We need a code enforcement Superhero.

Cory: Our unofficial and unpaid transportation director.

I have explored all my options in trying to resolve my issues with all the illegal cab companies in town, I started with the mayor who shuffled me to the city attorney’s office. I have emailed the city attorneys who assure me all is well or maybe it isn’t, and we will just wait and see. But we will prosecute.

I can document my paper trail for over two years and the few times I went to city council meetings where I was admonished by both a council member and the city manager. This year we do not have any hurricanes to blame, of course Abraxi taxi weathered both storms and had our city medallions those past two years. We have been setting the transportation bar very high since our inception and are becoming frustrated as our competitors try to limbo under the lowest rungs possible. These statutes need to be enforced now.

The city, city attorneys, and Sax taxi colluded together to upgrade the vehicle for hire codes and regulations. This was put forward by Historic City News. And there was a resolution passed. From my understanding, behind closed doors, and a deal was struck to help form a monopoly. We certainly were not consulted. And in the end, this never materialized. Integrity won the day. Sax taxi went belly up on the ideas put forward in secret.

My issues are that no one is being held accountable for either enforcing and policing the new policies approved by the commission. I have been more then patient in voicing my concerns and now am at the end of my rope. Since Sax taxi no longer exists and code enforcement and the city attorney’s office will not take my concerns seriously perhaps we should no longer have any regulations. The city cannot or will not ensure all local companies are complying. Some companies have not honored this policy for years. And like gypsy cabs are unregulated, dangerous and illegal.

I also do not understand how you let rideshares operate here with no oversight. They cause congestion, break traffic laws and exploit the city codes I am required to adhere to. How can you allow them to use taxi lights, park willy- nilly with flashers on and transport our city guests with no rhyme or reason on who is working as a non-documented or fully insured driver? Let’s be honest there are little to non-existent background checks. And since they falsely claim they are not taxis, taxi dome lights should be outlawed.

So please investigate my concerns that everyone else has ignored, albeit assuring me that I have nothing to be concerned with. It is past the time frame for medallions and I bet that the majority of taxi companies, pedicabs, low speed vehicles and the most egregious of all: hotel shuttles, again will thumb their noses at the city knowing that they will face no fines or penalties.

My mistake in the past may have been going to the generals hoping orders would be whispered down the chain of command when as usual it is the NCOs non-commissioned officers who get things done. My next step may be the free press who has been somewhat critical of this city council in the past, or legal counsel to protect my business, our employees and the many tourists that visit the Ancient city. However, we would prefer that the police would start issuing warning then perhaps fines. Our intentions are not to embarrass anyone we just want justice.

The new assistant attorney tried to assure me that he was no blower of smoke, but all I am getting from the city government are gale force winds with gusts of smog to either obfuscate my concerns or just hide complacency in plain sight, whilst we are transparent and compliant. Again, all we ask is for a level playing field and for those companies that can not or will not abide by the city edicts in my opinion their charters should be rescinded. Am I being naïve that thinking the city should protect local legal entities?

So, Cory as acting taxi commissioner can you help us out. My managers and dispatchers are on my case as we can not keep drivers because these gypsy cabs are stealing food from their families. This has nothing to do with the state. These are regulations the city has dictated yet will not or perhaps is ill equipped to enforce. Perhaps you can find the correct department that controls enforcement as I have not had any success. We thank you for your time and realize that this is not exactly what you do but perhaps this letter might find its way to someone that can help us with this situation.

TAXI VAMPIRE

 

I might posit that the 3 biggest health threats that confront an average cabbie are smoking, bad diets and lack of exercise, in my case, working the graveyard shift will be lower levels of vitamin D. Which,besides bone growth,seems new studies link deficiency to colon cancer and heart disease.

Long hours sitting and driving around to make a living certainly has its rewards but there are some serious opportunities to fill in the voids with a series of self-destructive behaviors.

