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Council Rejects Hartsock Nomination

The D.C. Council voted Tuesday afternoon to reject Ximena Hartsock as the next director of the department of parks and recreation, delivering a setback to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

After nearly an hour of debate, the council voted 7 to 5 in support of a disapproval resolution.

Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), Michael Brown (I-At large), Kwame Brown (D-At large), Phil Mendelson (D-At large), Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 6) and Harry Thomas, Jr. (D-Ward 5) all voted against Hartsock.

Because the council approved an official disapproval resolution, council officials say Hartsock will have to immediately give up her position. Neither Fenty nor Hartsock was immediately available for comment but the action will likely worsen the feud between the council and the administration.

The council's decision comes as members are increasingly frustrated with the direction of the department under Fenty.

In recent weeks, council and the Fenty administration have been squabbling over the administration's efforts to privatize some daycare operations within the department.

Council members have accused Hartsock, who has been interim director since former director Clark E. Ray was fired in April, of ignoring council legislation seeking to delay the privatization efforts.

"We have had too many examples of people in the executive branch who have simply chosen to ignore the laws of this council, and I am sick and tired of it," Cheh said.

Thomas, the chairman of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, also argued that Hartsock was not qualified to lead the agency because she has experience in programming but not in the details of recreation.

"My philosophy absent serious challenges with the agency and its leadership, the council should refer to the mayor," Thomas said. "However after careful consideration and deliberation, it is clear this nominee has not met the benchmark."

But the Washington Post editorial board and others have raised questions whether some of the opposition to Hartsock was racially motivated.

At her confirmation hearing Friday, Council member Marion M. Barry (D-Ward 8) questioned whether Hartsock "understands" the culture of African-Americans. Barry did not vote today because he was hospitalized last night for dehydration.

The five council members who supported Hartsock argued their colleagues were unfairly targeting Hartsock because of their hostility for Fenty.

"The mayor deserves to have his nominee unless there is something extremely wrong," said Evan, adding Hartsock has been "very responsive" and is "well-liked" by residents.

"The residents in my ward are very supportive of this nominee," Evans said.

Graham added Hartsock shouldn't be a pawn in the dispute between the mayor and council.

"To be rejected by the council of the District Columbia, after she worked herself into a frazzle in making things right, it seems to me something is fundamentally unfair about this," Graham said.

--Tim Craig

By Anne Bartlett  |  October 6, 2009; 2:43 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig  
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Comments

Finally, the council acted responsibly. Gray stepped up and Kwame was more than present. She may be likable but it comes down to the fact that she has ignored the law. That's their job and I wish the rest of them(the usual suck-ups) would get it that! She will be ok. Rhee will take her back.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 6, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

So finally someone gets a taste of their own medicine... its about time! She never even gave the people she fired a chance, admitting on the record, that she didn't evaluate them - but that they were "at will" so she didn't need to. While I don't feel too happy about anyone losing their job, I certainly dont feel sad about this one.

Posted by: boo2 | October 6, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Maybe she should have went to her hearing in black face.

Posted by: 8-man | October 6, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Candycane: You keep saying Hartsock ignored the law.

Please be specific, as that's a pretty serious charge.

Posted by: Hillman1 | October 6, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

My guess is she's either referring to the DC Residency Law (if you watched the hearing)she basically claim the city misinterpreted it - to the person who wrote it lol... and/or not giving those of whom she fired a formal evaluation prior to letting them go, which from what I understand is law...

Posted by: boo2 | October 6, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

It's about time the Council grew a pair and stand up to the Dictator, I mean, the Mayor. If they push back a few times they might just find he's not as tough as they think he is....neither is Rhee. They both are bullies and it's about time we all begin to push back on both of them.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 6, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

What candycane is referring to is a series of DC Council laws that were passed directing DPR, Hartsock, and Fenty to conduct studies before privatizing any DPR services, including the childcare programs, to prove that they would save at least 5% to justify the action. In addition, when these laws were disregarded, the Council passed another law to ban Hartsock and Fenty from closing the centers and firing the workers until the studies proving there was a benefit to taxpayers were completed. This was also disregarded. That is what Mary Cheh is referring to in the article.

