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Hartsock Unsure of Plans Following Council Rejection

Ximena Hartsock, who was rejected as the new parks and recreation director Tuesday by the D.C. Council, says that she doesn't know what she is going to do next and that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) told her he was "devastated" by the council's vote.

Hartsock gave her first interviews about the vote on Wednesday.

The council voted 7 to 5 to reject the mayor's nominee after a contentious hearing Friday and an hour-long debate on the dais Tuesday. Her supporters cried sexism and racism, pointing to comments made at the Friday hearing, when council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) implied that Hartsock, who is Hispanic, did not understand black culture.

Before the vote, council members strongly denied allegations of bias and sought to distance themselves from Barry, who missed the vote because he was in the hospital suffering from dehydration.

Hartsock, who is originally from Chile, said she was not sure where she would land next but has asked the administration to help find positions for a half dozen employees that she brought on to her team at the Department of Parks and Recreation.

"As acting director, I have 180 days. I think I'm on my 155th day now," she said. "When I go, whereever I go, I [asked if I] can have them situated as well."

She said she spoke to Fenty Tuesday after the council's vote. "He said he was devastated and he was very sorry. I had his support," Hartsock said.

She said she was surprised at the vote despite Friday's hearing. She shied away from calling council members' action sexist and racist as her supporters have. "I don't want to speculate about gender and race," she said.

However, Hartsock said she was disappointed that the hearing did not focus on her record, the department's budget or its programs. "I recognize the political tension between the executive and the council," she said.

The unusual vote reflected the administration's strained relations with the council and with labor unions. The labor union that represented child care workers in the Department of Parks and Recreation called recent layoffs unfair and illegal.

Other employees complained about Hartsock creating a work environment that pressured them to work long hours.

Hartsock said the union's allegations were false.

She also denied that she did not communicate with the union officials, saying she met with them "several times" and "exchanged 100 e-mails."

-- Nikita Stewart

By Anne Bartlett  |  October 7, 2009; 6:04 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Mayor Fenty , Nikita Stewart  
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Please...let her half dozen workers feel the same pain as the workers she RIF'd. RIF em....and call it a day.

Posted by: winston61 | October 7, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Why should they be given a handout? Thomas gave you plenty of opportunities to clear the record, to answer the questions and to comply with the law before your confirmation hearing. You listened to Nickles and Fenty and ignored the ones who got the last yea or nea. Following Fenty will hurt you in the end. After the hard work and your "record", you are remembered as the Fenty appointee that was not confirmed. A hard lesson learned.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 7, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

great post

Posted by: craigspr | October 7, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

This is why DC will never strive. It is all about dirty politics.

Posted by: jessi01 | October 7, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Usually I'm in agreement with Candycane. But DPR is not DCPS, and Hartsock is not Rhee. It's unfortunate this hearing came during the same week as DCPS RIF's, but Ximena is a local and has a much different style. She will go to the ends of the Earth to find a job for an unqualified worker if she has the ability, but she won't tolerate unqualified. She has taken the worst DCPS teachers back from the brink, worked with them and the Union and they are still (unfortunately) employed today. She was a teacher. Her interests are in the kids first, and if anyone thought there was any doubt that Fenty would be re-elected, he surely will be now. Compared to the nasty tone of his potential adversaries, he wins hands down.

Posted by: modern5 | October 7, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

It important that we focus on the fact that despite how nice and responsive Hartsock was to constituents, the reality is that she lacked the experience and violated procedures and the law.

It is unfortunate that she was used by Fenty to ram through his agenda but then again she is an adult and should have known better.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | October 7, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

And if they place those 6 from her staff then they should also place the more than 300 DCPS employees they RIF'd. Doesn't feel so good when you get a taste of your own medicine, does it Ms. Harsock? Fenty and Rhee are the next to go and it can't be too soon for me.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | October 7, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Hartsock failed to realize that you should be confirmed BEFORE ignoring laws set by the Council. She carried the trademark executive arrogance of Fenty, before she solidly had the job. The frustrated Council members finally got even.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 7, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

concernedaboutdc: I've always appreciated your views. but why dont we learn the nitty-gritty details of what "laws" were "violated"? H. Thomas has plenty to hide, so I hear. But I can't get a handle on the facts: was she put there to privatize programs and if so, by whom and how so? did she have a written contract to perform certain duties in order to be Acting Dir? And if she was Fenty's fall guy, wouldn't everyone on this site want to get to the bottom of it on ALL OF OUR BEHALFS? BEHALVES?

