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Posted at 06:04 PM ET, 10/07/2009

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  |  06:04 PM ET, 10/07/2009

Categories:  Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart, Nikita Stewart

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