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Commission Chambers – Room 400

January 23 2007 at 6:30 p.m.

City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place              

Room 400


Present:  Gillespie; Breslin; Benjamin; Heinicke; Paek; Oneto; Oka

Absent:    None


President Gillespie called the meeting to order at 6:33 P.M.


STAFF IN ATTENDENCE:  Executive Director Heidi Machen, Deputy Director Jordanna Thigpen, Executive Secretary Tamara Odisho – Taxi Commission, Sergeant Ron Reynolds– Taxi Detail, Tom Owen– City Attorney


·        Heidi Machen, Executive Director: Turn-off cell-phones, interferes with phone systems and we get feedback.


1.      Call to Order/Roll Call


2.      Staff Budget Report [INFORMATION and ACTION]

·        Jordanna Thigpen: Budget overview

·        Com Breslin: Why do we pay so much for the SFGOVTV station? Can’t people watch it online? Could you recap the resolutions?

·        Jordanna Thigpen: Yes, but for those with limited access, they would not be able to watch it online. The resolutions would increase the medallion fee by 50%, and the other would be a request to add 2 investigator positions. The investigators would be able to assess the situation on the spot and issue a violation.  Rather than spending the extra staff time to research and then disseminate the information with taxi detail and other groups we work with to issue citations.

·        Com Oka : Could the disabled community choose ramp medallion holders?

·        Pres Gillespie: These investigators could also enforce the three rule pick-up.

·        Com Heinicke: Who pays for these positions?

·        Director Machen: The money will be coming from our budget.

·        Jordanna Thigpen: The Resolutions would have to be approved by the Supervisors in order for the job class to be created.

·        Com Breslin:  Could we use another term instead of enforcement in the resolution.

·        Jordanna Thigpen: The language in this resolution was derived from another bill, hence using this term



Public Comment:

·        Charles Rathborn: 50% medallion increase is unusual and excessive

·        David Pilpel: The resolutions were not properly noticed, I wouldn’t rush to pass them.

·        Pres Gillespie: Should the resolutions be continued?

·        Dir Machen: Yes, we could continue it and place it on the consent calendar.

·        Com Heinicke:  We won’t have time at our next meeting since it’s PC&N

·        David Pilpel: Annual dues should be moved to TXC balance and taken off the Detail side

·        Barry Taranto: Public comment should be sooner. Medallion holders are being attacked, fees not fair.

·        Mark Gruberg: Support request for investigators

·        Pres Gillespie: Is this memo available to the public?

·        Dir Machen: Yes, it is posted on the web.

·        Robert Cezano: TXC procedure of waybills should be done differently. Finger-printing method would work more efficiently. Auditing would be difficult without standards.

·        Mary McGuire: Salaries unreal, how does the dept compute overtime? We should do background checks on staff.

·        Dan Hinds: Just learned of the budget increase, haven’t had time to review. You shouldn’t be pointing fingers at ADA recipients if they are the “egregious violators”

·        Nate Dwiri: If egregious violators are ADA recipients, it’s sad, since we had a medallion holder with Parkinson’s’ afraid to lose medallion and drove a taxi, but never picked up passengers because he feared he would crash.

·        Mike Spain: Staff didn’t suggest increase in rate, sounds like UTW language.

·        Peter Witt: Many issues at hand. Gas increases, Bruce Schaller’s research, build relationships with all departments.

·        Tarik Mehmood: Not all Prop K drivers are driving.

·        Com Heinicke: These salaries are not high but are these the top steps and not the actual salaries paid?

·        Dir Machen:  yes this is the top step quoted by human resources.

·        Com Oka :  I was able to digest most of what Jordanna explained to us. I was not able to read my packet since I was not able to make-out the font.  I wouldn’t mind if we could continue this meeting.

·        Com Paek:  This isn’t fair to all of staff’s hard work for us to continue this.

·        Com Breslin: We don’t know what will be approved at the PC&N hearing and we should know that before approving our budget, since that may impact the budget.

·        Com Oneto: There’s a position missing. Are you removing a position?

·        Jordanna Thigpen: There is a position being eliminated

·        Pres Gillespie:  My personal feeling is to move forward but if other Commissioners have an objection, I am willing to listen to any Commissioner.

·        Com Breslin: I think we need to change the title, it conveys a different meaning. If we need to continue the meeting then we should hold a special meeting.

·        Pres Gillespie: Could you prepare an updated memo for us by the next meeting?

·        Jordanna Thigpen: Yes

·        Pres Gillespie: Since there is a major issue, and our policy is to give the public more than a few days to digest the information, I’d be willing to continue the meeting.

