Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Who Is Ultimately Responsible?---A Year-End Postscript

While I'd rather not point fingers or assign blame, isn't someone other than the driver liable for issuing for-hire driving licenses to the blatantly ill-prepared?  How can that not be true when the City of Seattle and King County are making the final decisions as to who is and isn't qualified to drive a taxi or flat-rate or Uber car?   By presenting a few anecdotal examples I'll let you the reader decide what is true or not.  If the regulators are not responsible, then does it fall completely upon the newly arrived immigrant or driver amateur  to solely understand something that is totally new to them?

As I have noted many times before, most professions demand clear demonstrations of knowledge and ability before certifying that the doctor or attorney or airline pilot  is ready to enter and practice their profession. But if "adding water and mix" is your sole criteria for licensing individuals then it is not surprising that too many of the new for-hire drivers are clueless, and moreover,  a clear danger to others.  Again, see if you agree after reading these few choice examples of what should be avoided not once, not twice but for all times in the future.

---Saturday a passenger told me about the accident she witnessed at the intersection of 3rd & Bell, when a flat-rate for-hire driver hit a pedestrian and attempted to drive off without lending assistance.  She saw all this firsthand because she was sitting in that very same flat-rate car which kept driving until she called the police from the back seat.  The driver was from East Africa, spoke fractured English and was at that point scared out of his mind.  I am sure he will never drive professionally again.  What will happen to him or his family I hate to think.  Thankfully it sounds like the injuries to the woman struck by him are minor but trying to leave the accident scene was a huge error.  As I keep telling (when the situation warrants it) many fellow cabbies, that even though you are now an American citizen, it doesn't me you can't be deported back to your home country.  I guess, unlike me, they never read the newspaper and the repeated accounts of felons sent back to where they never wanted to return.

---Picking up at a post-Seahawk game about a month ago the passengers recounted a story  how their young flat-rate driver neither knew where the Seahawk stadium was nor how to get there though their hotel located at 4th & Spring is only about a half-mile away as the taxi flies.  A nice young man, they said, but clearly not ready to be driving people around for a living.  They felt sorry for him.

---Sticking to the flat-rate theme, yesterday a passenger at the train station made sure my car had a meter because of recent experiences with those non-metered flat-rate cars, drivers providing him estimates usually 50 percent higher than legal rates.  Enjoying the ride home, he said that my kind of professionalism is underrated and unrecognized, meaning he was tired of getting ripped-off by all those drivers who fall in a different category.

---Not to leave taxis totally out of the maligned limelight, a passenger last night told me about a crazy, speeding Orange taxi driver who recklessly tailgated a city bus. "He scared me!"

---Two weeks ago I picked up a drunk young man whose Uber driver had dropped him off at the West Seattle ferry terminal, a location literally four miles from where he wanted to go.  Putting his destination address in his app request, he fell asleep only to be put out next to Lincoln Park.  Where  he needed to go and where I took him to was a house located in the 8000 block of 36th Avenue South over on Beacon Hill. Another lament was that his telephone had been left in the errant Uber and he didn't know how to get it back.

---That same day but later in the evening two party goers told me how earlier their Uber driver had scared them "to death" by insisting by not once but twice making a left-hand turn from a middle lane, their driver in this instance a middle-aged white woman.


So reader jury, who is to blame, who is responsible for these small and not-so-small instances of professional driver failure?  Last year there was a rookie Yellow cabbie who didn't know how to get his passengers from King Street Station to the airport, yet another example of what I am pointing out, a problem affecting all of the driving services regardless of what they call themselves.   My guess, if all the mistakes were listed from a given day, they might amount to the hundreds if not the thousands, unseen errors cluttering a given professional day and night, unknown to everyone but the frightened passenger clinging in terror to the back seat.  

And when will this kind of nonsense stop?  Clearly when, and only when Seattle and King County's licensing administrators recognize that what they are doing is neither reasonable or justifiable: licensing the unprepared to do something that is very difficult---taking passengers safely and efficiently from point A to B over Seattle's clogged and dangerous streets.  If the situation doesn't change, isn't it time to ask just why are they not changing  licensing criteria and polices?  It is a good question, one begging for an answer in 2017, not 2117!

