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Commission Chambers

December 11, 2007 at 5:30 p.m.

City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Room 400


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

Absent:    0

President Gillespie called the meeting to order at 5:45 P.M.

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

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

1.      Call to Order

2.      Annual Safety Hearing

·         Adrian Moy, Deputy Director of MTA Safety:  MUNI safety busses go through a 1000 mile inspection and CHP may inspect at anytime.

·         Scott Leon, Investigator of Taxi Commission: Update on security camera program.  Drivers feel apathetic towards the program and do not care.  Color schemes reporting the life span of theses vehicles are coming to an end and need to be replaced. 

·         Sergeant Reynolds: 80% of the cameras are not working properly.   

·         Com Heinicke: GTU says that 1 in 15 cameras are functioning and you say 80%, is this inconsistency based on the fact that when needing to download the cameras they do not work?

·         Sgt Reynolds: Yes.  When the next cameras are purchased, staff needs to ensure the cameras are solid.  Commission needs to set minimum standards for these cameras.  Some companies are no longer in business and parts hard to come by.  Someone needs to upgrade the system, training of the system to teach the drivers of the importance of the cameras. 

·         President Gillespie: First state in America to mandate these cameras. No one has been murdered since these cameras have been put into the cabs.  We clearly have problems and know there’s a whole new generation of technology out there, that are really extraordinary.  How should we pick this next camera?  Should people just choose from a list or should we require they purchase a camera that we choose?  Also do we need to mandate all new cameras?

·         Scott Leon: 1-15 working cameras are based on a survey.  Some drivers turn off the camera but no one should be touching the cameras. 

·         Com Heinicke: Why are the cameras failing so many times?

·         Sgt Reynolds:  The software we have is old and not compatible with our units. Some color schemes swap parts from one vehicle to another to pass testing.  My statistics are from after an investigation is launched.

·         Pres Gillespie:  We need to figure out if there is a mobile camera that is taking a picture of the cab roof as opposed to disabling camera. 

·         Com Breslin:  When there is a failure is it because of compatibility issue?

·         Com Paek: Does that mean the camera had been modified?

·         Sgt Reynolds: Yes.  And that is why we need a reliable company that when there is a problem with the system we have a contact.

·         Pres Gillespie: When this was done, for privacy issues we had the software to only be accessible by Taxi Detail and no one else.

·         Com Heinicke:  If we purchase new cameras, we should have a contract that would require the company to give us updated software.

·         Com Breslin: What is the process or standard that we use other than red light and green light?

·         Sgt Reynolds:  We randomly check the taxis and if they camera is not working we ask them to fix it and then send them back to GTU an inspection.

·         Com Breslin: What are the checks and balances, replacement parts, ensuring SFPD-Detail has the updated software as opposed to life expectancy?

·         Pres Gillespie: We are reaching the point of replacement time and we need to address this issue.

·         Com Paek: Who is paying for this? We really want to make sure what the problem is.

·         Sgt Reynolds:  When there is a failure it is not Taxi-Details responsibility to find out what the problem is with the cameras when they do not download.

·         Com Breslin: Who do you believe should be responsible for this?

·         Sgt Reynolds: Not sure this would be possible since there is only one investigative person who is not contracted to diagnose camera issues.

·         Com Heinicke: There should be follow-up by these two as to what the next steps should be.

·         Com Breslin: I would second that.

·         Pres Gillespie: Last week some of the Commissioners went out to GTU and have some ideas.  There is a practice that I have become uncomfortable with by using salvaged vehicles as taxi cabs.  We should prohibit the use of these vehicles.  Also should consider more inspections.  For example putting the vehicles on a lift and test driving vehicle on the freeway.  Questions rely on funding and available time. 

·         Com Heinicke: Are salvaged vehicles a working issue or a safety issue?

·         Pres Gillespie: Does not want to speak for them, but they have said a relatively large number of vehicles they have inspected are a safety issue. We would need further discussion.

