Saturday, September 30, 2023

Doug Silva The "Taxi" Lawyer----He's The Best & The Communists Were Going To Kidnap This Cabbie & Off To The UK And The Continent

 All Hail Doug Silva, Seattle Taxi's Hero and Savior

A taxi buddy emailed me that the attorney Doug Silva had won yet another case for him, this time getting rid of a speeding ticket issued by WSP (Washington State Patrol).  I believe I have mentioned Doug in the past but his speciality, defeating traffic tickets, is something me and others have appreciated over the past three decades.  He is a wizard, and worth every penny spent his way.  There was a point in time when local cops were intentionally targeting cabbies, and but for Doug, too many of us would have been put out of business permanently, all those tickets guaranteeing we were off the road for the next five years.  

I have many favorite Doug Silva stories, although the top tale for me stems from my last moving violation ticket from at least 7 or more years ago.  A very unpleasant Seattle cop had issued me a ticket for nothing whatsoever.   Knowing it was complete bullshit, I hired Doug but I made the big error of not appearing with him.  If I had, I would have told the judge "I certainly did not confess to this violation!" because that is exactly what the dishonest cop wrote to the court.  Since I wasn't there, I was found guilty.  What did Doug do in response?  He paid my fine!  Truly beyond the call of duty but a great example of how seriously he takes his cases.  More than a lawyer, he was a kind of friend, Doug understanding all too well what the cops were up to.  

More than angry, I wrote a letter to the then Seattle Chief of Police.  He wrote me back but to this day I have never opened the letter, unhappy to the point that no words can right the wrong done to me.  That cop was crazy.  His actions making no sense but when you have all the power, and a gun to back it up, this kind of stuff sometimes happens.  It wasn't Doug's fault.  He was blindsided. 

Here is Doug Silva's contact info:

206-772-2225       FAX 206-772-0355

8404 83rd Ave SW, Suite H, Lakewood, WA 98498

Office hours M-F: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM

No, Steve, You Were Not Going to be Kidnapped in Spain by Communists in 1972

I have a neighbor who once drove cab, and like so many cabbies of an era, he holds outlandish conceptions of what life is like, and unfortunately, existing in their own concocted fantasy world.  Before trying his hand at cab driving, for years he was a ship builder, and had the good luck of constructing Trident-Class submarines.  

Amazing to me, he reported that he and others were taken along on trial runs to Spain and Scotland.  What I found incredibly funny is that he told me that when the boat docked in Rota, Spain, none of the worker crew were allowed to visit the city.  Why?  Because communist thugs were lurking nearby, waiting to kidnap him.  

I asked him if he knew anything about General Francisco Franco, the Fascist Dictator who ruled Spain from 1939 to November 20th, 1975?   Of course he didn't and he didn't care, going on to say they also docked at Dundee, Scotland, which held the same warning: the communists were out to get him.  I said, "But Steve, that is the UK." which prompted his repeated shouts, "It was the Cold War! the Cold War!   After that, I just gave up.   Why even mention George Orwell's classic book about the Spanish Civil War?   There was no point.  

Speaking of the United Kingdom

I will be flying to London on October 3rd.  From there to other destinations.  If I encounter any taxi stories I will relate them.  

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

My Last (And I Mean It) Protracted Conversation With A Seattle/King County Taxi Regulator---Perceived Wrongdoings And Other Issues & Who WantsTo Be Treated Like This? & The PediCab Experience & Wild Little Park In Seattle & Quick Seattle Street Quiz: Where Is This Intersection?

 I Am Done Talking

Last Monday I had a nearly 1 1/2 hour telephone conversation with a local taxi regulator, someone who sincerely believes he has the best interests of the industry at heart.  But there is one thing I do know for sure.  As nice as he is, he's too far removed from taxi, having never driven a cab, to fully comprehend it.  I know that he and other City of Seattle and King County regulators will deny this, but  sorry folks, my 35 plus years in the business tells me otherwise.  I have mentioned this before in the past but Doctors regulate Doctors, Engineers regulate Engineers simply because no one else truly understands their field of work and study.  Since taxi driving is misunderstood, and not appreciated for the industrial science it is, government has decided it isn't necessary to involve drivers and owners who know what is best for the industry.  

