Thursday, July 15, 2010

Minutes- Where are they?

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fromJeff de la Rosa
toLinda Barth ,
Kathy Davis ,
Melanie Ramsayer ,
Irene Ponce ,
Ross Pool
ccCouncilmember Dennis Zine
dateThu, Jul 15, 2010 at 4:25 PM
subjectMinutes- Where are they?

Where are they past February? It's nearly August. If they have been approved, please post them on the website. Downloading gigantic files posted by a person with no understanding of digital audio files is not a substitute for the actual MINUTES as approved by the Board.

As you know, the City and the room where the Board meets is fully capable of "LIVE" and on-demand meeting video/audio. The taxpayers have paid for that. We also pay Ross Pool's salary and Linda Barth's salary and we don't do that in order to be dis-informed .


Dear Commissioners (and Brenda Barnette):

Dear Commissioners-

I think you know that the animal community in Los Angeles is less than enthusiastic over the lingering doubts about Brenda Barnette's methods of attaining lower kill rate numbers. I have been contacted by numerous people in the community and also many supporters of my dog, Stu who remains in your impound system after 5 years of lies, broken promises and back room dealing.

While I am certainly willing to give Ms. Barnette a fair chance to show us what she intends to do-- and how-- and I don't care "what kind of clothes" she wears or "which church" she attends, I do care about the creepy tone of the various councilmembers' comments on the "pit bull problem." As you know, the problem is not within these wonderful creatures, it is in the back yards of those who breed them for profit and the cruelty of fighting.

Below is an email from the "open door" shelter from which Brenda Barnette has come which you have no doubt seen. This email was sent from Seattle Humane on the day of Ms. Barnette's appointment to GM of LAAS.

Please be advised that any similar policy, or plan to export pit and pit mixes to other cities to be killed there or the institution of in-shelter temperament testing will not be tolerated in Los Angeles. As a so-called "student" of Winograd's No Kill philosophy it is abhorrent that Barnette would have ever practiced what you read below. We are watching and listening. For many, many years the Board upon which you sit has forbidden temperament testing in our shelters and you must continue to do so. For the moment, we are at peace with the department and although Pamelyn Ferdin has decided to turn in her conscience, the rest of us have not done so.

Finally, while recorded versions of your meeting are useful for anyone who has the time to wade through hours of audio, written minutes which are promptly posted upon approval by the Board are essential for the public, especially now. You have allowed your Board secretary and Ms. Barth to keep the minutes of your meetings from the public for at least 4 months. Please have all approved minutes posted to the city's website without delay.

Thank you.

Jeff de la Rosa

P.S. For Winograd's opinion of this sort of testing, please see

Sent: 6/18/2010 1:15:01 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: RE: Relinquish a dog


With any Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix we place for adoption embassadors to the breed. This means that the dog cannot have any previous history of aggression of any kind. If the dog does not have a history of aggression than the dog will recieve a behavior assessment after it has been surrendered to our shelter. During that assessment our behavior program manager and behavior team assess the dog's temperament. If the dog passes the behavior assessment then we place the dog out for adoption. If the dog does not pass the assessment we will not place the dog up for adoption. There are no rescue organizations that work with us and pit bulls . If the dog is not an adoption candidate with us the only option is euthenasia.

We do have a callback option. With a mandatory donation of 200$ at time of surrender we give you the oppportunity to claim your pet if he/she is not an adoption candidate with us. That $200 is not refundable.

We would like to speak with you about your dog's temperament and our policies before scheduling an appointment. You may leave us with a phone number where you can be best contacted.

Thank you,

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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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

She's in. Can the Campaign for Brenda Barnette be over now?

In response to Ed Muzika who is still campaigning for Brenda Barnette's appointment even though she's already been approved by Los Angeles City Council:

(My comment was too large for Ed's comments and he's not publishing mine anymore anyway).


Are you asking us if we want Ed Boks or Stuckey back? I think you know that answer. Does "open door" mean mean that they do not charge to leave an animal? I think we charge $25 (I could be wrong) used to be $5.

