Tuesday, November 5, 2019

City Of Seattle And King County's Failure To Protect Their Taxi Driver Business Community

When I started driving cab in the taxi prehistoric days of the late 1980's, membership in a taxi association was optional, translating into many single owner companies, or very small corporations  like the ten-car Stanley Cab based in, of all neighborhoods, Madison Park; or Classic Cab, whose three 1982 Checker Marathon cabs personally introduced me to this very strange and puzzling world called Seattle's Taxi-Land.  While Yellow, Greytop and Farwest Taxi did exist, the ratio between association and independently-owned taxi was more-or-less, 50-50, with Sea-Tac International Airport mostly single owner dominated, an extremely colorful array of cabs gracing the arrival level.  That it was a free-wheeling world, I suppose, goes without saying, especially due to all those crazy, very emotional Greeks operating cabs 24 hours a taxi day.  Yes, a bit of the wild, wild west but fun, our camaraderie bonding us together into a reasonably functional organism, protecting and assisting each other as much as we could, given the innate feral quality of "down & dirty" taxi we all knew so well.

Unfortunately, that all changed when, in the early 1990's, the City of Seattle and King County forcing everyone to either join an already established association or form a new one amongst friends, forever ending the world of the jolly independent. Their object in this was solely punitive, stating clearly their goal first and last was to protect the public from all those nasty cabbies, making these incorrigible scoundrels more readily accountable to legal authority.  What necessitated this draconian response was based more upon mythology than factual reality, the ever conservative Seattle and King County regulators misreading the free-spirited cabbies.  But by locking us into penal cab associations, they sentenced every last one of us into a bureaucratic life sentence minus parole, our only option---  escape---breaking through our prison walls to a freedom devoid of association shackles, meaning never once again driving a cab.

I express it this way because it is true, having experienced Yellow for 25 plus years, daily affected by opaque decision making by management and the Puget Sound Dispatch governing board of directors. Similar to the lyrics from Bob Dyan's great song, "The Gates of Eden": "No sound ever comes from the gates of Eden," the PSD "gods" operating Yellow aren't telling us anything about what they are really doing, despite it being our "money, time, and sweat and blood" financing their entire operation.  Recently, PSD de-authorized a WAT van single owner single minus any legal hearing, PSD suddenly their own instantaneous "kangaroo court, issuing sudden judgments like a Zeus thunderbolt emanating from Mount Olympus, striking the cabbie down.

And the fault from this potentially illegal action rests solely with Seattle and King County's taxi regulators, having neutered our legal and civil rights by encasing us in a nebulous legal cocoon suffocating our collective voices, their ultimate overreaction amputating any ability to protect ourselves from an overzealous association.

Yes, this is our daily reality minus all hyperbole. But what to do, what can I or anyone else do about it?  All I can say is I am thinking about it.  Yes, Popeye the sailor man, I am, currently searching for the correct variety of leafy spinach, powering me to any and all finishing lines.


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