Concerning the new pending ordinances, making it worse is government's insistence on consulting political entities like Teamsters Local 117, listening to those who, while well-meaning, are clueless to the reality and needs of taxi owner/operators.  Local 117 for instance has convinced the Seattle Mayor that it is a great idea to cap all association/dispatch company revenue at 10%, even though no one can operate at that level of funding.  

As many know, I am not a great fan of how Puget Sound Dispatch (Seattle Yellow Cab) is run but putting a false cap on their revenue stream will only result in their demise.  15 to 17% is a more realistic operational expectation.  More than once I have been asked by owner/operators to create a new taxicab association but it can't be financed "out-of-thin-air."  There must be a viable revenue stream.  Otherwise, PSD and any other potential association simply will not exist.  Then what will the drivers do?  They will drive for Uber, that's what they will do.  

Getting back to last Monday's conversation, we talked about the high cost of insurance and how it impacts taxi drivers.  He reminded me that Uber pays for the insurance when the drivers are in "real service mode," with a passenger on board, meaning their insurance costs more-or-less matches what the taxi industry pays.  

But for Seattle Uber drivers, that cost never personally impacts them.  While yes, Uber takes 25-40 % of each fare but when the driver is taking home $30-50.00 per hour, he/she doesn't care, Uber can earn what they want as long as money rolls in for the driver.  Do I have to repeat it again, that the Seattle cabbie must first earn $18,000 before they make a dime?  

One of my biggest disagreements last Monday centered upon the proposal that all complaints will be handed directly through the City and County, this while not allowing the driver to immediately challenge the allegation.  What this kind of process does is hold the driver hostage to whatever has been said about him or her.  I know all about these kinds of allegations because, over the course of 35 plus years I have been falsely accused of theft, of physical abuse, sexual abuse and other improprieties, none of which happened. 

I never have forgotten the complaint filed by a HopeLink passenger because I didn't take Montlake Blvd northbound to NE 65th, the allegation taking over a month to resolve.  One part of this is, since the fare was a flat-rate, the passenger was not negatively impacted by my chosen route.  And why did I decide to take 15th NE instead of Montlake?  Because that stretch of Montlake was closed in both directions due to CONSTRUCTION.  Though I told the passenger that, he still complained.  Welcome to taxi as it really is, which is why no one other than cabbies themselves should be making rules governing their industry. 

Anyway, I am bowing out of any further involvement.  I have had enough of the never ending nonsense.  It is driving me insane.  Enough. 

Calling me "Dad"

I realize I don't even want to describe all the details of foolishness regarding a simple ride from the Viewridge neighborhood to Ballard.  Somehow, our ages came up in conversation, and finding out I was merely one year older he was, the male customer became strangely mocking, twice saying, "Okay Dad! Goodbye Dad!"  Was it because he looked years older than me?  Or that his hair had gone completely white?  Who knows but his underlying aggression was uncalled for.  This is how drivers are treated.  Ain't it fun?

Pedicab Drivers Making $$$

Sunday, a pedicab driver walked up to my car and said, "I read your blog."  Turns out he once drove for Orange Taxi.  We got to talking, with him telling me that during the Cruise Ship season, he is sometimes making $500.00 a day.  His general average on Seahawk football days is over $300.00.  I asked how all that pedaling impacted him?  His quick answer was "I now have an electric bike."   Good for him.  Given that winter is coming, he's thinking of driving a cab again.  I advised to try the airport.  That's where he will find a cab to drive and nowhere else.  As we all know, the business has changed, and not for the good. 

North Beach Natural Area

Near the intersection of 24th NW & NW 90th, you will find this small greenbelt transformed into a local park.  What is amazing is that in the midst of all of the surrounding houses, it is a wild place where your shoes will get muddy.  Suddenly, the trail takes you into a kind of wilderness.  Try it out.  It's on the west side of 24th NW.  Look for the nearby school. 

Okay, Taxi Whizzes! Where is the Intersection of NW Culbertson Drive & Sherwood Road NW?

If anyone knows this right off the taxi bat, please leave me a comment.  Seattle has many hidden streets and this locale is one that is new to me.  How did I find it?  In the past, I have talked about favorite city parks, and Llandover Woods, located at NW 145th & 3rd NW, is somewhere I have been walking for years now.  But what I haven't done until recently was walk directly west out of the park, ending up on what is Sherwood Road NW.  It is bordered to the north by a greenbelt extending nearly to the Puget Sound.  By continuing to walk, the street bends a bit southwest, taking you to the above mentioned intersection.  Right off Sherwood is a ten-foot long trail taking you to a creek.  It is special.  Stop and park your cab in the parking lot off of 3rd NW and begin walking.  Stretch those taxi legs!  And you will be glad you did.  

