Winograd's Letter of Support for Barnette Sent to Mayor

July 1, 2010

The Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor,
And Members of the Los Angeles City Council
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Dear Mayor and Members of the Council,

Congratulations on the selection of Brenda Barnette to head Los Angeles Animal Services (LAAS). Although we do not know her intimately, we are familiar with her work and believe it is welcome news for the City. 

Her achievement of a better than 90% save rate for the Humane Society of Seattle-King County, which contracts for animal control services with the City of Renton, Washington, and her prior work with other premier No Kill shelters including the San Francisco SPCA make her a good choice for the position.

As a vocal critic of LAAS, particularly the lack of qualified, compassionate, and capable leadership that have plagued the department, we are not na├»ve and we realize that Ms. Barnette has her work cut out for her. But we also believe that Ms. Barnette offers more hope than the animals of that department have had under any other General Manager. And while none of us can foretell what the future holds, if in fact she does not succeed, it will not be because of her leadership; rather, we believe it will be because of a failed bureaucracy that did not give her the latitude and tools to do the job humanely.

We, therefore, not only encourage you to support her unequivocally, we urge you not to stand in her way as she works to reform a very troubled and dysfunctional department. In doing so, not only will you be giving the people of Los Angeles a department that lives up to its rhetoric and that they can finally be proud of; you will be offering the animals the opportunities that have historically been denied them, but that they so richly deserve.

Very truly yours,
Nathan J. Winograd


Anonymous said...

If she succeeds, she deserves all the glory. If she fails, it's the employee, union, city, rescuers, volunteers, public, tooth fairy's...fault.

Anonymous said...

Mark my words, what will make or break Barnette will be her ability or inability to get the employees to work for a living and care about the animals. Barnette will have to change the entire culture of the department, no easy task.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. The best defense is a good offense. Even Winograd is expecting failure and assigning blame anywhere else before she's even started. He has to, otherwise it is a poor reflection to his No Kill business interests. Regardless of what you think of Barnette some people just can't manage at that level - this is a VERY big step for her professionally. Believing in No Kill doesn't mean you are automatically a great leader or manager - especially in government - it's much more complex.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. DAS has some of the laziest employees in the City. None of them are used to working for a living. Barnette has no chance at "No Kill" if she can't get the employees to buy in, and many of them won't.

She will have to discipline to show that she means business, but the head personnel guy always has an excuse as to why it can't be done.

This is a big challenge for Barnette, one that only time will tell us if she is up to it. She needs to find employees within the Department that she can trust, and I don't know who that could be.