Smoking cigarettes can be a huge health detriment and with, at times, the nightly doldrums, it is easy to smoke a pack or more a day. Quitting is brutal, and though there is not much data on vaping, it must be less a detriment to your well-being. Your dentist will applaud your smoking and sugar cessation. Bad gums, periodontal disease is a very expensive non-reversible condition that has also been linked to heart disease. Giving up tobacco products has an immediate beneficial impact on all aspects of health. And with the adherence to a better diet and exercise regimen a much-improved outlook on life, a more solid footing in terms of mental health.

The next mouse trap to avoid are fast food places. I will not name them; for what I think and believe about them, is most unkind. The obesity and diabetes rates: especially in our young are abhorrent, and these purveyors of poison bear much responsibility. Parents are not providing happy meals they are promoting child abuse in my view and what drives this and and the tobacco industry is just straight up immoral and unadulterated greed. Thank goodness we have Big Pharma to provide expensive drugs for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and valium so we don’t give a crap! So please try to eat healthier and consume less sugar. We could look at this sugarcane industry in Florida and deduce the dying wildlife on our beaches might be a by-product. Be smart! Live longer! Be happier!

The one thing we have more control over would be exercise. I just sit in a cab all day and do find that going to a gym is a hard choice to make. So, after I stopped smoking and changed my diet to a much healthier one,I still was not really losing any weight. My blood work came back up mostly okay. Low on Vitamin D and a bit high on a thyroid test. So, first thing I try to do here in sunny Saint Augustine Florida is to find a spot to meditate and absorb the rays. This I believe turns the cholesterol on the skin, the largest organ we have on our body, into”D”; hence its nickname the sunshine vitamin.

Depending how things go eventually I might venture over to the amphitheater where I try to do a bit of jogging and some simple exercises. Jury is still out but I do need to lose weight, so my blood pressure drops a bit. I would rather not contribute to Big Pharma, tobacco, fast food or the sugar cartels. Unfortunately, I am still beholden to the oil companies, but we are trying to work on that.

Some other health obstacles a cab driver might face will be drugs, alcohol, gambling and hookers. If you are a highly addictive personality having cash daily can breed some very expensive and unhealthy habits. Be smart and manage your addictions wisely if you find yourself in any of these mouse traps.

The job itself can be addicting. Cash every day, some of the seedier and tastier side of life. Just like in anything we do: moderation is the key.

The American Culinary Federation “ACF” national headquarters is in the World Golf Village section close to Saint Augustine and this organization certifies the many layers of the cooking industry. From nutrition to bakers to chefs.

Many years ago, I made it to Certified Executive Chef took some pastry courses worked hard in hot kitchens ate a plethora of sauces from the Hollandaise/Béarnaise/Maltese, Béchamel, Beurre Blancs and my all-time favorite Espagnole or brown sauce. Working in fine dining restaurants have many delicious options most of which are deadly. I used about 12 cases of butter and about the same heavy cream a week. We had Prime rib, Veal chops, lobster, shrimp, grouper, blue and Dungeness crab, stone crab claws, Tournedos<tiny filet> Americaine<lobster and Hollandaise> and Tournedos Rossini<filet with force fed goose liver pate, mushrooms, brown sauce and Béarnaise. I was a cholesterol pumper of food but it sure tasted good.

Anthony Bourdain had it right. Addicting conditions can lead to addictions. Highly competitive, alpha dog mentality, tough job but extremely rewarding when done well. Sui-Generis individuals striving for Arete!

Even with the copious amounts of beer and alcohol consumed perhaps because of the amount of liquids we lost sweating in these incredibly hot boxes called kitchens I was never too overweight. But now that I seldom drink and never consume illicit narcotics, quit smoking, eat healthy though I grow fat in my cab. Perhaps it is age?

So, exercise is my next step and will soon put in a basketball court for some high impact workouts and a swimming pool for lower intensity fitness and perhaps help attract the hookers.

Life changes are good but do not always go as planned. However; we all need to take our health much more seriously. The more we try the less we will need to rely on doctors, hospitals and pharmaceuticals. Moderation is the key.

