Borderstan welcomes Alden Leonard to its team of contributors. Alden helps cover local government and arts topics for Borderstan. He advocates for good causes by day and is an artist and arts supporter by night. Check out his paintings at Alden Leonard.
Recall of Gray, Brown in the Works
Local media was abuzz last week after activist Frederick Butler filed paperwork to recall Mayor Vincent Gray and City Council Chair Kwame Brown. But the process, which could bring about a recall election of the city’s highest elected officials, faces significant barriers. In order to even get on the ballot, Butler must furnish signatures from 10% of voters (about 45,000) to show that the recall has sufficient public support. To give some perspective, a mayoral candidate has to collect just 3,000 signatures. And did I mention this all has to happen in 180 days?
This high bar has stopped many would-be crusaders from attempting to achieve a recall, but not all: in fact, every DC Mayor except Walter Washington has had a recall attempt filed against him. Even so, the DC City Council recently debated lowering the signature requirement to 5%, but it remained at 10% in the final bill as passed by Brown’s Council. Brown offered no explanation for maintaining the high requirement, but Gray issued a response to the larger allegations facing him and the Council Chair. Defending his work as Mayor, Gray reminded voters that “DC is the most desirable place to live in the United States.”
I guess we can’t argue with him there, can we?
Troubles Deepen for Embattled Car Service
Shots have been fired in the battle between car service Uber and Ron Linton, Chairman of the DC Taxicab Commission. As we reported on Friday, Linton recently accused Uber, which allows users to arrange rides from off-duty luxury cars, of operating illegally in the District. Linton made good on his vow to take swift action against Uber, arranging a sting Friday morning that resulted in an Uber driver receiving two costly citations and having his car impounded for the weekend.
Uber responded robustly to Linton’s actions with statements affirming its compliance with DC regulations. “We’ve dotted our i’s,” insisted DC manager Rachel Holt. But the smartphone-powered service also outsourced much of the fight to its tech-savvy clientele, whose enthusiasm for Uber drive its success. In a blog post titled “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Uberness: @Uber_DC needs YOU!”, Uber calls upon its wildly loyal fans to make the Taxicab Commission hear their voices.
Mr. Linton, batten down the hatches.
Artist Exodus from DC: The Unseen Premiums of Swank Neighborhoods
With this month’s closing of one of DC’s last remaining artist havens, DCentric raises the question of whether the District’s high rent and rapid gentrification are stifling its creative residents. Gold Leaf Studio at 4th and I Streets, which has been a major creative hub since it opened over a decade ago, will close its doors in the next few weeks due to rising rent. Area art enthusiasts are bemoaning the close, saying it is symbolic of a greater creative exodus to the more affordable suburbs.
We all know living in a premium neighborhood comes at a high price, but is this hidden extra cost worth it?