Partial Transcript of the Public Safety Meeting

Public Safety, March 23, Boks' cancellation of voucher program without permission

Zine: The public knew before we knew. This is an additional blunder from Boks. How many times have things gone sideways because of his rash decisions. He's caused an uproar which is detrimental to animals.

Cardenas: (He's not on committee. He came to speak anyway) We try not to micromanage but we have yet to hear one logical explanation about how this is a step in the right direction. This is an exponential mistake that goes in the wrong direction. This is another example as Zine pointed out, the Pitbull academy. It just showed up all of a sudden. Welcome, it's Friday, here is your pitbull academy. I think it is symptomatic and problematic.

Boks: I would like to make a brief comment. AGM Barth is here today to answer detailed questions. The decision itself was something, could we have handled it differently? Yes. Di d it have to be made? It did. Demand for vouchers have sky rocketed in an unprecedented manner. It was a run on the bank. The city can't afford to give away $30 free coupons to anyone. We need to focus on vouchers for people who need them, seniors, poor. The $30 program was undermining our efforts (He got rid of all vouchers, $30 and seniors and poor)

Weiss: The city will euthanize a dog for free. We need to prevent that.

Boks: The City has been very effective reducing euthanasia rate for over 37 years. The economic crisis caused euth to go up in 2008. The programs are effective. We should target it more effectively for people truly in need. It should not be available free for all. I will take full responsibility for making the decision. Do we continue to give away coupons or try to be more effective in targeting the people truly in need.

Then 14 people came forward to speak against Boks and his decision to end the program, sorry for misspellings.=2 0Elizabeth Orick, Ed Buck, Phyllis Daugherty, Sue Taylor, Rebecca Chambliss, ?, Lynn Amano, Bobby Dorafshur, Mary Catalano, Pam Wilkenson, Amy Gilbreath (Found Animals Foundation), Peter Debeery, .A member of the spay neuter task force said they were never notified about the change. They heard it from a rescuer.  

Someone: We appreciate that you came forward, regret your decision and have offered to apologize. But then you launch into public policy stuff. Here is my problem. If you just said that it must be studied, fine. You did it wrong as a public policy manager. Council will order you to reinstate it. You study, then you act.

Boks: We have been studying this internally. The increase in demand caused problems. If we didn't cut this program, I could come back to you in May and say we can't make payroll. This is a serious issue.

Parks: I don't recall this item being presented as an alternative to closing the budget gap. (He's on that committee) We've asked Department heads, tell council what you intend to do so we are fully aware. I don't recall this issue coming up.

Linda Barth: I appeared at the budget committee. I talked about having to close the gap.

Parks: The process of closing the gap was not clear.

Barth: We couldn't make up the entire $300K out of the funds. I did mention it.

Parks: It went over our heads and others (sarcastically saying he never heard it). You need to submit it on the financial status report. You put us in a bind if you mention it but don't write it in the financial strategy report. That is a concern. You surprised us all when it became public.

Barth: I apologize if I wasn't clear

(Someone joked that  Parks has super hearing and never misses anything)

Smith? If Parks said you didn't say it, you didn't say it.

Zine: You have a tendency to do things without going through committee or following protocol. The pitbull academy is a prime example. You got us up in arms. Again, you come up with a decision. You didn't consult the committee, commission. We  have protocol. You don't work with anybody. 

You've alienated lots of people, councilmembers, animal lovers, me included. You are slapping them in the face, arbitrarily doing this. What about coming forward and saying we need to do this. It's one blunder after another. This is short sighted, a lack of responsibility. You have an AGM and you sit there. How will we handle this? You create a huge uproar. You tell people to stop a program then will spend more money to kill the animals. How do you run a department without consulting with the committee or commissioners? You bypassed them all. I introduce a motion. All you had to do was think. This is controversial. Lets get input. Everyone has to cut their budget. You arbitrarily say to cut this part? We sit together and work with a plan. 

You don't. You just do it. This is not a dictatorship. It's a democracy. You are slapping us all in the face, alienating all of us. You know I'm not happy with you. I'm waiting for a report back from personnel. I haven't received it yet. You don't run a Department without consulting others. Don't cause controversies. It takes our time. 

The easiest thing is to screen people instead of abandoning the program. You're in a squeeze because you got all upset, unnecessarily so. I'm frustrated. You slap the public, councilmembers. Just another disaster, another example of poor management and poor leadership.  You are responsible for this.

I was with Obama. He said he is the President. He doesn't blame anyone. He is responsible. Don't blame anyone Boks but yourself. You have a committee to deal with, people in the department to deal with so we don't have to spend our time here. I am very frustrated with your lack of leadership, lack of ability to get the job done. 

Boks: I respect your opinion. I regret alienating people in the City. We were never going to end the program, just temporarily suspend it.

Weiss: What's the difference between stopping it and stopping it?

Boks: We had to regroup while there was bleeding which was escalating. It seemed to me to be a prudent management leadership decision. We must put on the brakes and reevaluate.