Now go out and get shitfaced, do a few lines, get a few crystal meth burgers, smoke your coffin nail, maybe a joint. Please don’t drive, call a cab if you want to get home safely. But if you really need to gamble:try an Uber!

Consumate

Regarding taxi ordnances in the city of Saint Augustine and the lack of enforcement:

 

I had emailed the mayor last December about my issues with the lack of code enforcement the city, city attorney’s office and code enforcement have displayed regarding my concerns.

The mayor suggested that I voice my concerns to Denise May the city attorney who wrote these regulations while colluding with Sax taxi a now defunct taxi service in Saint Augustine, Ms. May assured me all was well when in fact the transportation industry is rotten to the core. So, we at Abraxi Taxi would like a deferment for our taxi medallions. Once all the company’s I have mentioned in previous emails become legit we will pay for the certified mechanics and, the city medallions. During this reprieve we of course will keep our commercial taxi insurance current and our vehicles in a safe condition.

Once we see that other vehicles for hire are complying with the regulations and the city is being aggressive in its due diligence upholding its own rules and regulations we can then take our cars to get the proper medallions.

Since Uber and Lyfts are not taxis they should not be able to solicit business with the use of dome lights or in-vehicle identifiers. Both companies should also pay a fee to use our roads and bridges. Keep an eye on New York. To help with congestion add some sort of impact fee. If the city does not need this money for pot holes or sea wall construction, we could create a small fund for a transportation chief and small raises to the city police department. Someone needs to monitor these regulations or LET’S get together at a city meeting or workshop and undo or redo what is in the code.

Hotel shuttles need to be current on insurance and have the city as a lien holder as should all other local cab companies. Proper medallions should be on every vehicle with the correct color denoting the year valid for.

Code enforcement, a possible Transportation Director and the city police should be trained on these vehicles for hire standards and serious fines and penalties need to be assessed.

Gas powered carts are not taxis so no taking up the two taxi stands in town, words matter that’s one reason we need lawyers. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse and the penalties should be draconian.

Another option would be that like the ride share companies,there should be no regulations regarding vehicle for hire. If something bad should happen the city insurances should cover any injuries or loss of life. We at Abraxi will continue to carry commercial insurance and if others choose not to: so be it, let the chips fall where they may.

We appreciate the mulligan and if it is easier to just drop all regulations that is fine by us. Having 3 sets of rules is unjust. One set of rules for the evil empire which states do whatever you want with our blessing, the second set is to just ignore whatever we decreed, and the final set are for the ones foolish enough to adhere to them.

Dim witted as I am: I am at wits end. I have gone to city council meetings where I was belittled by a council member and admonished by the city manager, so I would like to avoid this route again. I have sent emails and resent emails to relevant 3rd parties. I have tried going to Cory at the water department and finally sent more emails to code enforcement and the city attorneys. Nothing has been addressed and it even more glaring and blatant. The city has written these fiats and should either enforce or vacate.

Ponce and Philly

There really is a lot to do here in Saint Augustine so let’s try to find a few links to take you to many festivals and tourists attractions we have going on. March really kicks it off with the festivals and concerts, but that does not mean the Florida winter isn’t loaded with fun.
Now you finally flew in via Frontier from Philadelphia to escape the weather. You start noticing that everything seems to be Ponce this Ponce that. Who exactly is this Ponce de Leon character and why is he so revered here in Saint Augustine?
In Philadelphia you have a Columbus street and even a parade for Christopher who in 1492 sailed the ocean blue. We at Abraxi taxi tried to find out some more about the founder of our historic city and would like to share a bit of his life. He definitely was a Renaissance man, but at the detriment to many.
Being from the Northeast and watching the many parades, what in the world is a better spectacle than the Mummers, in Philadelphia? I think having a tribute to Ponce De Leon would be awesome. My first obstacle was that I could not find his true birthday so we looked further into his life and especially his connection with Christopher Columbus, and as it turned out in a weird twist, Philadelphia.
John Meehan from his famous Irish pub on the Bayfront started the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, we from Abraxi Taxi service and airport shuttle, could propose a similar tribute to our Father Mr. Ponce. How about boarding a Frontier flight nonstop to Saint Augustine airport armed with those awesome costumes and banjos? What could be better than doing it with Philadelphia/Mummers style? We could have those marching bands decked out with feathers strumming and strutting along the Matanzas Inlet with cannons firing from the Castillo de San Marcos. But we are getting ahead of ourselves and with all the festivals, movie premiers, museums, concerts where can we find an open date.
So let’s start with our man Ponce.

