Skip to content.
Skip to page navigation.Skip to content.Web site accessibility
SF MTA homeSF MTA home SF MTA home
Page title as stylized text


Room 421

City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

January 30, 2007


Working Group on Taxi Driver Health Care Subcommittee Meeting


Present:  Paul Gillespie; Tom Oneto; Ruach Graffis; Brian Browne, Dennis Korkos



STAFF IN ATTENDENCE:  Executive Director Heidi Machen, Deputy Director Jordanna Thigpen

NON-VOTING MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Tom Owen, Jim Soos, Ilene Levinson

1.       CALL TO ORDER/ROLL CALL – Roll Call showed a quorum was present.




·         Michael Spain: There’s no plan for how broad and comprehensive this plan is going to be. City says I have to pay $50, because I am and independent contractor. This Committee and the Taxi Commission is shaking on thin ice, by imposing a fee which is typically for employees only. We have to follow a plan whereby you recompensate City and County of San Francisco clinics for drivers. These medallions gross $250,000 a year, which the vast bulk goes to the drivers who make $40,000-$50,000. Drivers can afford to pay.

·         Mark Gruberg: There is a notification from the Treasurer’s Office is their determination that drivers pay a certain fee, based on municipal ordinance. There are different determinations for worker’s compensation. These tax questions have been decided in the direction of drivers being independent, whereby worker’s compensation has been decided in the other direction. The city has the authority to regulate taxis, but the question of status is a red herring. All drivers are to have access. We are all poor drivers.

·         Charles Rathbone: I hope the Chair will be generous with respect to public comment on Item 6.

·         Carl MacMurdo: [Reads Treasurer’s Office form which asks for a W-2 if you’re an employee.] I agree with Michael Spain.



·         Carl MacMurdo, Todd Rydstrom submitted non-substantive amendments concerning syntax.

·         The Committee adopted a motion to approve with amendments by consent.



·         The Committee adopted a motion to approve with amendments by consent.






·         Deputy Director Jordanna Thigpen stated that a report would be available on February 6, 2007.




·         Heidi Machen: [References graphs and memo which staff provided.] There are two main questions: (1) which sources does the committee recommend using and (2) how will the funds be collected?

·         Dennis Korkos: And I submitted a report regarding Healthcare Access Medallions.

·         Heidi Machen: I did not recommend Healthcare Access Medallions as a final solutions. I spoke to Jim Soos and posed the specific question as to how much the city will fund for the Health Access Program, and it is $111 million. The question of how much each source will contribute is the main question. We are looking for clarity today.

·         Jordanna Thigpen: [gave report on graphs which staff created based on figures from the SF Health Plan and Controller’s Reports.]

·         Heidi Machen: The memorandum lays out the policy reasons for requiring participation from all available sources. Reading the SF Health Plan Report, I was very struck by the amount of money that this is going to require.


·         Charles Rathbone: I am curious regarding the $16 million figure which is used in the graphs. We had a presentation last time for $3m. I discussed this with Rich Hybels and he made $100K in profit for the last year, for the first time ever. Using UTW’s numbers, that means he’ll have to give up $70,000 a year, with his 25 medallions. The number has to come out of medallion holders. The medallion holder will take a double hit. All the companies are going to pass it on.

·         Mark Gruberg: To Charles’ point, a principal has to be established. This health plan will be in existence in perpetuity. We have to divide the pie as evenly as possible. Medallion holders have to bear their share. In principal, companies have to have participation. We have heard figures from some companies. How can companies be helped to do this? Through a meter increase, and through a lease fee increase. Upwards of 80% of the profit comes from permit holders.

·         Dennis Korkos: You have never answered my question as to why you have not provided health care for your drivers.

·         Mark Gruberg: I have the highest cost of anyone in the industry, because my employees get vacation and sick days, and my average gate is $75/hr. I am doing that to leave it in their pockets. I am personally giving them money back into their pockets - $500/month that I don’t give them.

·         Carl MacMurdo: I take exception that medallion holders make unearned income. We do take risks by having a cab on the street 24/7. We all want a champagne and caviar plan. I’ve heard of a $10m-$19m cost, and I think that can be challenged. It might be a beer and taco plan. We need a clinical plan like AARBIS. The contractor vs. employee plan from Dublin Insurance was also good.

·         Dan Hinds: If we set up a health program, we have to anticipate it’s going to be there a long time. We are talking about a group who says they want to be independent. They are self-employed. We are creating a relationship that has never been tried.

·         Michael Spain: The self-employed relationship is being reinforced. Drivers should have income, medallion holders should have income. These permits should increase in value periodically. Driver income is driver income. How do we compensate the medallion holders?

·         Mary McGuire: You’re talking $10K-$20K a year for medallion holders. How are you going to collect it? How would you feel if we levied a tax on you? This is destined to fail. It will upset the industry. You’ll have a whole new group of people out of work. Rich Hybels told his drivers. And they will come to see you.




·         Ruach Graffis: The driver is paying twice. The driver pays the medallion holder a fee, and pays his own fee. I have no problem at all with that.

