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Council will send delegation to meet Fenty

The D.C. Council plans to send a five-member delegation to meet with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to discuss how the two sides can end the showdown over the reappointment of the director of parks and recreation.

Fenty reappointed Ximena Hartsock on Friday as interim director, three weeks after the council voted to remove her from office. Fenty's decision outraged several council members, some of whom are demanding she be removed from office immediately.

Earlier today, council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) convened a closed-door meeting with council members to try to decide how to respond to Fenty's decision. According to sources familiar with the meeting, who asked not to be identified because it was supposed to be confidential, the council members are divided on how to proceed.

Gray, the sources said, floated a proposal that would allow Hartsock to remain as director until mid-November. Other members want Hartsock removed from office immediately, but they might be stymied because other members believe they are powerless to oust her.

The D.C. code states, "No person shall serve in an acting capacity in a position that is required by law to be filled by Mayoral appointment without the advice and consent of the Council." However, another section of the code cited by Hartsock supporters suggests that she can remain in a "holdover position" for up to 180 days after the expiration of her term.

"What this has pointed out is there are some ambiguities that need to be strengthened in terms of the confirmation process and how it unfolds," said council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), chairman of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation.

Thomas declined further comment. But sources say the meeting broke up without any final resolution on how the council plans to proceed.

They did agree, however, to extend an olive branch to Fenty by sending a delegation to see if a compromise can be reached. The delegation will include Gray as well as two council members who voted to confirm Hartsock as well as two who voted against her, one of whom will be Thomas.

-- Tim Craig and Nikita Stewart

By Tim Craig  |  October 27, 2009; 6:56 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Next: Nickles bears flowers for Cheh


Well I guess it was for spiritual guidance and a group cry to get ready for one more round of pleading for cooperation, begging to be recognized as an equal branch of government, forgiveness of can't we all get along and knowing full well the mayor does not give a flyin flick about the council, it's oversight and empty threats.
What a mess!

Posted by: candycane1 | October 27, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Fenty is going to stick to his decision about Hartsock so what is the point of the olive branch? More publicity stunts as usual. Council, please tell the spoiled brat he has to follow the laws he swore to uphold when he became an attorney!! Please stand up to him. The council has been taking hits from him the entire time. It's time to "man up" and take a stand. DO THE RIGHT THING!

Posted by: southyrndiva | October 27, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cow! Does Fenty have something foul on each and every one of them?
Are they afraid of Fenty?
Olive branch? You've got to be kidding. Not unless they intend to beat him over the head with it.

A mess indeed!

Posted by: 2belinda | October 27, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

What spineless nothings we have as council members. Along with Fenty, I will enjoy voting any current at-large member out as well. Too bad, my councilman is not up for re-election. I will get my change. That is for sure.

Ms. Harsock must go. period.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 27, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

olive branch, schmolive branch.

Posted by: efavorite | October 27, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse


My sentiments exactly! Why on earth are they extending an olive branch TO HIM, when he has shown them his hind parts at every turn? I'm just speechless. I've never seen a more spineless, fearful elected body of officials in my life.

Hey, what's that up there? Oh, that's D.C.'s chance for statehood floating away. I see the balloon boy debacle has nothing on D. C. politics!

Posted by: schooletal | October 27, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

It appear, King Fenty has some dirt of the Council of the District of Columbia.

Posted by: illegalalien | October 28, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

So now the council is going to see what kind of deal they can skirt with the Mayor to allow for him to continue his disregard of District law. What kind of "project" they can get his support on.

Our laws in the District are a sham under this Mayor with the backing of the Council. The key is to get in on the corruption wagon while it is still in town.

If the feds don't intervene here, there is no checking this lawlessness. A backdoor deal makes all that is illegal, legal again.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 28, 2009 6:02 AM | Report abuse

The D.C. code states, "No person shall serve in an acting capacity in a position that is required by law to be filled by Mayoral appointment without the advice and consent of the Council."

Because a person is normally appointed interim "temporary" until a person is found that the Mayor wishes to submit for confirmation. That person is then made "acting" and then a confirmation hearing held. The Mayor skipped the "interim" phase.

The Council needs to correct the language of the statute to clarify it's meaning by emergency legislation.

It is clear by past application that the intent of the law is attached to the "individual" and not the "position title".

Change the language to read "No person shall serve in a capacity, INTERIM OR ACTING, in a position that is required by law to be filled by Mayoral appointment without the advice and consent of the Council."

This gives the executive the option to appoint someone as interim or acting, yet requires Council approval for anyone to serve in that capacity beyond 180 days; to include someone that the executive has submitted as acting, gone through a confirmation hearing, and denied. If just requires that the Council agree that the person should be allowed to continue beyond 180 days after being rejected confirmation.

Not likely to happen, but, then again, it shouldn't happen at all. The confirmation hearing is designed to be the final word.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 28, 2009 6:31 AM | Report abuse

Statehood for the suit and tie hoodrats occupying the Distict Building (named after a guy-Johnny W. -who killed himself, left the city in a budget deficit) is the biggest farce outsie of balloon boy.

We will never see stand-up or man-up D.C. Council people for the next 2 years and our only hope is the FEDS to take control once again...Oh I forgot Fenty is tight with POTUS Obama?

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | October 28, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Foxxmacpryor, the answer never has been the federal government taking over the government of local affairs. They have a nation to govern. It all boils down to educating the electorate in the District to make better decision when electing local officials and then holding them ACCOUNTABLE.

As much as many hate the Mayor, many of them voted for him. When he was elected, he was the same man that, as trustee, stole money from a client's estate, only to return it when he got caught by the family, was brought before the D.C. bar and sanctioned. The people knew this when he was elected. It cam out during the campaign. Worse, the Washington Post still endorsed him.