·         Com Oneto: When a vehicle is totaled by the insurance company there is a safety issue since metal on the vehicle is bent.


Public Comment:

·         Hansu Kim: Most companies use expensive camera.  Second generation cameras are not needed.

·          Barry Taranto: Hearing not as informative as other hearings by not including police reports. Should also review procedures of dispatch services or maybe need to be reviewed again, as does shift changing. 

·         Marty Smith:  Safety problem with cameras are that not enough people know how to work on them.  Managers should be trained on how to download images, since the image disappears after 24 hours.

·         Jim Gillespie: Believes the cameras work well Yellow purchased the Silent Witness. 

·         Robert Cezano: Protocol problem is that cameras are being transferred from one camera to another.  Police are not checking throughout the year and only when there’s an investigation.

·         Rich Hybels:  Uses a cable to check and see if cameras are properly working.  But someone should have the software other than Detail to ensure they are working.  Not in favor of salvaged cars since some have electrical problems.

·         Hansu Kim:  Will contact Silent Witness to find out how the Commission can efficiently and effectively purchase these cameras.

·         Ann: Driver and has been having lots of problems with her vehicles including one hybrid that caught on fire. 

·         Keith Raskin: Salvaged cars are repairable.   The term is misleading since it is not specific

·         Pres Gillespie: We do not have any hand on what color schemes purchase so being able to label these vehicles is important to us.

·         David:  Work and safety issue are often grouped together.  UTW wants driver safety.  Presented the Commission a list of what vehicles he has driven that are good and bad.

·         Tone Lee:  Was told that if pressed the emergency button more than 5 times, it requires resetting by the police.  Many dispatchers don’t know this, let alone drivers.  Cameras should be updated since  b&w picture is hard to see.

·         Ruach Graffis:  Police statistics should be reviewed tonight, required by the rules. The wire connected to the camera is exposed several inches before it goes into the roof.  Installation of these cameras should be reviewed

·         Thomas George Williams: Vehicle testing is needed for all taxis and at least 2 time per year.  Other issues are fumes in the vehicle cabin.

·         Chuffa: Improving cameras in a public forum is wrong since the Commission is telling the public that the cameras are dysfunctional and are endangering drivers.

·         Mark Gruberg: Supports emissions testing inside the cabin, cameras and a panic button. If there is mandatory GPS in ramps, it should also be in sedans.  Random inspections would be a great idea.

·         TariqMehmood: How many drivers know how to use this.  In contact with companies that work on camera issues in Columbia who monitor the cameras from the companies.  Panic button should also be connected to the police.

·         Peter Witt: Using duct tape to hold cabs together is not safety.  Sees the same thing at his company.  Meter of taxi obstructs the view of the cab driver. Outreach to drivers is important. 

·         Com Heinicke: Either the industry makes this technology work or the Commission will have to mandate a new generation of cameras. Would like to hear back in a meeting or 2 on how these cameras will work.   Companies who do not have cameras need to purchase them.

·         Pres Gillespie:  Would like to continue this to a month in order for the police to include this in their report.

·         Com Breslin:  Looking forward to Hansu’s follow-up.


6.  Consent Calendar:

Public Comment:

·         Ruach Graffis: Received a call from someone that Luxor is using hybrid medallion in a gas burning vehicle.

·         Pres Gillespie: There has been grant money delayed causing problems for companies.  If you would like we can look into and see what is going on.

·         Com Heinicke:  I do not want to go into researching this until we know this is going on and that this if this is happening, this was not intended use for the hybrid/alt fuel medallions.

·         Barry Taranto: Items that are on Notice section do not have proper workers’ compensation.

·         Herbert Gee: Not sure what he needs to do to receive ramp, believes he is qualified.

·         Com Heinicke: Director Machen does he qualify for a time waiver?

