Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back to the Board...

   If the activity of the Board of Commissioners of the L.A. Animal Services has been neglected here--and it has been--it's mostly out of frustration. I've attended countless meetings only to walk away with the same feelings that others have told me they have: The Board is a rubber stamp, etc. etc.

Well, it's a new day and we have a new GM in Brenda Barnette. Love or hate her appointment, she's coming. An unexpected plus in the circus that was the search and pre-confirmation process was the appearance of Board President Melanie Ramsayer at both the announcement of Barnette's appointment and at her "good luck" confirmation appearance in front the full 15 member City Council (all 15? when does that happen?). I've never met Ms. Ramsayer and have not been to a meeting since she was elected/appointed as Board president. Unless you're willing to wade through hours of audio --there have been no written meeting minutes posted since February (that's another post) so it's hard to know what they've been up to , if anything.

All that aside, in his several years as Board President, I never saw  nor heard Tariq Khero outside those meetings. It always seemed too me that he was installed for 2 reasons:
1. To keep Kathleen Riordan out of that chair; and
2. To take instruction from the Mayor's office well and be quiet about it --which necessarily meant keeping the Board's agendas limited to what was pre-approved for discussion and action.

That does not seem to be Ramsayer's M.O., at least not on the surface. Yes, she's the Mayor's girlfriend's pal and yes, she was "elected" after only a couple of months on the Board; and yes, she allowed the animal hearing appeal process to be grabbed from the board by "staff" (also another post); but at first glance, she's a HUGE improvement over Khero just on the basis that she cares enough to show up, say something and appear concerned and involved. After I attend a few meetings and shame them into posting some minutes, I'll let you know what I come up with.

Ramsayer actually spoke at Barnette's confirmation show and pledged the full support of the Board, which is nice--BUT what I think we'd all like to see is some original input from that group of five non-paid but pretty smart folks. In case you're wondering what the Board is actually supposed to do, according to the recruitment materials for the GM spot, here it is:

The Department of Animal Services

The Department of Animal Services offers a wide range of services that fulfills its mission to “Promote and Protect the Health, Safety and Welfare of Animals and People in the City of Los Angeles.” For a complete list of services provided, see the Department’s web site at

LAAS is led by the General Manager with direct oversight from a five-person Commission appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The Commission sets policy, approves contracts and helps the General Manager establish a direction for the Department. The Commission holds public hearings on critical issues, identifies priorities to be addressed, and makes recommendations to the Mayor and City Council.

Since Barnette's mantra is working together to address the mess that is LAAS, let's see if we can't get the Board to actually participate rather than wait for stuff to come to them for approval. Barnette will need all the help she can get. If you take Ramsayer at her word, she's in for some actual contribution from the Board.

Oh yeah...according to the Administrative Code , it's time to elect Board officers again. Wanna predict , anyone?

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