Posts Tagged ‘split’

Internal SFMTA Emails Reveal a “Very Messy Situation” – Why They Want Ad Money From Taxi Drivers

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Remember that whole deal about how taxi drivers were fighting the sainted SFMTA, the worst-run agency in town, over those 5% credit card fees and rear seat Passenger Information Monitors (PIMs) and electronic waybills and whatnot?

Well, some people at the SFMTA thinks that the SFMTA should get a piece of the ad revenue pie.

See? 

Read all about this from driver John Han at Taxi Town SF:

“The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) may explore ways to get a share of taxi advertising revenues in the future.

Recently, the United Taxi Workers (UTW) filed a public information request, and obtained materials regarding the City’s regulation on 5% credit card fees, rear seat Passenger Information Monitors (PIMs), and electronic waybills.

Included in the material was a copy of an email sent by MTA Deputy Director of Taxi Services Christiane Hayashi dated March 25th, 2011, and addressed to Sonali Bose, the agency’s chief financial officer, and other recipients.

In that email, Hayashi responds to two questions being posed at her by Nathaniel Ford, who was the MTA chief at the time, and backed up by Sonali Bose, regarding the distribution of ad revenues generated by rear seat PIMs.

Bose’s first question to Hayashi was, “Who negotiated the 90%-10% split and under what authority?” Her second question was, “Why isn’t the MTA getting a portion of the ad revenue?”

The following is an excerpt from the email in which Hayashi answers Bose’s two questions…

“As to the question of ‘who negotiated the deal,’ I guess my response is that it’s not a deal so much as a regulation – while I did my due diligence and circulated a draft memo to the TAC, it comes from a place of regulatory authority, not negotiation. The SFMTA has no privity of contract with the equipment providers – Veriphone, Wireless Edge and CMT have contracts with the taxi companies.

Why 10% to the Driver Fund? Because, like the medallion sales program, I felt it important to be able to point to some benefit to drivers in order to make the very unpopular change go down more smoothly.

If he question is why not a share to the SFMTA, I guess my answer is that this is equipment that is owned by third party vendors and being installed at no cost in privately-owned vehicles driven by independent contractors. We come at it as a regulator, and the permit fees we receive are supposed to cover the cost of administrating our program. I think that I would have gotten tremendous resistance from both companies and equipment vendors if I tried to demand a slice of advertising revenues for the SFMTA as part of the price for a company to get a waiver from the regulator. It would be like granting a building permit on the condition that the Planning Department could have a share of the advertising revenues from the building.

Of course, as we have discussed previously, there may be a place for bringing taxi advertising generally into the SFMTA, but if we do it would have to be a cooperative situation with the companies, where we agree to bear the administrative burden and use our greater negotiating power to increase their revenues in exchange for a share. That is a distinct possibility that we can continue to explore. I think the companies would embrace it if we can improve their advertising yield and reduce their administrative costs. I think I mentioned to you that the good time to broach this would be when we propose uniform top lights for all taxis with uniform advertising space that we could manage on behalf of the companies. That is something we accomplish during the next fiscal year if that is the policy direction.

I hope I have explained a very messy situation. Let me know if you have further questions.”

A scanned version of the emails text (sometimes hard to read because it’s scanned) is available and can be viewed by CLICKING HERE

Well well.

A messy situation indeed.

Uh Oh: Is Our Cafe Gratitude Running Afoul of CA’s “Tip Pooling” Law? – “Direct Table Service” and “Chain of Service”

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Comes now Cafe Gratitude server Sarah Stevens, who alleges that she is:

“…required to participate in an unreasonable and uncustomary tip pooling scheme that leaves her with a very small percentage of the tips she earns as a server. Specifically, Stevens alleges that after tipping out 20% of her daily tips to the “central kitchen” — an offsite kitchen on 14th street — Stevens then splits the remaining 80% of her tips equally with all of the Café Gratitude staff, including the “shift leaders” and retail employees.”

Improper involuntary tip pooling? No thank you!

Today’s special – Greens ‘n Gruel. All right, eat up, after you thank me!

Via Johann F

Per John Birdsall, CG is engaging in shady behavior:

“I Am Shady RT @EastBayExpress Cafe Gratitude sued for labor-code violations http://t.co/Dr9qHQd

Uh Oh. If Sarah can prove what she’s saying, she’ll have a nice case against CG, leaving aside other issues, like her not getting proper breaks ‘n stuff like that.

‘Cause our Department of Industrial Relations does not approve of servers splitting tips with anyone who doesn’t provide “direct table service.”

Check it:

“According to a California court, Labor Code Section 351 allows involuntary tip pooling. Therefore, your employer can require that you share your tips with other staff that provide service in the restaurant. In this regard, it’s DLSE’s position that when a tip pooling arrangement is in effect, the tips are to be distributed among the employees who provide “direct table service.” Such employees could conceivably include waiters and waitresses, busboys, bartenders, host/hostesses and maitre d’s. Employees who do not provide direct table service and who do not share in the tip pool include dishwashers, cooks, and chefs, except in restaurants where the chefs prepare the food at the patron’s table, in which case the chef may participate in the tip pool. Additionally, tip pooling cannot be used to compensate the owner(s), manager(s), or supervisor(s) of the business, even if these individuals should provide direct table service to a patron.”

