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Room 201

City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

February 20, 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: Ilene Levinson, Carrie Winsten, Jim Soos, Tom Owen

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

2.       PUBLIC COMMENT: no public comment was offered


Deputy DirectorJordanna Thigpen presented data from the Driver Survey, including updated graphs and charts (reflecting 4,331 surveys) which had been produced by herself and by Rick Wilson, an intern with the Controller’s Office. She thanked Todd Rydstrom of the Controller’s Office for allocating Rick’s time and thanked Rick for his excellent work. She noted that the graphs would be placed on the Internet and would be presented in tbe final report


·         CarlMacMurdo: There is a low number of responses for those who can pay as much as $100. This is remarkably low. Only 39% are willing to pay something. And only 7% are willing to pay as much as $100 a month when you look at the other charts.

·         Charles Rathbone: Staff has done a tremendous amount of good work here. I look forward to it being on the Internet.

·         Mark Gruberg:  I have a little different read on these figures than Carl MacMurdo. The implication of their remarks is that drivers don’t care about health care. The way the question is worded, is what the maximum you could contribute. So the question is what people think they can afford to contribute. We should look seriously at the Chart which counts only these who responded ‘No, I’m not covered.’ I would also point out that the number of no responses, when we are looking only at the “No, I’m not covered” people, went down dramatically. There’s lots of interesting information here.


Executive Director Heidi Machen gave a report on a memorandum she had prepared in advance of the meeting. Using the figure of approximately $16,000,000 to pay for a Taxi Driver Health Plan, the memorandum describes the percentage contributions necessary from each stakeholder which would be required to cover the total figure.

                PUBLIC COMMENT:

·   Charles Rathbone: I’m trying to do some quick arithmetic here. I’d like to point out generally that the contribution being asked from medallion holders is a large percentage of total income. Medallion holders only have the income from their medallion and a small Social Security check. I will survive it if it’s taken from me, but I’m thinking about friends who are old and feeble living out in the Sunset district. We get $1800/month and that’s it.

·   Brian Browne: Charles, could you go through how you would arrive at the $1800/month per medallion?

·   Charles Rathbone: It’s the check I get each month from Luxor Cab. It’s very typical. Other medallion holders get less from other companies.

·   Mark Gruberg: This $1800/month is also accompanied by gate discounts, and medallion holders get a choice of shift. This is probably the most valuable perk of all. Work when you want, take off when you want – a lot of other perks. It’s not just the check. And for a person who is retired and receiving this income, this is totally unearned income. There’s no requirement that that person is fulfilling at that point, with the exception of handing over their medallion to a company. I also want to talk about the company contribution. It’s very important that the company contribution be part of this mix.

·   Carl MacMurdo: I want to echo what Charles said. The $1800/month is all people get out of this. The better shifts are for senior drivers – it’s what comes with paying your dues. The unearned income comments, I don’t agree with that.



·   Brian Browne: The CCSF contibution, would that come from non taxi revenues, like the General Fund, or would it be from another source?

·   Jim Soos: For the HAP, it’s strictly General Fund. I worked on the SFHP, and we did not include a CCSF contribution to that. My assumption is that when you talk about getting a contribution from CCSF, it’s a straight General Fund contribution. That’s the way Healthy Kids is funded as well. It is not a tax on the industry itself.

·   Jordanna Thigpen: In the survey, in regards to Question 7, where do you get medical care, including no responses, 9.86% of people said they got coverage at SFGH. Of those who did respond, not including no responses, 24% of people get health care from the city. So that is something to look at for the CCSF contribution. All along the assumption has been, the City will contribute more if more people are getting care from the system.

·   Jim Soos: The only problem is that we do not know how much care they got. There are finance people at DPH who would be able to average the figures. A couple of months ago, I came up with $1,000,000 that could be attributed to taxi drivers, based on use of SFGH. That response was based on people who listed a cab company as their employer, who did list their employer.

·   Brian Browne: Would a fare increase be added on as a tax?

