At the Public Safety Committee meeting on Monday, Ed Boks lied to the Councilmemembers and press present saying he only blogged on weekends.
This is not true. His blog entries have dates and times of day attached to each entry. Doing a brief investigation, one finds posts dated:
Friday, February 27
Six out of eleven were posted during week during work hours. Only two out of eleven were posted on weekends, and two out of eleven were posted just barely after work. Over 50% of his most recent posts were done on the City's dime.
Actually though, I support Boks blogging. It is his First Ammendment right of free speech and there is a lot of valuable information or misinformation not on the Animal Services website. I am just glad he got caught in another lie.
Hilarious. I suppose a "roague" blogger entered those blogs during the work week? The sad thing about Boks is he is such a bad liar. Lying about things that are easily checked. I guess he just feels he is so untouchable. I'm thinking about going back to the council meeting on Friday just to see him squirm again...that was so fun.
another lie? has the man ever told the truth?
If Ed wants to exercise his freedom of speech, he should do so on his own blog and not on a city website. The blog expresses his views and does not represent that of the city. Whether or not we agree with his views, or that we appreciate his clarifications, is not the issue. The issue is using a city website for his personal campaigns, lies, truths or whatever.
He will definitely be squirming on Friday.
His blog is not on a City website. His blog has the same host as this blog, namely Google. "Blogspot" is a Google service.
I could have chosen to start a blog at htp://laanimalservices.blogspot.com, just as did Boks, but he beat me to it. Using that URL does not make it a City site.
The LAPD does maintain what it calls its official blog at http://lapdblog.typepad.com/, on which Chief Bratton makes frequent blogposts. However, the layout Bratton chose does not indicate the time of day the post was made.
I think all general managers should be encouraged to maintain a blog to keep their own employees and the public informed. There can never be enough communication.
Anatomy of an Animal Abduction
Why can’t LAAS admit to a mistake? And why are LAAS and ACTF working as private security for a mortgage company at taxpayers expense?
The loss of a child or other family member is one of the worst possible tragedies that can happen to someone. The loss of a family pet or companion animal is akin to this loss. To most humans it may not be as serious, but anyone who has had a pet disappear or die knows the deep pain and grief that accompany this event. To someone whose life is dedicated to the care of other-than-humans, it is devastating.
The death of a companion can only be postponed, but the theft of a pet will hopefully be avoided. When it does happen, the crime is usually assumed to have been perpetrated by a heartless criminal. In the case of Cherylynn Costner, the thief is the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, aided and abetted by the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force.
Equally shocking is that, instead of being aided in the return of her animals and the prosecution of the thief by the City Attorney, she is being painted by that office, in collusion with the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force and the GM of LAAS, as the criminal. Like an improv tragedy group, this trio has taken a false premise and is attempting to spin it to an unjust and very unfunny conclusion, while passing the hat to the taxpayers. There has been no common-sense discussion of the circumstances surrounding this seizure, an investigation that would have lasted 15 minutes if the walls of beaurocracy had not been thrown up immediately and all humanity erased from the proceedings.
This example of the upside-down justice is, unfortunately, not that rare. The targets of this abuse are most often middle-aged women with multiple rescued pets, Costner’s demographic. An intelligent, legally-savvy bird authority, Costner has been a go-to person for many individuals and animal control agencies, including LAAS and L.A. County Animal Control, for assistance with birds, most often chickens. Costner “has a way” with chickens that can astound. Her birds seem to respond to her as would a dog to other people.
She was introduced to the world of chicken rescue when she impulsively took in several sick birds who were slated for a ritual religious sacrifice. She ended up on a 12 acre parcel in Ojai operating a sanctuary, the Hillary Chicken Memorial Fund. Recently, when a neighbor to the sanctuary became a concern to some animals’ safety, Costner brought some of the animals temporarily to a house given to her by her recently deceased father. Her father’s dogs lived there routinely, and any animals on the premises were cared for by a neighbor when Costner needed to be in Ojai for the day. When neither she nor her husband Gary were to be at the Ojai property, a long-time caretaker who lived on that property looked after the sanctuary residents.
