So Much News, So Little Time

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had time. Eventually I'll get around to it.

Not posted so far:

1. Boks has been sued again.

2. ZsuZsa Blakely was in and out of jail recently, and was sentenced to reimburse Bernstein's SPCALA $400,000 a ssuggested by Bernstein's former board member and teaching collaborator, Don Cocek, who used to make a lot of money for her. ZsuZsa fine equalled $38/day for boarding each animal.

3. Boks apparently has hired a lawyer to sue the City.

4. I have a letter re alleged Prupas screw ups.

5. Investigation results from LAAS investigation of the Pierce College investigation is on the way.


Anonymous said...

Zsuzsa should have relinquished the dogs to SPCALA instantly, then she wouldn't owe those fees. I feel really bad for Zsuzsa. She meant well. I think she needs some psychological care.

Ed Muzika said...

Easy to say in retrospect.

It is what happened to her that made us all more cautious with respect to subsequent busts.

Anonymous said...

$38/day per dog? What a scam!!

Brad Jensen

Anonymous said...

Brad's right, where do they get the $38 figure from? (I could say, but it wouldn't be polite).

There's no way those poor dogs got $38 worth of food every day, nor even half that in staff time. Is SPCALA now running out of Malibu that their kennel square footage is so expensive?

I bet someone just said, "Let's charge them $40 a day" and someone higher up said, "No way we can justify that - let's make it $38."

You think I'm kidding, but I'll bet that comes close to the actual transcript.

And "relinquishing dogs instantly" really isn't in the nature of rescuers, is it? I'll bet SPCALA was literally banking on that. It's also a way to terrify other rescuers: If you try to take a stand for your seized animals we will break you psychologically AND financially.

I don't know if it's true (if someone does know please tell us) but I've seen, here and other places, that SPCALA is very quick to kill evidence animals like these. Perhaps another reason not to relinquish hastily?

And can someone please elucidate the connection between Madeline Bernstein and Don Cocek? Much as I'm glad that he saw the light re Ron Mason and declined to press charges, if he has jurisdiction over cases in which Bernstein's involved and there's any kind of relationship there that's a textbook case of conflict of interest.

Anonymous said...

$38/dog/dog = $400,000. That's cheaper than a regular kennel

Ed Muzika said...

To Boks = Death

Below is a November 2007 post. For more information about either, there is a search box on the blog and just enter "Cocek" to search on. A half dozen more posts will come up.


Don Cocek's Place in all this?
The Mason case continues to raise eyebrows in many ways.

It turns out that Don Cocek (DCOCEK@ATTY.LACITY.ORG), the Deputy City Attorney handling the Mason case is also on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles SPCA. In itself this appears to be a conflict of interest.

Doing even a brief google of “Los Angeles SPCA, Bernstein and Cocek” reveals one case where an “animal abuser” who plead guilty was required to pay “restitution” money to the SPCALA. And Cocek is on the Board of Directors? Isn’t this a conflict of interest?

Even more, taking words right out of Boks’ mouth, terms of probation which Boks mentioned in his Mason post, required community service and counseling. Now who does the counseling here, another SPCA/City sponsored, system-wide mental health unit?

From the SPCALA site:

Van Nuys – April 27, 2005 – A Tujunga pet shop owner accused of not providing proper medical care and not having proper veterinary records pled guilty to one misdemeanor count of violation of Penal Code 597 (b) animal cruelty in Van Nuys Court yesterday.

Souren Minasyan received 36 months probation, 200 hours community service and must pay $1,326 restitution to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). In addition, Minasyan must undergo mandatory counseling.

In December 2004, spcaLA Humane Officers received a tip from the cruelty tipline. SPCALA Cruelty Investigators turned the case over to Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Don Cocek and charges were filed.

“This owner of this pet shop was charged and convicted thanks to a tip from the public,” said spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein.

Also from the SPCALA website we find that Cocek and Bernstein are teaching classes together to train people wanting to begin careers in animal control or update their resumes. Naturally, there is a fee for this course, and since Mr. Cocek handles all animal cruelty cases, I guess he’d know how to do pre and post seizures.