Regardless. This is not Seattle and this is not a "Humane Society." I welcome her experience in those types of organizations and hope she can make a difference here, but you must admit that Zine, etc. are correct. The obstacles are enormous. There is no money for her to work with and she will have to go private for money which will may be successful or not. I'd be interested to know how much money she needs to get to her 80% promised save rate and how it gets spent.

I can't say that there are better candidates. There is no experience that would prepare one for this job which is why "previous" non-profit experience is nearly irrelevant. While I didn't even know that Heisen was applying, her insider experience (Commissioner, Chair of Spay/Neuter Committee) with the Department and the City and her knowledge of City politics --AND THE CITY ITSELF, as well as her professional experience as an attorney would have qualified her in my book.

Barnette will need to take an extensive tour of the City starting with Jan Perry's district as Perry requested. I think that with all of the homework and shelter hours (necessary) that Barnette will have to do over the first year, what we will have is Barth running the department as she has done (poorly) for 2 years.

There was before the Board today a proposal to take $30,000 from the spay/neuter resources to target free pit bull sterilizations. While we need to address this issue right away, this did not come from Barnette. It came from Barth with Davis's signature on it.

An in depth look at what taking $30K from that fund would do is needed. I don't know if the Board passed it. There have been no written minutes from the Board since February (Barth again).

Isn't the pre-appointment campaign over? What's the point of more Seattle comparisons now?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Doing the Math on Brenda Barnette

Let's look at some numbers. First, $191,000. That's the salary the Mayor wants (and will get) to pay Barnette. It's $10,000 more than Boks' last rate. I guess we can't have her making the same money as Linda Barth so she must make more. Meanwhile, recently a local pet supply store owner told me that Eric Garcetti called them asking for dog food donations. We can't afford to feed the animals, but we can afford over half a million dollars to pay Barnette, Barth and Kathy Davis (what does she do again?). Plus benefits which are more than the salaries.

80%. Barnette told the Public Safety Committee Councilmembers today that if she can the the cooperation and support of 70-80% of the staff and the animal community, that she can achieve an 80% "save rate" of all of the animals brought to the shelters. In five years. And get very close to that in 3 years. Okay, those are big words. How is she going to do that? Don't know.

Apparently there is a huge untapped pile of money in L.A. (or "Hollywood" if you ask Greig Smith)--and Ms. Barnette is gonna go get that money. Okay, so LAAS--a City Department --- is to be privately funded in order to do their job. Really, I don't know what to think about that.

Presently, a huge number of large and small rescue organizations (including ASPCA-LA) get their funding from the private sector. Will some of that money now go to the City of Los Angeles?
Are individuals who give financial support to rescue organizations supposed to give more money to fund the City shelters or are more people supposed to give period?

$50,000. Barnette told the Committee that she received a grant from PetSmart for $50,000 to spay and neuter pit bulls. All she had to do to get that money was to sterilize 700 dogs. Even at $100 a pop, that's $70,000--at $75 it would cost $52,500. How did she do that? I don't know. Nobody asked how. There was no explanation but the crows loved it.

"3." Basically, Zine put it best when he said she'll be doing a good job if people aren't complaining to him about Animal Services. Greig Smith said if she only accomplished one of her three goals:

"We need to get people..."

1. to agree that we want to save lives,
2. to agree on spay/neuter,
3. to agree that we need to address cruelty issues in the City

I think the public already agrees on all of those things. Does the City agree on that? Can we have some money , please?

Public Silent--Council Committee Approves Brenda Barnette for Full Council Vote

The Los Angeles City Council's Public Safety Committee met this morning to hear public testimony on the appointment of Brenda Barnette as the Mayor's new pick for General Manager of the Department of Animal Services. Councilmembers Smith (chair), Zine and Perry were present.

Listen to the hearing at

With no speaker cards for public comment received--although Zine said "the critics are here"--the hearing was brief and breezy; and without Tony Cardenas --who has always been very outspoken and knowledgeable about LAAS, the questions were pretty tame and general. Zine and Smith reminded Barnette of the "crumbling environment" state of the department is suffering from due to bad morale since the Boks fiasco and the fact that there is no money for the Department.Smith: "We have acutally shrunk the Department" and are offering "fewer services." Brenda Barnette, speaking with a measured tone and a slight Virginia accent stated that she would spend time in the shelters and let everyone speak their mind and "be respectful."