Sunday, September 17, 2023

More About Taxi: Special Finance And Housing Committee Meeting, Seattle City Council, Thursday September 14th, 2023 & WAT Owner Out Of Business For Three Months & A Good Example Why Uber Is Killing Taxi

 The Changes that I Have Told you were on the Taxi Horizon Are Coming

Or maybe not.  First, soon there will be a similar meeting held at the King County Council, where they will attempt to match the bureaucratic language in somewhat competing yet cooperative ordinances.  Another part of that "maybe not" comment is that it appears that ordinances will not be effective until March 31st, 2025, or March 31st, 2026 at the earliest.  

Why such a long timeline I can't tell you but how can a 2-3 year lag-time or delay be reasonable?  Much can happen, and for the taxicab industry, it could be the death knell for our local cab industry.  If anyone is entirely honest, they know it's true, with only one truly operational taxi association, PSD/Yellow; and of course that motley crew working the Sea-Tac airport.  The entire document numbers just over one-hundred pages, much of it repetitive language other than for a few highlights, which I will briefly describe.  

The meeting itself had only two council members in actual physical attendance, Teresa Mosqueda, who led the meeting, and a very silent Sara Nelson sitting in the far left corner of the council chambers. Everyone else, including council staff members, appeared over Zoom video, science fiction now 21st Century reality.  

In the audience sat perhaps 30-40 cabbies.  A total of 12 people spoke, including myself, in 2-minute long slots.  Amin, the PSD general manager, arrived a bit let but was allowed to testify.  Most were there to support the new ordinance provision limiting association revenue from drivers to 10% of gross fare revenue.  If that stays as written, it probably means the end to Seattle taxi associations as they have been known, 10% a starvation diet leading to the cab cemetery.  

My two minutes spoke to the economic disparity between TNC and taxicab reality, repeating my now manta that the Seattle cabbie has to earn $18,000 in a given year before making a dime for themselves.  I also said, that if new training is going to be required, it should also be mandatory for Uber and Lyft, with training problems designed by people like me.  I know you and everyone else have had enough of our taxi lives directed by those who have never labored beneath the toplight.   Do these well-meaning folks at the City and County really believe there will be a functional taxi industry to regulate in 2026?  I can only laugh.

The following are the ordinances dictating your future, providing only the initial ordinance numbers along with some introductory text.  In CB 120652, I will not include all the code numbers because, without the text, they will be meaningless.

CB 120652     AN ORDINANCE relating to taxicabs and for-hire vehicles; repealing or deleting            provisions intended to no longer be in effect in separating the taxicab and transportation transportation company industries; conforming to changes in state law; adding a new section 6.310.101 to the Seattle Municipal code and sections...............

CB 120653   AN ORDINANCE relating to taxicabs and for-hire vehicles; separating and amending taxicab and for-hire industry regulations; adding a new chapter 6.311 to the Seattle Municipal Code; and amending Sections 11.14.235 and 15.17.005 of the Seattle Municipal Code.  

CB 120656  AN ORDINANCE relating to the Department of Finance and Administrative Services; authorizing the Director of Finance and Administrative Services or designee to execute an inter-local agreement with King County to regulate for-hire transportation.  

To get the full text sent to you, contact the Chair at 206-684-8808 or email to request what should have been sent to every taxi and TNC licensee in Seattle and KC.  My taxi for-hire driver's license is still current.  I never received anything.  How did I find out about the meeting?  Through a contact.  

Perhaps one of the more compelling provisions offered by these changes would be the making of regional medallions, replacing the now separate City and County plates.  This would also allow current City/County dual-plated cabs to magically become two "regionally-plated" cabs.  Another is the transformation of flat rate for hire vehicles into taxicabs.  

Years ago, like 15-17 years ago, the Seattle taxi industry were begging for more medallions.  Now that the industry is nearly dead, with insurance rates 4-6 thousand dollars higher than for TNC operation, Seattle and King County is proposing expanding the number of taxis.  Isn't that nonsensical, underlining the regulatory mismanagement we have seen now for decades?  Yes, nonsensical appears to be the correct assessment. 

