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D.C. restaurant accused of anti-gay discrimination

Bidwell, discrimination, gay news, Washington Blade

A former waiter at the newly opened Bidwell in Union Market says his manager fired him for being gay. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A D.C. man has filed a lawsuit and a separate complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights accusing a manager at the newly opened restaurant Bidwell of firing him from his job as a waiter because he’s gay.

Jacques Chevalier, 22, says in the lawsuit filed Jan. 14 in D.C. Superior Court that manager Scott Wood fired him the day before the restaurant’s grand opening on Jan. 9, telling him he was not a “good fit” for the company.

Bidwell is the newest food-related business to open at the Union Market in Northeast D.C. near Gallaudet University. Nationally acclaimed chef John Mooney, who specializes in preparing dishes made from fresh, organic produce, is a principal owner of the restaurant.

When approached by the Blade at the restaurant on Tuesday, Wood said he would have no comment on Chevalier’s allegations.

Chevalier filed his lawsuit jointly with Cherokee Harris, who charges in the lawsuit that Wood fired her from her job as a server assistant because she’s black.

Court records show that Chevalier and Harris are representing themselves without an attorney. Chevalier said he has contacted the gay litigation group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund for legal help. He said a Lambda representative told him the group was considering taking his case and would inform him of its decision soon.

According to Chevalier, Wood hired him in late December after he responded to a help-wanted ad that the restaurant posted online. He said he never discussed his sexual orientation with Wood and Wood never raised the issue with him.

“Scott Wood most likely found out I was gay because of the handbags I brought to work,” Chevalier told the Blade. “That would be the way I would think he came to that conclusion. Heterosexual men don’t carry the bags that I carry.”

But he said it’s also possible that Wood learned of his sexual orientation in some other way.

Although the restaurant didn’t open officially until Jan. 9, Chevalier said the kitchen staff and servers were assigned to work as if it had opened during a trial period of about two weeks prior to the official opening when they waited on guests who ordered food.

He said he suspected something was wrong when he wasn’t chosen to attend special events the restaurant held “and when special guests came I was ignored or not introduced,” the said in the lawsuit.

“Scott Wood gave me funny looks. We were not trained properly like the other employees,” he said of himself and Harris. “The day after our firing we were replaced by Caucasians.”

Chevalier told the Blade that Wood told him that Wood, Chef Mooney and another restaurant manager thought “I was not a good fit for the company.”

“These three men could not have assessed me within that short period of time and determined that ‘I was not a good fit’ other than for the reason of me being gay,” he said.

Records filed with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration show that Bidwell restaurant is owned by Darien DC LLC and its three principal officials are Mooney, Michael O’Sullivan and Michael Laurent, according to ABRA spokesperson Jessie Cornelius.

In a Jan. 14 order, Judge Maurice Ross, among other things, called on defendant Wood to respond to the complaint by filing an answer within 20 days of when he was served papers notifying him of the lawsuit. Court records show he was served papers for the case on Feb. 5 and a notice of acknowledgement he was served was filed in court on Feb. 10.


MOVA liquor license faces challenge

Mova, gay news, Washington Blade, LGBT nightlife, bar guide

Mova (Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B, which has jurisdiction over the 14th and U Street, N.W. corridor, voted earlier this month to protest the liquor license renewal application of the D.C. gay bar MOVA Lounge, which is located at 2204 14th St., N.W.

The action by the ANC follows by three months a decision by a group of 14 residents of a condominium building 1407 W St., N.W. and the Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association to file separate protests against the MOVA license renewal. The condo building is located directly behind MOVA.

Each of the three protests say the bar is adversely impacting the “peace, order, and quiet” of nearby residents.

“MOVA has an open-air roof deck that is open late into the evening with loud music played directly into the bedrooms of residents in our building,” the protest by the condo residents says.

MOVA’s general manager, who identified himself only as Brad, told the Blade Tuesday night that MOVA owner Babak Movahedi was taking steps to address the neighbors’ concerns with the intent of resolving the protest.