Jan Perry's main concern was the prevalence of the "dumping" of "pit bulls and Rottweilers and those type of dogs" and asked how Barnette felt about free spay neuter programs ( which we have, but not enough of them). Perry said she wants to be first on Barnette's list for "outreach" for spay neuter service to lower income residents.

Zine: We have no money. How are you gonna turn the department around? How will you lift morale?
Barnette: I'm a fundrasier and will be in the shelter working with people.

Barnette said that her Sunday "meet and greet" --which she referred to as a "Town Hall Meeting"-- was productive. She stated that if she can get the cooperation of 70-80% of the staff and community, then she intends to achieve an 80% save rate within 5 years and be very close to that in 3 years.

Chairman Smith noted that "amazingly" there were no comments from the public. The Committee moved to send Barnette's appointment to full Council and the motion was passed. Barnette's appointment confirmation will move to the full council for a vote on Tues. Because a public hearing was already held, NO PUBLIC TESTIMONY will be heard at the Council Meeting. It was concluded and stated by Zine, that "Somebody has to run this Department" and they all wished her luck. So, lot's of internet hoopla for and against Barnette...but nobody showed to speak usual.

Best of luck, Ms. Barnette. We're with you...just tell us what you want to do.
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In reply to Ed Muzika on Brenda Barnette:

In response to Ed (EDIT: who has now deleted his two lengthy replies to my comment--See below):

There are 5 (sorry--4) non-reporters who have written blogs or other pieces and who are not wholeheartedly supporting this appointment.

They are (that I know of):
Carole Davis
Marie Atake
Phyllis Daugherty

I include Carole because she has written thoughtfully about this appointment and one must assume correctly that ADL has read her posts. Otherwise, WTF are they talking about? Just Daugherty and Atake? When thinking about who the accused "KOOKS" are, I made list of what I've read. I don't mention Daugherty because her views are personal and--usually--only relate to law enforcement and the "viciousness" of pit bull type dogs.

I have neither spoken nor corresponded with any of these people regarding Barnette, so I don't see how we are "united." Are they talking amongst themselves? I don't know or care. You mention Garcia in another post. I guess that's Jane Garcia. I haven't seen anything by her, but I have normally agreed with her on most things.

I'll ask Barnette my questions when she's at work--not at a party.
You want to see her resume? I'll request it and send you a copy.

The problem with the "92%" is that the claim is said to be at an "open door" shelter which SHS is and was not. She "saved" 92% of the animals she allowed in and deemed "adoptable" by whatever standards (don't know what they are). That's the major qualification the accompanies her name in the ADL email blasts. If it's inconsequential and doesn't mean she can do that here, then why mention it? Why call SHS an open door shelter when it is not?

SHS is not much different from some of our local 501c3 rescues. They ALL have "save" rates in the high 90's or even 100% because they can. They choose their animals and charge adoption fees of $200-$350 JUST LIKE SEATTLE HUMANE. The fact that she had a brick and mortar building and a larger staff makes her more credible? No.

You don't care about breeding? Well, I do. So there. Where do you think these "unwanted" animals come from, Ed? People who allow or choose for their animals to breed and then dump them at the shelter ARE the problem, for the most part. We have laws against breeding without a permit. They don't work. Hve you been to an urban vet's office lately? There are non-permitted bred dogs of every variety lined up to get their shots. Ads on the bulletin boards scream out PUPPIES for sale! The rest of the problem people dumping animals are idiot humans who don't know what it means to be responsible for an animal which you take into your home. If you don't understand why being pro-breeding is an issue, then I can't explain it to you. The AKC and the breeders fought tooth and nail against spay/neuter. You forgot?

I care about transparency and an end to the lies coming out of LAAS. I though you did too.

I haven't counted the number of people ADL has interviewed who are praising Barnette, but I don't think it is "dozens" so who's exaggerating?

