Exit Strategy

Someone said regarding Boks that if and when he goes, his replacement may be worse. That is, beware of what you wish for.

So far, despite my warnings, the animal community has not developed a strategy for finding a new GM who may or may not be better. New York has gone so far as to pick someone with no shelter experience and lots of management experience. Hahn picked Stuckey who also had management but no shelter experience. He did better than Boks in terms of lowering the euthanasia rate, but we bumped him with a united opposition and got Boks.

Do we want to do this again?

I have suggested getting the mayor to form a search committee comprised of several well-known shelter directors and maybe Winograd to help select a replacement through some sort of mayor-accepted group after Boks is booted. However, Hahn did exactly this through his non-transparent Berstein-led selection committee. We got Stuckey. ADL got rid of Greenwalt and we got Stuckey. Again ADL led the opposition against him and we got Boks.

Damn it, we have to open a serious discussion about finding a replacement or at least a replacement strategy or else we may get someone worse. If we don't have something to offer the mayor in this regard, he would not know what to do either--you leave him facing a lose-lose situation, and a win--possibly lose situation for us with no clear path for a solution.

As one reporter I know asked,"Can anyone do the job?" We have made it clear we have opposed all of the last four GMs. Can any prospect think this will not happen to them? Who would accept such a job except for a passionate local?

But there may be some outsider who is capable and willing to come. I understand Carl Friedman of the San Francisco municipal shelter system is retiring next June. He wants to go back to NYC for a period of retirement and then he said his options are open. However, he did suggest that the Animal Services' Commission should have a lead role, and this makes sense even though many of us oppose all the Commissioners.

Then there is someone like Tara Derby who has made great strides towards bringing Philadelphia to no-kill in 2-1/2 years, going from 85% kill to 60% save. Philly has a union, but no civil service because it is not a government agency, it is a private non-profit. She thinks this is not an insurmountable obstacle to getting to no-kill.

Boks has been bad-mouthing both these people to the press and the mayor's office to head off this solution. Who does the press and mayor believe, Boks or us? The mayor has rejected us as a source for information or help for him to do anything.

So far Boks is one or two steps ahead of us because he has the mayor's ear and support.

My feeling is, and my hunch is that if Boks goes, we might get someone much worse in terms of being able to make LAAS work.

If this is the case, what is the point of opposing Boks?

Give me something to work with and we can start a discussion. If you are not willing to do this, I think we are lost, and the status quo is the only solution. You--YOU--cannot leave it up to Villaraigosa to make a decision if he thinks that whomever he picks will not get the same sort of reception from us as we gave to Stuckey and Boks unless that person obtains some immediate success. Even then, the most successful GM will still have snipers in the department and union itself as well as vocal locals who oppose one dog or cat who was unnecessarily killed and it becomes a cause for them. Now Villaraigosa thinks no matter whom he selects there will be no peace and no help to his electability. What options are we giving him? What clear path can we offer him? So far none--we have only given him problems.


Anonymous said...

The lack of response yet to this post says a LOT about the L.A. rescue community. Yeah, you can get all outraged about a poor puppy freezing to death on a concrete floor, but God forbid anyone ask you to DO something about it.

God forbid you work together and put aside your differences and personality conflicts to make sure it never happens again.

Last night the temperature was in the 40s. Probably will be again tonight. Better buy lots of Kleenexes so you can snivel at will about all the dead puppies. Then you can feel like you're really doing something.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion is to get off this "no kill" bandwagon and start putting the money and emphasis on other solutions such as mandatory spay/neuter, free spay/neuter, better enforcement, cat licensing (jump on that one), ordinances to dictate responsibility, etc. Take a lesson from Rancho Cucamonga, who jumped on that bandwagon and their died in kennel rate has soared to 600% more than before according to a recent letter in the Daily Bulletin referring to public record. Also a recent article in the same newspaper has Rancho denying they are "no kill" because they are realizing that it has done more harm than good adhering to this policy. I'm quite sure you would find the same things happening in Philly if they were subject to public record which they aren't because they are a non-profit, same as Tompkins County, same as Charlottesville. "No kill" as it has been presented is not a solution but an end result of other solutions. "No kill" is nothing more than a numbers game which you have learned the hard way from Boks. Boks is definitely a master at "no kill". Emphasis on those solutions and the rest will take care of itself. We cannot change the present, only the future. It only stands to reason that we can't kill "em if they aren't there to kill. Stopping the influx into the shelters is the best solution.

Ed Muzika said...

With regard to the preceding post.

We have heard about incremental approaches to gradually decrese impounds. This is the wrong tree.

There is no way to measure the effectiveness of any program; it will always be opinion as to which is helping drop killing, and therefore, we have no idea as to the best use of money.

Your overwhelming and repeated criticisms apparently is only with semantics, the use of the term "no-kill," as you think it will cause more impounds from people that think their cat will not be killed and you cite Rancho Cucamonga as "proof."

You have no idea what has happened there, eyt you cite some offhand references as proof of yur position.