Gay ANC Commissioner Marc Morgan said he was among the commissioners that voted for the protest. He said the ANC’s intent is to persuade MOVA to enter into a settlement agreement with the ANC that would ensure that the bar curtails any noise that may be disturbing its neighbors. He said he sees no indication that MOVA is being targeted because it’s a gay bar.

“Just because we file a protest doesn’t mean we want to see an establishment closed,” said Morgan. “We plan to drop the protest if a settlement agreement is reached.”

The D.C. City Charter, which created the ANCs, limits their authority to providing advisory recommendations to city government agencies, which must give “great weight” to ANC recommendations. The final decision on liquor license matters rests with the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which is an arm of ABRA.


Fallen activist honored in street-naming

Jeff Coudriet, gay news, Washington Blade

Jeff Coudriet died of lung cancer in February 2011. (Photo by Phil Attey)

A company that built a multimillion-dollar development project at the site of the historic O Street Market in the city’s Shaw neighborhood has honored the late Jeff Coudriet, a longtime gay rights leader and influential City Council staff member, by naming a street after him.

At a March 21 ceremony, officials with Roadside Development Corp. designated a one-block section of 8th Street, N.W, between O and P streets, as Coudriet Way. Although the street is open to the public and vehicular traffic it is part of the private land obtained by the company to build the project, according to Roadside co-founder Richard Lake.

“We worked with Jeff, who helped us bring about this development project,” Lake told the Blade. “Jeff worked tirelessly with us on this and died before the project was completed.”

Lake was referring to Coudriet’s role as committee clerk for the D.C. Council’s Committee on Finance and Revenue, which is chaired by Council member and mayoral candidate Jack Evans (D-Ward 2). Evans has said Coudriet acted as a facilitator on behalf of his office to help Roadside navigate the D.C. government bureaucracy to clear the way for a project supported by the community.

Among other things, it brought to a once blighted area a state-of-the-art Giant Food store, 650 residential apartments of which 90 are reserved for seniors at affordable costs, and a 182-room hotel along with 500 parking spaces.

Coudriet died of lung cancer in February 2011 at the age of 48. He was a longtime resident of the Shaw community.

He is credited with playing a lead role in efforts to repeal the city’s sodomy law and to pass the city’s first domestic partners law during his tenure as president of the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance from 1992 to 1995. He later served as president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group.

He joined Evans’ staff in 2001 after having served on the staff of U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.). He left Evans’ staff in 2004 to take a job at the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration before returning to Evans’ staff in 2007, where he remained until the time of his death.

“It is impossible to put into words the contributions Jeff made to our city and its residents,” Evans said at the time of Coudriet’s death.


Tide shifts against hospitality objectors

After a decade of controversy, the D.C. Council late last month finally made meaningful revisions to the city’s much-maligned and long-unpopular alcohol-licensing process for hospitality and nightlife businesses.

Due to the high-profile battle waged by a notorious Dupont Circle “Gang of 5” ad hoc license protest group against chef/restaurateur Jamie Leeds’ Hank’s Oyster Bar warranting mention from the dais by multiple Council members, the approved reforms might justifiably bear her name. Better to also include the many others subjected to similar foolishness.

Took ‘em forever. Some would say the legislative repairs are far too modest a measure of regulatory relief given the District’s dysfunctional and out-of-balance licensing procedures.

One thing is clear – the political dynamic has now changed. No longer will self-proclaimed size-shrunk gaggles of the few, purporting to represent the many, hold unbridled sway over entire neighborhoods. Their days manipulating the system to impose their own edicts while abridging fair and consistent application of citywide laws are numbered.

Not that they won’t try. But the reforms to be signed by Mayor Vincent Gray within a week for immediate implementation make obstruction more difficult.

While the D.C. Council failed to eliminate legal standing for tiny “Gang of 5” protest groups and small unrepresentative citizens associations, allowing them to directly intervene in the licensing process, they took alternate steps to mitigate their outsized influence.

D.C. Council member Jim Graham, chair of the Council committee with oversight of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) matters, discarded the recommendation of a “working group” he had assembled to review existing regulations requiring that ad hoc license protest group members reside or own property within a 400-ft. radius of the target establishment. While this cheered license protesters, the provision was considered to be of nominal value by hospitality supporters. The seven-year licensing struggle suffered by Hank’s, for example, would not have been affected.

