Prediction: Coalition Against Big Taxi (CAB) Causes Cartel Collapse

Born in 1937, the Big Taxi Cartel in New York, Chicago and Boston has created one of the most morally bankrupt industries in the country.

Big Taxi has benefitted from decades of darkness protecting unethical business practices resulting from their monopolistic stranglehold on big city politicians, riders and drivers.

Born in 2009, Uber’s launch and relentless competition has ripped off Big Taxi’s scab and revealed its rot.

As of 2015, Uber has won the battle for control of the For Hire Vehicle (FHV) market.

Uber is not the Big Fish in the ocean.

UBER IS THE OCEAN.

Many blame Uber for the plight of cabbies driving medallion taxis. Uber is not the problem. The problem is Big Taxi’s medallion system. The solution is not hoping that Uber will magically disappear in New York, Chicago and Boston by waving a regulatory magic wand.

The solution for the plight of cabbies driving medallion taxis is to abolish the medallion system NOW.

Uber has many, many friends and many, many opponents.

However, how many of either count themselves among the Friends of Big Taxi?

In the world created by Uber, over 99% of taxi industry stakeholders have many, many reasons to be Big Taxi Opponents.

Despite this, many remain unclear how the Boston taxi industry works.

The Big Taxi Cartel has CONTROLLED the taxi industry for their own benefit, not for the benefit of the thousands of industry stakeholders.

Often known as “the fleets”, Big Taxi medallion owners in Boston only include the 18 individuals who own 10 or more medallions. They are only 2% of all Boston medallion owners.

What about the remaining 98% of medallion owners and the shift drivers who don’t own medallions?

The OTHER 710 Boston medallion owners are NOT Friends of the Big Taxi Cartel.

453 owner-operators working 12 hours a day struggle behind the wheel to make their medallion payments. Their New American Dream is dying.

They  are not Friends of Big Taxi.

257 owners of small taxi businesses with between 2 and 9 medallions each possess total medallion assets below market value and crippling negative cash flow.

They  are not Friends of Big Taxi.

6,800 licensed shift drivers in Boston making less than a $15 living wage under horrible working conditions have no power.

They  are not Friends of Big Taxi.

They are all Big Taxi Victims.

Effective control of victims is enforced by Big Taxi’s stranglehold on every angle of the taxi industry. In many cases, Friends of Big Taxi play multiple roles creating flagrant conflicts of interest.

Friends of Big Taxi in Boston include, but are definitely not limited to

  • Owners of ten or more medallions
    • Eddie Tutunjian of Boston Cab
    • Robert Raimondi and the Ilacqua family of the Tudor Garage
    • George Summers of USA Taxi
    • Erminio Gargano
  • Institutional medallion lenders
    • Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial
    • Alvin Murstein, chairman and CEO of Medallion Financial
    • Alec Raberov, manager of Medallion Financial’s Boston office
    • Joel Slomon, president of Progressive Credit Union
    • Lew Snapper, manager of Progressive Credit Union’s Boston office
    • David “Duddie” Massad, chairman, Commerce Bank & Trust of Worcester, MA
    • Walter Rabin, president and CEO of Signature Financial, a subsidiary of Signature Bank
    • John Cetta, Director of Taxi Medallion Finance of Signature Financial, a subsidiary of Signature Bank
    • Paul Perrault, president and CEO of Brookline Bank.
    • William Mackenzie, senior vice president for commercial lending of Brookline Bank
    • Timothy Steiner, vice president for commercial lending of Brookline Bank
    • In addition to Medallion Financial, Progressive Credit Union, Commerce Bank, Brookline Bank and Signature Bank other institutional medallion lenders active in New York, Chicago and/or Boston include:
      • Banco Popular
      • BankUnited
      • Capital One
      • ConnectOne
      • LOMTO Credit Union
      • Melrose Credit Union
      • Montauk Credit Union
      • New York Community Bank
      • Valley National Bank
  • Hard money lenders
    • James Cummings, Julie Rainier Cummings and Ronald Rainer of Concept Capital Corporation and Tis We Own Ting, Ltd
    • Robert Wallace of Wallace Capital
    • Eddie Tutunjian of EJT Management, Inc.
  • Regulators
    • Lt. Tom Lema, head of the Hackney Carriage Unit of the Boston Police Department who continues to refuse to release 2015 medallion transfer information
    • Associates of Mark Cohen, former head of the Hackney Carriage Unit of the Boston Police Department from 1985 to 2013
  • Owners of Boston’s radio associations
    • Felix Shneur of Metro Cab (527 taxis)
    • Eddie Tutunjian of the Boston Cab Radio Association (473 taxis)
    • Associates of the Independent Taxi Operator Association (ITOA), including Robert Raimondi and George Summers (303 taxis)
    • John Ford and Tiffany Mitchell of City Cab and Top Cab Dispatch (426 taxis)
    • 617-TAXI CAB (57 taxis),  formerly owned by Gary Lavitman. Current owner unknown.
    • Timothy J. Keohane of East Boston Tunnel Taxi (4 taxis)
  • Well-known politicians and community leaders
    • Politicians solicit campaign funds, pass legislation and pressure regulators at the municipal and state levels to create new regulations and selectively enforce existing regulations
    • Mario Cuomo was and Lowell Weicker is on the board of Medallion Financial. Andrew Cuomo continues to accept campaign donations from Medallion’s president Andrew Cuomo
    • Once identified in Boston, I’m calling on these politicians, in and out of office, to repudiate Big Taxi donations made over past decades
    • Instead these funds should be donated to organizations restoring the finances and dignity of small medallion owners and the 6,800 licensed shift drivers described by The Boston Globe as “indentured servants”
  • Owners of garages
    • Specializing in providing medallion taxi’s leasing, vehicle maintenance, towing and fueling
    • Eddie Tutunjian of Kilmarnock Street Garage
    • Robert Raimondi and the Ilacqua family, owners of the Tudor Garage
  • Medallion brokers
    • Gary Lavitman
    • Lew Snapper
    • Unlike New York, there are only a handful in Boston. Nearly all have multiple roles
  • Attorneys
    • Peter and Robert Kline of Kline and Sanders have a near monopoly on representing medallion owners. Their office is the location for nearly all taxi medallion auctions
  • Auction firms
    • Michael and Paul Saperstein of Paul E. Saperstein Co.(PESCO) have a near monopoly on taxi medallion auctions
  • Insurance brokers
    • Brian and Mark Boucher, owners of Lighthouse Insurance
    • Raphael Ophir, Senior Portfolio Manager of Lighthouse Insurance. In 2009, Ophir created the “Boston Taxi Owners Association (BTOA)”, an organization without members solely formed to stop the hybrid taxi requirement
    • Gary, Boris and Lena Voronov of Citywide Insurance Agency
  • Lobbyists
    • Stephen Regan spokesman for the Massachusetts Regional Taxi Advocacy Group (MRTA)
    • Rick Szilagyi, CEO of the New England Livery Association

