Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Demonstration Against

Garage Greed!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Midtown Garage

42-50 24th Street (Queens)

(N/Q to Queensboro Plaza;7/E/M to Court Square)

Since the 2004 fare raise, garages have raised our leases and watched our incomes plummet while their medallion is now valued at $1 million dollars. When gas prices soared, they did nothing to share the burden. When the MTA tax cut our tips and smaller trips, they did nothing to share the burden. When credit card fares started taking over and cutting our incomes, they gladly took the 5% surcharge.

Now, after the TLC actually did the right thing and said the lease cap includes all taxes, fees and surcharges, including the sales tax - they paid millions of dollars to sue us in state court for $4.77 per shift. They have million dollar lawyers, million dollar lobbyists, but can't spare a lousy $4.77 from us. For drivers, it's a loss of 5% in their income when there is hardly anything left to lose.


The New York State Court of Appeals made a devastating ruling on Thursday, December 15th, stating that garages can charge us sales tax (now at $4.77 per shift) above the TLC's lease caps. The garages, represented by Midtown Garage Owner Ron Sherman and his Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade (MTBOT), sued the city when the TLC passed a rule banning them from the pass-along in 2009. They lost. The TLC would have to redo their rulemaking process in order to change this.

Please know that the court did not say that the TLC does not have the power to stop the garages. The court only said that the TLC has to follow a different rulemaking process than they did. The TLC has the power. And we will organize to make them use it. The garages don't have to add the tax above the lease cap. They are
choosing to charge us more. Garages did not even wait 24 hours. They started charging immediately, even to day drivers who were mid-shift when the ruling came out.
In Solidarity,

Bhairavi Desai

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Minuses and Pluses

A question for the state government: What's with this new "Sales Tax" ? As of a few shifts ago taxi drivers have been paying $4.75 more per shift to lease a cab. I thought the odds you (and other entities who want a slice of our pathetic little pie) stacked against our livelihoods couldn't get any higher. The management at my garage could not answer why it's even called a Sales Tax. Thanks for bursting my sensibility bubble. Passengers have no idea about this. They wouldn't know how much we paid in the first place. Let alone how the whole taxi system works for drivers. I invite anyone to come along for part or all of a shift, front seat, like a copilot, and see for yourself. Or at least just click on the pic to enlarge the evidence.

Next question goes out to the credit card technology folks. Why does the passenger screen pop a "Thank You" in the middle of a transaction, before it's authorized? Passengers often mistakenly believe it means they've already been charged, whether they're sober or drunk. They look at me and respond as if I'm a lying crook when I tell them my screen says "swipe again" or "card error" or "declined" or "not approved." Please prevent the back screen from thanking them prematurely. Thank you.

A shout out to Amadou, 9M86's steady night driver, for always making my shift start full blast with Senegalese talk radio on 930 am, soon as I turn the ignition. I love listening to that language, though I don't understand. A minute later I'm flushed with frustration and hooking up my FM transmitter on 95.1 to treat my passengers to my own homemade radio station of 1400 mp3 hymns of every imaginable culture and genre.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Land of 573 Hills

I do take heed of Albert Einstein's words:"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Anyone who reads too much and uses their own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." However, I am at the point in my life when I've decided to finally just tackle the must-try-reading list of books I've had rotting idle on my shelf (and at the library), so that I may keep only a few favorites for reference and loan-outs, while finding new homes for the remaining bulk. All part of the becoming-less-materialistically-anchored life path.

This particular one was thick like an encyclopedia, but juicy enough to finish in a few days. Its gist is that Manhattan has always been an extremely unique island. Before 1609 it was to nature what it is to humanity today: the anomalous zenith of diversity. Just as its multiethnic mosaic dwarfs that of any other city on Earth, it was at one point home to a more juxtaposed variety of ecosystems than all its surrounding regions combined. An archipelago in an estuary and that's just the beginning. An entire chapter is dedicated to the Lenape, the oldest of Algonquin tribal cultures. Stewards of New York before Europeans and urbanization came along.