Although citizen association and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) representatives outnumbered hospitality business and Business Improvement District (BID) representatives by nearly two-to-one, the working group’s proposal primarily served to confirm the need for regulatory repair as a widely supported public proposition.

Instead, with encouragement from the business community along with residents and patrons calling for reform, the D.C. Council initiated more substantial revisions.

First, the application process for new businesses will be subject to statutory timeframes, reducing the threat of long licensing delays by protest groups or ANCs used to extract operating restrictions. No longer will bankruptcy before beginning be the interventionist weapon of opportunity. Businesses won’t face coerced early closing hours, limits on music and entertainment, restrictions on outdoor space use, downsized guest counts or other prohibitions as the price of expeditious license approval.

The process remains unwieldy and inordinately lengthy. But new venues are now guaranteed a shortened process and definitive schedule. After an initial period of application announcement and protest filings, businesses proceed to an ABC Board hearing within 60 days, a new requirement. Instead of the board having 90 days to subsequently issue a ruling, decisions will be required within 60 days.

Second, in a change more about policy implications than mere semantics, the widely reviled scourge of so-called “Voluntary Agreements” no longer exists. Misused by protest groups to extract operating concessions and by ANCs to legislate turf rules as a perceived licensing protocol, the option for a business to enter into such an arrangement has been renamed “Settlement Agreement” – a functionally accurate moniker implying nothing else.

Third, should an existing licensee or new business reach an agreement with the applicable elected ANC, any protest by a random “Gang of 5” will be discarded. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to citizens associations, but the message is unmistakable – past shenanigans will no longer enjoy countenance.

Limits have also been placed on the types of restrictions permitted in an optional Settlement Agreement, should a business choose to negotiate rather than proceed to a now accelerated adjudication.

Is it enough? Hardly. Will it restore some fairness for the city’s largest private sector industry, soon-to-be largest employer, and primary revenue producer? Absolutely.

The signal is clear – outdated enterprise regulation in a growing modern city is as much a relic of the past as those who support it.

Mark Lee is a local small business manager and long-time community business advocate. Reach him at


Marriage opponents to head LGBT, AIDS committees

Phil Mendelson, D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

Council Chair Phil Mendelson assigned Council members Marion Barry and Yvette Alexander to key committees related to LGBT and AIDS issues. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

In a development that may surprise some local activists, the two D.C. Council members who voted against the city’s same-sex marriage law have been assigned by Council Chair Phil Mendelson to head committees that oversee all of the city’s LGBT and AIDS-related programs.

Although they emerged in 2009 as the only two on the Council to oppose same-sex marriage, Council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) have said they support the LGBT community on most other issues and are committed to efforts to fight AIDS.

“There are always going to be disagreements and things that we’re not going to think the same on,” said Alexander, who replaced gay Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) as chair of the Council’s Committee on Health.

In a phone interview with the Washington Blade, Alexander was asked if she thought LGBT activists burned their bridges with her when the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsed her opponent in last year’s Democratic primary and the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance gave her a rating of -3.5 on LGBT issues on a rating scale of -10 to +10.

“No, that’s a thing where I’m not that kind of person,” she said. “So no one has burned a bridge with me…But we need to just find our commonality. We all want to end the high instance of HIV/AIDS. We want to rid our city of HIV and AIDS and all other diseases that plague our city.”

Barry, who had a strong pro-LGBT record during his years as D.C. mayor, angered many LGBT activists in 2009 when he joined Alexander in voting against the same-sex marriage bill after speaking at an anti-marriage equality rally organized by anti-gay groups.

In his reorganization of the Council’s committee assignments in December, Mendelson changed the committee that Barry chaired in the previous Council session from the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs to the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs. The change added to the committee’s portfolio more government agencies that deal with work and employment related issues.

Among the agencies that the committee oversees is the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Commission on Human Rights, which enforce the city’s LGBT non-discrimination law; the Office of GLBT Affairs; and the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on GLBT Affairs.