Legacy (This is from Bio)
“Juan Ponce de León was a product of his time—ambitious, hardworking and ruthless when the occasion called for it. He built a small financial empire that helped advance Spanish colonization in the Caribbean, and he might have gone even further had he been able to avoid political intrigue with the Columbus family.
Many historical sources agree that he treated the native people under his control better than most conquistadors. However, enslavement and disease took a very heavy toll on these populations and he faced several violent uprisings during his tenure as governor.
Ponce de León will forever be associated with the fountain of youth, even though there is no record that he deliberately searched for it. Though he acknowledges the existence of the fable in his memoir, he was by all accounts far too practical a man to waste time on such a fantasy amidst the building of his fortune.”
So the conquistadors were generally religious people that in pursuit of their own greedy goal for gold and treasure ENSLAVED and mistreated the local populations they were trying to conquer. No doubt this was for the glory of god and the salvation of souls and perhaps some actually believed this. But after doing some research on the Spanish Explorers even Christopher Columbus, it really becomes apparent that greed, power and self-aggrandizement were the true reasons. And the natives, as if their fate was not bad enough, suffered from all forms of European diseases the deadliest being small pox.
It does seem that Ponce de Leon came from a nice family that was educated and cultured. He did come to the Americas with Columbus on his 2nd voyage. He was governor of Puerto Rico and was 4 feet 11 inches. And considered tall for his time. We have a statue of a life sized Ponce at the Plaza de la Constitucion that is exactly like the one in Olde San Juan, Puerto Rico. The scholars praise Ponce for his treatment of the slaves, but do not forget Columbus last voyage was back to Spain in chains, for what at the times were crimes against humanity. And it would be later in Ponces life that the sons of Christopher Columbus would thwart his ambitions.
It seems that after Spain expelled the Moors many soldiers of fortune became unemployed but several including Juan Ponce de Leon were able to gain access to the New World. Yes, there was a Muslim problem and under employment over 500 years ago. Yet several thousand boarded ships and set sail from Spain to Hispaniola, what is now modern day Haiti/Dominican Republic. And it really starts here for Ponce and his quest for fame and fortune.
The trip took only 3 weeks and there were slaves to be exploited, souls to be saved and gold to line one’s pockets. Ponce was all in. The priests did expect the natives to be taught reading and writing by the new masters and maybe because of the times this behavior was condoned. The saving of souls no matter the cost. No doubt Juan was an opportunist that had the King’s ear and even some limited support from the Columbus family. This almost sounds Soprano-esque but with little to no oversight he was in defacto the Don of Dons.
Juan did seem impressed with the Indian population fighting skills and like a Don Quixote took notice and defeated the windmills of the new wild west. And to this day is considered the 1st conquistador and hero of Puerto Rico.So along with other soldiers of fortune like Cortez and De Soto they managed to wreak havoc on one civilization, but this laid the foundation for a new world order that continues to this day.
“Spanish conquistador Ponce de Leon founded the oldest settlement in Puerto Rico and sought to find the Fountain of Youth. He gained wealth, fame and fortune – often at the brutal expense of native populations.”
Perhaps the lust of more power and more gold drove him to even more expeditions into Florida where he eventually brought a gun to a poison arrow fight which he lost. He was able to make it to Havana Cuba where he died from his wounds. There is much more about him on the History Channel, Wikipedia and Biography but that I think this sums up the man. In his world he would be considered a brave an honorable man, it must have taken courage and a brass set to adventure into the unknown. He discovered Florida on Palm Sunday so I would suggest this should be the day we set aside for the Ponce de Leon/Southern Mummers extravaganza.