Happy New Year!  Be safe!  And given all this rain we are having, no tailgating, please!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Did Everything Go As Planned?---A Quick Year-End Glance At The Taxi Year 2016

Assuming there will be no startling revelations during these last remaining nine days in this rapidly waning year, I will attempt to review much of importance occurring in 2016.  What promises had been made and subsequently broken; which dreams punctured and deflated?  Or is it easy to say that, as in previous years, the "taxi baby has been tossed out with the bath water?"  Early 16th Century German proverbs aside, it has been true that over the past few years, local taxi interests have been swept into a dusty corner where they remained ignored and unnoticed.  What about this past year 2016, can the same be said to be true?  Or have new and different attitudes prevailed, repairing the damage and associated despair?

Without question the year's two biggest events was the Eastside-for Hire changeover at Sea-Tac International Airport and the ongoing appeasement aimed at Uber.   What both developments quickly translate to is a further loss of taxi market and income, resulting in an overall financial hardship taking years to recoup, if when, if ever.

While the issuance of new taxi medallions should be considered an ultimate positive, too little and too late must be the final assessment, when sometime around 2008 three hundred or more cabs could have been added.  If that happened, more than likely the transportation phenomenon that is the local flat-rate for-hire industry would not exist, and the threat represented by Uber/Lyft might have been largely militated.

Mistakes made by City of Seattle and King County taxi regulators and administrators over the past eight years bring us up to where we are now, history coloring our current day to day operations. What will be most helpful in 2017 is for all of in the local taxi industry to recognize our present reality and both create and grasp all available opportunities. They exist, with only depression and our ever-present dysfunction preventing us from making some gains this upcoming year, however small they might seem, going forward always preferable to the opposite direction. .

When the Port of Seattle awarded Eastside-for-Hire the Sea-Tac new outbound service contract, they, intentionally or not compounded Seattle's original administrational  error of one, writing into existence the legal conception of flat-rate for-hire vehicles; and two, releasing into the local transportation sector over 250 City of Seattle flat-rate licenses or medallions, with King County issuing unlimited licenses minus any viable business options and plans. While nonsensical, this is what occurs when an administrative bureaucracy, managed by regulators having no prior experience in a given field are handed the keys and told you are now in charge, do what you will minus consequences.  And when mistakes are made, all questions concerning accountability are either  ignored, or worse, assigned bogus justifications, compounding error after error into what becomes an opaque, unresponsive wall

All this of course I've addressed previously but what it meant is that to survive, Eastside and other flat-rate companies essentially had no other option but to operate illegally within Seattle's city limits, providing some solvency until approximately  3 years later they were finally given legal legitimacy by Seattle and KC. But still, notwithstanding those actions, the collective flat-rate industry remains legally liable, and subject to violations, fines and compensatory damages from that roughly three-year period, given that neither amnesty or exemptions were granted (or for that matter, could be granted by legal authorities).  And amazingly, even knowing Eastside's history, the Port of Seattle still thought it prudent (and wise?) to award Eastside-for-Hire the five-year outbound contract, the ramifications of which still reverberate, clearly harming the over 230 independent taxi drivers then operating within the Yellow Cab Taxi Association service umbrella, Sea-Tac's previous outbound service provider.

What makes all of this the more confounding is that Eastside itself did not have within its initial control any metered taxis, meaning it would first have to negotiate with the very operators it had displaced.  In other words, the Port of Seattle awarded its outbound contract to a company it knew wasn't prepared to begin operations until it finalized agreements with the same supplanted cabbies. Putting it another way, the Port of Seattle made Eastside the winner, telling the losing cabbies you had no choice but to join your adversaries in a joint, cooperative effort.  I suggest everyone grab a dictionary and look up definitions for empathy and see if that applies to the Port's collective actions.

Making all of this even worse, the Port of Seattle knew that Eastside did not have an operational dispatch system for the now 405 taxis now signed up to replace the smaller Yellow cab contingent.  Yes, that correct, Eastside signed up nearly 180 more cabs to operate a now smaller market share due official Uber and Lyft availability at Sea-Tac.  Those additional cabs display the real desperation felt by many taxi medallion owners in Seattle and King County.  High operational costs and fewer drivers willing to cover shifts are forcing owners into a corner, making acceptable what was once clearly unacceptable.