The Stein Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, chose not to endorse Barry’s re-election bid last year and GLAA also gave him a -3.5 rating on LGBT issues. Barry, like Alexander, won election to another term by a lopsided margin.

GLAA President Rick Rosendall said that despite GLAA’s strong criticism of Barry during the Council’s 2009 debate over the marriage bill, Barry was friendly toward him when he testified last year before Barry’s committee. Rosendall was one of the witnesses testifying in support of Mayor Vincent Gray’s nomination of transgender activists Earline Budd and Alexandra Beninda to seats on the D.C. Human Rights Commission.

Barry praised Budd and Beninda during the hearing and later joined fellow committee members in voting to approve their nominations.

During his tenure as chair of the Health Committee, Catania has been credited with helping to strengthen the city’s HIV/AIDS programs through aggressive Council oversight hearings examining the workings of the D.C. HIV/AIDS agency. Some AIDS activists have lamented his departure as Health Committee chair, even though Catania remains a member of the committee.

It was in response to Catania’s request that Mendelson appointed him chair of the reorganized Committee on Education, where Catania has vowed to provide aggressive oversight of the city’s troubled public school system.

Catania aide Brendan Williams-Kief, who switched from serving as Catania’s press spokesperson to director of the Committee on Education, said Catania plans to bring up the issue of school bullying, including anti-LGBT bullying, during his first oversight hearing on the schools in late February.

Last year, the Council passed a long awaited anti-bullying bill that requires D.C. public and charter schools to put in place policies to curtail school bullying. Williams-Kief said Catania intends to monitor the public school system’s implementation of the legislation.

Andrew Barnett, executive director of the D.C.-based Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), said he welcomes efforts by Catania and the Education Committee to monitor the anti-bullying policies.

“I think we still have a ways to go to make sure D.C. public schools are free from bullying and safe for LGBT students,” Barnett said.

LGBT advocates said they are pleased over Mendelson’s appointment of Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) as chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, which has jurisdiction over D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.  Wells, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, has said he would carefully monitor the police handling of anti-LGBT hate crimes.

Gay D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) retained his post as chair of the Committee on Human Services, which, among other things, oversees the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Graham was praised by LGBT nightlife advocates for shepherding through a liquor law reform bill last year that eases what hospitality industry representatives said was an overly burdensome and unfair process for bars, restaurants and nightclubs to obtain and renew liquor licenses.

Don Blanchon, executive director of Whitman-Walker Health, which provides medical services for the LGBT community and people with HIV/AIDS, said he looks forward to working with Alexander on upcoming AIDS-related issues.

“We absolutely will be reaching out to her on how we can help her in her new role,” he said. “The Council member has in her ward many of the same health disparities and public health challenges that Whitman-Walker is dealing with every day, which is a still too high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS, disparities within the African-American community and more so within the African-American LGBT community,” Blanchon said.


Gay man seeks Dupont ANC seat Wednesday

Dupont Circle Fountain

A little-noticed race for a vacant ANC seat in Dupont Circle will be held Wednesday. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gay restaurant manager Eduardo “Dito” Sevilla and civic activist Abigail Nichols have expressed differing views on the city’s liquor licensing policies and nightlife issues in a little-noticed race for a vacant seat on the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

The new commissioner for the ANC’s Single Member District 2B05, which covers most of the 17th Street, N.W., commercial and residential strip near Dupont Circle, will be chosen in a special election Wednesday, March 13, between 7:15 and 9:30 p.m. during the ANC’s regularly scheduled meeting at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

District 2B05 stretches from Q Street, N.W., between 15th and 17th streets on its northern boundary along part of 18th Street at Massachusetts Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue, almost to the White House gate, as ANC observers like to point out.

Sevilla has worked since 2004 as restaurant and bar manager at Floriana’s, a popular restaurant on the 1600 block of 17th Street, N.W. in the heart of the 17th Street commercial strip. Sevilla also lives on 17th Street one block from where he works.

Nichols has lived a few blocks away on 18th Street near Connecticut Avenue for 33 years, according to information posted on her website. She has worked for 20 years as a policy analyst and manager at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She serves as treasurer of the D.C. Chapter of the League of Women Voters and is co-founder of the Alcohol Sanity Coalition D.C., a recently formed group that, according to its website, favors stricter city regulations over bars, restaurants and nightclubs. She has also served as chair of an ANC 2B committee that monitors liquor licensing issues.