Re: the TV quotes. Watch the video, Ed. You have always- ALWAYS since you changed your position on Boks gone for the facts and the proof. You're not doing that in this instance. You're saying "hey, everyone loves her, I love her too." I would expect a Humane Society CEO to advise to look for a pit bull dog in a SHELTER FIRST--NOT A BREEDER's back yard. We take in nearly 7000 thousand a year here. In Seattle, they ship them out to other cities or kill them.

Again, I don't dislike her. I don't even know her. Neither do you. ADL admits they've never spoken to her. My objection ALL along has been to this "she is the saviour" campaign. Why not just welcome her to town,pay her nearly $200,000 and support her and see what she does? That's what I intend to do. I will also ask questions and (I guess) be slammed for doing so. You've already lumped me into a group of "detractors" without bothering to call me or email me to ask what my issues are.

I'm not a detractor. I just want the truth. Starting a job with misrepresentations is no way to start, in my book. Maybe you went to the meet/greet. If so, did she address the room? If so, what did she say? Did anyone ask her anything? At all? Granted, she's not saying these things about herself. Her adoration is coming from ADL, you and --quietly--Nathan Winograd. His rather sane letter to the Mayor has been translated into "The father of NO KILL " says Barnette is the one.

Dan Guss? Has he written something? I have had no contact with him in over a year--by choice. "Concerns" is not a rare word that you should assume is being collectively used by a "united" group. That's what I have- concerns. Use a different word if you like but that aptly describes what I have. "Concerns" is less negative than "doubts." What word should I use that wouldn't lump me in with Dan Guss, who's opinion on this is unknown to me? If you have emails from him, forward them please. I'd like to read them.

I hope she DOES build a great foster program and DOES rejuvenate the horrid volunteer program which fails because volunteers are shunned and harassed by the employees. Some of the employees are a major obstacle to a better department. I haven't heard word one on what she can do about that or what experience she has with City Gov't and unions that is relative...Have you?

You don't get what all the "heat" is about. Well, I don't get what all the "praise" is about nor how her accomplishments at Seattle Humane are relevant to LAAS.

She seems like a nice lady who ran a non-profit, privately funded rescue organization. She ran it well, by all accounts. How does that translate to her new job? Anybody? As I've said before--maybe she'll wring millions out of our local wealthy folks to fund a City Department. Currently a lot of that money goes to private rescues and SPCA-LA.

So yeah..I'll ask her my questions, but she has no reason to answer them? I'm just a guy with a blog and a dog in hell--a known "enemy" of the Department. I'll let you know if she responds and if her "open door to the community" is really open--to everyone.

-Jeff de la Rosa

Ed wrote:

Ask your questions to her face to face at the meet and greet.

92% is not misleading. She has, supposedly a 92% save rate in her shelter. That does not mean she or anyone could have a 92% save in LA. But how is that misleading?

True, the Carole and Carol are not mentioned by ADL. Why did you bring their names up? ADL didn't. You speculate.

How do you know her membership was not on the resume or kept from the selection committee? She me proof, not just your statement.

I really don't know what you make of her alleged statement to check out the breeder. I don't know the context of that statement. That is, the 2 paragraphs before that quoter and the 2 after. Was she talking to someone who was going to a breeder to get a dog?

Now, how are these legitimate concerns?

If, instead, you told me that died in shelter increased by 65% due to poor sanitation and overcrowding as in Boks shelters, that could be a problem.

But if she was able to build a foster program in Seattle with less than a million people population, that was larger than LA's with 4 times as many people, and saved more animals than LA, I'd say that was a significant plus. Does that concern you?

Now why because you voice these "concerns," which is the exact same word that Dan Guss uses, and perhaps Atake--I have not read her article yet--out loud in articles and on this blog, do you think she is obligated to answer in kind of a general way to whomever raises the issue?

That is, is she supposed to write an email response to you, to Dan, to Atake, Heisen, et al, who fling these questions to the general public to raise your concerns as public concerns?

I see these concerns as non-concerns. I don't see how they are relevant to saving animals at LAAS as would her volunteer and foster programs, and public adoption programs.

Who gives a f..k if she were a breeder, breeder sympathizer, etc.? I just don't get what all the heat is about.

As someone said who left a comment, as a hypothetical dog, "I don't care if she bred my grandfather or not, what are my chances of getting adopted?"