·   Heidi Machen: It would be similar to the paratransit program. There was an agreement that 10 cents would be added on, which became part of the gate and went back to CCSF.

·   Brian Browne: So that would not be an additional amount for drivers – it would be transferred to the health plan?

·   Heidi Machen: A meter increase is separate. The CCSF contribution would offset everyone else.

·   Brian Browne: So it would not be a special fare increase. It would just be a tax which increases the cost of doing business and would affect elasticity.

·   Tom Oneto: Brian, do you understand that elasticity of demand is an argument for drivers – not for companies? There is no elasticity of demand for companies.

·   Dennis Korkos: If business goes down, and it’s not worth it for drivers to drive, than that affects companies. Not every shift every day is filled.

·   Ruach Graffis: These days, companies who aren’t filling their shifts, simply aren’t hiring drivers.

·   Dennis Korkos: 92-98% of Yellow shifts are filled. Not every shift every day is filled. I get a report which indicates how much I get paid and how many shifts have been filled.

·   Brian Browne: I want to say that I took the Controller’s numbers and reproduced them in spreadsheets. Then I changed the elasticities. Using his elastricities, the total revenues increased but the numbers of rides taken decreased. The number of rides does decrease. I am agreeing with Tom that it does have an impact. You guys have the institutional knowledge, I am just looking at the numbers. Is $16, $17 a realistic number for an average fare?

·   Tom Oneto: I am not arguing your point on demand. What I am saying is, say an average cab takes 16 runs. And because of the price increase it’s only 15 runs. The driver loses out, but the company still receives the gate fee.

·    Brian Browne: I understand, but I am saying, if you cut back on demand, less people will drive cabs, and there will be less gates increase. You say that is not the case without empirical knowledge, and you are probably right under the circumstances. But Todd did 5 different elasticities.

·   Heidi Machen: These are just some figures to work from. You may wish to break these down as you did previously and decide the percentages for each stakeholder. If you want to put a cap on each stakeholder, that might be something workable that you could vote on today.

·   Paul Gillespie: I see us going down a road with a variety of options. There’s several groups of people to contribute. When I first came, I thought that it was all about one plan. But it’s really about a varying amount. So if we offer options, the participating driver contribution depends on which plan they select.

·   Brian Browne: So right now, you have $10m-$18m on the table. You said the plan was $19m. A fare increase of 25 to 45 cents is being considered. And $3m from CCSF. Is that correct?

·   Heidi Machen: The $16m is the SFHP program. There was no set amount requested from CCSF.

·   Tom Oneto: The Winsten plan has $14.1m, $16.8m, and $18.3 options. There is a good Kaiser Plan that drivers could upgrade to.

·   Brian Browne: Is the fare increase offsetting the increase for everyone else? The fare increase does not offset anyone’s contribution is what I understand.

·   HeidiMachen: That is correct – only the CCSF contribution offsets the everyone else.

·   Dennis Korkos: I need to point out once more, like I did last week. Whatever you charge color schemes, they’ll pass on to medallion holders. We cannot afford to take that kind of hit. No way, no how. We clear $15K a year from the medallion. You’re talking about taking that down by almost two thirds. People have all sorts of different economic situations. They have childcare, high rent, whatever. We are not CEOs making 400 times what a worker makes.

·   Tom Oneto: How is it that all medallion holders can’t afford their costs, when they are getting an extra $20K a year, and you’re expecting all drivers to contribute? If you total up what all medallion holders make, it’s over $20m.

·   Dennis Korkos: Proposition K was set up to be a benefit. You are trying to attack that benefit. We have to pay taxes on the check we get. This is not some under the table income.

·   Ruach Graffis: The permit holders get an advantage by getting any shift, new cabs, they get to go to any company they want. The amount of money they get from leasing their medallion to the cab company, is completely apart from that.

·   DennisKorkos: What is written here, that we each pay $3K, translates to $6K for the medallion holder.

·    Paul Gillespie: So you are opposing the color scheme fee, or the medallion holder fee?

