Former Parks Director Scolded by IG
Ximena Hartsock, the former acting director of the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, lied on her I-9 form about her home address and improperly hired a close friend while "living rent-free" in the friend's basement, according to a new report from the Office of Inspector General.
Hartsock was at the epicenter of an ugly confirmation battle between former Mayor Adrian Fenty and the D.C. Council in 2009. Hartsock wasn't confirmed and went to go work in for City Administrator Neil Albert.
But before the confirmation showdown, the IG says Hartsock got a long-time friend, who works at DCPS, a $27-an-hour summer job with the parks department while living rent-free in that friend's basement. That's a big no-no, the IG says, and breaks all sorts of city personnel rules.
The IG's report says Hartsock incorrectly believed that she had to sell her Arlington condo and become a D.C. resident when she was appointed as acting director in April 2009 after Fenty mysteriously fired former Director Clark Ray. (Hartsock would have had 180 days to become a D.C. resident if she's been approved by the council, the IG says.)
The IG's report says the friend offered to let Hartsock live in her basement and the pair told investigators that they'd signed a lease saying Hartsock would pay $700 or $750 a month. But the IG apparently didn't mess around, and pulled both Hartsock and the friend's bank records, which showed no such monthly payments. Instead, Hartsock gave her friend a check for $4,200 in December, after the friend submitted a letter to the editor at the Washington Post defending Hartsock and mentioning that she was living in the basement. (LL tried to find the letter, but with no success.)
The IG says Hartsock committed four violations of the District Personnel Manual: 1) "Giving preferential treatment to any person." 2) "Losing complete independence or impartiality." 3) "Affecting adversly the confidence of the public in the integrity of the government." 4) An employee shall not accept a gift from an employee receiveing less pay."
The IG says it went to the U.S. attorney's office to report that Hartsock made false statements on an April I-9 form she submitted saying she was living in the District when she was actually living in Virginia. The feds declined to pursue the case, the IG says.
The friend in this story also broke city rules by making "a donation as a gift to a superior," according to the IG.
Hartsock's Virginia phone listing is no longer working and LL couldn't find another way to reach her for comment. In the IG's report, Hartsock says that no one at the parks department actually worked for her "because she uses a team approach to management and considers herself to be part of the team."