Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

#Ubergate: New York City Taxi And Limo Commission knows that ehail apps like Hailo and Uber pose a safety threat and fly in the face of The Mayor's Vision Zero- are the job offers just too much?

This post was published on October 22, 2014. Since then TLC chairman David Yassky has been hired by Lyft. His deputy Ashwini Chhabra is working for Uber. Matthew Wing, Governor Cuomo's Press Secretary now is on the Uber payroll, as is President Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe. Quite a steamroller these app assassins have put together. A mere pedestrian has no right that can be defended to be safe from app distracted drivers in the face of high power amoral campaigners like these.
Updated 5/17/2015

Let me start here with a story about a fare I had last Friday night. I was taking this lady cross town on 45th Street between Lexington and Madison underneath the Park Avenue overpass. It was dark. Suddenly as if out of nowhere a woman who was dressed in black with an iphone in her ear stepped in front of me, having come from behind a parked Post Office truck. I hit the breaks hard and just missed knocking her down by less than a foot. She stopped, looked straight at me and flipped me the bird.

My passenger was so outraged she lowered her window and shouted "why don't you get off your phone?! To which, in reply, the pedestrian flipped a second bird.

I remarked to my passenger "she's lucky I was not taking a call on a Uber app.'

She would have been hurt or dead - and if a famous person was on the scene I would have become a television personality. Lucky then I've been campaigning against these e hail apps for being the public safety hazards that they are for over a year now.

Ehail apps have been legal provisionally under a pilot program for over a year now. Last December the pilot program was supposed to expire and then Commission Chairman David Yassky was set to end the pilot program but he suddenly, surprisingly and unexplainedly backed off. I believe that my written testimony against the approval- testimony that ought to remain on the record -  caused Yassky's sudden jamming of the breaks.

The Guardian Online, a world class newspaper, had published a piece that I wrote that exposed these apps for the public safety threat they are.

This article gave the problem enough credibility to back the TLC off their plan to end the pilot program and name the ehail apps a success.

On Thursday the New York Times reported that the TLC was passing a rule change that would effectively ban drivers from using two or more of the apps at the same time. This constitutes a second confession that that the TLC is awsre of a safety issue with the driver apps. The fact is though you would discover deep into the article that there is no ban. Uber has been urging livery and black car drivers to sign with them while not dropping their current base. The new rule would permit bases to prohibit this practice. It also would require the ehail companies like Uber to file records of all their drivers' trips. Now, if collated with reported accidents these records  might harm the ehail app entrepeneurs world wide. No wonder they vehemently oppose the new rule! 

The new rule does not apply at all to yellow street hail taxi drivers, some of  whom use two and even three of these apps. Would the TLC or any taxi regulator anywhere on earth claim that this situation is alright? What do you say, Stu Loeser, David Yassky, Ydanis Rodriguez, Ashwini Chhabra, Bill deBlasio, 
 is it a good idea to allow taxis onto the streets with three different screens mounted on the dashboard?

Three ranking recent TLC executives Ashwini Chhabra, Stu Loeser and former Chairman David Yassky now are employed by Uber and Lyft.

 The Department of Investigation is known to be on the Chhabra case. Hopefully they'll all go down with their new employers.
Updated 5/17/15 - It's time for me to file a freedom of information request about Chhabra.

If you want to prevent unnecessary traffic injuries, death and property damage and want to strke a blow against government corruption  please share, share share this item.
#lyftgate #Yasskygate

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This blog is played out Do.or say something weird. outrageous. deep, whatever in a NY taxi.

It used to get a lot more hits and page views. I think I have to rethink what I am doing here.

I will be gearing it to the lighter side of life, as well as the odd, the unusual and the personal - that is passenger I put. If you want to be featured doing or saying something weird, funny, outrageous or scandalous get back to me. You can email me at ecsredeye at gmail dot com. If you qualify I'll meet you in a NYC Taxi and you will do your thing on video in on or near the taxi. If you wish you may be anonymous or you may have contact info made public as you new blogspot.commy new blog #redeyetaxi

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Big Mac for 33 cents!?!? Really.