As noted in previous posts, Uber and Lyft has gained nearly 50 percent of once was a more or less 90 percent exclusive taxi market share.  So the math here is further skewered against the taxi operators, with the 405 cabs divided into A, B & C sections, limiting their overall access to Sea-Tac to twenty days out of a given month, which is why the new E-Cab operators can be now seen languishing upon Seattle hotel stands, trying to make up for loss revenue. One E-Cab driver told me that their color scheme was confusing to consumers, many not realizing they were actual taxis.

Oh, and on top of paying $7.00 per Sea-Tac pickup (rising to $9.00 at contact's end)  regardless of ride distance, they are now paying Eastside $155.00 for an almost nonexistent dispatch.  A close colleague and friend of mine currently assisting Eastside has assured me that by this January, meaning a mere nine days from now, all 405 cabbies will have an revenue equal to last January.

While a laudable goal, I personally will be amazed if it is reached, something within the imagination of Lewis Carroll.   But if it isn't, there is only one party to blame and that is the Port of Seattle and no one else as it was glaringly obvious to anyone paying attention that Eastside would be hard put to create an up-and-running taxi company literally out of thin air.  That the Port of Seattle did this says everything that needs to be said about the Port CEO, the Port Commission and its overall management of outbound taxi services, all this, making cabbies pay $7.00 per outbound trip and the official opening of their direct competitors (Uber & Lyft) to Sea-Tac accessibility: that revenue stream is their only concern, and how it affects all the independent operators is purely incidental.

The Port of Seattle will deny this, and a few months ago I received a Port email verifying their concern but the fruit is in the taxi pudding, with the only question remaining is how can this situation continue without all the cabbies going completely broke?    Even with an impressive improvement from Eastside dispatch services, there still remains one very inescapable fact: that the overall market transportation of taxi-like services remains too small to sustain everyone.  That is the truth, with everyone one now fighting for a very reduced slice of operational pie.  To believe otherwise is to believe in a real and breathing Santa Claus coming down your chimney every hour with yet another fare to Lynnwood or Everett or Olympia.  Hey cabbies! this Christmas you ain't getting no sweet kiss beneath the mistletoe but instead a big slap in the face, reddening your nose just like Rudolf, your very favorite Uber reindeer!

Thus summarizing this nearly past year of 2016, I must say all promises concerning business equity have not been met, and grand dreams of renewed profits have been flushed down the toilet.  From the regulators, the best I see from them is a "wait and see" approach, hopefully understanding their embrace of Uber in particular has been wholly unsuccessful, and that holding Uber accountable is the only way to protect the transportation consumer.  It is past time that Uber accidents both locally and nationally are made public, along with consumer complaints.  That the City of Seattle and King County and the Port of Seattle continue to coddle Uber is something that cannot be condoned.  And as the recent experience in San Francisco shows, with Uber refusing to cooperate with the City of San Francisco and the State of California over required permits for self-operating cars, Uber continues to believe (and act) like it is above the law.

When will bureaucrats finally recognize the animal they are dealing with?  How much evidence do they need before they act in the consumer interest?  Currently in the Seattle Times newspaper, Uber is running full page ads against proposed unionization rules put forward by the Seattle City Council, not wanting the City of Seattle to recognize the reality that the majority of Seattle's Uber drivers are not the mythological part-time grandma of Uber promotion but hardworking driver professionals working 50-60 hours a week.

Will 2017 be the year that local administrators and regulators recognize functional reality as it truly is, minus rhetoric and wishful thinking?  One can only hope that they will all find common sense in their packages sitting beneath the Christmas trees.  Wouldn't that make, as the late Burl Ives sang, for a "Holly, Jolly Christmas" and of course for a Happy upcoming New Year!