Posted by: modern5 | October 7, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

modern5: Since it is your belief that Ms Hartsock is such a great educator, then maybe, just maybe, Fenty will dump Michelle and annoint her the new and improved chancellor.

At least she will be in her own comfort zone. DPR is very specific as is DCPS. However, Hartsock must remember to stay in compliance with the law.

Posted by: shank2sb | October 7, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

DPR is very much like DCPS under this mayoral control. She followed the orders of her boss and her boss, the mayor, has waged a war against DC employees. I know Hartsock, worked with her. The fact remains that laws were put into place that were ignored. In fact, laws were put into place because of what Fenty was doing. We are in a major law suit because those laws were ignored. Perhaps she got caught up in the cross fire, maybe even used by Fenty, but she ignored the laws not once but twice.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 8, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Shanks2be...Hmmmm... not a bad idea, actually!

Posted by: modern5 | October 8, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

modern5 if it helps, pull up the council hearings on demand. But basically she violated hiring practices by firing due to a budget shortfall and then re-hiring within 6 months folks from DCPS at higer salaries. The privitization of childcare occurred without approval. It was "federally funded" not to be touched. She closed childcare sites and transistioned them into DCPS. Parents lost their sites and staff lost jobs.

Posted by: candycane1 | October 8, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to the seven councilmembers that casted their vote of non-consent based solely on their sworn oath to provide oversight of government agencies and to ensure that the agencies—including mayoral interim appointees— adhere and operate under DC laws, regulations and within budgetary guidelines.

Dr. Hartsock’s flagrant disregard for laws and policies that govern the District of Columbia is the only reason she is an ex-interim and not the director of D.C. Parks and Recreations (DPR). She was entrusted with taxpayers’ dollars to provide services for the good of all DC residents, but yet she chose to accommodate the more affluent Wards, while cutting needed services—that were federally funded—for the city’s less fortunate.

Case in point— Dr. Hartsock violated two laws passed by the Council: the "Day Care and Senior Services Emergency and Temporary Acts of 2008," and the "Daycare Facility Emergency and Temporary Act of 2009,"that were created solely to prevent her from closing daycare and senior facilities. Dr. Hartsock refused to adhere to the law and closed the daycare and senior facilities in contempt of the Council. Mind you, although she defied the law and closed the daycare and senior facilities that provided a needed service to low-income residents, she expanded a program called “Cooperative Play” which is a part-time, play-time program sponsored by DPR that caters to affluent, stay-at-home moms with toddlers in Wards 3, 2 and 1.

Over 100 daycare workers & DPR employees—some with more than 20 years of service—lost their jobs, while many of Dr. Hartsock’s delegation of unqualified, former DCPS employees were rewarded with pay that exceeded the salary limits by as much as 40 percent.

If Peter Nichols, The Washington Post or anyone else wants to play the “race card” and infer that the Council’s vote against Dr. Hartsock was based on her being a Latina, they need to watch the hearings (July 27, October 2 & 6, 2009) before making such an inflammatory statement in defense of a mayoral appointee whose actions can be construed as being bias, and most importantly, detrimental to low-income constituents.

If the “race card” is played, let the lawsuits begin and hold the District of Columbia liable for Dr. Hartsock firing of predominately African American employees without cause or performance evaluations to justify their dismissals and replacing them with inexperienced, non-African Americans at much higher pay rate that exceeds the salary limits set by D.C. Department of Human Resources.

Dr. Hartsock shouldn’t have been surprised by the Council’s vote. The District of Columbia isn’t an anarchistic society and being a Fenty’s myrmidon didn’t absolve her from the law!

Posted by: dcnatives | October 8, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

This city can now move forward as one and the tone is set for change in 2010. Let no one be above the law. Let our young people stand up for change in DCPS, DPR, DHS and this city. We need leadership that's for all people who live in DC.
"One City One People"
Vote for change Vote Gary 2010

Posted by: PRIDE-INC | October 8, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I would also add, I know someone who works as a roving leader for dpr - I will attest to the fact that they were working way beyond their work ours and there were many violations of their contract as imposed by their new director.

And if anyone watched the hearing, you witnessed that she confirmed she fired many people in her department without even giving them a formal evaluation then brought in her own people at a much higher salary.

On a much higher note, I wish this panel presided over the deposition of the peaceoholics...

Posted by: missboo | October 8, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know who she hired?

Posted by: sugarstreet | October 8, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

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