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tv   [untitled]    July 16, 2010 3:00pm-3:30pm PST

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i think perhaps maybe before the department usedity discretion rather than going for the mandatory route. however, we are looking at this in terms of the nexus being what mr. hollis has saved by his injust enrichment, particularly with the workers' comp penization insurance. it's roughy $400 per medallion fer -- per month and mr. hollis by operating his business for 40 months without that coverage, didn't have to pay it. that's where the $16,000 comes from. many other companies have to pay this and your experience goes up many p depending on your compensation coverage. he doesn't have any. another company could tell you that it's expensive. some companies are paying six figures a year for could cover the workers' comp. mr. hollis only has one
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vehicle, but, however, it's $400 at least per medallion and that's the money he saved and was unjustly addressed by. commissioner garcia: but also you didn't address the issue that the money he saved because of the workman's comp he passed on to the drivers. at least we were informed of that and no statement was made about that by you, the fact that he lowered the gate fees for those same drivers and made it a choice. to therefore the derivation of that figure is somewhat questionable. and just for the record, this board does not have the authority to remand. how would you respond to that? >> i was under the impression that it did. commissioner garcia: not the remand part, the fact that you arrived at a figure of $16,000 based on the fact he didn't pay workman's compensation for that period of time but it was also stated that he reduced the gate
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fee for those same people so that the money that he saved wasn't actual hi money he saved but rather money that his drivers saved? >> well, the way that i understood that, that was an incorrect interpretation for what he had done and forth mor -- futhermore that that provision had sunsetted, or, sorry, not sunsetted but ended in 2004. we're still trakhing about 2005, 6, 7, 8. commissioner garcia: i understand that. but you made it sound as if he pocketed the money. his motive for doing this -- it may well have been that, but his motive for doing that was so he could pocket the difference between and his workers stated that thats wa not the reason for that. whether or not he did it according to law or code provisions or some ordinance he did it by save -- passing that savings on to his drivers.
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>> but the appellant also said he knew it was required and that he fired his drivers in order to not pay for it and the very next day we found out he sent the letter that said i fired my drivers. he knew that it was still required. commissioner garcia: that's not the issue. listen again. the issue is not did he know that he was in conformance or not with the law. the issue has to do with we, this board, asked that you sit down and work out some other penalty because this board felt uncomfortable and decided it was not going to revoke a medallion over what we considered to be mostly color scheme issues and we asked you to come back with something that hopefully the two of you could agree on, you and the appellant and to provide us with information as to how that was decrive -- derived at. you are responding to me in a way that totally misses the question i'm asking you. you arrived at $16,000 based on the fact that in your opinion
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he was pocketing that money and therefore cheating his drivers. and not conforming to the law. he didn't pocket the money. he passed the savings on to his drivers. >> i don't know that he did, but -- well, i know that the current regulation, it's a $45 day penalty for every day you are without insurance. commissioner garcia: well, did you provide us with that figure and ask us to consider that as a penalty? >> no, i did not. i apologize. commissioner garcia: you didn't give this board a lot of guidance in my opinion. president peterson: thank you. commissioner goh: actually mr. murray i did have one question. i didn't hear you speak to the briefing issue.
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i know the issues brought up by my fellow commissioners are more weighty than that but as a person sitting on this board and volunteering my time and having the board give a six-page limit and then to get a 10-page brief was alarming i would say and i didn't hear you say anything bo -- about that. >> i do apologize for that. i realized too late -- i followed the usual rules of the board which say 10-page page limit and i don't believe we received one of the new forms that say when you are briefing what the page limits are. unfortunately i must have missed that part where you said a six-page page limit and i do fog -- recognize that that was an error. i called victor a little too late to ask, you know, because i thought i might even go farther than 10 and he said no, it's six and this was already too late. commissioner goh demoge ok. --
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commissioner goh: ok. ok, thank you. president peterson: miss mason, again, you have seven minutes. >> thank you, i anticipated having three so i don't think i'll take the full time but i do want to share mr. hollis' picture of his cab because he thought that was important for this board to see. great. good evening, honorable commissioners. i'm the attorney for appellant wes hollis, owner of executive taxi. i'm here tonight for one reason, to ask why mr. hollis should be penalized at all. in fact it's unfortunate that we have to even be here given your recommendations at our last hearing. i would have thought we could have settled this. m.t.a. unfortunately did not heed your advice to come to the table. but now that we are here let's review.