On Nov.12, 2008, Costner returned home to the Aguilar St. property to find the doors of her house sealed shut. She had been in a civil dispute with the mortgage company, but to her knowledge there had been no foreclosure. She had not been given notice to remove her animals or possessions from the house, as would have been required by law. She regained entry to the house. When she got inside, she discovered that the house had been ‘tossed”—all her possessions and papers violently strewn about the house. The animals had been sealed inside. The next day seemed uneventful, but the following morning Cherylynn noticed a paper which had been inconspicuously stuck into the chainlink of her gate. It was a Notice to Comply issued by LAAS, with accusations of abandonment, etc., apparently falsely alleged by the mortgage company and dutifully parroted by LAAS with no research of the true situation. That same morning Costner responded to the false charges, faxing her challenges to the statutes allegedly violated to the shelter indicated on the Notice. She called to follow up and was informed the fax had been received.
Costner left the house for the afternoon. When she returned at 7 pm, the house was dark and the doors again sealed. This time when she entered, the nightmare had begun—her animals, dogs, cats, chickens and other birds, were gone.
When Costner called the shelter to locate the abductees, Officer Esperanza(SP) assured her that the animals were in good condition (shelter workers had even complimented the chickens), and apologized for the delay in contacting her at the phone numbers provided in her answer to the Notice to Comply, blaming the fires then burning for not contacting her. He confirmed that the mortgage company with whom Costner was in litigation had made the claim of abandonment (a false accusation, as Costner was living in the house).
Chris DeRose of LCA, familiar with Costner’s integrity, called Ed Boks, controversial GM of LAAS to vouch for Costner. Boks claimed that he was going to release the animals on DeRose’s recommendation, and that DeRose would be liable for any problems that may have occurred in the future. When DeRose called Boks to follow up, his calls were not returned. Boks had told DeRose that Costner needed to communicate with the Department, claiming she had not returned calls to her. (However, Costner had called inquiring about the release of the animals, and had voicemails on her cellphone with calls made back to her). When Costner called Boks’ office, he refused to speak to her, his secretary telling Costner she needed to call ACTF( who, it turned out, only had a voicemailbox at LAAS, and only responded to calls periodically).
Costner finally managed to speak to Officer Munez of the ACTF, who happened to be present when she called. Munez claimed that there were excessive excrement and feathers on the premises and cages, and that the animals were living in conditions that were “beyond abominable”. (photos taken at the time of the confiscation show no such conditions, only the topsy-turvy vandalized house. The only excrement in any of the photos is in a trashcan, outside the house. This supports the fact that Costner did routinely clean and that the houses and birdcages were not in an unsanitary condition, only in disarray through no fault of her own. ) He threatened to arrest her if he saw her in the house. Although Mrs.Costner informed Munez of the laws regarding these issues in civil litigation, and that he had no authority to assist one party in civil litigation to prevail over the other, he persisted in his threats. Afraid to return to the Aguilar address to protect her personal property for fear of Munez, she eventually lost many of those belongings, including an antique car of considerable value, when the place was stripped by the mortgage company in her absence.
Costner and her husband both attempted to file a request for a post-seizure hearing, as was their right, but were told that since the animals were now in custody of the ACTF, that LAAS could not accommodate them. Only after Costner informed the ACO that if he did not take her request that he would be reported to the US Attorney, did he relent and take the request and acknowledge receipt in writing . And only after Costner filed for an Ex Parte Hearing in court on the matter did shelter supervisor Frias call her and set up a hearing for Dec.2, 2008.
The purpose of the Post-seizure hearing, as explained on that day by hearing officer George Mossman, is to determine whether or not the animals properly needed to be seized at that time. At the hearing, conducted at the East Valley shelter, the LAAS officer who took the animals away testified in front of witnesses that the dogs that were seized were in good condition, and this opinion was seconded by Mossman when he viewed photographs of the dogs. ( This is on the audio tape of the proceeding). The ACO, an Officer Cessna, was revealed to be embarrassingly mistaken about his belief that the birds needed veterinary attention. Birds whose absence of feathers were deemed by Cessna to be sick were revealed to be fledglings who had not yet grown in their feathers. Cessna was nervous and never looked up from his paperwork, and never looked anyone in the eye when speaking. Despite accusations by Officer Munez of the ACTF that the premises were unsanitary, not one photograph presented demonstrated this condition. (Common sense dictates that authorities confronting a truly cruel or neglectful scene, knowing that they will be pursuing a wrongdoer, would have certainly photographed unsanitary conditions had they existed. Even had they existed, the normal procedure is to require a cure of the conditions with a return visit to inspect.).
