Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Greetings From Two Airports: How The WA State Department of L&I And Uber/Lyft Seriously Damaged A BYG (Yellow Taxi) Medallion Partner & Dogwilla---Another Bad Memory

Hello from Sea-Tac

5:40 AM on a December Tuesday morning, and wish I was asleep as I am tired as hell but here I am. once again heading south to Bakersfield and Tehachapti, this time to bury my second oldest sister, JoAnne, who departed our shared world September 28th, exactly a week after my visit to see her and say goodbye.  Lots to do but come Saturday, my birthday, in JoAnne's 2014 Kia Optima,  I will begin my journey northward, stopping in Arcata to see the ever famous and infamous "she-who-can't-be-named," or as she just told me over the telephone, "call me the Humboldt (County) Harpy." Today my layover is in San Francisco, which is where, I am guessing, I will finish composing and editing what you are reading.  Am I coherent?  Maybe.

This Past Weekend, in my Cab, I transported B., An Innocent Victim Bludgeoned by Uber, the City of Seattle and King County and the State of Washington 

I hadn't seen him in a while but B. is someone I have known for years from his involvement in the BYG Yellow Cab Co-op, and later, in Tacoma's ill fated Yellow Taxi Association.   Saturday I was taking him to a rental car agency, and while catching up the days, found out that he was now driving cab three days a week at the airport.  What a shock because this is someone who once owned 12 cabs and also an important part of company/association management, including, unfortunately, Tacoma's Yellow operation.  So what happened, how did this sad fate embrace him?  

It is a story you have heard before but this time it's far more personal, a name, an individual now attached to the twofold tragedy that was the nationwide municipal welcoming of Uber and Lyft; and simultaneously, Washington State's Department of Labor & Industry's misguided attack upon independent taxicab operators.  Like a boxer cornered in a ring, B. was hit repeatedly, left, right, to the gut, with a final uppercut to the chin knocking him out.  Part of the issue is that his BYG colleagues put him in the ring against the raging bull that was Jerry Billings, a L&I enforcement agent who took "no quarter," a religious crusader out for taxi blood.  

Most know the Uber/Lyft story, that how back in 2012 they invaded cities across the country, ignoring rules and laws, telling everyone, screw you! we are here to stay!" and suddenly, all the cities, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco included, began capitulating, having quickly understood there was money to be made licensing and taxing these interlopers, bringing us to where we are now.  BYG, like so many other taxi companies and associations, collapsed, and B.'s once tiny empire evaporated, his 12 medallions now worthless.  In the end, he gave them away, receiving nothing for something that was once worth a total of $3 million dollars.  Crazy, huh!? 

The L&I story was as bad or worse, with B. allowing himself to become the face of Tacoma Yellow and the target of Jerry Billings' wrath.  What Billings wanted was millions in back fees he said Tacoma owed L&I.  The argument continued for over a year, forcing Tacoma Yellow and B. into financial turmoil, and Tacoma Yellow's bankruptcy.  I don't remember all the details concerning B.'s issues but he was hit hard minus any real protection.  

And there you have it,  B. once again driving beneath the toplight.  Damn! was I sorry to hear it!

Dogwilla, former BYG general manager, was not a Nice Guy

Before I get to Frank, I gotta tell you I found some real food here at the SF airport: shrimp dumplings and chicken and steamed rice. Wonderful.

I mention the late Mr. Dogwilla because B. told me that in addition to his $80,000 annual salary, he received cash commissions for what I don't want to think about.  Some longtime readers might remember the scandal at Sea-Tac where $5 million dollars due to the Port of Seattle somehow disappeared, with Yellow losing the airport service contract because of it.  Frank always claimed to embrace law and order when dealing with us cabbies but for himself he might have had other priorities, and I for one think strongly that could have been true. 

No Exile for Sawant

Sorry to say, it looks like she will retain her position by couple hundred votes.  Yikes!


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