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sfmta claims failure to carry workers' comple -- com penation insurance gave mr. hollis an unfair advantage. that was just brought up by mr. garcia, and it appears the board understands that the situation mr. hollis was in was he provided an extra $6.50 to his drivers per shift since they paid that much less an gate fees. that translated to $400 a month, the same amount m.t.a. wants to collect as a fine. fines between $16,000 and $45,000 would ensure that mr. hollis loses his 10-year-old business. second, m.t.a. has not shown why this wildly disproportionate penalty should now apply to mr. hollis. nothing like this amount has ever been levied against any taxi company, large or small, for any offense.
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third, and despite your admonition, s.f.m.t.a. has not addressed how its policies have changed to create a fair system of investigation and progressive discipline that would apply uniformly to all taxi companies. instead, the department has unfairly muddied the waters. it has been uncooperative, unprofessional, sensationalist, disrespectful and even contemptuous of the process in a mean-spirited campaign to put mr. hollis out of business. to recap, m.t.a. disrartded the direction to examine its own policies. it made no effort to meet with us to discuss alternative penalties and perhaps in the most arrogant and blatant move, m.t.s. -- m.t.a. disregarded the simplest of directions in submitting a 10-page brief. m.t.a. muddied the waters by
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dredging up past allegations for the sole purpose of creating prejudice. the department mysteriously linked the tragic death to -- of taxi drivers to mr. hollis' duty to carry workers compensation insurance. m.t.a. efforts to newly demonize mr. hollis and his business is not good gft and it's not even fair. we respectfully ask that after mr. hollis has spent a stressful year defending his business, which should never have been put in jeopardy, that this matter be dismissed. we also ask that you direct m.t.a. to examine its own practices. and further i will just say if i have time that m.t.a. has launched a campaign of astroturf and i would question -- ask that you question motives and take that as a --
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president peterson: say that again. astroturf? >> right. that means they have asked people in. media to speak out against mr. hollis. it's worth reminding the board of mr. hollis' safety record at the time. he has passed safety inspections 100% of the time and is not a public hazard. we just ask that you allow him to remain in business to carry on, to continue carrying workers' compensation insurance, which he has and has had and ask what in the future m.t.a. will do to ensure that all taxi companies carry this insurance. that's all. i'm available for questions. commissioner fung: regardless of whether m.t.a. was prepared to negotiate with you or not, your brief also did not provide us with any information on some type of nexus to comments up made at the previous hearing. one was that a major taxi company was only fined $500 for
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not having workman's comp but your brief provided us with no information on this. >> bay cab and regents cab were both given 60 days to come into compliance and i actually got both of those cases on public records request but those are cases that i believe either one or both of those had come before the board of appeals also. and so bay cab was eventually fined $1,425 for a lengthy list of violations including not carrying workers compensation, regents can -- cab was simply given 60 caze to come into compliance, which it did, and those cases are easily enough researched. again, i acquired those through a public records request. commissioner fung: were both brought into compliance in 0 days? >> yes. -- 60 days?
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>> yes. commissioner garcia: you have characterized your client, mr. hollis as a victim of an uncaring bureaucracy as though he does not have unclean hands. he did violate some coats -- codes, did violate some practices of the taxi commission and i think you are problem aware of the fact that this board does not have the right to impose any sort of fine and by not having suggested a fine, which you are still able to do, you leave us with either the choice of doing nothing to your client or revoking his color scheme and/or his medallion. commissioner fung: or suspension. commissioner garcia: or suspension is available too. as for the suspension, for all practical purposes to suspend a color scheme is the same as revoking it in that if we were to revoke he could reapply within a year. at any rate, i think we're going to have public comment
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and while that's going on it might occur to you to suggest some form of penalty for your client. >> would you like that to happen now? or do you want me to wait? commissioner garcia: that's not up to me. there's no rebuttal, so yeah, now might abe good time if that pleases the other members of president commission. >> i think our position that's remained consistent throughout this, that if any penalty should be imposed in this matter it should not exceed past practice and past practice has will not limited to a $500 fine for such an offense or in the case of for instance bay cab which had a long, a license -- lengthy list of violations they were given a $1,425 fine. commissioner garcia: -- commissioner fung: those were for workman's comp? >> those were both workman's comp cases. commissioner fung: are there