WAT Van Operator Dead in the Taxi Water

At the meeting, I sat next to my old taxi colleague, D.T.  He had some alarming news.  Someone had crashed into his van, destroying it.  In the interval, waiting for the other driver's insurance to come through, he sits, unable to work.  I asked if his van was covered by personal collision insurance?  He said no, that he couldn't obtain coverage.  Odd story.  I advised him to forget about taxi and drive Uber.  No overhead and easy money.  Why not?  There is absolutely no GOOD personal financial incentive to continue driving a taxi.  As I keep saying, Uber and Lyft won the transportation wars.  Taxicab drivers are the walking wounded.  

Beyonce Uber Surge Magic

I worked Uber Thursday night, anticipating making some money because of the silliness associated with the Beyonce concert located at Lumen Field (the Seahawk stadium).   No business until 11:30 PM, then suddenly it was BOOM!, Uber ride requests exploding, and due to Uber's infamous fare price surging, I instantly was making BIG money.  

What happened in my two hours post-concert was unusual, something I haven't experienced other than when working a long-distance fare.  I made $120.00 per hour for two connective hours.  Do the simple addition and that's $240.00 for two hours work.  

In my 35-plus years driving taxi, under normal fare circumstances, that never happened before.  Plenty of $50.00 hours connectively but not like this.  Is Uber stealing from its customers?  Obviously they are.  Another element included in these new taxi ordinances are smart meters allowing for a similar type of price gouging.  Isn't that nice, taxi as immoral as Uber.  

I will remind you of that well know saying,"laughing all the way to the bank."  But is all this actually funny?  No, it isn't.   No "Ha Ha Ha" this time around.  

Friday, September 8, 2023

Driving Taxi Is A Terrible Existence & Brief iCabbi Update---Do Not Wonder Why Uber Won The Battle & Is King County Picking On Eastside-For-Hire?

The Body Say It All: Driving Taxi Ain't No Fun

I should have written this last Sunday after working the first University of Washington Husky college football game of the season.  Of course I was driving an Uber shift but my body doesn't care what I call it because its complaint is the same: why are you doing this to me?  Yes, I made money, and as I have repeatedly said, I have always made good money driving taxi, and now Uber.  Of course, when I was 10-20 years younger, the negative effects of dumbbell passengers, idiot drivers, a gasoline-polluted workplace, along with working 12-22 hour-long shifts didn't impact as it does now.  But the overall compelling taxi reality is everyone is treated little better than a Dalit, more commonly known as an untouchable.  And it at times I wished I was, in another sense, truly "untouchable," having endured poking, grabbing and an in general molestation that was and remains unacceptable. Do I believe that all my years driving beneath the toplight was justifiable?  No, is my simple response. And my body wholeheartedly agrees. 

A 50/50 Split 

Talking to someone who knows, I was told half of the drivers appreciate the new iCabbi system, embracing its money-making features, with the other 50 % not so happy.  Why?  Because its preventing them from cheating, as many drivers registered false no-shows and other shenanigans designed to thwart the system, ripping off their fellow cabbies.  Why, surprise, surprise, many will have to actually be honest, even though it's against their criminal nature.  What these taxi clowns never understood is their behavior opened up the door to Uber and Lyft.  Who killed the American taxicab industry?  We did.

King County and Eastside-for-Hire: An Ensuing Argument

For the past few years,  King County Regulators have been on Eastside-for-Hire's butt, claiming they owe the County money, that they haven't filed proper paperwork, etc.  The reality, as I wrote a few days ago to the one KC Taxi/TNC/ For-hire regulator I know well, is that, since the COVID-19 pandemic, Eastside exists in name only beyond any other pretense.  The reason is simple.  The vast majority of the Eastside owner/operators stopped paying their association dues months if not years ago, creating the empty shell that is Eastside.  Still, despite this, many Eastside drivers continue to work Sea-Tac Airport as if they are legal entities, which they are not, riding free and easy due to King County and the Port of Seattle's indifference.   

This is what I recommended to the KC official, outlining one of three choices.  One, insist that they pay all their back association dues to Eastside.  Two, if not wanting to do that, they must join another association.  Or three, if they don't take one of these two steps, their medallions will be suspended.  

Of course, this will get everyone's immediate attention.  No more playing games with minor criminals.  Also, ending the various attacks directed at Eastside.  In other words, suddenly, everyone might start to become more serious, understanding there would be consequences to their behavior.  How novel a concept!