·        Jordanna Thigpen: I don’t mind, it’s your availability and  your schedules.

·        Dir Machen: Are there questions tonight that we could answer so as not to continue the meeting?

·        Com Paek: Commends staff on their work for the budget and want to pass it tonight. Not a complicated budget to spend so much time on this issue.

·        Com Benjamin:   I would be in favor with it as well. The salaries are top items, not actual paid salaries.

·        Com Breslin:  If we pass this budget, we do so without the resolutions. And this will be a theoretical budget.

·        Com Heinicke: We need to close this item, we should continue this item until February 13.

·        Pres Gillespie: Continue this item to February 13th

·        Com Heinicke: Shall we discuss this issues now? So we can decide at our next meeting. I will begin by addressing that the issuance of medallions is an apparent issue. We have a macro problem and cannot address this overnight. I am not sure what the benefit of the medallion system to the public. One of the benefits is that it gives us long term experienced drivers. I am not sure how the investigator positions will solve the problem. If we keep making marginal changes, then it won’t affect the bigger picture.

·        Pres Gillespie:  Do you believe in individual owned medallions?

·        Com Heinicke: Yes, and I think that we continue to talk about marginal changes to the system and I feel like this might be a time with PC&N coming up would be a good time to address this issue.

·        Com Oka : Commissioner Heinicke has said what I’ve wanted to say. This is a significant change and extra staff will help enforce it. Prop K needs to be changed.

·        Com Paek:  We should re-think Prop K, and what could be the best resolution. We should have a separate retreat to discuss the issue. But we have a mission for this meeting and should not sacrifice the work we have to do.

·        Com Heinicke:  Maybe we should track this issue and only add one investigator. Come back next year to evaluate it.

·        Com Breslin: Agrees and appreciates Com Heinicke’s comments. And suggests a 6 month review before the annual. At the PC&N we should look at our other solutions, ie GSP, districting, peak time cabs…

·        Com Paek:  Seems that we should have a master plan, ie: central dispatch

·        Pres Gillespie: Next item


3.      Consideration of the Consent Calendar. [ACTION]

·        Dir Machen: Recommends that only Item G be severed.

·         Pres Gillespie: Public comments on items A-F


Public Comment:

·        Peter Witt:  Annoyed that consent calendar is item 3, what’s the point if you shuffle the items?

·        Charles Rathborn:  Lots of public information on the web.

·        Tarik Mehmood:  All these drivers that are being approved.

·        Pres Gillespie: A-F passes through verbal approval

·        Dir Machen:  Item G was continued from the January 9, 2007 meeting some Commissioners had questions for John Lazar.  Edward Burke, the applicant applied for dispatch service.

·        Pres Gillespie: I want to congratulate Haleem Mehmood

·        John Lazar:  GPS dispatch is to be setup for a multiuse application. He withdraws his application since he has not been able to solidify an agreement with one of his vendors, until he can bring the multi-vendor companies to the Commission. To answer your question of last week Com Oneto, I wasn’t aware of the requirement of ramp medallions.

·        Com Oneto:  I didn’t say that each color scheme had to have 30 ramp medallions, but rather each dispatch company is required to have 30 ramp medallions.

·        Dir Machen: MTA requires 30 ramp taxis per dispatch

·        Com Heinicke: Thank you for coming down here to explain this. I think my concern and others was that if we granted that particular permit, and there was some unclear debit program information, could we use this system wide. My dream is that we have a centralized dispatch system for San Francisco.

·        Pres Gillespie:  We are not here to hold the City back from further technology.

·        Com Paek:  Thanks Mr. Lazar for his wisdom and for his knowledge.


Public Comment:

·        Robert Cezano: Don’t rush to make decisions and try to make a policy issue.

·        Peter Witt:  John Lazar would make a great salesman, and would like to see numbers to prove what he says.

·        Tarik Mehmood: Luxor makes-up the number of pick ups. Since they only are 1/3 the fleet yellow.

·        Dan Hinds:  Voice dispatch is great and important to the community.

·        Ed Burke:  You could have gps and voice dispatch concurrently.


4.      Staff Report and Commissioner Announcements [INFORMATION]

·        Director Machen: Gave her staff report on meetings, correspondences, etc.

·        Captain O’Neil: Clarify for the record that Director Machen did not cut out Officer Marcic overtime, the operation was suspended and it was a unilateral decision by myself and it was due to some accounting issues. In the past we use a great deal of hours during the summer months, and we didn’t have a direct supervisor until Sergeant Reynolds came on and is prorating the number of hours towards enforcement.

·        Sergeant Reynolds: Went over quarterly reports, cameras and update on changes in the Taxi Detail.

