Washington, DC

Photo from DC DPR biography

“Dear PoP,

I noticed you hadn’t mentioned the latest controversy around the City Council rejecting the confirmation of Dr. Ximena Hartsock as Director of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. Many are decrying this action of the Council to be a slight against Mayor Fenty and not Dr. Hartsock, who has worked tirelessly to improve DPR’s services during the summer.. She was appointed by the Mayor in late April during the peak of the busy summer season and an outstanding job by most accounts, including many of the Councilmembers who voted against her (see Washington Post editorial on vote here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/06/AR2009100603070.html).

During her confirmation hearing, she was subjected to extremely harsh treatment from Councilmembers Harry Thomas, Jr. and Marion Barry that included several sexist remarks suggesting she would not be able to understand sports administration as a female and was told by Barry that she could not “understand black and brown culture” of DC, particularly in Ward 7 and 8 because she is a Latina. They also suggested that she was unfit because she has no qualifying experience in recreation (see Washington Post editorial on the hearing here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/05/AR2009100503182.html).

Many folks are outraged by this because Dr. Hartsock has been a dedicated public servant to this city for 15 years. She served as a Parent Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal at DCPS and went on to lead the DCPS Office of Out-of-School Time (managing all of the after-school, Saturday, and summer programs for DCPS) as a key member of Chancellor Michelle Rhee’s transition team.

I could go on and on about her as could the many residents and CBO leaders who voiced their support for her on Friday, but I would love it if you could post something about this travesty to see if others feel the same way. I think the comments about DC culture are especially damaging to the progression of this city.”

Has anyone followed this controversy? Do you support the Council’s decision in this case?


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