Other shelters have claimed to be close to or at No-Kill, such as Raleigh North Carolina, Ithica and perhaps now Las Vegas. For every failure you cite where you think No-Kill has failed,one can find another where it has worked. If you doubt their numbers but only accept your third hand knowledge about Rancho, there is no point in discussion with you as we have heard the same thing a dozen times and I have rebutted it a dozen times.

No kill is a goal and anyone who claims to be no-kill without having acheived it is a fool and will lead to disaster.

Would you be satisfied if a shelter aspiring to become no-kill said to the public "We are striving to become no-kill"? Would that satisfy you? Or would a no-kill definition of having a 90% save rate satisfy you? Or are you always going to say, time after time No-kill is a fraud?

Anonymous said...

Your latest post suggests that a search for a new GM of LAAS is coming soon. It seems to me that this is the Mayor's decision - and I haven't heard or read anything that indicates that he is even remotely considering getting rid of Boks. I'm guessing this will only happen when and if a new Mayor is elected.... Seems to me it's premature to spend so much time talking about a Boks' replacement at this moment.

Anonymous said...

Not to be snide, but isn't that what Boks says, "We are striving to become no-kill"?

It would help a lot if the rescue community could strive to not be triggered by words and phrases, and focus on intent, and intent revealed through actions. Like it or not, we can infer Boks' intentions by both his prior and current acts. He has found a racket where he can make money, gain fame, and meet susceptible women. His acts are to lie, to fake his documentation, to spread rumors and confusion to cover his acts, and to use words and phrases like, "STAR" and "New Hope" and all the rest, without creating actual, working programs that save lives. I don't think Boks' mother (if she hasn't died of shame already) could deny that he's done that.

You'd think "no-kill" would be a goal we could all agree on. But as a goal, not as something that can be achieved TODAY. We could all try to keep our eyes on that prize, swallow some of the pain we're going to feel as we try to get there, and not snipe at each other on the way, rather than get all flustered about a phrase.

But the fact is, some of us hate people more than we love animals. We think we're the only one who's deep, and who has the "correct" feeling about animals. We think if someone doesn't do everything EXACTLY the way we would they don't deserve one of our precious cats or dogs. So the cat or dog sits in a cage.

There are any number of ways to feel superior to your fellow man, whether it's a potential adopter or another rescuer with methods that differ from your own. But why don't we consider NOT doing it with animals? Why don't we put some effort into reaching out rather than condemning?

No, it's not as cathartic as despising your fellow man. But you might save a cat or dog's life if you do.

Anonymous said...

I think we should draft Ted Nugent to run LAAS.


Anonymous said...

Re post #4 - if we don't talk about it, develop a plan that the Mayor can reasonably expect will be satisfactory to Boks' legion of detractors, and make it attractive to Villaraigosa we give him only two options:

Keep Boks, because the rescue community refuses to offer a workable option.

Fire Boks, and use his own judgment in finding a replacement. How's that worked for the past thirty years?

Ed Muzika said...

The above comments are the start of a discussion. This is good. I think I will start another blog just for this and other action purposes.

Please name names and why you think these will be good candidates for the next GM, or to be on a committee to select the new GM.

I know many in the community want Laura Beth Heisen; they did before but she was not selected and likely would not be again.

Terri Macelero was others' choice both for GM and AGM. It didn't happen.

ADL has wisely this time not publicly backed a successor but is focused on getting rid of Boks. I am sure they have their own private selection strategy. I think they should be part of the selection process even if anonymously.

Carl Friedman suggested the department may even benefit by having no one at the helm for a while.

I don't have a clue. I just know that a selection process that excludes the animal community will likley not work.

Anonymous said...

If we could find a good replacement candidate, the Mayor would be more apt to fire Boks. He didn't fire Stuckey until he'd selected Boks. He selected Boks in November, fired Stuckey December 16.

We need someone with some experience who knows the issues, can oversee city employees, knows politics and is a miracle worker.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Boks will drink himself to death. He's got a good start already.

Anonymous said...

I think that before getting too involved in issues regarding the semantics around "no-kill" the shelters in LA have to become humane places where animals are safe from suffering. The conditions in many of the shelters are appalling and would constitute animal cruelty were they found in a private person's kennel. The first responsibility of the shelter has to be to provide care for the animals in the shelter. The shelters should not be holding more animals than they can humanely house. This may result in an uptick in euthanasia but this will be in the short term. By rpoviding an environemnt where animals can thrive they will end up with more adoptable animals and people will be more willing to come to the shelters to adopt. I have worked in shelters for 12 years and can barely stand to walk into some of LA's shelters so imagine how the general public feels. Improving the lives of animals in the shelter HAS to be the first goal of a new GM.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who dismisses the conditions in LA shelters as "appalling" is not spending much time in them. They're animal shelters, for pete's sake, not the Luxor. It's like the difference between a fairly well-kept but rudimentary apartment complex and a high-end one.

Animal shelters - even faux "state of the art" versions - are not meant to be fancy hotels for pets as some of us apparently would have it. Taxpayers (and their Daily News mouthpieces) wouldn't stand for it. They can't stand the thought of public employees making a decent living, so why would they put up with lavishing luxury on homeless animals?

Leave that to the Ron Masons of the world.