Whither Ximena Hartsock?
The soon-to-be-ex-director of the city parks and recreation department might have been rejected by the D.C. Council, but Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has made no bones about declaring Hartsock to be a model municipal administrator deserving of continued government employment.
And yet, the confirmation battle has soured relations between Hartsock and several councilmembers, making any appointment to a council-confirmed post a futile exercise. But a solution may exist.
The rumblings are this: Hartsock’s next stop in municipal government is likely to be as chief executive of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. That is a quasi-governmental nonprofit that partners public and private entities to fund and oversee various youth programs. Crucially, the president/CEO post is appointed solely by the nonprofit’s board.
Fenty last year asserted control over the body by ousting several high-powered board members and replacing them with close allies. After the power move, the board selected Millicent Williams, who had been Fenty’s volunteerism head, as chief executive.
Williams departed late last month to take over the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency; she’s been replaced on an interim basis by longtime CYITC exec Ellen London.
The move would play to Hartsock’s strengths—-CYITC’s focus is more purely on out-of-school youth programs (which was Hartsock’s job as a top official for the D.C. Public Schools) than DPR’s—-while avoiding her political Achilles’ heel.
Then again, perhaps not. Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. tells LL that a Hartsock appointment “would lead to a tough funding situation” for businesses that partner with the CYTIC. “Funders would look at the controversy around her, and they would perceive her as not having the most positive relationship with the council,” he says. (The agency’s budget is overseen by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, who voted for Hartsock’s confirmation.)
Thomas, for the record, put in a good word for London: “Why doesn’t this administration, instead of shuffling people around, look at people who have experience, who have worked at these agencies, and who have done good work?”
Hartsock’s spokesperson had no comment on the matter. London tells LL she’s heard nothing from board members except that a search would be undertaken. One board member tells LL that the Hartsock move is rumored but that the mayor has yet to pass any names to the board.