While D.C. cabdrivers may not be able to find National Airport without instructions in Farsi, they’ve managed to put the fear of God in Mayor Marion Barryand not just with their driving, either. Last summer, after the D.C. Taxicab Commission decided to require D.C. cabdrivers to use air conditioning, angry cabbies staged noisy demonstrations in front of Barry’s Ward 8 home, and the requirement was postponed for a year. Then, after the D.C. Professional Taxi Cab Drivers Association (PTCDA) announced it was organizing a recall of the mayor for alleged corruption and meddling in the District’s hack industry, Barry met with PTCDA members to hear their concerns. Shortly after the meeting late last month, Barry announced that the city would prohibit cabs from Dulles airport that aren’t registered in the District from picking up passengers in the city, a change PTCDA members had lobbied for. Barry’s announcement prompted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to threaten to ban D.C. cabs from picking up fares at Dulles. Still, Barry seems to have forestalled the cranky cabbies’ recall effort. If he reneges on his promises, PTCDA Vice Chairman Louis Richardson warns, “We’ll go back to plan 1the recall and the demonstrations at his house.”
Bad Circulation Ward 5 activist Bob Artisst’s last run for office may land him in the slammer. Artisst, who has run and lost in five Ward 5 D.C. Council races and was disqualified from a sixth in 1994 for violating the Hatch Act, is now under investigation for allegedly submitting fraudulent nominating petitions to the D.C. Board of Elections. Last fall, Artisst was running for re-election to his Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat when his opponent, Cyril Crocker, challenged Artisst’s nominating petitions after finding one of the 71 signatures to be a fake. “I thought, ‘Why would somebody who’s got 70 valid ones put one bogus one in?’” says Crocker. “So I challenged 70 out of 71every name but Bob Artisst’s.” At a hearing last week, the elections board voted to forward the case to the Office of the Corporation Counsel for prosecution. Artisst declined comment, but at the hearing, he said he had left the petitions on a table during a cookout for others to sign. Election board sources say that because Artisst signed off as witness of the signatures, he faces the same punishment for perjurya fine up to $10,000, up to a year’s imprisonment, or bothas he would for forgery. Artisst was kicked off the ballot.
Creeping Craters Just when Mount Pleasant residents thought the Department of Public Works (DPW) had finally smoothed away the last divot from Park Road, their main thoroughfare has once again become treacherous for all but the most fearless Humvee driver. This time, though, Park Road’s vast stretches of potholes are not due to DPW’s lethargy but to the half-assed patch jobs of an MCI contractor. In December, the telecommunications giant started tearing up the road from 14th Street to Connecticut Avenue to install fiber optic cable for its communications systems. Although MCI puts temporary patches on the road, they quickly disintegrate into potholes, residents say, and the District is responsible for completing the final road restoration. According to Don Davis, superintendent for the MCI metro project, similar road-repair arrangements are made with local Virginia and Maryland governments. But Mount Pleasanters say the agreement is a raw deal, and they fear the roads will severely deteriorate before DPW returns. “If a utility company comes in and damages roads, it should be their responsibility to do the final repairs,” says Gordon Glaza, who lives nearby. “DPW is underfunded as it is.”