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other cases with penalties for driving two vehicles at the same time when you are only suppose the to drive one? >> as far as i'm -- i know, m.t.a. doesn't have a real protocol for investigating these and it's our position that they have not proven their case in this instance. so it's 14, 25, and 25 cents? sorry. $1,425. and that would be for -- that's the past practice with respect to a different company on one year? or for what period was the worker's comp not paid? >> it was multiple years. several years. i don't have the case in front of me. but it was for multiple years of worker's compensation. but -- i mean, and various other violations as well, whereas regents taxi company, which only had the worker's compensation issue, were simply
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given 60 days to comply and there was no penalty attached. president peterson: how recent were those? >> 2007 and 2008. commissioner fung: have there been any cases where somebody lied at a commission hearing? and was there a penalty? >> not to my recollection. no. president peterson: ok. no other commissioner questions? commissioner hwang: i do have one question. up said one of the three arguments for the position you all are are taking is that the m.t.a. never reached out to you and put anything on the table. did you go to them and put anything on the table? >> yes. we went to them four or five different times during the
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course of this and yes. we had discussions. and they were unwilling to discuss anything other than rev okation of -- rev okation of at least the color scheme. commissioner hwang: did you talk penalties with them? >> we did not get into -- um, i'm not sure. and i'm not -- you know, i'm also sort of, i guess in the back of my mind very aware of restrictions about talking about settlement talks because -- commissioner hwang: right. i wasn't talking about numbers but just what was on the table. generalities. it sounds like rev okation was but not necessarily penalties. >> right. that's true. president peterson: is there anybody here who would like to speak under public comment? please step forward. you can line up there against that wall if you don't mind. the far side there.
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>> hello, i'm richard ibles, owner of emow cab. i barely noel mr. hollis and have no an i amosity to him. but mr. hollis is assuredly not alone in these transgressions. i can't help but wonder if mr. hollis said to himself, i shouldn't do this but if i get caught the board of appeals will probably reverse the m.t.a. as they have done for years, so i'll give it a shot. such is the message your decisions convey. i have not made a study of all your taxi decisions but it is clear you very often override the decisions and change the rules for individuals. i can't understand that unless the fact of the case are not borne out. i have heard board members say
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they don't want -- like to take anyone's livelihood away from them. and to use an old-fashioned phrase i find the board to be soft on crime and i would hope you would respect the honest members of the taxi community and i point out that upholding the m.t.a. will not prevent mr. hollis from driving a cab. thank you. president peterson: thank you. next speaker, please? >> good evening, my name is richard weiner. i work for yellow cab. i'm a medallion holder but come to you tonight as a former commissioner on the taxicab commission who sat for over two years. this violation is a flagrant, repeated, serious violation. there is almost no more serious violation than operating a vehicle without being permitted. it sounds a bit ludicrous, but mr. hollis doubled his fleet.
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i know his fleet was one and he ran two. that would be like yellow cab putting 500 extra cars on the street every day and keeping the gat he -- gate money. the worker' compensation is a serious issue but my concern is the public liability issue. did both cars have insurance? if these vehicles had hurt people or property, passengers, what kind of insurance was in place? second, the money involved is the money for renting the cab. the $400 a month for workman's comple enization insurance is -- compensation insurance is serious but the standard shift is twice a day. i heard yearier that the count was almost 100 violations of this. so there was a lot of money being made. again, you're sending a message to the honest cab companies that by letting him go or with
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not a serious suspension, why obey all these rules? this is the most serious rule. 9 only thing i can think worse is having a meter that would be twice as fast as would be legal or things like that. but this is a very, very serious offense and mr. hollis knew about it and did it repeatedly over the course of not weeks or months but years. thank you. commissioner fung: sir, has your company been penalized before? >> for running illegal cabs you mean, without a medallion? commissioner fung: no. penalized at all. >> i don't recall. i'm not the general manager. i'm the operations manager. i've been in the business almost 40 years but i can't think of us, being a violation of this nature. we have had vehicle violations we had to correct, no brake light, things of that nature but i don't think we've of been fined for something serious. commissioner fung: thank you.