Below is the listing of seminar topics taught by Bernstein and Cocek at a February 2006 seminar for “Animal Control and Humane Law Enforcement” in Pasadena. Maybe Bernstein can teach Boks how to survive this scandal in the media. Below that is a class Bernstein and Cocek taught together.

SERVICES: Surviving Scandals and Crises in the Media (Madeline Bernstein, President, spcaLA; Dawn Cotterell, Director of Communications and Marketing, spcaLA; and James Lee, President, The Lee Strategy Group) MANAGEMENT & FIELD SERVICES (Joint Session): Administrative Law and Its Application to PC 597.1 Hearings (Madeline Bernstein, President, spcaLA and Donald Cocek, Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney's Office)

Interesting also is that Cocek appeared to be discrediting the BHLE who also provides training to the humane community on law enforcement.

Personally, I have a high regard for the SPCALA, especially in their dealings with people in the rescue community whom I know. Others give me a completely different take, such as an excessive use of force. I just find delineating all the various animal-related law enforcement connections to be quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

Ummm...SPCALA is not a "boarding facility" and has no right to "charge" $38/day for anything. While I'm sure that the seized dogs that were not immediately killed required medical treatment, I'd like to see an accounting of that. This $400,000 figure is an attempt by Bernstein to render Blakely homeless.

Yes, she's in need of counseling at least, but homeless? No.

Anonymous said...

Bernstein doesn't win by making her homeless, but she does win if she terrifies and demoralizes other rescuers.

I'm not saying some rescuers don't get in over their heads. But what protections are there in place to distinguish between dogs who are currently being neglected by an overwhelmed rescuer, versus animals who are being cared for but just don't look so pretty after a lifetime of overbreeding and neglect by previous owners?

I volunteer at a private rescue and some of the dogs and cats we have would, to an uninformed observer, look skinny or neglected. Mostly these are the old dogs and cats who have nothing wrong with them except the effects of age. Some have chronic conditions, and some just look kind of funny. But the nature of rescue is to protect and save animals who aren't suffering, regardless of their cosmetic appearance. How do Humane Law Enforcement workers in general, and SPCALA in particular, make this distinction?

It certainly didn't work in Ron Mason's case (not SPCALA, but a good example nonetheless) where a cat who was limping was pointed out to reporters as a clear example of Ron's neglect, when in fact he was an example of a stray who got hit by a car and who was rescued by Ron, who paid for a steel rod to be put in his leg. To say Ron neglected that cat was a disgusting slander by LAPD and LAAS.

Made me think pretty hard too, because one of my cats also has a steel rod in his leg, paid for by a previous rescuer. He doesn't limp now, but what if he does when he gets older? What if Ed Boks or Madeline Bernstein need a shot of cheap PR and send under-trained, bullying troops to my door?

Where are the protections we deserve from law "enforcement" run amuck? Where are the protections from a City Attorney who asks a judge for fees to be paid to an organization on whose board the City Attorney sits?

They don't even PRETEND not to be corrupt.

Anonymous said...

This is why you must keep great records as a rescuer. Do an intake form which lists conditions.If they're bad, take photos.I used to post before/after photos of my rescues online. A crazy lady took my before/after photos, sent them to animal control switched and tried to accuse me of neglect. Animal control was too stupid to look at the website and see that she switched the photos.

In another situation one rescuer posted photos of dead dogs. She then told everyone that another rescuer was mistreating the dogs in her care with that photo as proof. The dogs in the photo were dead.They weren't even the dogs the woman was caring for.

Keep good records. Keep your home immaculate in and out. Be nice to neighbors. Kiss the butt of animal control. Be quiet. Stay away from some animal people.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that keeping good records is important, how is this going to help if your computer, camera, records, etc... are all seized along with your animals?

Brad Jensen

PS. Reason I question $38/dog/day is because the cost is comparable to boarding costs and perhaps a little cheaper as previously mentioned. But the SPCLA is not in the business to board animals... or is it?

Ed Muzika said...

This is all accounting stuff. You pick the way you want to charge based on actual cost--which is hard enough to get to when you are talking overhead, food, rent, administration costs, etc., or you use an external ruler, such as prevailing for-profit rates.

The accusation has been that Cocek brought SPCLA a lot of money over the years through plea-bargain restitution fees.

I don't think the judge has ruled yet on anything. I may be wrong. Jim Bickhard is always saying I am wrong and have no credibility.