What is the point of having a Council that passes legislation if the Executive just does what it wants any way? Mayoral appointments are one thing that the Council can control. The 7 members who voted to disapprove Hartsock were sending the message that they cannot support nominees who already have a record of disregarding Council law. That is the gist of this whole thing. No matter what Barry may have said, this has absolutely nothing to do with race, sex, residency, or anything else you want to say.

Posted by: scinerd1 | October 6, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Scinerd: Thank you for explaining to Hillman1

One more thing Hillman1: Her actions regarding the childcare program has us in a major lawsuit right now.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 6, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"But the Washington Post editorial board and others have raised questions whether some of the opposition to Hartsock was racially motivated.'

_________________________________________

The Washington Post editorial board is wholly irrelevant in that they speak as administration insiders who hide behind anonymity.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 6, 2009 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Well it's about time!!!

Posted by: centsmytwo | October 6, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Does the Fenty administration have the Washington Post editorial board on staff or a picture of them in the nude.

Posted by: 411Tibby | October 6, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

411tibby - I've considered that the editorial board are cult followers who are under Rhee's spell, but your explanation makes much more sense.

Posted by: efavorite | October 6, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

There was a very intriguing comment over on Jonetta's piece on this at the Examiner:

+++++++++++++++
Sally Kuka
Oct 6, 2009

All of you, including Ms. Barras are naive. The Harstock appointment has to do with Fenty-Rhee plans for consolidating DCPS and DPR programs and Fenty wooing the Latino votes for his own re-election. Clark Ray was in on the fix and promised support in his 'at large' bid (which is why he kept mum on his dismissal). But Ray cannot beat Mendelson - mainly because Blacks will not want three gay white men on the Council.
Chileans are the most conservative and and elitist of Latinos, and do not give up their citizenship easily. Hartsock will give up hers only when she sees even bigger horizons in her future beyond DC - as Rhee now does.

+++++

Anyone know if this is true? Will any media ever investigate?

Posted by: sugarstreet | October 6, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

sugarstreet,

I don't have any proof of what that poster is saying, but I agree with her about the consolidation of DPR and DCPS. It makes sense looking at the staff from DCPS that was pulled over to DPR. It also makes sense when you look at some internal things going on at DCPS like the new IMPACT evaluation system which now has data driven categories for pre-K teachers and aides. Think testing for 3 year olds.

As a DCPS teacher, I find it offensive that almost 300 of my colleagues were just terminated from DCPS classrooms because of a "budget crisis", yet Rhee and Fenty are moving more and more programs from DPR to DCPS. Where is the money for that? Shouldn't we take care of the students we already have before we add on something?

Posted by: scinerd1 | October 6, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually, it makes perfect sense. The chilcare programs were "transitioned" and not closed as Hartsock puts it. That transition was into several DCPS buildings and my suspicion is that it helped with the "rise" in numbers as Rhee puts it, although we have not had the enrollment audit. Hartsock fired tenured employees under the budget shorfall and in six months hired DCPS folks at higher salaries. Staff development day at DCPS was play day at DPR. She ignored the council's rules twice as an interim. It's a great scheme. Whoever posted that is very perceptive and probably on to something. Wow!

Posted by: candycane1 | October 6, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Finally the council got it right!

Posted by: DCWatcher3 | October 6, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I am glad to see that for once that 7 members of the Council have stood up to Fenty's inexperienced appointees.

While I have interacted with Hartsock on several occasions and always found her to be pleasant and responsive, it was clear that she was just following orders from on high in some of her decisions like closing daycare centers, getting rid of DPR programs in the public schools and more. She was well respected within DCPS and was supposed to give a legitimate face to all of Fenty's backwards decisions.

No matter how nice she is, it does not make up for the fact that she was in way over her head. As taxpayers we should not have to suffer the consequences of her inexperience just because some council members think that all Fenty's appointments should receive a rubber stamp of approval.

Also to start claiming that Hartsock is being used as a pawn as Graham said is a just ridiculous. There is too much evidence otherwise and Graham is obviously trying to score votes from Latinos and deflect attention away from the taxigate scandal. It is pathetic how so much of the Council's decisions are based on what is good for their reelection.