·         Brian Browne: Who is running this meeting? The Chair should be running this meeting. I get the feeling we are being driven. These are all costs and they all go on to the industry. There is no analysis whatsoever. We have to get a bit more rigorous. We’re not identifying specific funding sources.

·         Heidi Machen: The Committee needs to decide what percentage contributions will occur.

·         Brian Browne: I went to the School of Public Health and I know how important health care is. You’re moved your supply curve up. We’re not getting the nitty gritty. I’m working with departments where orthodoxy is practiced.

·         Tom Oneto: How does any company pay for health care?

·         Brian Browne: If you increase the fare – the demand for cabs is set at the current price.

·         Tom Oneto: Let me give you a number. This industry makes a 3% profit. Where do you want the money to come from?

·         Brian Browne: That’s where we should start. We don’t know if $16 million is in the pot. I’d hope we have more. It might be the $3 million, it might be the $24 million. We’ve never done a systematic hike. We might have less revenue.

·         Ruach Graffis: Our first job is to come up with who actually should go into paying for this. Should we ask the City? Should the meter get raised./ What position and what dollar amount should we assess to each group? We’ve identified color scheme holders, all drivers, the public, medallion holders, and the city.

·         Dennis Korkos: We have to determine if 6A and 6C are the same source – color schemes and medallion holders. After all, it’s coming from the same source.

·         Paul Gillespie: In your way of thinking, it comes from the same place. We need to make a policy statement that it comes from the same place.

·         Dennis Korkos: Whether it’s small or large companies, it comes from the same place.

·         Paul Gillespie: We’re talking about who directly contributes. Just talking about billing, if we bill per color scheme, it’s 32 bills, and if we bill per medallion, it’s 1381 bills. If gates are raised, you will have money.

·         Dennis Korkos: With worker’s compensation we have the same situation. Whatever expense we have, the company will pass it on. I move to combine Items 6A and 6C.

·         Brian Browne: I second that.


Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: NO

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: YES                                               The motion failed 3-2


·         Paul Gillespie: We should have a vote on whether or not certain stakeholders should be included.

·         Tom Oneto: If this were to go before the Board without a recommendation for gate increases, how would this get funded? Unless there’s a gate increase, it seems there’s no funding.

·         Dennis Korkos: Companies choose to offer health care in order to be competitive. If they can’t afford it, then they will not offer it. It’s a unique situation. I have a proposal which outlines transferability as a way to pay for this.

·         Heidi Machen: I heard Commissioner Gillespie suggest a vote on whether or not stakeholders should be included.

·         Brian Browne: You have secondary income sources – gates and fares. Any plant hat gets passed, can’t be passed in absence of an agreement with the Board of Supervisors.

·         Tom Oneto: All we can do is come up with a plan.

·         Brian Browne: We need to have a continuing relief from the gate. Otherwise, we can’t pay for our health plan.

·         Dennis Korkos: We should go with a plan like the AARBIS plan.

·         Ruach Graffis: Let’s go with a policy decision. Policy decisions go first.

·         Tom Oneto: Let’s decide who the participants should be.

·         Heidi Machen: Yes, and how these funds would be collected. You would need to decide on drivers – either through the A-card, or through a gate fee. Medallions – through color schemes or through direct billing, or through a P-16 increase.

·         Paul Gillespie: I’ll make a motion that color schemes should participate as a funding source.

·         Ruach Graffis: I second that.

·         Dennis Korkos: Medallion holders and color schemes are one.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: YES

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: NO                                                The motion carried 3-2


·         Paul Gillespie: Now we have to decide if all drivers and participating drivers should contribute. Should all drivers pay, even if they opt out? Speaking against my own interest, I recommend that we make all drivers pay. I move that we have either an annual or quarterly contribution from all drivers.

·         Tom Oneto: I second.

·         Dennis Korkos: I don’t know what the mechanism is for collecting the money.

·         Heidi Machen: Potentially, at A-card renewal or bills could be sent on a quarterly basis.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto, Brian Browne: YES

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: NO                                                The motion carried 4-1.


·         Paul Gillespie: Another contribution would be participating drivers. I move that we include participating drivers as a contributor.

·         Dennis Korkos: I second.


Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto, Brian Browne, Dennis Korkos: YES

                                                                                                                The motion carried unanimously.


·         Ruach Graffis: I move that all medallion holders participate financially.

·         Paul Gillespie: I second. There has to be a new source of funding.

·         Brian Browne: Where would it come from?

·         Paul Gillespie: A gate increase. I recommend that we revisit it every two years.

·         Brian Browne: I am asking how it would be collected.

·         Heidi Machen: You are voting on whether or not medallion holders should be part of the pie. Then you can vote on the collection mechanism if you choose, and then next, a gate fee increase.

·         Dennis Korkos: We are here to try and get a program, that would not have to jump through too many hoops. Having us contribute would mean that it would have to go to the ballot. That’s one stumbling block. I feel drivers are independent contractors and not employees. That’s another stumbling block. Tom Owen, am I right?