Costner meticulously went through the photographs with Mossman, pointing to the clean condition of the cages, even pointing out that the newspaper in the bottom of the cages was free of excrement. Officer Perez of the ACTF mistakenly identified bits wood from the birds’ chewing toy as feces. This was shown to be another embarrassing error on the part of the Task Force officers, and, indeed, showed that Costner was sensitive to the needs of the birds to have enriched their cage environment. She further explained that when she was home in the residence, that the birds were not confined in the cages anyway. Officer Munez officiously told Costner that there was an active investigation, and that she would be charged with abandonment, animal cruelty and a long list of supposed crimes, including hoarding.(Hoarding is a currently popular buzzword used to smear animal rescuers, many of whom do not even fit the definition, which is suspect in itself. The animals were temporarily at the Aguilar address, normally living on a 12 acre preserve. It is a small number of animals when seen in that light.).
Despite these revelations, the hearing officer Mossman concluded in his ruling, received in the mail at the Aguilar address, that it had been necessary to take the animals at that moment. Nothing in his report supported that conclusion. The fact that LAAS sent their findings to Costner at the Aguilar address seems to indicate that they acknowledged that as her residence. The reality is that Cessna acted on the false abandonment charges, and the messy house was being used to justify a mistaken seizure.
This begs the question: does the Hearing Officer really have the authority to contradict the actions of the Department? Can he say they were wrong and keep his job? When was the last time a Post-Seizure Hearing went against the actions of the Department?
One can only conclude that the vandalized state of the home clouded the judgment of the authorities, or gave them a cover-up for their error, and they want us to believe that papers and other objects on the floor are such a serious danger that the animals needed to be removed before they stepped on a piece of paper and hurt themselves. The state of the house shown in their pictures is clearly not the result of poor housekeeping, the pictures without doubt show a home that was vigorously turned upside down, as in a robbery. At any rate, sloppy housekeeping is not a crime. This was a rush to judgement, and a clear overreaction on the part of LAAS and the Task Force.
Can the LAAS and ACTF come into every house that faces foreclosure and take the animals away and charge the owners for the privilege? Should a citizen be prosecuted at taxpayers’ expense based on such a flimsy and unsupported premise, while ignoring a logical and credible explanation? Was the Animal Cruelty Task Force instituted to punish sloppy housekeeping or to go after real animal cruelty, like dogfighting, and animals being starved? When asked at the Hearing if he had ever been on an actual case of animal cruelty, Munez did not or could not give an example.
Does LAAS and the ACTF really have the best interests of the animals at heart? Some of the animals and birds taken from Costner are special-needs individuals. No one asked or gave Costner an opportunity to explain what special care they need. Why would they not do this basic homework when there is someone who could instruct them for the sake of the animals’ health? Are they aware of the stress experienced by animals taken forcibly from their home and guardians? Do they know or care that some animals never recover from the fearful experience of being chased and roughly captured and restrained in their broken-into homes by aggressive strangers in uniforms wielding nooses and other frightening and injurious paraphernalia?
Costner is a knowledgeable, experienced and devoted caretaker, She was living at Aguilar Street, and had not abandoned any animals. The animals were there temporarily, and would have been moved if LAAS has requested. The animals were admittedly in good condition and well-fed. There is no evidence of the claims of LAAS, ACTF, and now the City Attorney. Why are Costner’s animals being held as “evidence animals” at a new multimillion dollar shelter not even opened for its real use by a failing Boks regime? Why is she under investigation? Why is the City Attorney’s office involved in such an insubstantial matter?