In an interview published by the Dupont Circle news and civic blog Borderstan, Nichols said she didn’t have a position on one of the most contentious issues facing the Dupont Circle ANC — whether a longstanding city-enforced moratorium preventing new businesses with liquor licenses from opening along the 17th Street strip should be continued or allowed to expire.

She said she would study the issue and talk to residents before making a decision on the matter when it comes up before the ANC later this year.

Sevilla, when asked about liquor moratoriums by Borderstan, said he doesn’t discuss moratoriums. He told the Blade on Saturday that he personally favors allowing the 17th Street moratorium to expire. But he said he would recuse himself from voting on the issue if he’s elected to the ANC because his job at Floriana’s, which has a liquor license, would be viewed as a conflict of interest.

Ironically, Sevilla said, a continuation of the moratorium would be advantageous to Floriana’s and all other existing bars and restaurants on 17th Street —  including three gay bars and a gay restaurant — because it prevents competitors from opening. However, as a resident and concerned citizen of the neighborhood, he said ending the moratorium would improve the area by allowing responsible and “resident-friendly” restaurants and cafes to open in several spaces along the street that have been vacant for a long time.

“I think a little café or a bakery that served beer wouldn’t be the worst thing on earth,” he said. “It would be better than the vacant spaces that have been left there.”

The moratorium is scheduled to expire later this year unless the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) renews it. Under city law, ABRA makes the final decision but is required to give “great weight” to the views of ANCs.

Nightlife advocates, both gay and straight, have expressed concern over Nichols’ positions on liquor licensing issues as the lead spokesperson for her group Alcohol Sanity Coalition D.C. The group opposed a number of provisions in a City Council bill last year seeking to reform the city’s liquor law.

One of the provisions Nichols opposed called for disqualifying ad hoc groups of as few as five citizens from having legal standing to challenge a liquor license application or renewal of an existing license if the applicant and the ANC reach an agreement and the ANC approves the application.

D.C. Council observers say support for the provision in the liquor bill to restrict the powers of small, ad-hoc groups to block liquor licenses emerged from a bitter fight over a proposal by Hank’s Oyster Bar, a popular seafood restaurant at 17th and Q Streets, N.W., to expand its outdoor patio.

An ad hoc group blocked the proposal for several years, even though nearly all nearby residents and the 17th Street community as a whole supported the patio expansion, according to residents familiar with the dispute. In December, over the objections of Alcohol Sanity Coalition D.C., the Council voted to retain the provision restricting the authority of ad-hoc groups to challenge licenses. The Council passed the bill itself by a unanimous vote.

Sevilla said Nichols, who lives in a condo building just off Connecticut Avenue next to a bustling commercial area where nightclubs and bars are located, appears ready to support overly restrictive regulations on all businesses with a liquor license on the entire ANC district.

“We don’t have the issues on 17th Street that she has where she lives,” Sevilla said. “I absolutely believe in my heart of hearts that [the moratorium] should be discontinued. I think some people like to jump on a bandwagon that lifting the moratorium would immediately turn us into Adams Morgan,” he said.

“I think that is a little bit alarmist and ridiculous,” said Sevilla. “Seventeenth Street is not 18th Street [in Adams Morgan]. We don’t have that many commercial spaces…It’s just two or three new spaces that could take hold.”

Nichols disputed claims that she would impose excessive restrictions on bars and restaurants located in ANC 2B.

She told the Blade on Monday that the Hank’s Oyster Bar case was not a representative example of how groups of five citizens handle ABC license challenges. She said she has organized groups of five residents in her apartment building that negotiated agreements with at least seven bars or nightclubs after the groups of five filed a protest, or challenge, to the club’s liquor license application.

“We say up front that we do not want to stop them from opening,” Nichols said. “Our objective is to work out a common sense agreement to cut down the noise.” In several cases, she said, the agreements called for the clubs, whose main entrances are on Connecticut Avenue, to close their rear entrances on 18th Street at 10:30 p.m. Her apartment building, the Palladium at 1325 18th Street, is close to the clubs’ rear entrances and subjected to noise by patrons entering or leaving the clubs, she said.

