FX’s The Weekly gives audiences a cause to rally behind in episode two

THE WEEKLY "The Myth of the Medallion" Episode 2 (Airs Sunday; June 9; 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Mohammed Hossain. CR: FX
THE WEEKLY "The Myth of the Medallion" Episode 2 (Airs Sunday; June 9; 10:00 pm/ep) -- Pictured: Mohammed Hossain. CR: FX /

In episode two of FX’s The Weekly, the show’s investigative journalists tackle taxicab medallions in New York City. The badges themselves aren’t a danger but the people handing them out surely are.

When “Myth of the Medallion” kicks off, The Weekly’s Brian Rosenthal begins his investigation by interviewing Mohammed Hossain. Mohammed is a taxi-driver from New York City who paid almost a million dollars for his taxicab medallion. He purchased the badge in an auction where he put up $100,000 as a down payment and then took out a loan for $700,000 from a lender. Mohammed expected to pay back the loan with earnings from driving but that’s impossible when he makes around $25,000 a year.

Many other drivers are troubled by similar debt — some have even committed suicide in light of the financial burden that the medallion has brought them. The fault has been misguidedly directed towards ridesharing services destroying the market but that’s not what Rosenthal learns during his investigation.

What the New York Times’ reporter uncovers is that a majority of brokers who offered taxi-drivers loans left out very crucial information when explaining the terms of their agreement to applicants.

Hossain’s contract, for instance, prevented him from seeking legal counsel — and he basically waived all his rights by agreeing to it. Most of the drivers who purchased medallions around the same time signed similar contracts which put them at the TLC’s mercy.

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The NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission has very strict policies around taxi drivers and their cabs, creating a very restrictive work environment for them. One walkthrough of a TLC-enforced inspection center didn’t seem too demanding, but when we witness the look of worry and concern on Hossain’s face as he waits to find out if his vehicle passed inspection, it’s clear that the situation is terrifying for him.

Think about it. If Hossain can’t drive his taxi, he has to repair the vehicle and then pay a re-testing fee with money straight out of his pocket. But when he doesn’t have a usable taxi to help with those costs, Hossain digs himself deeper into a pit of debt. The thought of this eventuality weighs on him and could lead him to commit suicide like many of his friends — mind you that Hossain isn’t the only taxi-driver suffering from these troubles.

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There are hundreds of taxi-drivers in New York City who are underpaid and working to pay off the remaining costs of their medallions, but at their current wages, they’ll never be able to pay back the loans. Even if the drivers work every day for 30 years, they still wouldn’t earn enough money to repay the debt — and some of them are already over 50 years old.

To make matters worse, several lenders included clauses in their loan contracts that allowed them to repossess taxis from drivers who missed a single payment. They don’t have to provide a warning or anything, the lenders can just send a tow truck to reclaim the vehicle and that’s that.

The reason this sort of injustice goes unseen is that no government agency has officially investigated the TLC. Of course, that was before Brian Rosenthal released his report.

The situation hasn’t changed much but Rosenthal’s report has urged New York’s Attorney General to open an inquiry into the brokers and their lending practices. This will presumably lead into a more thorough investigation where the contracts offered to medallion applicants are analyzed to find clues of wrongdoing. At that point, it’ll just be a matter of time before state politicians act, remedying the situation — at least that’s what we hope will happen.

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What are your thoughts on the New York City Medallion dilemma? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Weekly airs Sundays on FX. Episodes are uploaded the following day. For more on FX’s The Weekly, follow us on the Hulu Watcher Twitter Account @HuluWatcherFS or on the Hulu Watcher Facebook Page.

(Source: The New York Times)