·         Dir Machen: Yes, he does.  I sat with him to discuss his waybills.  He drove a ramp taxi for several years before but has not in the last 6 months which he is required to do so.

·         Pres Gillespie: Do you understand what the standards are.  You would need to go to a company that has ramps.  Mr. Lazar may help you on this since he may have a record of the pick up.

·         Herbert Gee:  I will look into that.

·         Com Breslin: He would not lose his place on the list correct?

·         Dir Machen: Yes, that is correct.  He will float on top of the waiting list.  He will lose any credit on the initial three months as we move into time.

·         Pres Gillespie:  You need to go before the staff to further discuss this. 

·         Marty Smith: Ralph Machkovsky reliable driver.

·         Jacob Miezel:  Was in the middle of an insurance company war over workers’ compensation. 

·         Name: Ralph was my driving partner and I know he drove.

·         Laurie Graham: Congratulates George Wade for receiving a medallion, has been her day driver for 10 years.

·         Peter Witt:  Minutes did not include his comments and handout.

·         Com Heinicke: Are there any more Worldwide medallions needing to transfer?

·         Keith Raskin: No.

·         Roll Call

·         Com Heinicke: Motion to approve medallions Items D1- Yared Ephrem, D2- Manohar Bawa, D3- Dean Olsen, D4- Kham Ta, D5 George Wade,  D6- Mikhail Lirisman

·         Com Oka: 2nd motion.

AYES: Breslin, Benjamin, Oka, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto            NO: 0
ABSENT: Gillespie                                                          RECUSE: 0

·         Roll Call

·         Com Heinicke: Motion to approve medallions D7- Jamal Tawasha, D8- Chris Hoang, D9- David Kruetner, D10- Ghassan Hammoudeh, D11- Tan Vuong & approve color scheme change H2-Theodore Gray

·         Com Oka: Second motion

AYES: Gillespie, Breslin, Oka, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto NO: 0
ABSENT: Benjamin                                                         RECUSE: 0

·         Dir Machen: Overview of D14- Ralph Machkovsky.

·         Sgt Reynolds: Taxi Detail has an investigation pending on Mr. Ralph Machkovsky.  Lt. Schlotz requested to continue this in order to investigate the waybills.

·         Pres Gillespie:  Would recommend continuing this.

·         Com Breslin: This is the last meeting for this year and would out him on a different schedule in order to qualify for the medallion.  I would award the medallion and pending the investigation we can re the medallion.

·         Dir Machen:  Since this item has been heard in 2007 this would freeze his driving requirement for this year. 

·         Pres Gillespie: We have reassurances that this will be held to the 2007 driving requirement and to the address this at the next meeting.


5.         Public Comment:

·         Edward Evans: Would like to award Jordanna Thigpen and Heidi Machen for outstanding service and looks forward to working with them.

·         Rich Hybels: Fleet travels 124 million miles per year, wouldn’t we know if the cabs had mechanical break down.

·         Robert Cezano: Service special meeting has been promised but no meeting held.  Audit electronically can happen at Yellow over a few days.

·         Tom Stangellini: Frank Tognotti passed away and the medallion needed to be returned but the medallion is not on Notice Section.  The medallion will sit in the draw through the holiday.

·         Com Breslin: Can the Commission make an exception to the law.

·         City Attorney: I will look into it.

·         Dir Machen: Luxor has requested an extension of time in the past, which has been granted.  They should contact our office for such a request.

·         Chuffa: The police are the reason that the Commission is in the hole that they currently are.  Ask the Lieutant who was awarded a medallion inappropriately and why she didn’t come before the Commission to report them.

·         CharlesRathbone: Recent hearing at Board of Supervisors, Controller’s Office said large number of color schemes have not filed financial statements.   Commission should look into this.

·         Com Heinicke: I have heard this from more than one person, any update on this?

·         Dir Machen: When I took office, the Controller’s Office enlisted our support in this and we had a 100% filing.  This year they did not, resulting in 1/3 response.  Penalizing the smaller companies that have not come into compliance has not been on the top of the Commission’s list.