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>> thank you. president peterson: next speaker? >> commiffers -- commissioners, jan heinz, president of national cab. i'm speaking to you today because of my concerns, not because of anyone else's, after reviewing the tape of the last board of appeals hearing i realized that the spokesperson of what mr. hollis is doing is something that perhaps the booed didn't appreciate. mr. malkin brought up the fact that no one else has ever been brought before the board with these particular penalties. i know of no other case where anyone has actually fab rakeated a medal medallion, painted it the color are for the year and changed the colors so it would conform and then used it for the duration that mr. hollis has. so i would ask you for a moment to imagine that a driver operating this phony medallion was involved in a serious
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accident where there was personal injury. there are no valid insurances on a fake medallion. what happens then? the drafere has no protection or recourse. the drivers -- injured parties have no protection or recourse exempt mr. hollis who walks away, leaving the rest r.b.i. us cleaning up the mess as best we can. do we really want to send the message that the max fine for putting an illegal cab out on the street with month medallion is $400 if you're caught? i don't think so. viewed in this light the city's request that he be stripped of his medallion and color scheme in addition to having fines levied is entirely reasonable. my own reference is that mr. hollis would be fined $5,000 for failure to carry workers' comp and another $5,000 for intentionally using an illegal medallion. further he should be stripped
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of his color scheme and barred from using any color scheme in his game. he will still have his personal medallion. industry will had be -- the industry will be on notice that this board considers this a serious he fens and this board supports the m.t.a. >> thank you. >> good evening. barry toronto here. i haven't been here in a long time and i was compelled to come here tonight not by any staff people at all. i was compelled because i had seen the prior hearing on television, excuse me, on the computer and i also was alerted by some colleagues that this case was coming up again and i felt compelled because i am a social justice person and i feel that there has to be some equity in how rules are applied and not having workers' comp, i
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worked privately with a medallion holder and we had to go through a workers' comp issue and it was expensive but there's an obligation to have it. not just because of the rules, because it's the right thing to do. the other part of it is having another medallion on the street which other prior speak sers have already mentioned, can you imagine if not having the insurance on it and how many fares, how many fares other drivers could not get, money out of their pockets because somebody with an illegal medallion took that fare from them? that is not right. and the the thing is, the representative of this particular medallion holder has been aware of these type of situations in her prior position with the city. i heard your commissioner garcia's comments during the hear. the issue is the knowledge of knowing these prior indiscretions and then
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allowing, representing him and the thing is m.t.a. is now wanting to get a handle on this by putting for -- more teeth into the enforcement by not letting this go. there was a case of 49er cab who lost his color scheme for far less transgressions, far less. they let him drive still, using his medallion, let him drive still and fine him enough to get the message out there don't do this again. thank you. president peterson: thank you. next speaker? >> my name is mary maguire and i'm a former taxi commissioner. i'd like to echo the statements of former commissioner richard weiner. we served together on the commission and this insurance issue is very serious. i watched the video. i'm flabbergasted by some of the statements that have been made. first of all, no fine like this
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has ever been levied against anyone? they levied a fine of $600,000 against aaron king simply because he didn't drive his own medallion. he was at yellow cab and driving another medallion. president peterson: $650,000. i believe it may have come here to appeal. bay and regents cab, 60 days, to come into compliance and a $1,000 fine. i remember the director at the time bringing this up to me and oh, she nailed him. nailed bay cab. $1,000 fine for something so serious? it's very strange. i would like to ask who determined this fine. was it she? was it the hearing officer? i would be certain she would have some influence over the hearing officer's fine. about the worker's comp i don't know of any regulation that has a gate system for worker's comp
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and i fought for years to get worker's comp for drivers. i'm really outraged on this and if you don't act on this you are sending a very bad message. like they said, that m.t.a. has no teeth the. i mean i have kaiser and when you go to kaiser the first thing they're going to ask is were you injured on the job and if you were they don't want to treat you. if you don't have worker's comp you're caught in the middle. it's a very serious issue. the fact that this is retaliatory? i don't know. you could ask jim gillespie about that. president peterson: thank you. any other members of the public who wish to speak on this item? seeing none, then, commissioners, the matter is submitted.
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would anyone like to start? commissioner fung: i'll start but i'm not sure where i'm going to go with this yet. the directions that we posed was to actually provide us with a better understanding of what has occurred previously but also what is not necessarily precedent-setting but to give us an understanding of what has occurred. there was po no comments made by any board member here that, as to whether we accepted all the arguments and accusations one way or another. the -- there's no doubt in my
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mind and it hasn't been disputed that workman's comp was not procured for a certain period of time. one may be able to argue the exact period of time but we know that it was a substantial length of time. it was not disputed that a statement was made at the commission, taxi commission hearing and there -- therefore was, can be considered lying under those particular presentation rules. the third issue that related to the simultaneous use and that's the word used by the department, i would use slightly a different word. when i went through all the records that -- and the instances that they detailed out, yes, it was the same day. many of them had a significant