BoardWatch said...

Bernstein doesn't win? Bernstein most certainly does win if she ends up with Zsuzsa's house!

According the the Press Releases the restitution hearing is set for March 09.

Anonymous said...

You have no credibility because you have no credibility. You repeat gossip and lies with no idea what you're taking about.
You infer, you suppose, you extrapolate, you guess, you imagine you say stupid incredible things things that must either make a judge or comissioner laugh or grow angry.
You champion psychotic collectors and support terrorists.
Anyone who has had any personal experience with Zsuzsa knows she is mentally ill and a detriment to animal welfare. She needs help and most importantly she needs to be restrained from hoarding animals or coming in contact with normal people who will think all animal lovers are insane like she clearly is.
You have no credibility because you associate yourself with psychotics and terrorists. And you have no credibility. You are a ground squirrel-loving idiot with no credibility, that's what you are.
Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Actually SPCALA is in the business of boarding animals. They make more money boarding owned animals that fostering unowned animals obviously. Why put homeless pets in a cage when you can put paying guests in there.

Anonymous said...

I just read that there will be a city council meeting in January to discuss Boks' fate

Anonymous said...


You're right. If they take your records, you're screwed. Perhaps a backup copy of records would work.

Of course if the city wants to screw you over, they can. They can bust a poor person for having 20 cats and leave a wealthy person with 20 cats alone.

Ed Muzika said...

Yes, I make mistakes, but there is so little believevable communication coming out of LAAS or the Mayor's Office, this is the way it must be.

Does anyone believe anything coming out of either of these offices, Jim, given all the apologists out there?

Do the department's own stats clearly point out what a crappy job Boks has been doing?

Do 200 employee complaints indicate all is well in LAAS or that Boks is a great manager?

As to Zsuzsa, who says I championed her? Where did you read that?

Huh? Where?

I mentioned my research about Bernstein and Cocek I did 6 months ago.

Did I defend Zsuzsa? Not at all. I also posted a link to the raid video so people could judge for themseleves.

Legitimately, the question has been raised about the $400,000 fine imposed.

Even more questions can be raised since I just got an email from Bernstein saying many of those animals were FOSTERED and brought to health with little or no cost to SPCALA.

Therefore, how was the $400,000 fine come from?

Let us assume Zsuzsa is totally bonkers as some say. So what? Does that mean she deserves whatever happens to her? To lose everything? To be required a year's counseling by some County family therapist which she has to pay in addition to the $400,000?

Is this not as much retribution for years of her public complaints about the shelter system as much as because of her own neglect?

From the photos I saw, the animals definitely needed help. I would like to know 6 months down the line how many of the 17 dogs will still be alive.

I am glad SPCA stepped in and helped.

Please read what I say before you make nutcase remarks like I associate with psychotics and terrorists. These are terms used by establishment/police types to denigrate critics so that they can do whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

Well if there's one thing Jim Bickhart is certainly an expert in, it's being wrong and having no credibilty.

As if having hitched his wagon to the going-nowhere, serial wife-cheating, useless sleaze Antonio Villaraigosa weren't proof enough.

As if acting as stooge for Ed Boks weren't enough.

As if the smackdown from the Obama adminstration that they don't want his boss Villaraigosa in ANY capacity weren't enough.

Bickhart's a joke.

And BTW, what's wrong with loving ground squirrels? Anyone here ever been screwed over by a ground squirrel? Me neither.

But by loser politicians who can't keep their pants zipped and their not-too-bright flunkies? Loads of times.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this question yet:

What with the ACTF and past LAAS visits to ZsuZsa, why didn't the city dept prosecute?

Oh, wait. That's right. They are busy busting compliant, cooperative and noncombative cat people for slam dunk kitty limit infractions (sort of like sending the S.W.A.T. team out to issue a parking ticket).

400 thousand could have been alot of spay/neuters or ACT jobs.

BoardWatch said...

Let's differentiate a few things here

1. ZsuZsa has been "fined" $0

2. Paying restitution to the "victim" (SPCLA) is apparently part of her guilty plea agreement.

3. Bernstein's press release is misleading. It implies that ZsuZsa has either been fined $400K or that she has been ordered to pay $400K to SPCLA. Neither is true as far as I can tell. The restitution hearing in March is where this will be settled.

