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TAXICAB COMMISSION MINUTES
March 25, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.
City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
STAFF IN ATTENDENCE: Acting Executive Director Jordanna Thigpen, Executive Secretary Tamara Odisho – Taxi Commission, Sergeant Ron Reynolds- Taxi Detail, City Attorney Tom Owen
Jordanna Thigpen, Acting Executive Director: Turn-off cell-phones, interferes with phone systems and we get feedback.
1. Call to Order/Roll Call
2. Consent Calendar [ACTION]
· Jim Gillespie: Knew Mr. Khan as a lease driver at DeSoto. Very happy to see him receiving his medallion.
· Mohammed Khan: Has known Mr. Khan and knows he has a good driving record.
· Com Oneto: Motion to approve items A- Minutes, C- Tooraj Shahlai removal from the ramp list for being ineligible, D- Leon Le, James Mallon and Shui Hui removal form PC&N list for failure to respond, E- Souleiman Ghali grant time waiver, G2- Jahan Khan grant medallion, and H- DeSoto cab approval of taxi wrap
· Ayes: Gillespie, Breslin, Benjamin, Oneto, Paek, Slaughter No: 0
· Com Oneto: Motion to approve item F1- Manjit Singh cs change from Luxor to Yellow
· Com Paek: 2nd motion.
· Ayes: Breslin, Oneto, Paek, Slaughter No: 0
· Com Oneto: Motion to grant medallion item G1- Pardip S Saini
· Com Paek: 2nd motion
· Ayes: Breslin, Benjamin, Oneto, Paek, Slaughter No: 0
3. Public Comment (Please limit public comment to items NOT on the agenda)
· Barry Taranto: Wants update on Commission and MTA merger. Baseball season home game begins on April 7. Hotel Griffen and Stanford Court have a lot of illegal limos and should be addressed. Entertainment commission listing many new events that the commission should relay to drivers.
· Charles Rathbone: Wishes Heidi Machen the best.
· Hansu Kim: Read letter signed by all taxi representatives supporting paratransit legislation approved by the Board of Supervisors. Happy the industry came together on this.
· Carl Macmurdo: Commission should look into the amount of money spent on Bretholtz hearing.
· Zuhair: Putting more cabs on the street will resolve the illegal limos issue. Peak-time medallions will be hard to regulate.
· Ibrahim: Received a parking ticket for parking in a zone while helping a disabled person.
· Ruah Graffis: Sherri Longest was found dead, long time driver and dispatcher at National Cab.
4. Consideration of FY 2009 Taxi Commission Budget [DISCUSSION]
· Acting Director Jordanna Thigpen: This budget is being presented in case the Commission does not merge with the MTA. This budget and the MTA budget are almost the
same with minor changes.
· Com Slaughter: Would like a more precise understanding of the budget. City attorney budget has a very high increase from last year, who recommended the increase.
· Acting Director Thigpen: We have a deficit and will bring that information before the commission at our next meeting. Does not have exact figures at this hearing.
· Com Slaughter: Would be helpful and would like to know what caused the increases.
· Pres Gillespie: Has the same questions as Com Slaughter and if we need to go to closed session, we would be willing to do this.
· Com Paek: Need a plan on how we will deal with cases like this in the future.
· Com Breslin: Wants to know how the hearing officer budget will be dealt with.
· Acting Director Thigpen: Will have a lower cost load due to the MTA merger.
· Com Breslin: We only allocated for one more investigator, how is there another position being appointed? Would like staff to use certified mail more often. What lead to
contracting out the survey? What’s the value of televising the meetings?
· Acting Director Thigpen: We have split the investigator budget into two positions. Staff spent a lot of time and late hours working overtime for last year’s survey, and cannot
afford to lose staff out of the office. Meetings should be televised for the public that cannot attend the meetings but wishes to be informed.
· Pres Gillespie: Would like to keep ramp fees low to attract people to the program.
· Com Breslin: Cost recovery should not go to one segment of the industry ie medallion holders.
· Hansu Kim: Where’s the accountability of this office and this staff? Where’s the priorities on cases? Outrageous increases in fees. Egregious violators not being taken down.
· Jim Gillespie: Increased fees for the investigator and attorney budget need to be revised. Prop K amendment will enable an exit strategy for disabled medallion holders.
· Barry Taranto: There are a lot of holes in the budget. There should be a closed session regarding this city attorney budget. Should look at last years expenses to compare to the next fiscal year budget as opposed to the predicted 2009 budget.
· Carl Macmurdo: Support the comments made by all of the previous speakers. Should receive a detailed accounting on the city attorney lawsuit.
· Anne McVeigh: Opposes any and all increases in the budget affecting the medallion holders. Accountability on surveys should be looked into. 40k for a restraining order is very expensive.
· Arthur: Agrees with previous speakers and is upset at Prop K and law was written to keep Yellow out of business. Spending money on lawsuits to hurt people who are injured and sick is wrong.
