In all my years involved with Seattle's taxi industry, I have never found anything to be neither simple nor straightforward. Oppositely, the contrary always true, oft times finding a complex tangle difficult to unravel and follow, all of which motivates me to provide you the reader with all the information I have on hand to both clarify and demystify current issues impacting all of us, not mattering whether we drive cab in Seattle or India or Australia because taxi, being a regulated industry shares a commonality across our taxi globe.
Utilizing that logic then, the Port of Seattle's negotiation and deal with ESFH (Eastside-for Hire), along with L&I's past and current targeting of a particular cab company says much to anyone driving taxi in any locale, informing everyone of both hazards and solutions. That we as an industry remain fragmented is true but instead, by approaching our industry holistically, together we can help repair and heal the damage done by all those local regulators who, by collectively misunderstanding what the ride-share model was, and is, opened a Pandora's Box threatening our very existence.
That many of us across the USA and other hemispheres and continents remain financially wounded is without question our shared reality. But just as our situation can theoretically change to the negative, it can also change for the good of all, information our savior and weapon cutting through and pass opaque and blind bureaucracy and ultimately taking us to where we have never been---a united global constituency never refusing to be trod upon and discarded like so any many faceless ants beneath governmental feet---together saying no when others would have us participate in our own destruction.
Logically then we can't allow this which is why I present these two cautionary tales, saying beyond all doubt that we, and no one else, must be in control of our own destiny. While always remaining open to cooperation and dialogue with local government, it is important that we, not them, create and form the rules and laws governing out industry. This should not be an argument but set policy, our industry guiding ourselves down the taxi road. How can it be any other way?
The Port of Seattle Settles with Eastside-for-Hire
Two weeks ago Sea-Tac decided to give East-for-Hire 1.5 million over the life of their operational contract ending Autumn 2019. This payment, made monthly through SP Plus Parking, the supervisory company situated upon the 3rd floor of the parking garage, brings to a close a fractious argument pitting ESFH against the Port of Seattle, Teamsters Local 117 and the majority of unhappy E-Cab drivers and owners serving Sea-Tac.
While ESFH sticks its "chest out," claiming it didn't give up exclusive rights to Sea-Tac, what the agreement appears to actually mean is that the old taxi pickup model is dead, with the Port Commission intending, if all the cards fall their way, to open Sea-Tac to all regional cabs regardless of association affiliation. This could also signal an end to the flat-rate for-hire model, with all current licensees converted to old fashioned taxicabs. With that conversion would be the combining of the now separate City of Seattle and King County license into one medallion or license plate, allowing everyone to legally work everywhere. This idea has been talked about for a long time but since Sea-Tac is now doing the talking, I am great confident that Seattle and King County officials will give them what they want.
And besides, I know that all of the Port Commissioners and the Port staff are "sick and tired" of listening to the endless bickering between all sides, this argument going on for at least three years or more. For all those crazy cabbies and flat-raters this is something they enjoy but to anyone else half-sane they recognize all that babble for what it truly is: dysfunctional behavior just for the hell of it, a deranged pastime to everyone save the participants.
Hopefully then, come September 2019, peace will prevail, and everyone will get to work the "Golden Goose" that is Sea-Tac International Airport, and just like all such fairy tales, everyone will live happy and contented ever after. Amen!
Washington State's Department of Labor & Industry Inability to Forgive and Forget
Yesterday, August 14th, 2018, L&I delivered yet another bill to Tacoma Yellow Cab, this time saying they owed $400,000 in past due fees. When were these alleged underpayments made? In the early 1990s, over twenty years ago. And just about three weeks ago, Tacoma Yellow Cab won its second judgment at the Board of Industrial Appeals, saying it didn't owe L&I anything. So why does this saga continue, with Jerry Billings, the relentless L&I senior investigator still baying at the moon? It's a good question, especially since Tacoma ownership changed in 2002, and with the State Legislature's invention in July 2015, removing all L&I requirements for taxi drivers.
The history here is L&I's insistence over the years that cabbies were not independent contractors but some version of employee. Of course this is an argument heard most recently concerning discussions over Uber and Lyft driver status, something as of yet to be resolved. But whenever a cabbie in the State of Washington had a serious accident, L&I would come to the hospital and ask the uninsured cabbie with who was he employed, with the answer being the same: the cab company in whatever city or town.
Having received that reply multiple times, L&I decided it must be true and began pressuring Tacoma Yellow and other companies to be paying per hour assessments. In 1991 Tacoma Yellow strenuously objected, with L&I suing Tacoma and winning in 1992. Yes, all this dates back to that period of time, L&I to this moment not backing down all these years later even though they have good legal reason to to so. In July 2017, a judge ordered L&I to recalculate what was owed and threw out all charges of intentional misrepresentation, with a recent appeal validating that judgment.
But with yesterday's action, it appears L&I remains determined to punish Tacoma Yellow regardless of the logic involved. Tacoma Yellow continues to operate but remains limited, at the moment dispatching approximately 17 cabs. Can someone in Olympia tell all interested parties why they remain insistent upon "squeezing blood out of the Tacoma taxi turnip?"
It should be time to just let it go, or more precisely, if they can't, sue the original owners and hold them liable if they must. I swear that even the Roman Catholic Church is more forgiving, never forcing the penitent to plead for absolution for the same sin over and over again. This isn't justice but a misdirected Calvinist retribution against an innocent party. Stop already, will you, mistaking government codification for a new bureaucratic religion. If a point needed to be made, surely it has been made, and in spades!
DDS Update: There isn't one
Turns out that DDS was being less than frank, by one not telling us that their system was only 3G (computer speed), and perhaps worse, not pointing out a contractual provision stating that they, and they alone would own OUR customer information. That they don't think this is some kind of invasion of customer privacy says everything about their stance. PSD is considering other vendors. Of course everyone will be told what is going on before any decisions are made unlike past instances, drivers and owners remaining in the informational loop.
Killer of 2 Cabbies Executed Yesterday by the State of Nebraska
In August 1979, five days apart, Carey Dean Moore murdered in cold blood two Omaha cabbies, shooting Safeway Cab driver Revel Van Ness, age 47 and the father of ten children, three times in the back. On August 27th, he shot another cabbie also aged 47, Happy Cab operator Maynard Helgeland three times in the head, Helgeland leaving three children behind. Moore got $140.00 from the first robbery and zero from the second. Both of the cabbies were Korean War Veterans, surviving that bloody fight but failing to survive driving cab in a mid-sized American city. Moore's twin brother witnessed the execution.
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