ABC TV today Commissioner Quits, Highlighting Animal Services Conflict
Claims Mayor's Office Pressured Her to Keep Quiet
By John North
Los Angeles Animal Services has always been a magnet for criticism. One of the city's Animal Services commissioners has resigned in protest. A current commissioner agrees with her. And at least one city councilmember has problems with the agency.
On August 21, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Los Angeles as the number one public animal adoption agency in the United States. Animal rights groups in Los Angeles County came up with their own statistics and loudly disagreed, saying the mayor was wrong.
Ten days after the mayor's news conference, one of his five appointed Animal Services commissioners resigned with harsh criticism of the department.
I talked with Atake by phone. She told me, "They (the mayor's office) pressured me to be quiet. And Jimmy Blackmun (the mayor's deputy chief of staff) ordered me to be quiet."
"I don't believe that for a moment. ... We're doing a great job," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "She's resigned, and she's given reasons for it, but we're going in the right direction. I'm very proud of the efforts."
Current Commissioner Archie Quincey won't go on camera but he did talk to me on the telephone regarding Atake's resignation letter.
"It was the truth (in Atake's letter)," said Quincey. "I agree with everything." Another current commissioner who does not want to be named, agrees with both Quincey and Atake and says most of the blame is on current Animal Services General Manager Ed Boks.
L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine doesn't have a problem with being quoted regarding Animal Services. He told me, "I've had serious issues and concerns about Mr. Boks and his running of the department."