Swain Wants Sound Ethics for D.C. Council
Leon Swain, a former chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, has decided to run for one of the at-large positions on the D.C. Council in the November general election.
"We need to turn the council over to the citizens," said Swain, 59. "The council doesn't speak to the issues facing the residents."
Swain, a Southeast resident, led the commission from 2007-2011. The changing of taxis from zones to meters is considered by some as his major accomplishment while on the commission.
D.C. Council member Vincent Orange (D-At Large) is considered a shoo-in for one of the at-large positions because of the city's strong Democratic base. Swain's chief opponent is D.C. Council Pro Tempore Michael Brown (I-At Large) for the second at-large position but he could also face independent David Grosso, Republican Mary Brooks Beatty and Statehood Green Party member Ann Wilcox.
Swain is the president of the Naylor Gardens Cooperative Housing board of directors and has served as a Ward 8 advisory neighborhood commissioner and on the board of directors of the United Medical Center in Southeast. A former police officer, Swain went undercover for the FBI several years ago to solicit bribes from business owners, taxicab drivers and operators. He received more than $250,000 which resulted in dozens of arrests.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray removed Swain from the helm of the commission in 2011. Swain considered challenging D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) in the Tue., April 3 Democratic Party primary but decided against it.
Swain said that he wants to be a voice for all citizens. He added that some middle-class residents don't think that their government works for them.
"I want to be able to go out to the people and tell them about the services that are available to them," he said. "The District has a lot of different programs that would benefit residents but they don't know about them."
He said that wants to improve the D.C. public school system and be available to residents who need his help.
In terms of ethics, Swain said that the members of the D.C. Council aren't bad, but operate in a compromised atmosphere at the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest.
"Honorable people over time get caught up in the system the way it is," he said. "It is time to shake up the well there."
Human Rights Commissioners Take Office
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, 69, recently administered the oath of office to new members of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights. The commission adjudicates private-sector claims of discrimination complaints brought under the provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on 19 protected tracts, such as race, sex, and sexual orientation, in the areas of employment, housing, education and public accommodations.
The 13 commissioners are Chairperson Nkechi Taifa, Motoko Aizawa, Javier Araujo, Alexandra Beninda, Earline Budd, Rahim Jenkins, Mathew McCollough, Edwin Powell, Denise Reed, J.D. Robinson, Gabriel Rojo, David Scruggs and Michael Ward. The commissioners were nominated by Gray and confirmed by the D.C. Council on June 5.
"The District of Columbia is at the forefront of working to end discrimination and ensure its residents and visitors can enjoy all that D.C. offers," said Gray, referring to the commission's work.