That`s right.  A foreign tourist can buy a Big Mac - the real deal for 33 cents in Venezuela today.
This is the why and how:
Last month the Mac Donald's franchise holder Arcos Dorados Holdings Inc agreed with the populist government to cut the price of the Big Mac Combo,  a burger and a soft drink to 73 bolivares.  Under the multi  tiered exchange system that is eleven dollars using  the figure of 6.3 bolivares to the dollar which is the rate wages and salaries are officially valuated at. Today you tourist dollar was worth 177 bolivares at any bank.  That puts the Big Mac Combo at 42 cents, a real bargain.  But if you came into Venezuela by way of Cucuta Colombia you could have exchanged your dollar for Colombian pesos and then did pesos for bolivares and got 200 bolivares making you burger and coke cost 37 cents
The dangerous and illegal market would return 222 boliivares if you don't mind risking jail, kidnapping or worse.  That's how you`d get the very cheapest burger.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I know about cops in Venezuela and how they compare with US cops

In Venezuela cops get No Respect. They are murdered at a rate of nearly one a day. Their salaries are miniscule. Using the legal Simadi dollar / bolivar exchange rate bolivar Their 7000 per month salary works out to around $ 41 a month.

Back in the good old days, last November, a dollar fetched 100 bolivars meaning the cop made all of $ 70 a month. Four cops stopped me, my wife and two friends at an anti contraband roadblock. They said we could not proceed because I could not prove that I have been vaccinated against yellow fever. They allowed that 1,000 bolivares would see me clear. Our friends happen to be a cab driver and a truck driver both of whom have been down this road many times. They bargained the cops down to 600 bolivars, six black market dollars at the time and we where on our way.

Today the new legal Simadi-foreivn exchange a dollar fetched 172 bolivars. On the sidewalk dangerous exchange a dollar fetched 217 bolivars. But I digress. The subject of this post is cops.
Venezuelans not only do not put them on pedestals, downright They don`t  care about or respect them . Criminals kill them for their guns, cars, telephones and the public and media do not react.

If police are not safe the public can not be safe either.

I remember watching on TV President Maduro making a speech about the problem of smuggling (contraband) in front of an audience of loyalists. Maduro threatened to lock up crooked cops involved in smuggling. The audience went crazy applauding. I saw Carmen Melendez defense minister addressing a graduation of police cadets. She told them not to shake people down in front of their children lest the children grow up hating cops. I tried to find this on YouTube but I had no luck.

So, a couple of days ago near a right wing typically violent anti-government protest a cop shot a fourteen year old boy in the head with rubber buckshot from a shotgun. The boy apparently not only had nothing to do with the violence, he had begged the cop not to murder him.

In the United States the cop would have been on the phone to his union representatives to get coached on what to say about the death. Most likely the cop would claim to have been in fear for his life and safely. He then might be returned to duty or get a paid vacation pending a review of the case by his friends. The cop might be exonerated, not even to stand trial. Not in Venezuela! The cop who shot that boy is in jail facing murder and other felony charges.

The President himself went on TV to announce the criminal charges .

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Venezuela is a steal for budget minded travel

One of the few places on earth Where your dollar is strong. In Spite of the political troubles the place is beautiful and the people are friendly.
Venezuelatuyo Is where to find lovely economical places to stay.
They`ve got beaches, mountains, nightlife, desert, deep sea fishing even skiing.

Fourteen year old boy shot by cop during anti government demonstration in Venezuela

Venezuelan 14-year-old shot dead during anti-government protest
Before we all go running to rescue Venezuela in the name of humor rights  let`s take a collective deep breath and count  to ten.
A fourteen year old boy who was involved in a confrontation between hooded and bandana wearing youths and police in San Cristobal Venezuela was shot and killed. 
Lots of people are upset and are using this unhappy incident to characterize Venezuela as a dictatorship whose people need rescuing.
Venezuela is in a political gridlock caught in an economic crisis.  It is also caught between an unpopular president and an even more unpopular opposition.
One reason the opposition is so unpopular is the wave of violent protests it unleashed a year ago
These protests were frankly called to force President Maduro to resign even though there is a peaceful and legal way to do this.
The demonstration in San Cristobal was relatively small  but quite aggressive true to form.
The ruling party,  the Venezuelans United Socialise Party has condemned the shooting as has the federal ombudsman
The suspect cop is locked up.  The incident is being investigated.  Let the law do its job.  Cops in Venezuela do not enjoy impunity.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How will the stalemate end in Venezuela?,