It is too bad Hartsock was taken from DCPS. I really think she was doing good work there.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | October 6, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

DEAR MR GRAY-
PLEASE CALL ELMO OR KERMIT AND BEG THEM TO TAKE THIS JOB. WHILE THEY HAVE SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT JOBS WITH SESAME STREET. I AM SURE DC NEEDS ONE OR BOTH OF THEM ASAP AS THEY ARE THE ONLY TWO QUALIFIED CANDIDATES LEFT WHO THE COUNCIL WILL NOT ATTEMPT TO DESTROY.

THANKS

LARRY, ELMOS HALF BROTHER & MISS PIGGY, KERMITS GAL

Posted by: gladtoliveindc | October 6, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

DC-

ELMOS COMING AND HES BRINGING KERMIT W HIM!

THEY FORGOT MORE ABOUT SPORTS AND REC THAN ANY OF YOU FOOLS. WHEN ELMO WAS A TAILBACK @ AUBURN HE MAJORED IN PARKS AND REC.
ALSO,WHEN KERMIT WON HIS HEISMAN HE WAS MAJOR IN SPORTS MARKETING WITH A MINOR IN THE MINIATURE FRENCH HORN.

THEY WILL BOTH SHOW ALL OF US HOW TO PARK AND REC WITH THE BEST OF THEM-

GEORGE, KERMITS ROOMMATE FROM NURSERY SCHOOL

Posted by: gladtoliveindc | October 6, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Hartsock is the best thing DC Parks and Recreation has seen in over ten years. She was responsive and loved by everyone in my neighborhood. We even saw her mowing the grass herself one day with some of the landscaping crews. My children participated in the aqua day camp the department ran this summer and I was so impressed with how well organized it was.

The people crying and screaming about the childcare issue had obviously never been in one of the centers. "Teachers" with no high school degrees teaching 2 or 3 students for $50,000 a year. No wonder they were crying when the program got transitioned. I would never send my enemies' children to one of these programs. Thank you Dr. Hartsock for giving these families a better option for care.

Posted by: rhonda21 | October 7, 2009 1:14 AM | Report abuse

The Council finally had some backbone and stood up to Fenty and yet another unqualified nominee. Of course Muriel Bowser still went along with him because she knows she'd better. Pay attention to this voters when November 2010 comes.

Posted by: southyrndiva | October 7, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The Post implies but does not clearly state that the votes of Graham, Bowser, Catania, Evans and Wells were enveloped in protecting the Mayor's wishes.

Barry was absent for medical reasons.

Evans name in misspelled once in the article.

Posted by: fwinstead | October 7, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

DEAR DC -
AS A FURY RED MAN, AND A RESIDENT OF SESAME ST NW I REGRET TO WITHDRAW MY NAME FOR THE HEAD OF PARKS AND REC.

IM SURE YOU ALL WILL FIND A QUALIFIED INDIVIDUAL SEEING WHAT A LOVELY EXPERIENCE IT CAN BE WORKING AROUND SUCH A WARM FRIENDLY ENVIROMENT WITH SUPPORTIVE AND COMPASIONATE ELECTED OFFICIALS.

THANKS AGING

ELMO HENSON

Posted by: gladtoliveindc | October 7, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

If the Council was really concerned about lawlessness, it's the Santos nomination for Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development that should have been disapproved. DMPED has refused to produce documents to the city Auditor who is legislatively empowered/required to audit various development deals. It has taken a lawsuit by the Auditor (who works for the Council) to pry these documents loose from the Executive and Nickles indicates he won't comply with the subpoena.

So how does Santos, who heads this agency, get comfirmed unanimously the same week that Hartsock is trashed for "ignoring the law of this Council?"

I love the phrasing because the Council edict Hartsock didn't implement hadn't passed through the Congressional review phase and seems to be in conflict with both federal and DC laws prohibiting agency heads from taking on spending obligations when they don't have funds available to pay for them and requiring that emergency legislation not take effect unless/until necessary appropriations have been made.

Posted by: smithhemb | October 9, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

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