The Case of the Disappearing Coupons

The article below was written by Kate Woodviolet, a frequent contributor to this blog. She reveals more information about the recent Boks-cancelled S/N certificate program.

I have edited her article because she brings up issues related to Boks that are old news and not relevant to the cancelled certificates. The full article can be found at:

After her article I will add more information.

Kate's article:

City Council to bite back: surprising twist in the case of the disappearing coupons

Since the City Council passed L.A.'s mandatory spay/neuter legislation last year with the assurance that the availability of discount and free spay/neuter coupons would make complying with the new law feasible for low income city residents, I called the offices of Councilmembers Weiss and Alarcon, as well as Council President Eric Garcetti seeking comment on this new policy that seemed to leave recession-battered Angelenos in the lurch.

While Weiss' and Alarcon's office did not return calls, Friday afternoon I did hear from Mitch O'Farrell, District Director of Constituent Services for Councilmember Garcetti. What he had to say was a surprise. He informed me that, contrary to initial reports, the City Council was not consulted or informed in advance about Animal Services' plans to discontinue the spay/neuter coupon program, and he characterized the news as "upsetting," and "not okay at all."

In a follow-up email, O'Farrell said, "the City Council did not rescind the spay/neuter coupons. That was an internal decision within the [Animal Services] department based on general mid year budget reductions all departments were ordered to take."
O'Farrell informs me the City Council is planning to take strong action to reverse this decision. "A motion will be introduced next week directing LAAS to reinstate free and discount spay/neuter vouchers. This program is something...Councilmember [Garcetti] and his colleagues strongly believe in. In fact, [Councilmember] Garcetti moved this program forward when he was on the Budget and Finance Committee a few years back."

My additional comments:

My understanding from two sources is that the public generally actually uses only a percentage of S/N certificates given out by the Department, but because of the tanking economy and the Mandatory S/N law, the percentage of redemption is far higher than normal, meaning Boks thinks it will require and extra $300,000 to pay for any certificates given out between March 11 and the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

One would assume that Boks would know that redemption percentages would climb close to 100% after passing a mandatory sterilization bill, but I don't know what the actual redemption rate is.

Boks used to brag about how many certificates were given out, but I don't remember any numbers mentioned on actual surgeries performed with those certificates. Of course, Porter Pet Hospital used two certificates to give Ron Mason's already spayed cats a second, unnecessary, hysterectomy even while both had obvious hysterectomy scars.

There was a recent allegation about Value Vet in Canoga Park doing the same, but this is unverified; the Porter unnecessary surgeries are well-documented. The City never reimbursed the woman for the two unnecessary surgeries she paid for at Porter. Nada, not even a note or a letter.

I want to restate my opinion that the huge increase in spay/neuter efforts over the last decade has seemed to have little impact on cat impound numbers over the past eight years.

The number of cats impounded has remained steady since 2001 at 21,500 a year despite the department giving out almost 5 times as many certificates in 2008 as in 2001. The City's and nonprofits dramatic increase in spay/neuter efforts during the past eight years has had little effect on the cat impound numbers.

It could be that the certificates are not being distributed or utilized in certain areas of the City, such as South LA and that is where more cats are being impounded. I don't know, the Department does not release those numbers.

The Department has to do a much better job of giving out this kind of information so that the nonprofits and City can better work together in optimizing resource allocation to the City areas with the greatest problems.

Of course, there may be other factors none of us see that are causing cat impounds to stay the same despite increased efforts, but we will never know because the Department has steadfastly refused to do this kind of analysis, or if they have, to release this information to rescuers, TNR groups or the general public.

Personally I oppose the mandatory spay/neuter legislation. Alley Cat Allies, Winograd and one of our Commissioners oppose it too because it is ineffective and there are better ways.


Anonymous said...

When City Council, the Mayor, other committees, commissions approve a program, an employee or department head should not be able to kill said program without at least telling or getting permission from the entities that approved the program.

Boks just decided to end the coupons. He didn't ask for any permission. Employee Linda Gordon just decided to get rid of solar energy in the new shelters to save money because she over spent in other areas. The public, Mayor, Council voted to have all new city structures have solar energy and use green construction. How can only lowly employee just get rid of it? What if one employee decided they would not longer give the animals food because it cost money and wasted their time. Could they get away with that? How about Parks and Rec closing parks so they wouldn't have to work as much. What if the library just decided to stop answering the phone or restocking books?

Anonymous said...

Boks used to tell me this all the time. I even have it in email. "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission." I used to tell him when he was doing illegal or improper things that he can't do that. He's always respond with "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission." What a wonderful way to run a city department

Anonymous said...