Sunday Birthday Boy

While I'd rather not, I don't mind working on my birthday but one does hope to have  a little business sweetening the day but this past Sunday the outlook was indeed grim.  Coming toward evening I had rolled only $210.00, resigning myself to the day being a complete "bust" when in succession the fare dam burst and money rained upon my disbelieving head.

After Chinese at the Honey Court (and given an unpicked up call-in order by Shelly, my favorite waitress)  I headed up to West Seattle to gas up the cab but being offered a fare I accepted and off we went to Magnolia and thirty-three dollars.  Gassing up there and heading back to my personal car I was again offered a fare, this time at the Greyhound where a stranded Metro bus driver took me to Renton and another forty dollars including tip.  As all us cabbies know, we never truly know what is going to happen next so thank you "taxi universe" for remembering my birthday, a bright red bow tying up the day, singing me one last birthday greeting.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Two Days Destroyed By Taxi Plus Necessary News For All Interested Taxi-ites

One could say, or might say that running any kind of business translates into something occupying more time than you wish though hopefully the payoffs out gaining deficits, resulting both in profit and peace of mind. Whether in my case that's true at this point I cannot tell you but if operating a business means no sleep and exhaustion then I can attest that is certainly true.

Specifically last Wednesday at about 7:15 AM I received a call from Tom, my day driver alerting me to there being something seriously wrong with the power steering, and that he was attempting to make it to the shop.  Falling back to sleep I was again awakened at 11:00 AM with the bad news that an attempted repair didn't take and Tom was once again heading back to the shop. If there is anything a shift driver hates is car trouble, a kind of cancer eating into the day and any possible money making.  I've experienced the pain myself  more times than I wish to remember.  In short, it is horrible, agonizing and every bad emotion in between.

Understanding that whatever was happening was more than Tom could or should handle, I leaped out of bed and into the shower, throwing on clothes and flying from Tacoma to Seattle knowing "there goes my day!" but since there were few good options I had no choice but to do whatever was necessary to get 478 back on the road.  Upon my arrival the prognosis was now  known: a high pressure power steering line was blown and without question had to be replaced.  A simple issue but complicated by a scarcity of replacement parts, something that would drag the repair into the early evening.

Taking Tom back to his car, I drove up to White Center and visited not one but two auto supply shops, Shucks-O'Reilly and Auto Zone.  O'Reilly's found that they had one and one only in the entire state of Washington sitting in their Puyallup warehouse and deliverable by 4:30 PM that same day.   Telling me it was ordered but if I found the part elsewhere not to worry about it. So at least reassured the car would be repaired I still wanted it to be sooner than later if at all possible.

The Auto Zone employee had better news, that the needed part could be picked up at their Burien outlet just a few minutes south.  Great, I said, and roared off to get the part.  With  a new line in hand I dropped it off with Taki at the shop and away I went to to take care of other put-off business, happy as a taxi clam that it had been so easy dealing with the problem.

Coming back nearly 2 hours later I discovered that Burien Auto Zone had given me the wrong line.  Why didn't you call me, I asked, with Taki replying he wasn't able to find the telephone number I had left on his counter.  Beyond frustrated I was again back at O'Reilly's where I was told no, the part hadn't arrived but was assured it would be there by 4:30 PM.

Now hungry I walked over to a local pizza shop, looked at my emails and 15 minutes later walked back to the store, chomping down piping hot slices.  Five minutes later I now hopefully had the correct part and soon thereafter was back at the shop where Taki was inundated with anxious cabbies, who just like me, wanted their car to be repaired instantaneously. With failing light and cold coming on all I could do was wait, my fate preordained.

Finally around 6:00 PM everything was done and I was free to go and embrace an evening of cabbing which I didn't want to do.  Along with a much needed oil change I was out $145.00 to Taki and another fifty dollars for the new line.  All this also meant that my night driver had to call off, meaning I was out another sixty dollars.

Deciding to recoup some of my losses, and with Tom calling off due to a medical appointment, I stayed in Seattle and worked part of his day shift.  Was it worth it?  No, because I was tired and pissed that the two days I had  planned were completely thrown away, poof! like black magic destroyed in a taxi instant, two days ruined due to a failed power steering hose.  How wonderful it wasn't but there you have it, a very boring yet too typical taxi story---not exciting, not romantic, just mundane and tedious, tedious, tedious!