Fenty was a man of low ethics and character when he was elected. It should not be of any surprise that he is the same man today.

This has been one of the laziest Council's I have witnessed in a very long time. They have shunned their checks and balance responsibility of this Mayor for the last 3 years. And, as it appears, they will continue to do it by way of this "delegation pow-wow".

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 28, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

concernedaboutdc said:

"Fenty was a man of low ethics and character when he was elected. It should not be of any surprise that he is the same man today.

This has been one of the laziest Council's I have witnessed in a very long time. They have shunned their checks and balance responsibility of this Mayor for the last 3 years. And, as it appears, they will continue to do it by way of this "delegation pow-wow"."

True....and although I don't condone Barry's shenanagins, it amazes me that people who are always associating corruption with the Barry administration, turn a blind eye to Fenty's blatant disregard for all things legal and ethical...they have such a reflexive opposition to Barry that they'd prefer to be screwed by someone else.

With few exceptions, the council is lazy as hell...they reactive when embarassed into responding to whatever happens to be the latest debacle.

According to the voting stats, more DC citizens DON'T vote than do Fenty carryong all precincts with an unimpressive, historical average voter turnout of approximately 30%, suggests that more citizens need to get informed AND go to the polls.

Posted by: logosdesigns | October 28, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

..excuse the typos..:)

Posted by: logosdesigns | October 28, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

You're correct logosdesigns - if it were Barry, the Post would take every opportunity to slam him. Not saying his actions didn't warrant that but at least be fair. However, we all know this administration is "in bed" with WaPo so I've come to expect favoritism in their mediocre reporting.

Posted by: missboo | October 28, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Mary Cheh on her decision not to confirm Dr. Hartsock as director of Parks and Recreation:

"This decision was very difficult for me because I like Dr Hartsock and found her personable and responsive... for me the determinative issue was the failure to follow the law."

However, a United States District court dismissed the claims that Dr. Hartock failed to "follow the law."

Go back to law school Councilmember Cheh.

We know your decision was based on a powerplay with the mayor but please find a better excuse next time.

Posted by: lindabelledc | October 28, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Hartsock has her doctorate from Georgetown University.

I think half of the council has doctorates in Whining, Laziness, and Ignorance from the University of Big Ego.

Posted by: lindabelledc | October 28, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I do not see the conflict in the law at all. Can someone enlighten me? Ms. Hartsock could have been retained in her position for 180 days AFTER THE EXPIRATION OF HER TERM, the article pointed out, unless it misquoted the law. How could she have started a term when she never was confirmed to begin with? Thus, she never had a term to be extended. One does not even need to go to law school to argue that point successfully.

Alternatively, the law that refers to the "advice and consent" of the Council is indisputable.

Fenty lovers, please get lost and stop trying to bamboozle the tax-paying citizens of the District. She needs to go. Nice lady, but she still needs to go. . . and perhaps Fenty along with her.

Posted by: vscribe | October 28, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Vscribe, Fenty prostituted the spirit of the law. In the District, an "individuals" term in an unconfirmed capacity begins the day they are appointed to that leadership role. For Directors, if they are "interim" that means that the Mayor generally does not intend to present them for confirmation but is, rather, seeking to identify a permanent candidate. Once identified that person is placed in an "acting" leadership position pending Council confirmation. The Council has 180 days to act on that nominee or confirmation is assumed. In this instance, the MAYOR skipped the interim appointment (because he wanted Ms. Hartsock to be eventually confirmed). She was, from the start, named "acting", giving Council 180 days to act. The Council did act, they denied confirmation. Thus, at the end of the 180 days that she (the individual) was appointed to the leadership post, she must vacate. The Mayor, here, has backtracked and applied an "interim" title to the same leadership role and placed the same individual in that role.

The Mayor is an attorney and has made a blantant end run around the spirit of the law.

Lets put it this way, had he still been a Councilman, and this had been Anthony Williams, he would have been crying "literally", bloody murder.

By reappointing her as "interim" bastardized the law.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 29, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

The reason we're hearing about the spirit of the law is that Fenty's action doesn't actually violate the law. Sure, he's flipping the Council the bird and, predictably, they're pissed off.

But while the usual sequence would be interim, then acting (both could be the same person -- e.g. Nickles who acted as AG for 11 months prior to confirmation OR one could be a placeholder and the other a candidate). But what has always come after acting is confirmation.

So what happens if most of the clock on the 180 days of the acting appointment has run when confirmation is unexpectedly denied? Not surprisingly, the Mayor doesn't have a candidate waiting in the wings. He needs a placeholder -- an interim. And, geez, isn't the obvious candidate the person already in the job?

From that perspective, Fenty's not even going against the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law is the choose someone to temporarily hold down the fort while you look for a candidate -- you have 180 days to find one.

From a public interest standpoint, I think he's done the right thing -- Hartsock will move the agency forward during the next 6 months and consolidate the progress she's made. Any other interim is likely to put the agency in a holding pattern (and/or slavishly do Fenty's bidding in hopes of being made Acting).

Then again, I thought the Council really screwed up in not confirming Hartsock. She's the first decent Fenty appointment I've seen. She certainly did things that the Council didn't want (so, yeah, they have a right to deny her confirmation); but what she did was not illegal. And it was better policy than what the Council tried to mandate. She wanted the city's daycare programs to be more educational and to have the feds pick up more of the tab. That argued for eliminating DPR's childcare services and providing everything through OSSE and the fed's designated local Headstart agency.

Posted by: smithhemb | October 29, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

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