Animal Shelter-More

The Tribune had two pieces yesterday (I could only find one online) about the City's takeover of the animal shelter.

I only have a few (whew!) observations.

First, the article said: "It was unclear Saturday what prompted the city to act before the 30-day extension expired.

Lawton and Police Chief Corky Grove said documents related to the city's decision will be released Monday morning. Grove declined to comment further."

Unclear? Didn't the reporter talk to these folks? What did they say? And why this later release of documents? The City, obviously, should have a file or files on this situation. Unless discussing some individual, this information is public. Hand it over to the reporter. All of it, right?

I'm looking forward to seeing just what all of the complaints and issues are, and how well documented they are.

Someone on the Tribune discussion forum ("Holy Hal," to be specific) suggested that the City deserves a say on the Humane Society's Board of Directors since the City funds the operation of the shelter. Not true; you can't have it both ways.

If you want an independent person or company to do something for you, you can employ that person or you can hire him by an independent contract. Independent contractor status carries great benefits for the City, one of the biggest of which is that you are not generally liable for the actions of your independent contractors, while you generally are liable for the actions of your employees.

One of the most significant factors in determining the existence of an independent contractor relationship versus an employee relationship is control. If the City starts appointing the HSCC's board members, the organization will start to look less and less independent and more and more like an employee of the City. Does the City really want that?

If you are going to contract with someone (or entity) the "oversight" should be contained within the four corners of the contract. You include very specific performance requirements to ensure that what you want the other person to do is defined and measurable. Then you include specific remedies in case the other party doesn't perform. If the other party fails to perform, you invoke the remedies and, ultimately, terminate the contract. You don't take over the other party's management.

Next, there have been complaints about the Humane Society's operation. It seems to me that, compared with the Police Department's bid, they are operating the shelter on a shoestring. Maybe another $100,000.00 to the HSCC might go a long way toward fixing the problems. And that would still save the taxpayers over $200,000.00.

In an earlier post, I made this observation: "Sixth, the City Commission voted to extend the Humane Society's contract for 30 days. On whose authority was the decision made to countermand the Commission's vote and seize control of the shelter?" I think I may have overstated this question a bit; I should have paid closer attention to the procedure.

Apparently the City's contract with the HSCC expired on Midnight, June 30. The City Commission voted to "finalize the terms and conditions" of the extension of time with the HSCC. When the City Manager proposed the additional terms regarding the Board of Directors he was arguably authorized to do so by the express directive of the City Commission. Failing the HSCC's acceptance of his proposal, the City elected not to renew the contract.

I said "arguably," though, because the Commission's vote also included language stating that the extension would "include a prorated price based upon the current value of the contract and incorporation of all current terms and conditions found in the existing contract." That doesn't exactly authorize anyone to make a take it or leave it offer to the HSCC that they surrender their board appointment powers, does it?

When the City Commission voted a couple weeks ago, did they know that they were voting on such a take it or leave it offer? If so, why was that not explicitly stated for the public's benefit? If not, who authorized the City Manager to make such an offer?

One last thing that I discussed earlier. In the articles in the paper yesterday there was some very pointed language about the current Board of Directors of the Humane Society of Cascade County. I would simply suggest that all concerned remember these people are volunteers. Shouldn't officials put personal differences aside and try to focus only on what is best for the community?


Anonymous said...

It'll be quite interesting to see just WHO is the person that will be running the shelter now. For you see, if it ends up being gloria lamott, donna's pal, WHY? Why weren't OTHER more qualified people considered for the job? And WHAT will the salarly be? Is donna now co-dicktater with johnny? Maybe we should disband the city commission too! It may not be nepotism, but is sure as hell is CRONYISM!, of the ugliest kind.


Anonymous said...

How can the city take over the assets/property of a non profit. When I was familar with the HSCC by-laws, they stated if it was dissolved, the assets and such could only be turned over to a similar non profit type of organization. (it wouldn't be desolved because the city said it wanted it to)
AND, I thought that the building the hscc is in, was deeded to the hscc at least 6 years ago.

The HSCC could still function and perhaps could go back to a true hscc if they did not have to do animal control. So, I'm not sure that I see animal control as a loss for the hscc. The contract with the city, in the past, has always been fullfilled to the letter, a number of times, giving the city more than what was contracted for, such as so many hours patrolling. The HSCC has more functions than just animal control.

The hscc receives donations that are tax deductable that help it with operating revenue and programs, such as spaying/neutering, microchipping, just to name a few.

Even if the city took back animal control, the hscc would still exist. The city can not control a non profit. I'm not a lawyer, but isn't that correct, geeguyj?

GeeGuy said...

Assuming that there is nothing in the governing documents of the HSCC allowing City Control, and assuming that there is no contractual arrangement, you are correct that the City has no legal right to control the Humane Society.

Anonymous said...

RE: you are not generally liable for the actions of your independent contractors, while you generally are liable for the actions of your employees.

That is an interesting observation and raises another question:

IF you don't keep accurate or complete files

IF you claim confidentiality

Then how can you be liable for anything?

Anonymous said...

You are right on the money, GeeGuy. Was it really necessary for our Mayor to smear the board of directors of a local non-profit?

Is fomenting the fight really leadership?

Anonymous said...

As innocuous as animal control is, it really makes one suspicious of other city dealings under this mayor, commission and city manager.

Highwood Generation Station comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

If Gloria LaMont (sp?) turns up as a paid director of the animal shelter, I guess that means the lady at the City Commission meeting was right, doesn't it?