Meanwhile, I'd like to see Bernstein back-up her $400K claim or RETRACT IT.

$400K divided among 15 dogs (2 did not make it past the first week -details unknown to me) works out to $26,666.67 per dog over 2 years. Serious money.
So...I want to see the numbers and facts before this person is forced to sleep on the ground so that Bernstein can keep crowing, "$400K! $400K!"

According to SPCLA's 2006 their total revenue was $7,229,913.

Bernstein's take("compensation"): $195,900. Yes, non-profit is very good profit for Bernstein.

They spent $584,900. on:



Let's assume this "Animal Protection Services" number fo '06 is average.

So, if we believe Bernstein, she spent
64% of her annual "Animal Protection" Services on 15 dogs in 2 years.

Or $200,000 per year which would be 34% of her entire APS services expenditures on 15 dogs in bad shape due to ONE woman. At that rate, SPCLA can only afford to "investigate" and rescue 45 dogs per year who are in REALLY bad condition before her entire APS is blown out.

Savvy? This stinks worse than a pee pad!

Whichever way you smoke it, there is no way Bernstein is telling the truth. Sure, there's some weird accounting going on like maybe she took her entire expenditures (cost of doing business) which she would have incurred even without the Zsuzsa dogs and baked her cake with those eggs.

Well, Ms. Bernstein?

Jeff de la Rosa said...

Anonymous said...

"Actually SPCALA is in the business of boarding animals."

Okay, fine. Point taken. However, the Zsuzsa dogs were not being"boarded" and I doubt that those dogs were taking up space in the 'pet hotel' with the heated floors.

Of note: According to spcaLA, "Boarding services are available only to spcaLA donors who have given seventy-five ($75) U.S. dollars or more within the 12 months prior to boarding date."

I like how they specify U.S. dollars. Lawyers!

Anonymous said...

Would you please give more details? What is Bok's suing the city over? Who is suing him? Again, it's apparently in the works that he'll be gone by Feb. Perhaps his plan is to sue the city on the way out to keep quiet to his next place of employment.

Anonymous said...

If ZZ didn't have a house, I bet her bill wouldn't have been so high. Best spcala can do is put a lien on her home after the get a judgement. They can't make her sell it or kick her out. The lien will stay there until she does sell it. I bet she owes more than what the house is worth anyway.

Anonymous said...

Boks isn't suing the city per se. He did hire his own lawyer. His lawyer specializes in representing employees suing cities. Boks and the City are currently being sued by an ex-employee for unlawful termination and harassment. The City needs Boks to lie about what happened to the ex-employee. Boks knows this. He will probably threaten to admit to what he did in exchange for a handsome golden handshake of some kind. Time will tell.

Boks threatened to sue New York before he "no longer worked for them." He ended up "not having his contract renewed" then the nonprofit he started gave him an award. I feel Boks will leave with at least $50,000 like Guerdon Stuckey. The council will also give him a great recommendation so he can go fleece some other city.

Why or why didn't our Mayor call up the Mayor of New York and ask him why he fired Boks? Boks made the exact same mistakes here. This could have been prevented.

Anonymous said...

Bernstein seriously makes 195K a year??

That's more than Ed Boks and more than Marcia Mayeda, who, if they actually did their jobs instead of looking for ways to cover up their criminal incompetence, would have MUCH tougher, farther-reaching jobs than Bernstein.

If Madeline Bernstien really does make 195K a year that is a DISGRACE. You think all the donors and all the celebrities who urge us to support SPCALA know how much of our contributions go to the Society for the Enrichment of Madeline Bernstein?

Is this true? It's so bad I have little doubt it is true, but is there some way to verify this?

Anonymous said...

Phillidalphia is hiring. It's funny how little communication goes on between large city animal controls. The citys by large don't care about animal control and the legislators don't care to learn about it and it's personalities, they just figure if someone worked somewhere else, clearly they can do the job. Boks is leaving and I believe a woman will be hired to replace him (no, not Linda or Kathy) It's time.

BoardWatch said...

Verification of Bernstein's salary.
This is public information.
Anyone who donates to an organization before researching their standards and practices is a big dummy.