughtful birthday present.  And also upon this imaginary birthday my lucky passenger received four beautiful large dinner plates and a glass bowl.  She was happy and I was pleased to find a proper home for the tossed treasures.  For myself I retained some plastic "camping" bowls plus a like-new rubber trash bin.  Thank you, taxi universe, is all I can say.  Thank you!

I will end with a stanza taken from Keats:

So, ye three ghosts, adieu! Ye cannot raise
    My head cool-bedded in the flowery grass;
For I would not be dieted with praise,
   A pet lamb in a sentimental farce!
Fade softly from my eyes, and be once more
   In masque-like figures on the dreamy urn;
      Farewell! I yet have visions there for the night,
And for the day faint visions there is store;
   Vanish, ye Phantoms! from my idle spright,
Into the clouds, and nevermore return!

taken from the poem---

Ode On Indolence

"They toil not, neither do they spin."

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