Weiss? You're going to hear what you heard today times 15 on Friday (when all councilmembers meet). We feel the same way about you. You have a choice. You can continue to put up this defense or whatever you call it, or you can help us figure out how to get out of this mess. There is a motion in City Council on Friday. I know what we will order you to do. 

Smith? I am puzzled Boks. This is a major policy statement, not just a line item in the budget. It was never in the documents, I guarantee that. It was never discussed. It is shocki ng that when the Mayor made it a clear policy statement, to make this city nokill, that you made such a major change in that policy without public discussion. I am shocked. I supported you for a couple of years. My patience is wearing very thin. 

Boks: I am meeting with the chief of staff of Alarcon and Cardenas. I welcome your chiefs. We need to have that discussion.

Smith: Are there any other options? I am assuming you're looking at other options?

Boks: We are looking for funding from outside organizations. We have a $14M shelter we are not able to open because of the budget. 31 employees' funding ends June 31. 18 employees are in unfunded positions. We scrubbed our budget to make up the $14K deficit caused by furlough program. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in vouchers out in the community. They are using record numbers and its escalating. We don't know yet how much in the red we could end up being.

Smith: Again, this is the dissonance here. This isn't personal about you. The dissonance is if you asked all of us, this is a challenging problem. If you asked us should we cut it then study it we would have said no. If you asked us to study it we would have said yes. You acted first, before consulting and studying. We won't dispute that it's a challenge. You shot first and want to ask questions later. That's our problem. That's the problem. 

Zine: That's been the case in the past. Your supervisors met with me. They  believe you are not competent in leadership. So do the public and personnel. You have time to do a blog. I don't know of any other GM who has time to do a blog. You find time to do a blog.

Boks: On my time off, on weekends (Comment: bullshit, check the times and dates)

Zine: You are the GM for a department in the City of LA. You are responsible 24 hours a day, just like councilmembers, chief of police. You have no time off, 7 days a week job. You blog to defend yourself or your actions. You have lost the confidence of the employees, supervisors and members of the public.

Smith: Our concerns seem clear to everyone but you. My chief of staff will join the meeting. This council will make you reinstate this program. You will have to work with them to manage your budget. This is not the way it will be managed. Unfortunately you won't acknowledge that today. You will hopefully begin to see the appropriate way to run this department. All the other GMs do. This was the wrong decision, the wrong way to make the decision.

Boks: I'm not disputing what the committee is saying.

Weiss: This issue will get resolved.The motion is on Friday. We had no action item today. The Mayor's office is very concerned as well. We will take action on Friday.


Anonymous said...

It was $414,000 not $14K that they needed in the budget.

How does this guy still have a job after all those horrible comments by councilmembers? Where is our Mayor? Why does he think Boks is doing a great job?

Anonymous said...

No, $114,000 was what they were short. Only $114,000.

Anonymous said...

Boks lied to Zine about when he blogged. Boks said he only blogged after work and on weekends. Not so. These are just most recent blog posts. 6/11 were during week during work hours. Only 2/11 on weekends. 2/11 just barely after work. 1/11 was at night during week. Over 50% of his most recent blogs were on the city's dime 9-5 during the week.

wednesday march 11, 2009 1:54 p.m.
friday march 6, 2009 5:04 p.m.
monday march 2, 2009 5:41 p.m.
friday, february 27 3:30 p.m.
sunday february 15, 2009 9:41 p.m.
saturday, january 31, 2009 2:13 p.m.
monday, january 5, 2009, 2:25 p.m.
tuesday, December 30, 2008 7:25p.m.
monday, december 22, 2008 2:39 p.m.
wednesday, december 17, 2008 4:20 p.m.
thursday, december 11, 2008 12:52 pm

Anonymous said...

I'm not real clear on the $400K+ furlough and the $150K budget cut. Seems to me that would be more like a $550K total budget cut for the Department.

Brad Jensen

Anonymous said...

Oh, I get it now. $414K-300K is $114K.

Anonymous said...

The real tragedy here (in addition to the spay/neuter debacle) is that now "Pit Bull Academy" is turning into shorthand for "Boks' screwups" when in fact, if he had just had the brains and the heart to do it right it could have been a centerpiece of his tenure here.

It could have put us in a position of humane leadership, and been a potent argument against the inhumanity of breed-specific legislation.

Boks needs to go - yesterday. But I hope very much that the idea of the Pit Bull Academy is resurrected in the future (soon!). Pit Bulls are great dogs, with great hearts, and we should be doing more to make sure they get as fair a shot at a good life as any other breed.

Anonymous said...

What I would like to know, is who the hell is Pam Wilkenson? She didn't make much sense, but told the PS comittee that "Boks is the best GM we've ever had." Which made all of us look at each other in horror and ask who the hell is that woman? Either she is smoking something or wanting something from the department or she just isn't very bright and Ed has done his "number" on her. Poor thing.