Venezuela is in a jam of a situation. Inflation is supposedly at 67% though it is acknowledged that food inflation is around 90+%. When I got to Venezuela a carton of eighteen eggs went for 183 bolivares. At the beginning of February I saw a carton of eggs at 283 bolivares. When I got to Venezuela in early November 93 bolivares bought one Yankee dollar on the illegal parallel market. A week later it was 100:1, soon thereafter it was 120:1, a week later around 150:1, ten days later 180:1 or so. Today it's around 170/1 in Cucuta, Colombia and on the new restricted and regulated  market and supposedly  190/1 on the totally illegal market, which, by the way flourishes on the streets in front of and around the National Assembly Building in Caracas.

Gasoline is virtually given away to automobile owners in Venezuela and it seems to be intuitively correct that this is an issue that the government must take on.  I was one who was pleased to see President Maduro announce that he would be doing just that.  After doing the some reading I see it as a poor policy choice, at least for the present. Gasoline prices are hundreds of times higher in neighboring Colombia and Brazil. Not surprisingly gasoline smuggling is big business
 It is believed that forty percent of gasoline ends up smuggled out.  Motorists in border regions park in long lines to gas up. Raising the price would not take the profits out of this business.  The gasoline money gets converted into black market rate Bolivares. Hard to imagine whatever connected persons who are in on this racket stopping the trade because profits are only two hundred percent and not two thousand percent.

A price rise would signal another round of inflation imiserating millions even further.

What needs to be addressed is the sale of petro dollars at a rate of 6.3/1 and 12/1Bolivares to connected persons and entities. The original stated purposes of the regulation of the currency exchange were noble: Subsidising staples and staunching capital outflows.  Are these goals actually being met?

The masses of Venezuelans, mainly women , spend hours every week on ques trying to get milk, corn flour, toilet paper and toothpaste.

Pro government polling firm Interlace tells us that seventy percent of Venezuelans believe the country is going in the wrong direction
 Only twenty percent support President Maduro.  Only less than five percent get their news information from the Government run television stations. You would have to conclude that the opposition could easily collect the necessary two million signatures required to get a vote to recall President Maduro,  who just raised bus fares for the poor.  You would have to think that the opposition could count on a sweep in the upcoming National Assembly elections.  You would have to suppose that their calls for mass protests would get massive support.  You would be wrong,  because the opposition is even more unpopular than President Maduro is. I have to agree with the seventy percent of the Venezuelans who say that their country is on the wrong track.

Where the all lived happily ever after answer is,  I do not know.

Food lines in Venezuela 

Changes por ahora for the better in New York`s yellow taxi fleets

While I was away on a three month family visit to Venezuela good things were happening in the yellow cab taxi fleets and I have to credit Uber for a large part of that.
Now, I had been following all the bad publicity Uber had been subjected to in the media. Even Joe Nocerra over at the New York Times was getting in on the act, blasting Uber's management for threatening opposing journalists with "personal research" and worse, with keeping tracking records of Uber passengers. And not saying what they're doing with these tracking records.
Before I went back to the garage last Saturday I had a chat with my son in law who is fairly involved in municipal politics and who I'd say is a new wave mainstream New York Democrat with no labor union background. He told me that everyone is turning against  Uber because  of civil liberty and privacy  concerns. 
I don't know about that.  I'd guess most Uber customers could give a rat's ass about such things. It is estimated  that  Uber has taken  five percent  of yellow taxi business.  I don't know about that either. I`d imagine  some of these customers  would not be in a yellow taxi anyway and that some are riders whose trips are not profitable under the current fare structure.
What I do know is that I went to the garage real early last Saturday because I don't have a steady car and as Saturday night is the most lucrative shift I figured if I wanted to work I'd better be early.  I showed up at noon - five hours early - not expecting to be the first driver to shape up (I was) and not expecting the dirt bag weekend dispatcher to offer me a shift and a half in a half decent car that had good prospects of not breaking down before the morning comes.  Was I surprised!
My relationship with the weekend dispatcher has been problematic from the start. 
You see I am a sixty-eight year old pre - diabetic who walks with a cane due to having been victim in an auto-on-pedestrian assault.  I signed up for a steady car which locked me into a six night a week schedule but which supposedly had several advantages : Guaranteed work in a less bad car without a need to show up hours early since ordinarily they would have more drivers on hand than cars. 
Except, for me,  on Saturdays.  I`d show up at five to find out that my steady car had been sold out from under me. Dirt Bag would keep me  waiting `till six and give me a POS car. Now they are short drivers and stuck with unleaded cars almost every night 

