Thursday, May 10, 2012

Money Makes Things Happen. And It Takes Money To Organize. So If You've Got It, Give It. By Brad Newsham.

File photo by John Han.
Yipes! The deadline for ballot measures is not mid-June – it’s May 22!

By then, the Stop the MTA committee needs to find one supervisor to submit our two-part bill:

1) Medallions to drivers only; and 2) All money generated in the cab industry stays in the cab industry.

We’ve held meetings with three supervisors (all sympathetic) but we haven’t found a hero yet. Next week: three more. We need a miracle…

And miracles do happen. Get this: Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, led a delegation to the capitol in Sacramento on Tues, May 8, and dealt the MTA its first defeat since the MTA stole the cab industry.

The story:

In 2010, the MTA approved the installation of taxicab cameras that continuously record every motion made and word spoken by all passengers with continual audio-video recorders.

When Korengold, a former television cameraman, saw the new cameras, he said, “Illegal! Before you record someone’s conversation, you need their permission.”

The American Civil Liberties Union weighed in: Illegal! The MTA threw up its hands: Nothing we can do. And the cameras kept rolling, recording every motion, and every word uttered by passengers and drivers, all of it accessible at whim by cab company managers.

The cameras are sold by the politically powerful owner of DeSoto Cab, Hansu Kim, who persuaded a California state senator to propose a law making the cameras legal. At the hearing this past Tuesday, the MTA’s Christiane Hayashi traveled to Sacramento to testify in support of Kim.

But Korengold, plus seven drivers and one driver’s spouse, showed up to testify against the bill. The Senate committee listened and said, “Sorry MTA, Sorry Mr. Kim – illegalNO AUDIO RECORDING in taxis!”

One man plus eight allies equals Justice!

Imagine what Barry Korengold and other cab industry leaders could do with $500,000 per year.

A real seat at the table for cab drivers. No more groveling.

Would a little dignity be worth twenty bucks a month to you? Of course it would. Are there 2,000 others like you?  And me?  We shall see.

Editor: Brad Newsham – 415-305-8294 –

“Stop the MTA” Friday newsletter, Issue #3, May 11, 2012

The MTA killed all my hope

Driver, anonymous:
“I was born in San Francisco, at St. Mary’s Hospital. I grew up mostly in the Marina – Greenwich and Laguna: 1919 Greenwich. After the war, in 1945 and 1946, my dad drove a cab here. My dad and my uncle knew the Dimaggios – Joe and Dom. My great-uncle was Vic Bergeron – Trader Vic.
 “I’m 61 years old. I started driving a cab in 1977 in South San Francisco and Daly City. In 1993 I started driving in the City. I didn’t put my name on the List until 1998, when I was 47. My wife convinced me. I had other options for work, other things I could have done, but it seemed like this would be a great idea for our retirement. The medallion – it’s the reason I hung in here.

“Back then, my understanding was that it would take about 16 years. That was the estimate I was given when I joined the List. ‘In about 16 years you’ll get a medallion, your own cab.’ So that was the brass ring. After 16 years I would be 63 – perfect timing for retirement. The medallion was the carrot.

“All my family and friends have known I was ‘On the List.’ They’ve been pulling for me for the last 14 years – always asking How close? How soon? I’ve felt like I was working toward something, was part of something. 

I was somewhere in the 600s when the MTA killed all my hope. [In February, the MTA unveiled a devastating, radical plan to make 500 medallions available to cab companies instead of to drivers.] 

My family and friends and customers in my cab, they all say the same thing: There should be a law. And: This should not be allowed to happen to you.

“I’ve been handing out leaflets now, and gathering signatures. I don’t know if it will do any good, but every single cab driver I talk to thanks me for doing this. So many have lost all hope now. Everyone is demoralized. People who weren’t born here say, ‘This is like the country I came from. The people at the top keep making up new rules to keep everyone else down.’ The MTA is like kings and dukes. We are their serfs. Their slaves.”


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