Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Post Prop. 1, EVERYONE needs to eat some humble pie....

But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6

Prop. 1 is over.  Uber and Lyft have left town.  Now, it's up to those of us who actually live in Austin to pick up the pieces.

And the only way that's going to happen is with humility and forgiveness.

EVERYONE bears responsibility for the mess in which we find ourselves.  No one is innocent.  The silver lining, however, is that it also means everyone has the opportunity to save face as cooler heads prevail.

Consider the following:
  • Council -- That being said, Uber and Lyft aren't the only ones who've displayed a petulant, "my way or the highway" attitude throughout this process.  The only reason Prop. 1 materialized in the first place was that council refused to listen to the thousands of Austinites who practically begged them not to pass the ordinance.  Aloof haughtiness is neither attractive nor sustainable.

    We think this is the most interesting (and dangerous) aspect moving forward.  By (justifiably) refusing to validate the worst behaviors of Uber and Lyft, the voters de facto (if unintentionally) validated the worst behaviors of council.  Thus, to put it mildly, we fear council over-interpreting their mandate.

    But just because voters punished one group of arrogant jerks in the Prop. 1 election doesn't mean they've discovered new-found patience and respect for the other group of arrogant jerks who got us into this mess.
  • Local Prop. 1 supporters not affiliated with Uber or Lyft -- We would consider ourselves part of this category.  While we stand by our positions on the underlying regulatory issues, we were slow to realize the degree to which Uber and Lyft were being jerks to our friends and neighbors.  We shouldn't have outsourced this campaign to a bunch of Silicon Valley and D.C. based political hacks with no understanding of our community [Author's Note: One day, we'll tell the breakfast taco story.].

    Obviously it's too late to do anything about it , but there's a 'what if' scenario that we've been pondering since Saturday.  What if, about 10 days before the election, a group of local supporters of Prop. 1, not affiliated with Uber or Lyft had created a group along the lines of "Austinites for Prop. 1."  Our message could have been: "We're sorry about all the mail and phone calls you're getting from Uber and Lyft.  We didn't sign up for this either.  But that doesn't change the fact that the regulations passed by council will still lead to higher fares and longer wait times without any benefit to public safety."  Couldn't have hurt.

    That being said, the fact that our fingerprints were nowhere near this debacle turned out to be a blessing in disguise!
  • Prop. 1 opponents -- Laura Morrison's election night speech speaks for itself; see our above comment about 'the other group of arrogant jerks.'
  • The Texas Legislature -- We appreciate Sen. Huffines' and Schwertner's interest in this subject, but Joe Straus' silence speaks volumes.
  • The Austin Chronicle -- While we rarely agree with their editorial positions, we've always found their willingness to show up and cover boring meetings of local governmental entities to be a valuable public service.  We just said something nice.  Would it kill you to return the favor?!?
Stef Shrader summarizes what the Prop. 1 campaign ended up becoming:
On one side, we have a city council where many representatives received campaign backing from the taxi industry—an industry which would like to see their new app-based competition go the way of the dodo.

On the other side, there’s a proposition to overturn several recent city regulations written by the Ridesharing Works for Austin PAC, a PAC that has been entirely funded by Uber and Lyft, according to KUT. That proposition, Proposition 1, is the only thing Austinites are voting on today.

This choice is beyond asinine. One industry should not be allowed to push through less favorable conditions for their competition. Likewise, no industry should be in the business of cherry-picking favorable regulations for itself via over-spending, over-campaigning, and threatening to rage-quit an entire metropolitan area, either.
And Josh Baer also says it well:
Bad attitudes and egos are what got us into this mess — and only cool heads and open arms will get us out of it.
Moving forward, several things have become obvious:
  • Obnoxious corporate attitudes notwithstanding, no one does the basic blocking and tackling of urban passenger transportation nearly as well as Uber and Lyft.  That's not likely to change anytime soon.  Get Me has already been a disaster and there's no plausible alternative on the horizon.
  • Joe Straus is still Joe Straus therefore a path through the Texas legislature is uncertain at best.
Austin needs to develop a regulatory framework that fosters a wide variety of transportation options with minimal barriers to entry.  That being said, people's legitimate safety concerns will also have to be addressed.  Our biggest challenge will be to discern between what's a legitimate safety concern and what's a barrier to entry.

Personally, we think the city should eliminate the cap on taxi licenses and franchises and allow the market to set their prices.  Once that happens, most of the other issues will work themselves out.  But we're open to suggestions.

Bottom Line: Moving forward, this discussion needs people to stop acting like obnoxious jerks.  This means everyone.  No matter where you stood on Prop.1, everyone includes YOU.


  1. This is pretty much the best post Prop 1 commentary I've seen. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bottom Line: Adam is going to be an obnoxious jerk during this entire blog post and then conclude the post by demanding for everyone else to not be an obnoxious jerk. This means everyone needs to stop being an obnoxious jerk, except Adam. No matter where everyone stood on Prop 1 (Adam was 'for'), everyone needs to stop being an obnoxious jerk, sans Adam.

    What's the opposite of Gig 'em? Thumbs down.


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