Why Was Leon Swain Fired?
The unbribeable Leon Swain, chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission, was fired Tuesday by the Gray administration without a mention as to why.
In a news release, Gray officials said that "City Administrator Allen Y. Lew informed Mr. Swain at close of business April 26 that he would not be reappointed and thanked him for his years of service to the Taxicab Commission and District government." Mayor Vince Gray appointed the commission's general counsel, Dena Reed, as an interim replacement while he looks for a permanent replacement.
Swain tells LL that Lew didn't give him a reason why he was being let go from his $117,000-a-year job, other than the usual boilerplate for awkward firings: “[He] just told me that the mayor was going in another direction.”
But Swain, whose undercover work for the feds a few years ago led to the arrests of 39 people in a massive bribery scheme, says he was given a warning a few months ago that he was not long for the D.C. government.
"This is all Marion Barry," Swain says. "He told me back in January that I was out."
Swain is being shown the door to make room for Novell Sullivan, who served in the same post during Barry's fourth term, according to what Swain says Barry told him.
Sullivan helped the Gray campaign mobilize support from the cab industry during the last election. From an Aug. 1 Post story:
Novell Sullivan, former head of the taxi commission, and other Gray supporters have distributed a letter Gray wrote to the city's 6,000 licensed cabdrivers two weeks ago in an attempt to address their concerns. "I have already tasked my staff with thoroughly reviewing your ideas and possible avenues for collaboration between government and industry on this critical matter," Gray wrote.
Cab drivers came out big for Gray during the primary against former Mayor Adrian Fenty, who angered cabbies when he did away with the goofy zoned system that usually left you feeling like you'd been ripped off whenever you took a cab. Swain, who was picked by Fenty to run the commission in 2007, is also not popular with the powers-that-be in the taxi industry.
When LL asked Barry about Swain's remarks, the former-mayor for life responded: "I'm not going to talk to you about that. Goodbye." Barry then hung up the phone.
Swain also tells LL that he never had a single conversation with the new mayor about the taxi industry. LL's got a question in to Gray's office about Sullivan's possible return to glory and will update as necessary.
Update: A spokeswoman for the mayor says Gray is still searching for a permanent replacement for Swain.