·        Com Heinicke: Can we have a computerized system for complaints?

·        Captain O’Neil: SFPD already has one, but mainly for low crime offenses. Our department ends up calling them back to get more detailed information. Some members of the public are from out of town, and so it is difficult to have them use an online form or an automated voicemail.

·        Sgt Reynolds: 3 camera companies are authorized to install units into the cabs. One of which is no longer in business. They are supposed to be checked twice.  We know they are functioning if green light is on, red if not. I believe a task force should be established to come up with a solution.

·        Pres Gillespie: What company went out of business, and how many cabs have this camera unit?

·        Sgt Reynolds: Raewood went out of business, and we are not sure how many cabs have this unit, since there have been some computer updates and some information was not saved onto the server. We are looking for the hard drive that has this information.

·        Com Heinicke: Who is responsible for maintaining the cameras?

·        Cpt. ONeil: The Companies are, when we legislated this issue a few years back, the companies felt that if we had jurisdiction over the cameras, it would be to similar to Big Brother. I am willing to work with Taxi Commission staff and Detail staff to change policy if need be.

·        Pres Gillespie: Want to take a moment to welcome Commissioner Oka, and congratulate Commissioner Breslin on her reappointment.  


Public Comment:

·        Robert Cezano: Horrified Taxi Detail spends so much time on complaints. London has a drop-off for lost items, with a small reward when an item is turned in.

·        Jim Gillespie: Yellow cab has a customer service line, so when passengers lose or misplace an item in a cab, they can call us to retrieve it.  The number of cameras that are Raewood, is very small.

·        Richard Hybels: We know if the cameras work, but we can’t upload the images without a laptop.

·        Chuffa: Taxi Detail officers are profiling and shouldn’t be.

·        John Lazar: Cameras are on at Luxor, we have lots of recovered items.

·        Peter Witt: TXC’s website doesn’t have the Commissioners contact information and it should. Medallion should be placed on the inside of the cab so passengers are more aware what cab they are in.

·        Mike Spain: Health care report was omitted. Police report complaints were a small %.

·        Tarik Mehmood: Some complaints are petty, only serious ones should be investigated.

·        Mark Gruberg: Taxi drivers are not indigent, and should be taken seriously when it comes to their health. Health insurance should have been in effect in January 2003.

·        Mark Soto: Thank you to Com Kwok and welcome to Com Oka.

·        Norma Gilery: Easy to avoid loss, driver should remind folks to take their belongings before they leave the cab. She needed medical attention and went to General Hospital and although it took a long time to be seen, she was happy with her service.

·        Ruach Graffis: Taxi school teaches drivers to return lost items.

·        Walter Polsen: Eliminated from paratransit program and would like to be placed back on the list.   


5.      Public Comment (Please limit public comment to items NOT on the agenda).

·         Chuffa: Continues to be deceived by some Commissioners.

·         Charles Rathborn:  UTW labor leader attack on Thomas George Williams’ home is being exaggerated. Commission should look into the Kye Rorie issue

·         Nate Dwiri: Partnered with the Exploratorium, and they hooked into the cabs and are tracking called “Cab Spying”

·         Ruach Graffis:  M80 is not a small firecracker.

·         Tarik Mehmood:  Ideas for the next meeting, yellow cab has a new and better gps tracking.

·         Robert Cezano: Many years ago, UTW had a health program and was not democratic. The current treasurer ruled that all drivers should have business licenses, which means they represent themselves and are not employees, they work for themselves.

·         Norma Gilery: We don’t need individual health care, just go to General Hospital.

·         Mark Gruberg: Prop K opens avenues for drivers, although it should be change to further its goals and intent to serve the public. Regarding UTW, it is a democratic organization, and only non-medallion holders have a vote. Nor can they hold office.

·         John Lazar: Look into special accommodation for Kye Rorie 

·         Com Breslin:  I thought he was going to be placed on the consent calendar.

·         Pres Gillespie: Just received the memo, and not sure how we can resolve this.

·         Com Heinicke:  I cannot remember how we resolved this last time.

·         Pres Gillespie: We are in public comment right now and cannot discuss this at this time.

·         Jim Gillespie:  No one’s done anything wrong with Mr. Rory’s case, but he should be taken care of by this Commission.

·         Mike Spain: The healthcare committee has changed members and the results will vary because of its members. We should have received a report from our healthcare meeting.

·         Kye Rorie:  I would like an open hearing on this issue.

·         Com Gillespie: I promise by our next meeting we will have an answer for you.

·         Peter Witt: I have a small business and am a driver, so what does that make me?


6.      Adjournment



Respectfully Submitted,


Tamara Odisho

Executive Secretary





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