WHY CAN’T LAAS ADMIT THAT AN INEXPERIENCED AND
POORLY-TRAINED OFFICER OVERREACTED AND MADE A MISTAKE?
This could have been settled by a civilized conversation, but Boks and his crew and the ACTF get a paycheck to get up every morning and DO SOMETHING. It is challenging and takes talent to do the things that are really needed, (like reduce the number of killings of lost and homeless pets instead of watching the numbers rise), but it is easier and safer to persecute a vulnerable woman than to knock on the front door of a gangbanging dogfighter. So they have chosen the easy money.
By circling the wagons and manufacturing a problem where there was none, LAAS and the LAPD and now the City Attorney (who is probably essentially out of the loop if he thinks this is a genuine cruelty case) have recklessly, callously and illegally devastated a bona fide animal rescuer and advocate, traumatized her animals and exposed them to disease, injury and theft( the accounting of animals given Costner by LAAS is missing animals either not counted, lost, allowed to escape or stolen), and have geared up to punish an innocent person and label her an animal abuser. This is a charade engineered to pass the buck from a severely malfunctioning Department of Animal Services led by a General Manager who refuses to accept any responsibility for his failings and the dysfunction of the Department he is highly-paid to run.
This is a call for a rational reassessment of the circumstances of the seizure of the animal residents of Costner’s sanctuary. Such a second look, coupled with the fortitude to admit a mistake, will achieve true justice. We can only hope that there are no further casualties and damage in the meantime, and that Costner’s dependents recover from this traumatic detour in their previously-happy lives under her guardianship.
Chief Bratton doesn't run the LAPD blog by himself. Someone else does it for him. It's not a personal blog. It's just about LAPD issues. Boks' is more personal. He talks about non-LAAS items. Boks' blog was started by a Department volunteer. Maybe it does belong to the City. The City allows him to link it to the official city website.
I am disgusted to hear that poor woman's story. Why do they hurt the ones doing so much good??! Boks is taking a paycheck for doing MUCH more harm than good!! Antonio Villaraigosa is a FOOL!
Ed-If you go to lacity.org, look at the left margin and you will see a link to blogs. Click there and it will bring you to a link for Boks' blog. Because a city website (lacity & laanimalservices) has links to the blog, it is a city blog.
Links to other websites from either the City website or the LAAS website might imply endorsement but not ownership.
If I recall, "From the Desk of Ed Boks" received some criticism awhile back because I think Boks' plan (eek!) was to use blogger as an extension of the LAAS website, enabling him to communicate with the community a little more freely. That idea didn't seem to work out well for him and rather than completely abandon the whole blog site idea, it seems a compromise was struck which led to Boks adding a disclaimer to the site.
I think many of us can understand the frustration Council Members are having with Boks and though I agree with Mr. Zine that being a General Manager of a city department is a 24/7 responsibility, I think Mr. Zine took it just a little too far by saying you have to dedicate every minute of your life to it. That's being unrealistic. And if Boks wants to spend his off time writing articles for a personal blogsite, how would this be any different than spending that time golfing?
The 1st Amendment Right of free speech certainly applies in this situation but going back again to what Mr. Zine was saying, Boks' responsibilities don't end at the sound of the horn. And like it or not, what Boks writes on his blog reflect back on both Animal Services and the City of Los Angeles.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.
True, if you go to the City's website, on the left margin is a button that goes to four councilmembers' blogs, the City Attorney's blog, the LAPD blog and Boks' blog.
Any criticsm by Zine then also stands against those councilmembers and the City Attorney. Just because Zine doesn't like to communicate, doesn't mean Ed shouldn't.
AND, I was an extension of Ed's public outreach all through 2006 through this blog.
Communication is good. I doubt Boks spent more than four hours per post, or about 4 hours per week. He wouldn't have gone into the shelters anyway.
There is a difference between hiring someone to write for you and spending the time to write and manage it yourself. If LAAS were well run and didn't need more attention, then perhaps a blog would be a good thing. The issue is that Boks doesn't do any actual work..but finds time to write a blog which he "considers" work.
Jensen is right, and that's that.
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