·         Tom Owen: That question depends in part on how it’s shaped. I cannot answer it off the cuff about whether or not it should go the ballot on the issue of medallion holders.

·         Paul Gillespie: You already voted no on whether color schemes contributed, on the basis that medallion holders would be contributing. Now if you vote no on medallion holders contributing, you’re saying medallion holders should not contribute.

·         Dennis Korkos: That’s right.

·         Heidi Machen: We have a motion and a second on the issue of medallion holders contributing.


Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: YES

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: NO                                                The motion carried 3-2.


·         Heidi Machen: You have two more questions here – how would the portion be collected, and whether there would be some sort of a relief through regulatory relief.

·         Brian Browne: How would the portion be collected? If it comes from the medallion holder, it would be fine with appropriate regulatory relief. If we’re going to get medallion holders, we should say appropriate regulatory relief, like freezing the gate. I move that if it comes through the medallion holders, it’s fine with appropriate regulatory relief.

·         Heidi Machen: Are you willing to throw out the previous vote?

·         Tom Oneto: If you make it all the gate increase, then the driver is paying for all of it.

·         Heidi Machen: Brian first said, every single penny would be paid through a gate increase, but if you did an offset credit, then a portion would be paid for.

·         Ruach Graffis: I am not willing to do this. The permit holders have an income which comes from the drivers. Drivers will be paying twice, once as mandatory and another as participating. Then a third time as fee for service. Drivers will be hit 3 times. And now we’re talking about the permit holders getting a gate increase? You are never getting my vote on that.

·         Paul Gillespie: If it’s going to come through the gates, that when we can consider the riding public. I request that we rescind the vote and vote on this, with Brian Browne’s amendment about appropriate regulatory relief.  

·         Brian Browne: How would you amend the previous motion?

·         Paul Gillespie: Right now we are just saying that everyone is going to contribute.

·         Heidi Machen: Brian is willing to say, a gate fee increase. The point of contention here is merely, what portion of the medallion holder’s portion would be relieved by a gate fee increase.

·         Tom Oneto: Until we get to this portion, we can’t say there will be any relief.

·         Ruach Graffis: Every single driver will be paying without relief. That’s not going to get any compensation. The only people we’re contemplating for any kind of compensation is the people making money when they’re not working? We are just making policy decisions right now. Drivers are paying three times. Why this time do they get a break? Let’s go back to the original vote that medallion holders should be participants.

·         Heidi Machen: A fare increase should be discussed first. It would be good for everyone to come to consensus on this issue. If you vote on far increase, then you can return to the question of whether the medallion holders can be part of the pie with a gate fare increase tied to a meter increase. 

·         Paul Gillespie: I vote for a fare increase and the riding public participates.

·         Tom Oneto: I second.


Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto, Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: YES

                                                                                                                The motion passed unanimously.


·         Heidi Machen: Now you are back to the question of medallion holders contributing.

·         Paul Gillespie: I move that medallion holders participate.

·         Ruach Graffis: I second.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: YES

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: NO                                                The motion carried 3-2.

·         Heidi Machen: Were you going to address the question of  how medallion holders would be billed for their share? Whether it was annually or through billing the companies for the share?

·         Tom Oneto: I don’t think you can bill for a whole year’s worth at once. Even monthly would be a lot better.

·         Paul Gillespie: I move that CCSF participates in the funding.

·         Tom Oneto: I add that all groups get credited by percentage for CCSF’s contribution.

·         Paul Gillespie: I accept your amendment.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto, Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: YES

                                                                                                                The motion passed unanimously.

·         Paul Gillespie: The two other things are potentially great ideas – transferability and healthcare medallions, but both need to go to the ballot.

·         Dennis Korkos: The medallion holder contribution will be a special tax, and so will the color scheme contribution. It will have to go the ballot, or go to court.

·         Tom Owen: It depends how it’s structured. You have to increase the charges on the color schemes.

·         Brian Brown: So the BOS sets fares every two years. If it included health care, it has to go to the ballot?

·         Dennis Korkos: Taxing the public through a meter increase has to go to the ballot.

·         Tom Owen: It needs to be looked at. It’s the difference between justifying a fare increase or including a special tax like the hotel tax or parking tax. But then it’s the city’s money.

·         Paul Gillespie: I would be willing to look at putting together a task force that would look at adding new medallions solely for health care.

·         Dennis Korkos: I move that we have health care medallions and the profit from that would go to fund health care. Then it would go to the city.

·         Brian Browne: And I move to amend – they should be auctioned off like in NY. But I second.

·         Dennis Korkos: I don’t accept your amendment.

·         Brian Browne: I second.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto, Brian Browne: NO

Dennis Korkos: YES

                                                                                                                The motion failed 4-1.

·         Dennis Korkos I move that we include transferability.

·         Brian Browne: I second.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: NO

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: YES

                                                                                                                The motion failed 3-2.

The Chair continued Item 6 to the next agenda.




The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 PM.




Skip bottom navigation and boilerplate text.Begin brief site navigation and boilerplate text.