How Unusual---Fifty-four Simultaneously Happy Cabbies 

Yesterday the City of Seattle held its orientation for all of us lucky taxi ducks who won a free City medallion through the most recent lottery.  Usually more than three cabbies thrown together constitutes a moaning and groaning riot but not yesterday as a contented contingent of smiling cabbies gathered to receive Seattle's official largess.  Telling us all we needed to know, with the most important date of having until March 31st, 2017 to put the cab on line, I have never seen a more patient or contented taxi crowd.  My only wish was that more of my worthy brethren could have been included, knowing how nearly everyone desired a coveted license.  Interestingly to me was that I was the only native-born and Caucasian driver in the room, everyone else immigrant drivers, starkly displaying the literal changing of the taxi guard that has taken place since I first started in 1987.  They are a good and hearty and hardworking group of guys, building new futures for their families.  I am happy for them.  Good luck to all!

My new taxi number will be 1092.  Years ago I used to drive YC 92.  Am I making progress?

Auto Auction Info

Talking to some of my cabbie friends yesterday I promised some info concerning cars available by auction. Here it is.

James G. Murphy Company---Commercial & Industrial Auctioneers   425-486-1246


Register with them on-line.  Good luck finding a cheap Crown Vic!

Editorial Postscript 12/15/2016

Thinking about it last night, I decided more elaboration was necessary concerning the demographic change amongst the taxi driver population, both here in Seattle and nationally.  Consider the reason to be twofold, one of opportunity and lack of opportunity factoring in what is clearly an ongoing trend--immigrants from East Africa, Haiti, India deciding that taxi is a good personal choice both for them and their children's future. Call taxi then the opportunity and call the barriers put in front of professionals from so-called Third-World nations the lack of opportunity forcing them into a cab instead of where they truly belong.

As mentioned in previous postings, I have friends and colleagues who, trained as lawyers, agronomists, environmental scientists are instead driving taxi and not practicing their profession.  Did you know that the average immigrant Seattle cabbie speaks at least three languages?   While yes, it is true you can make upper-middle class money driving a cab, it still is a waste of valuable human resource having doctors and PHDs plying the the taxi byways.  An applicable question will always be, "Who really wants to be a cabbie?" with the real answer, almost no one despite the inherent money and free time associated with the occupation.  As my body told me once again this morning, it is a hard life.

Another reason there are so many Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali drivers in Seattle is due to European (and American and Soviet Bloc) interference in East Africa since at least 1930 and unfortunately continuing on to this date. Most don't know that Italy began what was the first modern saturation bombing campaign during its 1935 invasion of Ethiopia.  The end result of nearly 90 years of international interference in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea has been a wave of immigrants fleeing never ending turmoil and starvation.  When you begin to think everything is simple, please reconsider because real causes are usually not at all simple, instead complex with a long accompanying history.  That is the reality, as it is, adding up to what we see today.  There is a real reason why my friend Dawit speaks Russian.  It is not accidental.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Better When It Is Busy

Suddenly, thanks to a Seattle Seahawks rout of the Carolina Panthers Sunday night, the slumbering weekend awakened to business anywhere and everywhere, beginning just before halftime and continuing into the early morning hours, celebrant fans embracing the 40-7 victory.  Instantaneously I was the ball in the taxi pinball machine, shooting all over from one fare to the next, no time to respond other than say "Git in!" and off we sailed down the road..

Flying around like that removes the usual misery, having no time to think other than considering best  routes from A to B and watching out for this weekend's amazingly wreckless drivers, which was never ending--- irresponsibility and madness an never subsiding theme.  You know it is completely nuts when unforgiving fools continued aiming for unlucky wrong-way one-way drivers, not caring if they smash headlong into the other car.  Thank goodness the hinted upon snowfall never arrived, perhaps killing off half of Seattle's drivers if it had, recklessness and ice a fatal combination.  I doubt if these drivers could survive in a place like Chicago, slip sliding into Lake Michigan off Lakeshore Drive.