You can repeat these united voiced "concerns" over and over, but they are not my concerns.

ADL has found dozens of people who actually worked with Barnette during the transformation of SHS. None of them raised "concerns" about AKA or breeding.

These are the wrong concerns.

My concern is that your unified "common talking point concerns" are like Republican guilt by association talking points used against Obama. Ayers, radical, communist, socialist. His minister, racist. These are not legit questions in my mind so don't repeatedly request me to be dragged into your plot.


You mentioned Carol and Carole, not ADL. Why do you say ADL was talking about them and then you defend them?

The "concerns" you raise are like Republican talking points. You all use the word "concerns" as if they were legitimate and that we should all share them.

I don't see how membership in AKA or having shown or bred dogs would make Barnette unfit to be GM, compared, let's say, with Heisen.

If Barnette truly did build a foster system in a city of 800,000 people that saved 3,000 animals, that is important. If she can do the same with a volunteer core, that is important. That she saved 92% of animals may or may not be true, I haven't personally seen the stats, that doesn't mean she can't significantly raise the live save rate in LA in two or three years or less. A big fish in a small pond can still become a big fish in a big pond.

I think ADL rightfully sees through this campaign of oblique attacks using the same talking points by everyone.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Barnette Critics Labeled as "KOOKS!"- ADL-LA

You've seen the emails pushing for an unquestioned Brenda Barnette confirmation by Council which are now coming in


[originally posted as comment at Ed Muzika's LA Animal Watch]

Shame on those who characterize respected members of the animal community as KOOKS! Exactly how is Atake a "stakeholder" in a Heisen appointment? Heisen would never be appointed. Everyone knows that. She's too smart and wouldn't play their game.

Marie Atake is a tireless advocate for animals and resigned her commission post in protest of a flawed department and corrupt system.

Following that, she received a commendation for her service from the L.A. City Council.

Though not mentioned here --it is assumed that Carole Raphaelle Davis--is also meant to be called a KOOK. Carole, along with Carol Sax and hundreds of others have vigorously protested against puppy mill dogs being sold in our neighborhoods at pet stores. Because of her work, West Hollywood has banned the sale of dogs at pet stores AND Orangebone on Melrose Ave. has signed an agreement to only "sell" animals from the L.A. City Shelters.

These women are not "KOOKS" and do not make statements lightly. They are both the real deal. Marie Atake's piece at

is neither filled with "rumor" or "lies."

It is factual that:
1. The "92% save rate" at Seattle Humane is -- at best-- misleading. SHS is NOT an open door shelter and everyone who has a brain knows that.

2. Barnette's AKC lobbying position was not on her resume an was kept from the selection committee. If it had not been, there would have been questions--at least--about it.

3. The AKC derives a LARGE portion of its income from "AKC" registrations of PUPPY MILL DOGS.

4. ON TELEVISION in Seattle, Barnette advised anyone who wanted a pit bull dog to FIRST "check out the breeder."

These are not rumors and lies. They are legitimate concerns.

If Pam Ferdin had any credibility, she would be asking the same questions instead of leading a bizarre and unnecessary siege on people who have voice genuine concerns. But hey..The Barbi Twins are supporting Barnette. What else do you need to know?

Now we hear that the ALF has made it known that anyone who opposes Barnette could be a target. Huh?

Maybe she's the right person. Maybe she isn't. But this campaign of rolling over and quashing all skeptics and critics is in the style of Ed Boks and is reprehensible. We have questions. So far...there have been no answers. Just a misrepresentation of a "92% save rate" and statements like "I have a good feeling" about her. succeed she will have to turn this department UPSIDE DOWN with full cooperation from the Mayor. With the foaming mob pushing her confirmation without question and with no critique...she doesn't really have to do anything at all. If she fails, it will be the City's fault and the fault of the animal they say.

Ed, I'm very surprised that [you] have left your post as investigative writer and instead have joined in the mucking of a few people who are still courageous enough to state their opinion. We still have free speech in this country, don't we?

Without the watchful eyes who have constantly monitored this department, how will we know WHAT is going on at all?

-Jeff de la Rosa

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