Under our savage capitalism good things don't last long for workers. Somehow what is now a headache for bosses will be transformed into a headache for workers. 

All this abuse is gone, at least for now, or as Hugo Chavez often said, "por ahora ." I know that Uber deserves so lot of the thanks por ahora. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Suffer the little ones. #Gaza

The world has broken its promises about rebuilding Gaza – and the children will suffer

Venezuela Is Between A Rock And A Hard Place And That Saddens Me.

Violence in Chacao, a wealthy district in Caracas. : An unarmed Venezuelan Airforce Sergeant was attacked by "pro US pro democracy peaceful protesters":

Some of you know that my wife is Venezuelan and that I recently returned from a three months long visit there. I am in love with the place, its natural beauty, its unmet promise of a better way for humanity, its kind and generous people. There are people there who I consider family and about whom I care.

I follow reports and blogs that reflect both the government and opposition points of view. I am painfully aware of the corruption within the Chavista ruling circles, something that is denounced by many Venezuelans who weigh the shortcomings against both the accomplishments and the idealistic vision and possibilities and refuse to go to the side of the opposition, but who find themselves and their country to be between a rock and a hard place.

Now, Venezuela is a nation sharply divided that is undergoing trials and tribulations. Everyone who follows international events knows about the long lines at retail stores and the shortages of some staple foods and personal necessities as well as the almost runaway inflation. A year ago the country was racked by violent demonstrations the course of which took 43 lives, mostly government supporters and security personnel.
The government says that it has uncovered a plot backed by the authorities in the United States. The US government ridicules and dismisses the allegation, as though only conspiracy theorists could ever entertain the notion that the US government would ever try to interfere and steer events in a smaller, weaker country.

Eleven military officers are under arrest for allegedly plotting to fly a Tucan military airplane over Caracas, bomb the president's residence in order to kill him, bomb both pro and anti government marches in order to spread panic and to read off an announcement that a new government is  in place. This announcement allegedly having been written in the US embassy in Caracas. A couple of days ago security forces arrested Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, who joins another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, in custody. The day prior to the allegedly planned aerial assault these leaders had issued a statement describing a planned transitional government and program of privatisation and the seeking of credit from the US dominated International Monetary Fund. The government promises it will produce the necessary evidence to convict the alleged conspirators in a court of law.

Since Colonel Hugo Chavez was Elected President in 1999 the government has prevailed in 18 out of 19 elections and referenda, sometimes by overwhelming margins: sometimes and just barely winning.

Public feedback Both polls show President Maduro and opposition violence Constitution, that was endorsed in a popular vote, allows the opposition to petition for a recall vote against President Maduro. Such a vote took place with the goal of removing the late Hugo Chavez and it got repudiated by the voters. With a strong opposition presence in the media and the unpopularity of President Maduro it would seem that if the opposition were competent and trusted it could remove President Maduro by lawful and peaceful means. By launching a series of riotous actions last year under the rubric " La salida," ("The exit" of President Maduro) and announcing a new government and governing program without succeeding in placing a recall vote onto the ballot the opposition has lent credibility to the coup plot charges.