Ponce de Leon has one other Philadelphia connection and that is to the esteemed Benjamin Franklin. Ponce is credited with the discovery of the Gulf stream. ”This was the first encounter with the Gulf Stream where it reaches maximum force between the Florida coast and the Bahamas. Because of the powerful boost provided by the current, it would soon become the primary route for eastbound ships leaving the Spanish Indies bound for Europe.” But it was Benjamin Franklin that actually took his genius and performed scientific measurements that actually charted this ocean river naming it the Gulf Stream.
Now all that booty from the New World was heading back to Europe via the Florida straits and the Gulf Stream. Of course we live in paradise but for a few months a year we can experience the Hurricane season. We have great forecasters to warn us when a storm might be brewing but 500 years ago not even Nostradamus was predicting weather. (The fact that he was French and hated the Spanish could be a reason.) So many of those Spanish Galleons sunk, left billions of dollars in gold and silver bullion on the ocean floor. So here comes Saint Augustine’s final connection to Philadelphia in the name of Pat Croce, treasure hunter. You can tour his pirate museum right here in the historic city.
So let’s go over our connections to Philadelphia. Nonstop seasonal flights to Saint Augustine. The airport to the downtown hotels costs about 10 to 15 dollars if you were to use a taxi cab or there are plenty of rental car agencies to choose from. Next we have a relationship between Ponce and that superstar Ben Franklin and the gulf stream. Abraxi Taxi’s next adventure is to petition the U.S Mint as Ponce deserves his portrait on at least a coin. Preferably a gold doubloon 3rd string in this symphony. Is Pat Croce of Allan Iverson and 76er fame, now a pirate expert looking for Ponces booty? Is it too much to ask that the Mummers also honor us? Giving us a quadruple double.
Easter usually comes in April so we really should just pick a date. Early May might be best. The first Saturday. The weather will be ideal. Not too hot, not too cold. Those Mummer arrays would be miserable in the Summertime. This could kick off Player Championship Golf Tournament in Ponte Vedra, an ideal time, and still not interfere with Bill Murray’s Charity Golf Event at his family’s restaurant Caddy shack in late March. Of course the Parade would start at the Fountain of Youth and continue on San Marco. Yes, that is the original Ripley’s Believe It or Not on the left. Up West Castillo past the Best Western Spanish Quarter, ending up at Francis Field.
The Mummers are in of themselves a show. A stage could be set up, we could have more performances and of course an awards ceremony. For those of you that have not been blessed to watch anything as unique and creative as this New Year’s Day tradition you really are missing something special. Think Liberace and those 20s feather strippers on ecstasy, drunk on Blackberry brandy freestyling it down main street America. Some very talented people who work long hours and spend beaucoup de bucks for one show. This is a great opportunity to enjoy our great city of Saint Augustine and what we consider wonderful weather.
At the next city council meeting lets come out and support the Parade for Ponce. We can set up a committee to oversee the implementation and lobby our legislature for support. They were able to plan our 450th birthday party and a huge Mumford and Sons concert very efficiently, why not this event? Some laws like open containers should be relaxed and traffic would have to be controlled. There could be a few designated taxi stands and special shuttles. It would be an awesome tribute to our founding father, a truly sui generis festival, and with help from other Ponce de Leon groupies this could become something special.
Maybe we could invite the King and Queen from Spain! This is a bit about Spanish history and we actually do reenactments of the British Pirate Drake overtaking the Spanish here in Saint Augustine. If you love history especially American history it really all started here in Saint Augustine Florida, and whether or not Ponce discovered the Fountain of Youth or was even the driving factor on him choosing to visit here, the two will always be connected.
So I vote to give tribute to Ponce de Leon with a special celebration here in Saint John’s County Florida and let’s do it with some Yankee flair and show Saint Augustine how we party in Philadelphia. That is another thing we have in common because after all we are a quaint little drinking town with a fishing problem. But do not drink and drive! Call Abraxi Taxi, we get you where you need to Go!