For me Sunday night ended early Monday morning washing the cab in West Seattle, taking one final fare in White Center after watching it offered multiple times on the "bid" screen," understanding it  would be a long while before another cabbie accepted the call.  My "mission of mercy"  found a young woman just needing to get home but no one wanting to take her there.

My body was also not interested in any further driving, "screaming" at me as I got her home, my muscles "burning" from fatigue, with me telling her ten but giving me thirteen anyway.  And thanks, I was  glad to do it, and then a little bit  later, sleep, glorious sleep that ultimate taxi balm taking me down a car-less dreamy highway away from taxi and stupid, idiotic drivers attempting once again to kill me how many times over.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Special Report: Kicking Taxi When It Is Down----Is The State of Washington, King County & The City Of Seattle Waging A Vendetta Against The Pierce & King County & Seattle Taxi Industry?

A Special Report: Are State & Local Government Agencies Targeting The Seattle, King County & Pierce County Taxi Industry?---An In-depth Look at Potential Bureaucratic Overreach 

As to anyone reasonably observant during the past few years, especially to consumers of transportation services, I am sure it has not gone unnoticed that the American taxi industry as a whole has been under unprecedented pressure and attack from new competitors (and their governmental supporters) like Uber and Lyft, pushing taxi companies both national and locally into the proverbial operational corner---the recently announced San Francisco Yellow Taxi bankruptcy filing only one good bad example of what is happening everywhere. When and how the story finally concludes is anyone's guess. But what is clear is that there are many more chapters to be written.

Outside of the United States it is a different tale, there being many examples of national and local government  (Paris, Spain, France, South Korea) legally challenging Uber & Lyft business practises; wherein American borders it is an entirely different counter-narrative---local authorities and administrators openly siding with app-based companies.  Why they are doing this is open to debate but that they are targeting taxi associations and companies is indisputable, the evidence conclusive: it is open hunting reason upon the taxi industry, local officials seeking new trophies for paneled offices.

Some elected and appointed administrators clearly feel they are operating for the public good, revealing rampant criminal malfeasance.  But as my following report clearly questions, there doesn't appear to be an overreaching conspiracy by the taxi industry to defraud the local taxpayer.  Instead I believe you will see the opposite to be true: that a compliant and cooperative taxi industry has been targeted simply for existing, and no other verifiable reason.

I am looking forward to later governmental explanation and justification to this report, especially when the evidence is clear: Uber and Lyft are not made respondent to same and equal requirements.  Ultimately it will be up to the "rider public" to tell local government that this contradictory policy is both unfair, and most importantly, unsafe and dangerous, regulatory authorities failing in their duty to protect consumers in that most lethal of work environments: the American roadway.

One self-editorial note is that in preparation I talked to only one of the officials concerned, that being Eddie Cantu of KC Licensing.  While wishing I had the time to request and conduct interviews of all important participants, time and monetary constraints remain limiting factors, prompting me, as usual to operate "by the seat of my taxi pants."  While some of the information contained came from one primary source, I use the filter of 29 plus years in the taxi business to ascertain true and false and everything falling in-between.   As I often tell my passengers, unlike too many cabbies who are new in the business, I have been doing this "way too long" for my own good and physical welfare.  Still, all these crazy years have provided what I find to be unusual insight and perspective into the taxi asylum.  Am I inmate or psychiatrist?  Both is the real and honest answer!

Story One:                        The Strange Case of Ahdi Ahmed Matan

Investigating Matan's battle with the City of Seattle and King County over a denial of renewal concerning his dual (Seattle & KC) for-hire license, I am unfortunately reminded of Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyell & Mr. Hyde," Matan insistent he is only "one person" when evidence points to potential other operational sides of concealed personality..  What I find more interesting than Matan's clear contradictions is the contradictory behavior displayed by the City of Seattle and King County in administrating his case and appeal, Matan being one solitary individual while, quite obviously, Seattle and KC being a huge governmental entity answerable to over 1.4 million residents; meaning, that more than just being necessary, it is legally essential that all pertinent rules and regulations are aligned in proper "apple-pie order", but in this situation pertaining to taxi , this doesn't appear to be at all true.