Many of these Friends of Big Taxi can change their stance.

For example,  Lew Snapper is now the manager of Progressive Credit Union’s Boston office. However at 75 years old, including years behind the wheel, he knows the taxi industry at all levels over decades.

Lew has spoken to me about the currently ignored plight of small medallion borrowers. Lew would be an ideal candidate to help borrowers in the workout process to best preserve their livelihood.

Can the Big Tax Cartel Be Crushed?

I propose a solution for Boston.

Whether we are Uber Supporters or Uber Opponents, please support the

Coalition Against Big Taxi (CAB)

The time has come for the Big Taxi Takedown.

I’m using this forum to identify and recruit CAB supporters. CAB supporters may at their own choice be identified publicly or remain anonymous. No contribution of time or money is required.

Inclusion in the content below does not imply any of these industry stakeholders have agreed to become CAB supporters.

Subject to feedback from future supporters, CAB’s three part strategy is:

  • Immediately implement a unilateral Deferment Plan of all repayment of principal and interest until January 1, 2017 by Medallion Financial’s Boston borrowers
    • The Deferment Plan is unlike the forbearance agreements and other extend-and-pretend schemes currently offered to distressed medallion borrowers.
    • During the deferment period, not only will there be no principal and interest payments, NONE of these deferred principal and interest payments will be added to the principal balance owed Medallion Financial.
    • Together, 38 individual borrowers collectively owe Medallion $26.7 million.
    • 97% of their total loan value is secured by collateral worth less than the loans
    • During the deferment period ending on January 1, 2017, CAB supporters will assist Medallion Financial’s borrowers to reach a final settlement of all medallion loans outstanding while allowing borrowers who currently own medallions to continue operating with all of the protections medallions grant them.
    • There will be no foreclosures allowed during the deferment period.
    • There will be no action by the City of Boston to seize these medallions during the deferment period.
    • During the deferment period, all proposed taxi reform legislation must be signed into law as currently drafted.
  • Assist in the founding of New American Taxi, a new taxi business that will successfully compete against the “fleets”, the 18 individual Big Taxi medallion owners who own ten or more medallions.
    • Due to the massive defection rate of riders and passengers to Uber, the optimal number of regulated Boston taxis must be significantly reduced from the current total of 1,825
    • The regulatory benefits and requirements for the reduced number of regulated taxi permits must be radically different than the onerous rules of the current medallion system.
    • A 60% defection rate of riders and drivers from Boston medallion taxis to Uber indicates this optimal number should require a maximum of 700 regulated taxi permits
    • The goal of New American Taxi is to create a new taxi company in which all or almost all of these 700 permits are owned by New American Taxi team members
    • It is logical for these 700 permits to be held by the current 710 small medallion owners in Boston, including all owner operators and all owners of small taxi businesses who currently own between two and nine medallions each
    • The goal of New American Taxi is to seize 100% of the market share now held by Big Taxi fleets owned by individuals who currently own ten or more medallions each
    • The goal is to force the bankruptcy and/or exit from the taxi industry of all 18 individuals and their companies
    • New American Taxi may be organized using a traditional corporate ownership structure or a unionized, worker owned taxi cooperative in Boston
    • The USW Boston Taxi Drivers Association (BTDA) has been working on creating a taxi coop
    • Work with Donna Blythe-Shaw, representative of the BTDA. Donna and I have testified at several hearings on opposite sides of the Uber controversy. I will do whatever it takes to join forces with her against Big Taxi
    • Work with Chando Souffrant, the most passionate public advocate for BTDA members
    • As a matter of public record, Chando owes Medallion Financial $1,468,000
    • Focus primarily on street hail and cab stand market, as Uber increases share of pre-arranged rides.
    • Explore the opportunity for a massive reform of how Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) are deployed in Boston. One hundred of the 1825 medallions in Boston are specifically designated as WAVs.
    • We will work with Roger Teal on the economics of New American Taxi before and after implementation
    • For those skeptical of unions
      • Important to understand unions’ role with taxi drivers in traditional and coop situations
      • In addition to traditional collective bargaining, unions assist taxi drivers with lobbying, improving working conditions and other activities taking advantage of the unique strengths of unions
