OUR FIRST BREAKING NEWS!: Ed Boks and Linda Barth Guilty of Misappropriating Funds?
The meeting that wasn't supposed to happen turned the L.A. North Central Animal Care and Control center upside down, this afternoon, as the Board of Commissioners took out their blasters and put the Evil Empire, helmed by Barth Vader, square in it's sights.
When we last left the Board at their March 23 City Hall meeting, the next scheduled meeting was to take place on April 27. But, due to some heavy whining on our end, the Board quietly announced on Friday last that they would indeed meet twice in April and that their first meeting would today at 1PM at the NC "shelter." The room was small and initially stuffy as we trudged though the agenda. Ed Boks was absent again as he has been from every meeting, his own or City Council's, since Council skewered him in late March which was quickly followed by Councilmember Alarcon's "NO CONFIDENCE" motion.
Laura Beth Heisen, Bobby Dorafshar and Rachel Papp presented the Spay Neuter Advisory Committee's preliminary report which called for lots of things to happen which will further our goal to be a "No Kill" city. For 2 hours, the report was bandied about until finally, the Board voted to implement whatever measures could be quickly implemented as the report makes it way through the bureaucratic maze. Essentially, this dedicated and hardworking volunteer Committee has done the Department's job (for which we pay Boks and Barth dearly) for them and has proposed real procedures and protocols to alleviate the stall of the opening of the system's own spay/neuter clinics as well as other measures our highly paid management team should have been working on for the last 3 years.
Next, came the seemingly innocuous item 4: Discussion of a "Verbal update on Spay / Neuter Program Expenditures," This discussion began as simple presentation of "where does the money go," but soon, ever diligent Vice President Kathy Riordan wanted answers about why the Department (you, the taxpayer) has paid out--or been billed for-- $179,000 to the Sam Simon Foundation for Mobile Spay/Neuter surgeries, when Sam Simon has NO CONTRACT WITH THE CITY TO PROVIDE THESE SERVICES. You see, the Administrative Code provides that any expenditures to a vendor over $20,000, and which take place over more than a year MUST be only to a vendor who has an APPROVED CONTRACT with the City. Simon lost this contract to the Amanda Foundation 2 years ago, so why is he billing--more importantly, WHY ARE WE PAYING HIM ANYTHING?
The Amanda Foundation holds the current "spay/neuter van" contract with the Department and today was awarded a further 3-year contract. It seems that Sam Simon (billionaire (millionaire?) producer on the "The Simpsons" gravy train) has been billing the Department--and been getting paid--$80 per surgery- with no discount coupons being presented. Without a city contract, this puts him in direct competition with approved vets who are being asked to accept less money for their surgeries. In her comments to the Board, Teri Austen (Amanda Foundation) was "incensed!" She even asked the City Attorney's rep whether Boks and Barth making these payments amounted to "misappropriation of funds" which is a big "no-no" in government. City Attorney: "I can't answer that question." I answered it for her in my comment, "Yes, it is misappropriation of funds." I was incensed--the whole room was incensed but for Barth, who tried to wriggle out by saying that she wasn't there when the Simon contract was terminated and the Amanda contract took over. Linda Barth was there to approve payments to Sam Simon even though she knew damn well that Simon held NO CONTRACT and should have been paid exactly $0. Mention was made of Simon's 60 Minutes interview from which everyone assumed that Simon was paying for all of these surgeries out of the goodness of his deep pocketed heart. Not so, apparently. If this is not the death toll for Ed Boks and Linda Barth, then Lord only knows what it will take.
More coverage tomorrow including:
- a heroic "Save Stu" motion by Commissioner Quincey.
- a demand from the Board for an investigative "closed session" regarding the theft of Mary O'Connor's dog, "Hambone." The session will be "closed" because employees are accused of being involved in the theft of this disabled woman's dog.
- a demand for a report on why Danielle of Diamonds in the Rough (DIR) rescue is being harassed by the Harbor shelter ACOs, why she's been banned from pulling animals, and why her New Hope card was pulled. Danielle says, that ACOs who admired her work have been transferred out of Harbor. Seems like the current District Supervisor has it in for DIR and the Board wants to know why.