Taking on the Big Issues
You see, it turns out that the oh-so-sensitive people of Seattle are complaining that cab drivers sometimes talk on their cell phones when they have a fare. As one person said, "I think it's annoying."
Oh, cry me a river! Have you ever tried to talk to a stranger in Seattle? The people of Seattle are the most standoffish people I've encountered anywhere. I hardly think anyone is missing out on opportunities to engage in the multi-cultural experience of conversing with a Somali because he is on his cell phone.
As usual, the urge to control is wrapped in the mantra of "public safety." I haven't seen a single report of a taxi driver being involved in an accident because he was talking on his cell phone. So, is this another example of the Seattle Pre-Crime unit at work? Is the Seattle Silly Council really a bunch of mutants that go to the basement of city hall, soak themselves in warm goo, and predict the future?
The supposedly "strong man" Mayor and the Seattle Silly Council might want take up some larger issues. If they are worried about taxi service, how about the fact that there is only one taxi company serving the airport? If there were some competition, there would be better customer service. How is it that there is a monopoly on airport taxi service, anyway? Jim Compton seemed happy enough to get free table dances in exchange for special permitting for a strip bar; is he also getting something special from the taxi company who has a protected monopoly at the airport?
I know this is a hopeless endeavor, but if our mothers in Seattle government really want to do something significant, they might consider:
1) Working with Sound Transit with the objective of combining Seattle Monorail with Light Rail in order to create one system. Why? Because it would create economies of scale, both in purchasing and in operations. Because there would be one coordinated system for commuters. Because federal and state assistance could be spread over a larger system instead of forcing car owners in Seattle to carry the burden on there own.
The kicker is that Seattle Monorail will never be built under the current arrangement. It simply does not have enough funds even though taxes for SMP are way over the top. It will have even less funds in the future than predicted, because apparently nobody involved has taken an Econ 101 course. Raise the price of something and people will consume less. Make owning a car more expensive, and people will buy cheaper cars, drive their old cars longer, and have have fewer cars.
2) Focus on fixing at least one major road problem, and only one at a time. Every project talked about is some huge program, such as replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, that will take years and doesn't increase highway capacity, eliminate a bottleneck, or make Seattle's notoriously maze-like roads easier to navigate. For example, getting in and out of downtown, and making your way around downtown, is a huge mess. The city attempts to solve the problem with signs to I-5 that show people the long way to get there. That's pretty dumb. There should be more exits and entrances from I-5 to downtown. It doesn't help traffic congestion simply to push it from I-5 to downtown streets.
3) Negotiate FOR REAL with Comcast and other cable TV companies serving Seattle. If you are going to insist on being a regulator, why not use that power to get a better deal for Seattle?
I had a house in another state until the middle of last year (I am a long-time resident of Seattle though). In that other state, I had HDTV digital cable TV, with premium channels, and broadband Internet access, all for $65 per month. In Seattle, I pay well over $90 for analog cable TV, no premium channels, and broadband Internet access. No one can tell me that it is more expensive to serve me in Seattle than it was in that other city! The difference is that Seattle doesn't negotiate worth a damn.
4) Demand that King County give a full accounting of the election mess we experienced this year. Show you care about democracy. I am sure you would have done so if Rossi had won the third recount.
5) Find a solution to the Northgate mess without being so stupid. That little creek has been running under the parking lot there for over 50 years and the sky has not fallen. If you want a lovely, scenic stream, buy the land and create it yourself. I see plenty of Seattle Parks workers lounging around in various parks. It would give them something to do.
I could go on, but I don't want to tilt at windmills all day. However, I will wrap up with this:
Until you get some gonads and start taking on the larger problems, leave the taxi drivers alone!