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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Alum rejected for city job

A GW alumna nominated to become the director of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation has caused a rift in the city government, pitting Mayor Adrian Fenty against some members of the D.C. Council.

The city’s legislative body rejected Ximena Hartsock’s nomination after some councilmembers questioned her policies and ability to do the job. But Hartsock, who was serving as acting director of the department, will continue serving after Fenty issued an executive order Oct. 23 renaming her as the interim director.

“The mayor’s doing this to ensure government continuity,” said John Stokes, a spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Hartsock will remain interim director for 180 days, but Fenty cannot extend that period, Stokes said.

The disapproval resolution on Hartsock’s nomination passed the council seven to five. After her term as interim director expires, Hartsock will have to leave the position she has held since April, when the department’s former director, Clark E. Ray, was fired.

Fenty nominated Hartsock to become DPR director, but controversy – racially tinted, at times – sprung up during her confirmation hearing.

Some councilmembers disapproved of the privatization of children’s day care facilities in the department, an effort made by Hartsock and Fenty’s administration. Councilmembers have accused Hartsock of ignoring council legislation that would delay the privatization efforts, according to the Washington Post.

Councilmember Marion Barry also questioned whether Hartsock, originally from Chile, understands black culture. With the majority of D.C. residents being African American, Barry did not think Hartsock was qualified for the job.

“We have a culture that is different. We have a subculture that is different,” Barry said at Hartsock’s confirmation hearing.

The American Federation of Government Employees Local 2741 also testified against Hartsock at the confirmation hearing. Union representatives said Hartsock was responsible for closing the department’s Office of Educational Services, which provided child care services, according to an AFGE news release.

The union also took issue with the termination of employees “under the guise of budget cuts.”

“This candidate has snubbed the council, the union and, more importantly, dedicated DPR workers and the families and children they continue to serve,” Ben Butler, president of AFGE Local 2741, said at the meeting.

Stokes said it would be hard to find someone with Hartsock’s talent and energy, but the city needs to make sure a replacement is found.

Hartsock received a doctorate in Leadership, Educational Administration and Policy Studies from GW in August 2004.

Before becoming head of DPR, she served as deputy chief for the Office of Teaching and Learning for D.C. Public Schools and as an elementary school principal.

While Hartsock could not be reached for comment about her plans once her time as interim director is up, Stokes said she would “continue to assist children and adults.”

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