Over the last sixteen years millions of Venezuelans have been lifted out of poverty and the consumption of meat has increased greatly. The Chavista government has accomplishments in the international arena as well, spearheading a movement towards cooperation, development and eventual unification of Latin America. Also w
After the collapse of the Soviet Union Cuba was in dire straights. Aid initiated by President Chavez rescued Cubans from hunger and deprivation. Pan Latin American nationalists and leftists may tend to overlook failures and shortcomings of the Venezuelan government in light of these acts.

It is clear that the "drill baby drill" cracking mania in the US had as one of its objectives the harming of oil exporting nations such as Russia, Saudi Arsbia and Venezuela, countries that we Americans have been told "hate our freedom."

Meanwhile major United States political assets in Venezuela are locked up and face lengthy prison terms. Venezuela is movoing ever closer to Russia, China and Muslim countries.

It is not possible that the American Exceptionalists are going to sit passively on their hands and merely observe events in Venezuela, the country with the world's largest proven oil and gas reserves.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Taxi Bullshit

Every so often some big shot or committee of bog shots comes up with some harebrained scheme or other to be applied to New York's Yellow Taxi business.

Back in the days of cabbie hater and race baiter Mayor Edward I Koch (who was lampooned by Lee Wallace. in the 1988 Batman movie) an actual expert on the workings of the business, Professor Gorman Gilbert, was brought in to clean up the corrupt image projected by Koch's first Taxi Commissioner convicted felon Jay Turoff. The political establishment disliked the notion of a knowledgeable do-gooder supervising the taxi business and undertook to drive him out.

One thing they did was arm twist him into announcing that cabbies would be required to wear uniforms. The New York Daily News even sponsored a contest to choose the uniforms' design. A ridiculous non starter.
A bit later Gerald Cunningham, immortalized in the television sitcom Taxi moved his operation from the West Village to the South Bronx. There was a flurry of interest centered on the question of taxi service on the "Boogie Down" as the borough has been nick named.

Cunningham, ever the comedian, announced that he was recruiting Dubliners to drive his taxis, thereby bringing in an English speaking cohort made up of men who did not have preconceived notions about the borough's reputedly dangerous streets.

Former mayor Bloomberg periodically announced non starting hare brained ride share schemes.

All of these schemes enjoyed brief moments of being taken seriously by  the machers, movers and shakers of our town.

So, I grinned when I saw a front page feature in today's am NEWYORK hand out newspaper.

HAILING HEROES Vets set to get jobs as NYC taxi drivers thanks to new program

You see, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are being recruited to drive yellow taxis. For the past 35 years or so it's been a rare event to hail a yellow cab that's piloted by an American, as most Americans, like most Dubliners, will not contemplate the combination of danger, low income, long hours and low status that come with a New York hack. license.

The featured veteran in the article, Peter Lloyd, is a native of Moscow. In the body of the article it's admitted that all of two applications are currently being processed under the program.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

About Venezuela

I just got back to New York from a three month long visit to Venezuela.
Quite a bit has been happening there since then. When I was there President Maduro was urging the population to have his back in the economic war being waged by the old racist and unpatriotic oligarchy.

I saw armed soldiers patrol inside and outside supermarkets. The government, through actions of the army, (FANB) along with militia and activists, had seized  warehouses. as well as a supermarket chain and a nationwide chain of drugstores.

President Maduro was seen on national television marching in a militia parade that was led by an old woman on horseback and waving a rifle. (I searched YouTube for the video but I had no luck).

Yesterday President Maduro announced that security service had thwarted a US backed plot to assassinate him and overthrow the government.

A couple of days ago opposition fringe elements tried and failed to revive the violent guarimba movement of a year ago that saw 43 dead including nine National Guard members. The guarimbaists had infamously decapitated a motorcycle taxi driver by stretching a wire across a street at neck level. 

Meanwhile, as though to debunk false allegations that Venezuelans suffer under a dictatorship that denies the right to free speech a Venezuelan blogger at Caracas Chronicles  and going by the name Juan Cristobal Nagel  inched very close to asking the United States, aka "the international community".to intervene and overthrow the duly elected President of his supposed country.