As I will attempt to show, what is happening is more like a yowling cat biting its tail in a frantic concentric circle, round and round the agencies go, digging an ever deeper hole.  But if my reading of the situation is correct, it appears that confusion, not malicious intent, is the prevailing problem---minor bureaucracy gone amok over the governmental edge.

Back in August 1995 an agreement--necessitated by duel yet separate licensing agencies---between Seattle's Dept of Finance and Administrative Services and King County's Dept of Licensing stated that each department would administer each other's appeals, thus avoiding obvious conflicts of interest, notably Seattle's responsibility for vehicle licensing and King Cunty's responsibility for operational (for-hire) driving licenses. While regulatorily clear, with rules and directed practises written down, the actual appeals procedure has become implicitly confusing, with both departments, in Maten's case, ignoring their own procedural guidelines, with KC conducting Matan's appeal.

Instead, his appeal should have been done by the City of Seattle per the 1995 protocol. But making the entire process even more problematic, given that Matan held a dual (Seattle/King County) for-hire license, FAS deciding to conduct its own appeal of dismissal process.  Why either department acted as they did, as I said, is anyone's guess, thus mystifying Matan and his supporters. Possibly the only plausible explanation is that both Seattle and King  County didn't know how to proceed. Given the confusion, that makes perfect sense.

On top of all this was Matan's, in his initial reapplication process, failure to list all of his dismissed moving violations, something stated as just cause for denial.  What KC discovered was a multitude of dismissed violations over a three-year period, plus a previously un-revealed domestic violence charge. In hindsight, it would have been wiser to list everything as was required.

Instead of passing judgment I will reiterate a well-known taxi credo: whatever you do, do not operate your cab when upset or in an emotional state of mind.  As Matan's recent driving record attests, bad things happen when you do.  From all reports, he was going through versions of matrimonial turmoil resulting in distracted behavior.  Owing my own taxi career to a divorce, I can relate to the trauma involved when a marriage is crumbling away, falling apart.  Unfortunately there is little to no support for cabbies when things are going wrong.  Like the solitary satellites we are, we remain lost in space, disconnected from our home planets.

So while Matan does hold responsibility for his actions, so does King County for taking on an appeals process that is exclusively Seattle's alone, and not theirs. Currently the entire process remains under review, meaning the verdict is out whether Matan will ultimately retain his right to drive a taxi in Seattle and King County.

But let this situation serve as a warning to everyone, who like me, are making a living driving a cab or flat-rate for-hire car or even Uber and Lyft: keep your driving record clean or you too will  end up on the outside looking in.  Depending on government to make the correct decision concerning your particular situation might be a fool's errand, bureaucracy well-known for stumbling over its own procedures, rules and regulations. While stubbing their own toes they might unintentionally kick you in the knee, incapacitating your ability to walk.

To believe otherwise is to be blind.  Put on some realistic spectacles then, and see what is not just in front of your big nose but also looming upon the horizon.  Otherwise you might be bumping headlong into an immovable wall.  That is just how it can be, and is.  After reading this, never say that you weren't forewarned, because you have.  No one has ever said you must remain a big dummy.  You don't need to be, a dummy that is, and you can quote me upon that.

Story Two:                  Elephantine Thinking at WA ST Dept of Labor & Industry

While we all know that our favorite tusked animal, the elephant, never forgets anything, how is it that the Washington State Department of Labor & Industry, through the personage of L&I Litigation Specialist Jerry Billings, continues to remember that now tiny (and barely existent) Pierce County taxi company, Tacoma Yellow and its alleged past indiscretion dating from the year 2008-09?  Oddly, the reasoning might be that when L&I coverage was required, a rule now legislated out of existence, Tacoma Yellow was the most cooperative and compliant of perhaps any other taxi association or company in the entire state of Washington, negotiating a separate agreement.

Or the other reason could be because Yellow's Chief Financial Officer at the time, Garreth Elisk, told L&I that the ownership group (now past) underpaid what was owed, even though it was Elisk himself who had signed the annual statement, signifying that it was a true and accurate document.  And perhaps the most important reason for  L&I's continued interest was the 4 million dollar payout to a Tacoma Yellow cabby seriously disabled in a shooting, meaning that L&I wants its money back.