I learned of our complex indebtedness to soil, our planet's living skin. That our climate requires 40 years to form 1 cm of it. Inky Schist, Granitic Pegmatite, Granodiorite, and anthropogenic (garbage) being my favorite names for some of the 87 different kinds that exist in the modern city, out of 17 originally. I discovered the words Onomastics, Toponymy, and Bathymetry.... all right up my geo-linguistic alley. The book inspired me to go check out Cold Spring at Inwood Hill, the most preserved stretch of wild nature left on the island, and the supposedly still bubbling, original Tanner’s Spring in what is now Central Park near W82. Ilearned that in 1640 there was a merchants ordinance against reckless sledding, inspiring me to borrow garbage lids next time snow accumulates and get a bit reckless at Forest Park, the hilly wilderness behind my Queens neighborhood.

Favorite quote from the book: "One of the main wonders of NY is her people. Opinionated, quick with a word, insistent on getting ahead, generous in a pinch, New Yorkers are, nearly to the last individual, a tremendously alive bunch. It seems impossible to live in NY and be boring, or be bored- there is always someone to irritate, titillate, or stimulate you into action. Love it or hate it (arguments can be fairly made on either side), NY culture is a mind-altering experience. It can be a bit much, but when it works, it works like nothing else to please the human animal. That NY culture is so vibrant today sometimes obliterates the fact that there are other ways to please the human animal. Before the whole party got started in 1609, there was another way, equally distinctive, for people to live on Manhattan."

"If the entire world lived the way Americans do today, it would take 4 planet Earths to supply the global population’s resource requirements.

Regurgitational Fragments:

"The U.S. Gov’t. estimates that the off-shore wind-power capacity of the US is in itself sufficient to supply electricity for the entire nation. In an average year NYC has 232 sunny days (nationwide average is 212). Solar shingles collect energy as plants do. New Yorkers use 2/3 the energy per person as Americans. Over 1/3 of mass transit trips made daily in the US are in NYC. The population of Seattle can be found in our transit system on a busy evening rush. Average New Yorker produces 3/10 the carbon dioxide annually as an average American. 100 year experiment concludes cars don’t work that well in cities.

How much pain can we suffer before we apply ourselves to tasks?

Plan of Action:

Reintroduce the street car (trolley), use subways to haul nonhuman cargo,implement pedicabs (cargo trikes) to deliver it locally. Unstructured outdoor play is exactly what helps kids learn to love nature in the deepest recesses of their hearts. It is the biota that we love the most.

New Jersey, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley must return to Agrarian ways. Suburban sprawl must be replaced with complex, dense cities and agro-belts that extend into the city. Organize farms cooperatively, not corporately. We will of course produce a few more apples and potatoes than needed and trade them, along with our art, science, business, and savvy, for sustainable coffee shipped into a revitalized harbor. We must have our coffee. We will still live on an archipelago in an estuary after all, on islands narrowed by rising tide. A businesswoman will be able to fly-fish in Minetta Water, downstreet from office fall evenings before heading out to opera or the baseball game. New Yorkers in 2409 will still be loud, direct, and pushy, but warm, generous, and involved in world happenings."

Last (undigested) Morsels: Adjudicating on the fly. Avenues 100 ft wide interlaced with 155 streets (60 ft across).Lenape: “the real people” (the ancient ones). Lenapehoking (Land of the Lenape).Mesingholikan (deity for negotiating a justified hunt). Sachem (tribal chief). Intimately familiar with all surroundings. Spirit guardianship. Parochial but profound sense of community. Extrapolations (of conditions for people). Historiographies. A WILLINGNESS TO BE SURPRISED. Don’t take yourself too seriously (nor too unseriously). Play the game, but don’t forget it’s only that. Maximum Entropy Algorithm. Carry respect and conscience as true wealth. Global ecological economy. Connected by a thousand invisible cords.