Here's another example. The shelters job is to take in owner surrender and stray animals. Boks just decided to refuse to take in animals during parts of 2007. He just went ahead and did it. He didn't get any permission.

I'm not saying city council, mayor, other committees must micromanage department heads. I just think they should at least send a memo telling them when they want to stop an approved program. City council shouldn't be hearing it first from the press and public. I remember how mad Garcetti was when Boks stopped the licensing canvassers without asking for permission.

Anonymous said...

Okay so Garcetti, Zine and Gruele don't like Boks are they the only sane members of the council?

Boks is a menace and needs to be let go. National publicity for his mistakes isn't embarassing enough?

Doesn't our mayor want to be governor? Doesn't he think this little "mistake" of Boks will come back to haunt him in his run..better believe if he doesn't get rid of Boks, the same person who notified the AP will be sure the other candidates for Governor know ALL ABOUT IT. Here that Tony? Time to fire Boks to save your own ass. I know you know how to do that.

Anonymous said...

If Boks thinks it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission he should get started asking the forgiveness of all the Pit Bulls who died because he was too stupid to get permission for the Pit Bull Academy.

I think he's going to find (and I wonder if the old con man "preacher" still has some superstition in him) that forgiveness is not as easy to come by as he hopes. Not from the ones he's really wronged.

He's a pathetic, arrogant little man, and he's not nearly as good at his con as he thinks he is. (it's just that Antonio Villaraigosa is EXACTLY as stupid as we think he is). I've seen Boks when he gets crossed, even a tiny bit, and that genial veneer is gone in a millisecond. And it's not going to be so easy to scam another Mayor next time. Ed's ever-increasing Google trail is going to follow him like an army of skeletons that refuse to stay in the closet.

Anonymous said...

The coupon program for feral cats,
(FELIX COUPONS) is still in place. These $30 s/n coupons can only be gotten from Actors & Others, Best Friends Catnippers and the Stray Cat Alliance. This was confirmed to me by Brenda Van Den Bosch and Ed Boks himself. The Amanda Foundation will still be in operation but apparently the deal with Sam Simon is finished.

Of course Boks also told me, directly, that the decision to stop the s/n coupons came from the City Council. NO KIDDING! When I told him I read his press release which did not indicate that, he said he had to very carefully choose his words (as always.) But he kept insisting it was a directive from The City Council.

Another source I spoke to that same evening (at the Woof Worx grand opening) said specifically that this was all Ed Boks' decision - that she knew for a fact that it was NOT a directive from the City Council.

This is what Boks said in his press release: "The Department started to feel the pain last year when City Council approved a $200,000 reduction to the spay/neuter coupon and mobile programs in the ’08 FY Budget. Then in response to many dire economic forecasts the City Council cut another $100,000 from this year’s programs in December ‘08. Most recently, the City Council directed the Department to make up a deficit in our Salaries Account understanding this would require further reductions to our spay/neuter funding. The salary deficit is the result of a $414,000 budget cut that was paid for by a City plan requiring employees to take six mandatory furlough days this fiscal year. However, the mandate was rescinded and the funding was not restored. Instead we are being asked to make up this deficit through our own expense and spay/neuter funds."

Lori Golden
The Pet Press

Anonymous said...

I have communicated with people in several of the councilmembers' offices and they have all said it was NOT their idea to cut the voucher program. LAAS was given $150,000 to cut for the remainder of the fiscal year and rather than give up say, expense accounts, city cars, salary or employees, Ed chose the voucher program.

What Ed didn't know is that his little "quiet" decision would irk those of us so much that there would be a Nationwide campaign against this decision.

Now we start the "blame game" with Ed blaming the counicl and the council blaming Ed. My money is that it won't end well for Ed.

There is a second shoe to drop with this whole scenario, stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Of all people to bold-face lie to, why on Earth does Boks pick Lori Golden? The woman has a pretty big audience across the whole political spectrum - possibly (probably) the largest in L.A. Certainly I read Pet Press every month, and it's available at every shelter and pet store I go to.

Boks is losing his touch. Or his grip...

Anonymous said...

I have also been lied to my face by Boks when he knew I could easily find out that he was lying that very day he lied. It's a sickness with him. He is sick.

Anonymous said...

The S/N commission set up is a joke. Judie Mancuso who doesn't even LIVE in Los Angeles is listed as a rep. and the rep. from council 15 has never dealt with spay/neuter issues in her life. It seems as if the council people who were supposed to ask someone who knew about s/n issues and the community just made an easy choice because they didn't care much.

My solution for the s/n program is to have the city turn it over to a private agency who can track statistics, be 100% transparent and report directly back to the city council..NOT LAAS. The money needs to be taken completely out of the LAAS budget so that idiot Ed can not pull this shenanegan again.