All of this might sound fine and reasonable until you know that Tacoma Yellow has undergone ownership change and bankruptcy, and if it loses the case, has little to give the State of Washington save 18 very tired Ford Crown Victorias, worth at best maybe 20 thousand dollars in total.  That the State of Washington knows all this beforehand; and that approval for this misguided effort must come from both the Democratic State Attorney General and the Democratic Governor, makes the whole affair very questionable when the final outcome is predictable; or as the idiom and Old English proverb tells us: you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip; or bringing it up to date:you can't get money from a taxi company that no longer exists, meaning the 2008 version is long defunct---yellowing paper tucked away in shoe boxes in dusty closets.

Maybe it all comes down to Billings' reputation as L&I's most persistent departmental bloodhound, never giving up until his quarry is held fiscally responsible.  Interestingly, it seems that Billings himself knows there is nothing financially to be gained but nonetheless continues his quixotic pursuit.  An appeal hearing is scheduled for February 2017.

If anyone out there thinks L&I's position is completely farcical, you might contact the current L& I Chief, Vicki Smith, and tell her to call off the barking dogs.  Surely Labor and Industry must have more pressing cases than assuaging old grudges.  Logically that must be true but in so many of life's varied occurrences, logic becoming secondary to misplaced emotion, anger and mistrust ruling the day.

Story Three:            The Port of Seattle Requirement for For-Hire Vehicle Certificates: Why?

This particular story of applied double standards is a winding tale taking us from the Seattle mayoral office to the Seattle City Council chambers to the Port of Seattle Commission to somewhere hidden deeply within the governmental bowels in. Olympia, and just where that is I have no idea.  The current issue is that the Port of Seattle, namely Sea-Tac International Airport, wants all taxis and flat-rate for-hire vehicles to have a State of Washington "for-hire vehicle certificate," something relating to the DOR (Dept of Revenue) UBI (Unified Business Identifier) registration number.

The only problem with this is that the Port of Seattle is NOT asking Uber or Lyft to to do the same.  This all gets back to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray saying, as a favor to Uber, that the City of Seattle will no longer require this kind of certificate with cars operating in Seattle.  But, as far as I know, the complicating issue is that neither the City of Seattle nor King County bothered to officially change the requirement.  Further aggravating all this is that the State of Washington still requires cars operating as for-hire vehicle (taxis, Uber etc) to have for-hire vehicle certificates.

So what is going on here?  Is there a failure of communication between the various city, county, port and state governments?   And as I said, is there a double standard in operation, requiring one thing of taxis but not of TNC companies?  For me this is too typical when it comes to taxi, nobody, and I mean nobody truly paying attention or heed.  Why be attentive when it is more fun mimicking the ostrich.

And perhaps making the matter worse, I have been told that all those feral Uber drivers are hogging the 3rd floor pickup area, thus preventing any other operators from entering.  Rumor or fact, it appears that there are some interesting things going on at Sea-Tac.  What will the final conclusion be?  As usual, stay tuned and I will. attempt to keep all and everyone informed.

Update on Rob Stansell

Again, thanks to everyone who donated and supported Rob during his last days.  Rob died last week and yesterday, his remains were cremated.  Per his wishes his ashes will be scattered into the Puget Sound.  Also great thanks to Jenny Lachuta, Rob's landlord and friend who was instrumental in assuring Rob's last weeks on this planet were dignified and blessed.  Thank you Jenny for the compassion shown.  Good work!

And on a lighter note

CJ actually came through, that Fred Myers gift card holding a $64.23 value, not the $24.00 she told me it had.  It does confirm to me that she is indeed a thief but she is kind to cabbies, at least this time around.

Editorial Note 12/02/2016

When I mention those of us being big dummies, I must include myself because, though knowing better I still published my blog yesterday instead of waiting a day and further sleep.  Anyone who read the former version will notice the "tidying up" that was necessary and essential.  Do I like being an idiot?  The unfortunate conclusion is that yes, I do enjoy wearing that label, a sorry placard round my neck.