“We don’t blame the owners, who usually run good businesses, she said. “But you can’t avoid noise from liquor serving establishments, and that’s why you need these agreements.”

“Voters should ask both of us about the positions we already hold and whether we have any conflicts of interest that might affect our ANC service,” she told Borderstan. “How would we handle such conflicts?”

The ANC 2B05 seat became vacant when incumbent Victor Wexler, who was running for re-election last year unopposed, dropped out of the race in October due to a back ailment. It was too late to remove his name from the ballot in the November election.

Nichols announced her candidacy as a write-in candidate for the seat, but it was uncertain whether most voters were aware that Wexler had dropped out of the race. He received 530 votes; 112 votes were cast for a write-in candidate, which was presumed to have been Nichols.


Doing to development what broke down booze

Jaws dropped on Tuesday when D.C. Council member Mary Cheh made clear she wants to do to private real estate development what was done to the city’s largest hometown industry.

Cheh is no longer merely pondering introduction of legislation adding layers of regulatory review for moderately large residential construction projects, as she had begun musing less than two weeks ago. This week she introduced a bill designed to mimic the city’s notoriously dysfunctional alcoholic beverage licensing process for bars and restaurants.

Someone might want to remind her how well that turned out.

Cheh wants both self-identified citizen and Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) groups to have 120 days to weigh in on project approvals that include multiple city agencies. ANCs alone are given an opportunity to offer an advisory opinion on approvals required by zoning variance requests and those for commercial and mixed-use projects. Cheh’s bill would subject all “matter-of-right” residential buildings of more than 150,000 square feet to this new auxiliary review obstacle, in addition to commercial or mixed-use projects larger than 50,000 square feet.

Her proposal will burden affected agencies with the task of specifically responding to each objection and add delays of at least half a year. In the business world, that’s an eternity – and will weaken development partnership interest in the District, threaten project financing and loan arrangements, endanger retail tenant commitments, increase the overall cost of doing business and slow the city’s growth and lessen its economic vitality.

These are apparently considerations of little interest to D.C.’s “Queen of the NIMBYs.”

Cheh held a Council committee hearing on March 27 to examine broadening public intervention in “matter-of-right” development projects not requiring special review due to a zoning variance request or exception. She heard solely from three development objectors from her district fighting an upscale 263-unit residential building in Chevy Chase on upper Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Cheh repeatedly bemoaned that they were unable to directly intervene in the city’s zoning, design and permitting procedures. They commiserated on a citywide restructuring of the process.

Scant consultation was sufficient for Cheh to immediately call for new regulatory protocols. Utilizing her trademark worry-about-the-implications-later approach, Cheh wasn’t concerned with real-world business practicalities.

Nor does Cheh seem to care about the extraordinary costs for private and public sectors and case litigation expense, or city agency staffing requirements. If successful, her efforts will gum up government with the same havoc-wreaking interference by small groups that is the signature of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) licensing.

Having conducted a lonely and unsuccessful fight opposing initial reforms of alcohol licensing approved by her colleagues last December, Cheh now wants to mandate the “ABC-ization” of construction.

It’s no wonder why the District holds the title for least business-friendly state jurisdiction in the country.

News that this misguided maven of regulatory ridiculousness had dreamed up a new scheme to make doing business in the District even more difficult and capricious never arrives as a surprise. The stunner is that she doesn’t comprehend the city’s evolving zeitgeist or the lessons to be learned from a broke down and out-of-balance hospitality business licensing system that her colleagues grapple with how best to repair.

Regulatory reform is an intensifying focus of other city officials, and is now the mainstream position of D.C. Council colleagues and competitive political candidates.

The District is evolving into a vibrant, confident, upbeat world-class city and residents expect our politicians to encourage continued development, economic expansion, modern regulations and commonsense governance.

It’s time for Mary Cheh to get off her carnival bandwagon battling economic development and equitable application of city laws.

The D.C. Council should quickly dispense with her proposal.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at