The answer is simple. The medallion "treasure chest" no longer exists, current prices ranging between 3-5 thousand dollars for something worth $250,000 a mere six years ago. Yes, Uber changed the market but let us collectively remember that the Seattle City Council had initially capped all TNC (ride-share) companies at under 500 operators each. But as many might also recall, the newly elected Seattle mayor Ed Murray decided that "it couldn't be so," pressuring the Council to reverse itself to completely uncap the TNC market while simultaneously enticing Lema and company with a deal: go along with this and all those leased medallions becoming real property, just like all those million-dollar medallions in NYC, providing a new World packed with renewed and wonderful opportunities.
Personally, I read the taxi tea leaves, and in a presentation to BYG/PSD/Yellow Cab, I said we have to sue the City of Seattle or we are doomed. And the response to my warning? David Friend, Lema's financial confidant, walked out of the room, telling me then it was all over, and now for Lema, it is over, at least owning a large fleet of worthless and troublesome cabs. it's done, with millions in the bank and monthly income flowing out of Yellow's Puget Sound Dispatch. Yes, that's correct, Lema's generosity coming with one major precondition: that this free medallion must become a Seattle Yellow cab, thus generating a weekly $180.00 weekly dispatch fee circulating, after PSD overhead, directly into Lema's and David Friend's, along with a few other minor stakeholders, pockets.
Yes, this is the reality, this is what is occurring in real time. And also true is the opportunity offered to those who otherwise would not own a cab. Work hard and you will make a small fortune, living a relatively good life while sending all the kids to college. It's all true, and Lema should be thanked regardless of motives one way or the other. Why speak of morality when, business-wise, taxi remains a cutthroat, dog-eat-dog affair. Celebrate, then, Lema's altruism and let the taxi chips fall where they might---upon heads and hearts and long-suffering cabbies too exhausted to know up from down or who is the clown? Who are the taxi clowns? All of us of course. How could it be any other way?