· Charles Rathbone: Enforcement is a high priority and hearing office should be returned. NYC brands TLC logo and makes money, commission should look at branding.
· Sgt Ron Reynolds: 2007 was a productive year; two color schemes were shut down and a lot of time was put into that work. There were medallions taken away last year. The expensive case took a lot of time and needed the attention. No money was used for the 49ers issue but it was addressed.
· Bill Mounsey: Why not use the business license tax and A card funds towards the budget.
· Mary McGuire: No record in the Board of Appeals file for costs on Brettholz case.
· Richard Hybels: What’s the quality of the work from the City Attorney? Joe Breall still has his medallion.
· Mark Gruberg: Expenditures may have been justified but the Commission has an oversight role and as the year goes on it’s the responsibility of staff to bring this to the Commission. Color schemes especially larger companies get off easy on fees, room for increase.
· Ruah Graffis: Increase of permit holder fees should be used to create an exit strategy for the holders who want to leave the industry.
· Acting Director Thigpen: Taxi wrap fund has been collected and accruing since 2003. Board of Supervisors will only be allowed to allocate the wrap funds, and allocate unappropriated funds that the Commission possesses, to the budget if needed. There was a resolution that went before the board on how to allocate the wrap funds but was sent back to the commission and has not been resubmitted.
· Com Slaughter: Would like expenditures from prior years and a closed session meeting to go over the budget.
· Pres Gillespie: Color scheme cost is not very high should look into that increase.
5. Consideration of Proposed Senate Bill 1519 [INFORMATION AND DISCUSSION]
· Acting Director Thigpen: Overview of the item. Enhance CPUC budget investigators since they only have 8 for the state.
· City Attorney: Overview of the item and possible issues.
· Com Breslin: What are the next steps for this?
· City Attorney: In order to make a proposal the Commission would have to present a resolution to the state representatives.
· Jim Gillespie: There are advertisements in the phone company and there are no laws against someone who is illegally publishing a number. This bill would require these companies to provide their license number and if they are found illegal the phone company could pull the ads.
· Charles Rathobone: Luxor supports this legislation and urges other operators to weight in on this.
· Hansu Kim: Helped write the language, knows it is not perfect.
6. Staff Report and Commissioner Announcements [INFORMATION]
· Com Benjamin: Request a .25 increase on the meter.
· Com Paek: Update on health insurance for drivers, central dispatch and would like a report on driver training and if it needs to be reviewed.
· Pres Gillespie: Updates Com Paek on requests. But would like an update on driver training.
· Com Breslin: Westin St. Francis hotel event on April 2, from 9- 9:30pm. Earth Hour information to be given to drivers to inform the public.
· Com Oneto: Discussion on long term leases needs to be addressed.
· Pres Gillespie: LA taxi regulators visited with staff and BOS voted to approve paratransit debit card program. Amendments to Daly/Ma legislation recommended by Commission were adopted. Clean taxi vehicle guide meeting went well.
· Sgt Reynolds: Update.
· Barry Taranto: Heidi Machen was a good director. Happy Com Paek brought up the issue of health insurance, very expense. 25c increase is not enough and tips are not given.
· Bill Mounsey: Central dispatch is a good idea and should be addressed. Many passengers are in favor of it.
· Mark Gruberg: Welcomes Acting Director and adds pleasant comments about Heidi during her tenure. Appeal by UTW vs Commission on issuance of new medallions will be heard next week.
· Hansu Kim: Wishes Jordanna well during her tenure. Commission should think about more outreach to the industry before things are scheduled.
· Tariq Mehmood: Two healthcare plans, should pick the least fancy to at least have something to offer the drivers. Flag drop should be included as gas prices rise.
7. Public Comment (Please limit public comment to items NOT on the agenda; also limited to public that did not speak during Special Order)
· Rich Hybels: Congratulates Heidi for all her work. Ramp vans should be allowed to go to the airport on even/odd days. Gas prices high and should get an increase. Meeting today with Big Dog dispatch and part of the problem is DPT writing tickets.
· Arthur: Hopes in the future there will be a law to help the city and drivers to amicably leave the industry.
· Name: UTW issue with Welch medallion.
· Tariq Mehmood: Roberto Martinez died at Yellow cab and raised $3100 to his family for a dignified funeral. Beginning another fundraiser for other drivers. Personal attacks are being brought up in newsletters. Three layer rule being violated.
· Mary Maguire: Public likes hybrid and there shouldn’t be an extra charge for hybrid vehicles.
· Mark Gruberg: Photo of signing of legislation with Tariq Mehmood in the photo. Three layer rule vague and needs to be reworked. Yellow cab subleases violating the three layer rule. A color scheme will be charging over cap and commission should crack down on this.
· Pres Gillespie: Moment of silence for the deceased.