·         Pres Gillespie: Would like the Commission to send a letter out to the companies because this is an important rule to follow.  Would like to see the list of these companies.

·         Richard Weiner:  Would like the Commission to focus the public.  Taxi stands should be established throughout the City and neighborhoods.  Approve CNG cars at the airport and drive your own medallion rule.

·         Barry Taranto: Sits at the Macy’s stand and picks up fares.  Would like some gifts on the last day of Chanukah from the Commission. 

·         Hansu Kim: Thanks the committees on their efforts.  Has concern for new hybrid/alt fuel medallions.  There are no rules set on what a clean air vehicle is and companies are juggling with the issue with no clear definition.  Should have been thought out more thoroughly.

·         Peter Witt: Has not received information from staff.  President approved more cabs as a driver representative.  Survey done this year not done well. 

·         Andy Snaiku: Commission website of cab stands not clear.

·         Barry Korngold: Prorating hours for drivers when are on the agenda early on the calendar year.  Spoke with attorneys who believe Daly/Ma language reads the way he thinks it does as well.

·         Tariq Mehmood: Some Commissioners need to get out of the UTW box.  Com Heinicke continued Michael Roach’s medallion but didn’t attend the special meeting.

·         Mark Gruberg: Tariq Mehmood supported $118 gate increase, tape will prove it.


4a.       Fact Finding Hearing and Disciplinary action including Possible Revocation of Permits:   [ACTION]

  1. Adoption of Hearing Officer’s Findings for Regents Cab, color scheme for violation of MPC Section 1147.4 Compliance with Workers’ Compensation


·         Jordanna Thigpen, Deputy Director: Overview of item.

·         Com Benjamin: Why has it taken four years for this to come before the Commission? If we are going to cite color schemes four years of why give them 30 days?

·         Jordanna Thigpen, Deputy Director: The hearing officer held it up.

·         Roy Alexander, Attorney for Regents:  Overview.

·         Jordanna Thigpen, Deputy Director: Rebuttal.

·         Roy Alexander: Rebuttal.

Public Comment:

·         Charles Rathbone:  Commends staff on this issue, very well done.  Staff has accomplished something in its tenure.

·         Hansu Kim: There should be a fair playing line on this issue across the board since there is tremendous ambiguity. 

·         Rich Hybels: Has spent $565 thousand on workers’ compensation and all companies should comply with the law.

·         Chuffa: Thanks Com Heinicke’s guidance. As a medallion holder pays fees to the color scheme for workers’ compensation.  Companies that do not have workers’ compensation should be closed.

·         Robert Cezano: Commission should be clear in its decision.  Commission allows companies to sell ideas of a taxi company, Regents does this. 

·         Tone Lee:  He knows the driver who was hurt in Regents cab.  Asian drivers have donated to a few thousand dollars to help this man.

·         BarryTaranto: This company was losing ½ of what they were because they were paying workers’ compensation.  There are people running medallions at this company that should be here.

·         Mark Gruberg: This issue brings fresh air to the Commission since reform is badly needed.  This offers a rationale for having everyone in the industry following the same laws.   The Commission should adopt this not just for Regents but all companies across the board.

·         Tariq Mehmood: The rules need to be looked at closely since findings will decide future cases.  We need workers’ compensation, the Commission should review and set rules.

·         Com Heinicke:  Thank you for your presentation.  Does Regents think that as a color scheme it is not responsible for providing the worker’s compensation since it does not make money from its medallions. 

·         Com Heinicke: Other color schemes that do the leasing, pay less because they insure more medallions paying less and not passing the fee onto the medallion holders.  When these medallions leave the color scheme the Commission will follow these medallion holders to ensure they have workers’ compensation.

