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Charter Reform Working Group


February 19, 2008 at 10:30 a.m.

City Hall,1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

Room 305


Present:  Com Heinicke, Com Oka, Autumn O’Keefe, Laurie Graham, Rich Hybels, Hansu Kim,

John Lazar, Tone Lee, Charles Rathbone, Thomas G. Williams, Rich Schlackman, Michelle Allersma, Rick Wilson, Tom Owens, Greg Wagner, Heidi Machen, Jordanna Thigpen

Absent:    Adam Millard-Ball, Pres Gillespie


1.      Call to Order/Roll Call : Quorum

2.      Adoption of Minutes from the November 20, 2007 Meeting: Adopted without objection.

3.      Adoption of Minutes from the December 18, 2007 Meeting: Adopted without objection.

4.      Retaining San Francisco’s Current Public Permitting Process (Proposition K)

Public Comment:

  • Robert Cesana: We have to think about the reasons why Prop K was first enacted.  The reason we are in this situation now is because the current Taxi Commission is completely at fault.  They allow Medallion Holders to do exactly as they please. 
  • Jim Gillespie: I want the industry to look at transferability.  I am a pre-k medallion holder; my father purchased his medallion in the 50’s.  People don’t take interest in their medallions anymore.
  • Dan Hinds: We have to acknowledge whether we have problems.  Seven basic flaws; 1) lacks flexibility,    2) poor asset utilization, 3) discourages long term drivers, 4) system denies medallion holders compensation, 5) oversight entails substantial use of resources, 6) Rewards inactivity, 7) System promotes inequity. This group acknowledges we need to change; I have a very definite idea of how to fix it.
  • Wesley Hollis: I have a problem with Prop K because there is no flexibility as to assignment of permits.  Ramp permits should be corporate, not personal.  There is no exit plan for older individuals.
  • Barry Korengold: I am a long-term driver and I resent the statement that all you have to do is sign up and wait.  I resent selling the medallions because it doesn’t go to the drivers, it will all go to the bankers.  Once you’ve worked for years you should not have a driving requirement.
  • Carl Macmurdo: Prior to 1976 most permits were corporate; Quentin Kopp took the buying and selling out of it.  There are Senior citizens are on the list.  Other cities have been successful with transferability.  We haven’t reached the point of total saturation.  What happens to people at the top of the list?
  • Tariq Mehmood: The issue is whether we should open Prop K or not, the city is looking for new resources. Thirteen years for the drivers who have signed up before is not excessive.  The Daly/Ma legislation started going after the ones that shouldn’t have received medallions in the first place.  To help every driver medallions should go to different people every four years.  We should go step by step to get rid of Prop K.  We should also make an exit strategy.
  • Rich Schlackman: Any changes are a tactical question, because of Prop A.  Can the MTA abolish Prop K?
  • Tom Owen: That is a fair reading of Prop A.
  • Rich Schlackman: No one has discussed better service to the public.  Prop K was a good reaction to the bankruptcy.  The department gets no revenue and I believe in transferability.  The city should get more money and talent should be rewarded. When you have transferability you have ownership and then you have caring. I am still pre-supposing driver ownership of the medallions.
  • Hansu Kim: Everyone here knows I have strong feelings about Prop K; I want to give my perspective.  The greatest aspect is personal not corporate ownership.  Medallion Holders create work for 3-5 other drivers plus they provide a valuable service for the public.  Prop K was really about personal ownership plus anyone being able to start a taxi business.  The medallions take on an entitlement system; it’s a poorly working system.
  • Com Heinicke: I see a consensus building to keep the permits in the hands of individuals.
  •  Laurie Graham: We should keep thinking about ways to improve the ramp program.  Service was first.  I like the idea of many drivers bonding together for ramps.  There should be heavier knowledge training for medallion holders.  Drivers should have more rigorous safe driving training.
  • Tone Lee: Drivers have to make money to pay for the gate.  We need to connect customers with drivers.  You can’t blame the medallion holders for needing retirement income.  The current Prop K system is like a tree and trees grow toward the sun.  The problem is the artificial number of cabs is at 1500. We have the right level.
  • Thomas George-Williams: This system serves only itself.  We need to discuss service.  We need to get rid of this big expense of the medallion holders.  We need to have more training.  There are no benefits or no professional tenure. Selling the city asset within the industry doesn’t make sense.  We should rent it out and we can grandfather in existing medallions.  One of the faults is controlling the number of cabs.
  • Autumn O’Keefe: I am the public representative and service must be increased.
  • Rich Schlackman: I keep hearing about the driver as a permanent fixture for 40 years.  With all due respect, I don’t think we want to create a system like that.
  • Jordanna Thigpen: Any system we design must bear into the amount of staff and resources that we will need to properly enforce rules and regulations.
  • Charles Rathbone: There hasn’t been a service interruption in 20 years.  Generally, I think Prop K has worked well.  It has provided workers a path to upward mobility.  We should preserve the medallion system because it makes the system more attractive.  Supply of cabs can be solved by less regulated sedan service.  Medallion Holders service focuses on high density.  We can have sedans for the neighborhoods.
  • John Lazar: There is no enforcement.  Money isn’t coming back into the industry.  Small steps are necessary.  We have big problems in the industry, there’s no future to being a cab driver.  Auto Liability accidents are out of control and I carry all risk.  You’re not getting the full life out of ramp vehicles.
  • Rich Hybels: I made $80.00 a night 20 years ago.
  • Com Heinicke: If we are going to continue having a permitting system we need flexibility.  I’ve always been concerned about flooding the market but peak-time medallions will solve the problem because the service needs will be satisfied.


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

  • Tariq Mehmood: This committee is poorly organized.  UTW is controlling the whole industry.
  • Barry Korengold: There’s only two drivers on the committee plus four medallion holders.  


6.      Adjournment.



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