(California’s laws are biased towards waitstaff at the expense of food preparers, IMO, for whatever reason.)

[UPDATE: Stop the presses! An employment lawyer in the Comments section has just pointed out the "chain of service" concept that some judges worked out a couple years ago. News to me. Anyway, the trend is that our courts are more accepting of mandatory tip pooling schemes than they were a few years back. But still, management has to keep its paws off of tip money in CA no matter what.]

Anyway, from where I’m sitting, this looks like game, set, and match for server Sarah. You hear that, restaurant owners? This is a dead bang, this is a lead pipe cinch. Just saying.

Thank you!

Revenge of the Subtenant – Rent Board Requires Master Tenant to Refund $10,800

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Here’s the thing – if you’re renting a place in San Francisco and you’re paying your monthly rent to your roommate, chances are that you could be considered a subtenant and your roomy the “Master Tenant.”* Particularly when the rent for your unit is way undermarket, due to rent control let’s say, you might end up spending more for your space than the Master pays for the Master’s part of the apartment.

So if you’re paying $900 a month for your half of  a two-bedroom and your Master Tenant in the other room is only kicking in $100 (to pay $1000 total to the landlord for the whole place), then you can take steps to get some of that money back and lower your rent to boot.

“A subtenant who believes he or she is paying more than a proportional share of the total rent may file a Tenant Petition against the master tenant on that basis. If the subtenant prevails, the Administrative Law Judge will adjust the rent to the proportional share and order the master tenant to refund any rent overpayments.”

Is this a perfect system? No, but it’s what you end up with when your city has rent control.

Your San Francisco Rent Board just dealt with a subtenant/Master Tenant proportionality case. The names of the people involved aren’t important, but the situation is noteworthy, IMO. Let’s check it out.

Now, if you don’t like how the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dealt with your case with your roomie, you can appeal to the board. As here, from the meeting of August 4, 2009:

The subtenant’s petition alleging that he paid a disproportional share of the rent pursuant to Rules ß6.15C(3) was granted and the Master Tenant was found liable to the subtenant in the amount of $10,800.00. On appeal, the Master Tenant alleges that he was unaware of the requirement that the amount of rent paid must be proportional; that the decision will present him with a financial hardship; and that the subtenant is going to be evicted due to his uncooperative behavior. 

MSC: To deny the appeal on substantive grounds but remand the case for a hearing on the Master Tenant’s claim of financial hardship. (Gruber/Crow: 5-0)”

See? The sub won big-time, to the tune of five figures because the rent split determined by the Master Tenant wasn’t proportional according to a judge and the full board.

But the master came back to say the ruling would be a hardship for him. From the meeting of November 17, 2009:

The subtenant’s petition alleging that he paid a disproportionate share of the rent was granted and the Master Tenant was found liable to the subtenant in the amount of $10,800.00.  The Master Tenant’s hardship appeal was granted and remanded for hearing.  In the remand decision, the ALJ finds sufficient hardship to order a repayment plan in the amount of $150.00 per month.  The Master Tenant again appeals, claiming that even the reduced amount will cause him severe hardship and possibly result in both tenants’ eviction from the premises.

MSC: To deny the appeal.  (Mosbrucker/Gruber:  5-0)”

Is this what you might call a Phyric victory? Maybe. It’s probably too early to tell. Oh well.  

Check the San Francisco Rent Board website for deets on the rules, or see you after the jump.

*The County of Los Angeles doesn’t want to buy equipment that has the term “master” written anywhere on it, like on a hard drive, a DVD burner or a brake cylinder. But in San Francisco, we freely label people “Master Tenants.” It’s our thing. 

(more…)

The Brave, Lane-Splitting Recumbent Tricycle Riders of San Mateo County

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

This fellow is waiting at a traffic signal between the lanes on an Interstate 101 offramp somewhere in San Mateo County.

The six foot high pennants are a nice touch. Don’t leave home without them, especially when lane-splitting on a recumbent trike.

Click to expand:

IMG_7768 copy

Vaya con Dios, jinete del triciclo.

The Brave Lane-Splitting Bikers of the Streets of San Francisco

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Lane-splitting, famously legal in California only, can be a dangerous game on the freeway. But what about the mean city streets of San Francisco?

These two fellows must have a lot of good stories of close calls if they spend much time lanesplitting on bloody Masonic Avenue, as shown here.

Click to expand. Note the BRC sticker awarded to graduates of the safety-oriented Basic Rider Course [or to survivors of Burning Man's Black Rock City, see comments.]

All lanesplitters should wear the medal of the Vatican-certified patron saint of motocycle riders, Columbanus of Bobbio.

(Columbanus gives you protection from floods as well. Bonus!)