·         Pres Gillespie:  Regents are the first to be brought up on charges for not having workers’ compensation.  Wants to say that they are great people.  There is no fine in this but rather compliance within 60 days.  I am pretty clear on my decision here.

·         Com Breslin: Agrees there should be a standard in the Commission to have workers’ compensation. We need to clarify who pays for it but it needs to be purchased.  Our goal is to have drivers covered.  If 60 days is not enough, we can add more time.

·         Jordanna Thigpen, Deputy Director: Requiring the individual medallion holders to purchase workers’ compensation may create creatures of the black lagoon.

·         Com Benjamin:  Allowing a color scheme to be a color scheme and limiting brokering will help us rein in on this issue. 

·         Com Heinicke:  I agree with that. If we can make this clearer to the color scheme I think that would be better. 

·         Steve Anton: We would like at least six months, in order to notify the medallion holders.

·         Jordanna Thigpen, Deputy Director:  We can send out a letter to each of the medallion holders letting them know the decision of the commission.

·         Pres Gillespie: Six months is too long, I would be willing to extend it to 90 days.

·         Steve Anton: The next few months are going to be rough for the drivers and so the extension would be helpful.

·         Com Oka:  You cannot have your cake and eat it too.  You should follow the letter of the law.

·         Com Paek:  We are trying to work with you and you should show some interest.  I cannot imagine drivers operating a vehicle without workers’ compensation.

·         Com Heinicke: Motion to approved recommendations but amend to allow 90 days.

·         Com Oneto:  2nd motion

·         Com Benjamin: Need to insure all color schemes are following the law and if they are not then they should listen

·         Com Breslin: What about the single shifters?

·         Com Benjamin:  We are not issuing these medallions for single shifters. 

·         Com Breslin: We should clarify if all medallion holders are required to have workers’ compensation.

·         Com Heinicke: January time frame to clarify the second recommendation.

·         Roll Call

·         AYES: Gillespie, Benjamin, Paek, Heinicke, Oneto     NO: 0
ABSENT: Breslin, Oka                                                  RECUSE: 0


4b.      Grasshopper Alec Kaplan medallion number 9062, violation of Rules 5.A.3, 5.A.5, 5.F.2, 5.H.a, 5.H.2, 5.H.3, 5.H.4, 5.H.5, 5.H.10, 5.H.11, 5.H.14, 5.H.16, 5.H.17, 5.I.3, 5.I.4, and 5.K.2, 4.A.5; MPC Section1148.5, 1120, 1187.1, 1101 and 1123.


·         Zadik Shapiro, Attorney for Grasshopper Alec Kaplan: Requests this hearing be continued.

·         Director Machen: Should not continue this item, the medallion has been off the street since July 2007 and possibly then another 6 months.

·         Pres Gillespie: Continue this to January hearing.

Public  Comment:

·         Tone Lee:  All people make mistakes.  We should try to give people a chance.

·         Chuffa: In the last few months Alec has been out of control.  Have some compassion, there is a problem.


7.  Staff report

·         Dir Machen: Overview

·         Sgt Reynolds: Overview of “Operation Bandit”.

·         Com Breslin: Cannot attend tomorrow’s luncheon, but glad to see this opportunity to thank them.

·         Pres Gillespie: Next meeting Charter Reform is Dec 18th and Rules Committee to meet Jan 11.

·         Com Benjamin: GTU has been conflicted that 311 sticker outside SF not working.  Sticker should have 415 area code for people calling from outside the City.

Public Comment:

·         Hansu Kim: Should have another Clean Air meeting.

·         Pres Gillespie: Would like something to be held before the next meeting.

·         Mary McGuire: Saw officer making stop of illegal limo and is very pleased.

·         Mark Gruberg: Hartened about the limo problem and happy that an administrative proceeding is occurring based on Asm Leno’s legislation.

3.          Management Exemption Update: Continued

8.         Public Comment: None

9.         Adjournment in a moment of silence for Robert Feldman. 10:55pm.



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