·   Dennis Korkos: When you consider what the companies pay, it is the same as us.

·   HeidiMachen: If we increased the fare by 25 to 45 cents, how much does that translate to for the gate fee – how much would the gate increase.

·   Linda XX: I am not familiar enough with what Todd did to answer that right now.

·   Heidi Machen: We are thinking maybe $5 per night?

·   Paul Gillespie: Yes, that’s kind of what I was figuring. What if the fare was raised to cover the color scheme fee? Because I just don’t think the money is there. I think the medallion holder amount is there. Why not just call it a fare increase? Drivers aren’t paying twice, because they are getting a fare increase.

·   Heidi Machen: So $96.50 would become the new gate?

·   Dennis Korkos: You might have to raise it twice to cover the color scheme contribution and to cover the percentage we planned on from the riding public.

·   Ruach Graffis: We already have the highest gate increases in the country. It’s because the medallion holders are making so much money. They’re getting much more than they are in NY. We have tried to get these gate caps reduced. We’ve already got high meter rates.

·   Jordanna Thigpen: What will happen to the 25 cent increase that already occurred in the flag drop? Theoretically, that was a stop gap measure to wait and see what this committee produced. Are we going to consider that is the 25 cents, or do we now have room to double again for the color scheme contribution?

·   Dennis Korkos: That was going to be my point because then we would raise it three times: basic cost of living, riding public contribution, and color scheme contribution. We’ll have to go three notches that way.

·   Heidi Machen: I would again suggest that if you want to accomplish this today, you go through each stakeholder and suggest a cap for each one.

·   Tom Oneto: What would the advantage be of having an increase in the price per mile, rather than on the flag drop? One ride would take care of it per shift. 

·   Dennis Korkos: It seems to me that if CCSF is insisting that we have healthcare, then CCSF should be seeking money to pay for it and contributing from the General Fund.

·   Ruach Graffis: Well, it will happen. The meters will go up.

·   Dennis Korkos: Can the riding public even afford it? That is the question. Medallion holders can’t afford it.

·   Heidi Machen: If you want to take these stakeholders and start with CCSF – I’ve been hearing, savings to CCSF from $1m-$3m.

·   Ruach Graffis: I move that we ask for a 20% contribution from CCSF.

·   Paul Gillespie: I second.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: yes.                               The motion carries 3-2.

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: no.

·   TomOneto: I want to make a point on behalf of companies, that we need to take administrative costs into consideration.

·   Brian Browne: My motion is that CCSF makes up the shortfall, because they made us do this plan. If the 20% contribution is not enough, that is.

·   Dennis Korkos: I second.

·   Tom Oneto: Doesn’t this contradict what we just did?

·   Brian Browne: The 20% came out of thin air. If the 20% doesn’t make it, CCSF will make it up. CCSF should underwrite it the way the FDIC does the banks.

·   Tom Oneto: It’s just that, how are they going to put a number on this that they can put in their budget? The Board can’t do that from a budgetary standpoint. The shortfall could be anything from $3m to the full amount of $14m.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: no                  The motion fails 3-2.

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: yes

·   Paul Gillespie: I have been sitting here, and I came up with 100% this way. I move that we ask for 10% from drivers, 20% from participating drivers, 25% from medallion holders, 25% from color scheme holders, and 20% from CCSF. That is not putting down a contribution on the fare increases. That means $4m from color schemes and medallion holders approximately.

·   Tom Oneto: We are trying to come up with a total of $80 for participating drivers, right? $10-$20 for all drivers and $60 additional for participating dri vers.

·   Paul Gillespie: 10% is $1.6m – that would be $20/month. I am just talking percentages right now. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about the measure of options or where the color schemes will come up with their amount of money.

Paul Gillespie, Ruach Graffis, Tom Oneto: yes                                The motion carries 3-2.

Dennis Korkos, Brian Browne: no

Items 4 and 5 were continued for discussion to the next meeting on March 6, 2007.

5.   ADJOURNMENT of the Subcommittee Meeting at 4:08 PM.



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