Enter Boks, who seems to be taking all this flap in stride. Still on vacation when he arrived in town two weeks ago, Boks got right down to business, meeting with the community, visiting shelters, and putting out the word that he needs volunteers to help paint the facilities bright, non-institutional colors, just as he did in New York.
“L.A. is like a breath of fresh air for me,” he says. “The big difference here is having folks who get it. Not just the Commission, the mayor’s office … Los Angeles is light years ahead of other communities in its acceptance of so many animal issues.”
Stuckey appeared to have soured on the city’s animal advocates over time – getting smoke-bombed didn’t help – but there is every indication that Boks has a different management style. While Stuckey took a lot of heat from both activists and members of the Board of Animal Services Commissioners for not holding union shelter personnel accountable and, as CityBeat previously reported, even ignored reported violations of the Hayden Bill, it appears that Boks runs a tight ship.
Activists such as STAND Foundation’s Daniel Guss went from originally questioning the Boks appointment to championing it. “He appears to have a track record of: If you want to work in the shelter, you had better have a passion for animals,” Guss explains. “If they don’t, they need to be gone, regardless of union obstacles. But if you say this to the union, they call you a terrorist. That’s bullshit.”
Boks doesn’t dispute his record. “We did have a high turnover rate [in New York City], 60 to 70 percent,” he explains. ”There were a lot of folks in that system that didn’t appreciate or weren’t up to the challenge of no-kill.”
At NYCACC, the first shelter worker who answered the phone said, “He was a good boss. He got rid of a lot of managers who were sitting around doing nothing.” CityBeat’s calls to United Service Workers of America, which represents NYCACC shelter employees, were not returned.
From the March 9, 2006 meeting notes of the LAAS Commission:
Daniel Guss: Thanked the General Manager for his accessibility. Said he would be available to share his information on backyard breeders. Suggested that the Department report more on the positive things that they are doing in the community.
So, what has changed? A charge that Boks was fired in NYC which is refuted here by an enthusiastic employee? A charge there was a medicine budget overrun in Phoenix? A charge he lives in an ivory tower and has nothing to do with the shelters or management, which is just the opposite of what this article said he was doing even before he started, while on vacation from his NYC job?