      • This role is the future for unions that want to remain relevant in many 21st century industries
    • All efforts will be closely coordinated with Chris Mackin, president of Ownership Associates, David Hammer, executive director of the ICA Group and Melissa Hoover, executive director of Democracy at Work. They are already far along on a plan with the BTDA
    • The Boston taxi coop can be built on experience
      • Syed Hussain of the Alexandria Union Cab Cooperative with 227 driver/owners
      • Abdi Buni of the Union Taxi Cooperative of Denver with 262 driver/owners
      • Paul Bittorf, chief executive of Union Cab of Madison Cooperative with 230 active or probationary members and 65 cabs
  • Fund a campaign to create an electronic publication titled New American Profiles: Taxi Drivers
    • 1000 word profiles and photos of all 710 current Boston medallion owner operators and owners of small taxi businesses who currently own between two and nine medallions each
    • We’ll write more profiles the more money we raise
    • We’ll begin with the 38 Medallion Financial borrowers
    • The search for a personal historian to lead the project has begun
    • Rollout will be accelerated by working with students from the Immigrant Integration Lab of the Boston College School of Social Work. Westy Egmont leads the Lab. I worked with Westy for ten years while on the board of the International Institute of New England, the leading agency for refugee resettlement
    • As the project rolls forward each of the 1,825 numbered Boston medallions can be traced back to profile the experiences of owners and shift drivers reaching back to previous waves of immigrants
    • Evidence of predatory lending, securities fraud and other criminal activities will be uncovered and documented
    • As funding allows, we will look back twenty years to January 1, 1996
    • Information uncovered will be used to force all Big Taxi players to make payments to a Big Taxi Reparations Fund
    • The goal is to clawback 100% of ill-gotten gains plus interest by 100% of Big Taxi players who’ve victimized all categories of taxi industry stakeholders over the past twenty years
    • Big Taxi players will pay into the Reparations Fund due to court order, media pressure, direct action by CAB supporters and voluntary payments made after reorienting their moral compasses
    • CAB will assist each Big Taxi victim in New York, Chicago and Boston to rigorously and consistently document the filing of claims with the Reparations Fund
    • Kenneth Feinberg will be recruited to administer the multi-billion Reparations Fund. Born in Brockton, MA, Feinberg was appointed Special Master of the U.S. government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and served as the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation.  Feinberg also served as the government-appointed administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund and was appointed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to administer the One Fund—the victim assistance fund established in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings
    • Profiles will include the positive and negative aspects of participating in the medallion industry both before and after Uber’s entry
    • However, the emphasis will be on profiling members of our immigrant communities pursuing the New American Dream.

I’ve begun the process of raising money for the CAB effort. Depending on funds raised, together we can move forward on one or more of the three paths above.

Big Taxi Takedown campaigns can be successful in New York, Chicago and Boston attacking many, many different entry points into Big Taxi’s soft tissue.

We can envision many different campaigns to launch many different strategies focused on many different entry points in all three cities.

Let’s start in Boston with these three paths.

Death by a thousand entry points will continue until only fools will try to breath life into Big Taxi’s corpse.

Yet why prolong the persecution of Big Taxi Victims?

Together we can accelerate the day of Big Taxi’s last stagger.

Who are Big Taxi Opponents in Boston?

  • Democrats and radical progressives fighting for social justice
  • Republicans and radical libertarians fighting for economic freedom
  • 453 owner operators
  • 257 owners of small taxi businesses with between 2 and 9 medallions each
  • 6,800 licensed shift drivers
  • USW Boston Taxi Drivers Association (BTDA)
  • Advocates for immigrants
  • Voters in the City of Boston
  • Uber riders
  • Taxi passengers
  • Stockholders of publicly held medallion lenders

Many of you who’ve just read this are now interested in accelerating Big Taxi’s death.

Support the Coalition Against Big Taxi (CAB).

I’m available 24/7 to discuss Big Taxi Takedowns in New York, Chicago and Boston.

Please contact me at gordongossage@gmail.com or 617.694.1624

My disclosure update as of January 30, 2016 is here.

 

 

 

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3 Responses to Prediction: Coalition Against Big Taxi (CAB) Causes Cartel Collapse

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