Wednesday, July 28, 2010

ROUND ONE: Look out , Brenda Barnette! Irene Ponce--Throwing her presumed weight around.

 I feel for Brenda Barnette. Her plate is already mighty full with "have to be done now" things. Aside from the miracles she's supposed to pull off in the shelters and the department ---not to mention her new boss, Linda Barth--  Barnette has this rag tag poor excuse for a Board to deal with....and it's getting nasty in that least a little. While Melanie's away, the cat will play
July 27, 2010 From the audio:

Following the license revocation hearing, the regular meeting commenced. President Ramayer and Commissioner Khero were both absent. Present were vice president Irene Ponce, Commissioners Kathleen Riordan and Ruthanne Secunda.

The first item on the agenda was the annual election of Board Officers. Normally, the mayoral staff dictate to the Commissioners who may be elected to which position. Call it tradition but it certainly is not ethical and may be illegal. More on that later.

                      Irene there a little evil in there?

TIME 00:31:30 ish
Secretary: First item on the agenda is Commission Business--annual election of Commission officers for 2010 2011.

Riordan: My suggestion is we hold off 'til we have a full Commission.

Ponce: (immediately and tersely) Commissioner uh Riordan, can you let me speak please? Thank you. I am the vice president here. So, what I'd like to say is that we table this , Ross,  to the next meeting so that--Commission Business, item number A--I say that we table that to the next--you're welcome (to off mic person)--to the next meeting.

Secretary: We'll hold that Item "1A" 'til the next meeting. "B" is the approval  of the Commission minutes--

Riordan: Excuse me. Does that require a motion to do that?

Secretary: Um...Dov (Lesel, City attorney)?

City Attorney: Probably.

Secretary: Uh..okay.Is there a motion to continue it to the next meeting?

Riordan: Thank you , Ross.  Yes, I move that we hold it over to the next meeting.

Secretary: Is there a second?

Secunda: I second the motion.

Secretary: All in favor?

Riordan: Aye

Secunda: Aye

Riordan: Thank you.

Ponce: Thank you, Commissioner Riordan. (forgets to vote. Technically this passes with 2 votes in favor).

The meeting continues:

Score: Riodan 1/ Ponce 0


Who knows what got into Ponce?! Delusions of grandeur? A personal grudge?  She has never presided over a meeting Too bad there's no video. ;) This Board has never followed Roberts Rules of order. There's never really been any kind of order for Riordan to have been out of. Mostly, the Commissioners are casual and speak freely and are courteous, at least, to each other and all others present. We still have to go back and see if her tantrum was evident during the appeal hearing. This isn't the first time that Irene Ponce has had an eruption on the record. The last one that I know of occurred after I , during public comment on an election of officers, exposed the election as a sham and predicted the results prior to voting. I was right. Ponce cursed and bitched and moaned until she had to be shut up. I'll dig that tape up and post it when I get around to it. It's classic for sure.

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Judge Irene: Los Angeles Animal Services Commissioner Irene Ponce Throws a Shoe!

The Board convened for their regular meeting Tuesday; and for whatever reason, Board president Melanie Ramsayer was unable to attend. In her stead, vice president Irene Ponce filled in to preside over the meeting. Present were Ponce and Commissioners Ruthanne Secunda and  Kathleen Riordan. A quorum of 3 was met.


If you have ever attended one of these meetings (I've shown up at possibly 2 dozen) you know that the format is rather loose and casual. Roberts Rules of Order are not generally followed and the Commissioners speak freely without imposed time limits or much management from the presiding officer. Commissioners make their opinions and questions known quite freely and without much interference or calls for "order" or "out of order" from the president or vice president.

Drunk with Power

What got into Irene Ponce at this meeting to cause her to repeatedly slap Kathy Riordan around? Is there something personal going on here or did "Judge Irene" get a little drunk with her temporary "power?"

Listen to the audio here.

(to be continued)

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For Brenda Barnette: Powers of an Assitant General Manager

Who's got the power? What are the powers of an Assistant General Manager of Animal Services?

According to the Los Agneles Charter and Administrative Code, there are
none stated or implied except as conferred upon that employee as stated in Sec 512 (below).

Sec. 22.8.  General Manager.
     The general manager shall have those  powers and duties set forth in Charter Section 509.
Based on Charter, Sec. 78.
Amended by:  Ord. No. 173,290, Eff. 6-30-00, Oper. 7-1-00.

Sec. 509.  Powers of Chief Administrative Officer of Department Under the Control of a Board of Commissioners.

     Subject to the provisions of the Charter, the rules of the department and the instruction of his or her board, the chief administrative officer of a department or bureau under the control and management of a board of commissioners, except the Police Department, shall:
     (a)     administer the affairs of the department or bureau as its chief administrative officer;
     (b)     appoint, discharge, suspend, or transfer the employees of the department or bureau, other than the secretary of the board and the chief accounting employee of the department, all subject to the civil service provisions of the Charter;
     (c)     issue instructions to employees, in the line of their duties, all subject to the civil service provisions of the Charter;
     (d)     expend the funds of the department or bureau in accordance with the provisions of the budget appropriations or of appropriations made after adoption of the budget;
     (e)     recommend to the board of the department prior to the beginning of each fiscal year an annual departmental budget covering the anticipated revenues and expenditures of the department or bureau, conforming so far as practicable to the forms and dates provided in Article III in relation to the general City budget;
     (f)     certify all expenditures of the department or bureau to the chief accounting employee;
     (g)     file with the board and the Mayor a written report on the work of the department or bureau on a regular basis and as requested by the Mayor or board; and
     (h)     exercise any further powers in the administration of the department as may be conferred upon him or her by the board of the department.


Sec. 512.  Temporary Absence or Inability to Act.

     Wherever the Charter provides for the discharge of specific duties by a specific appointee other than the Chief of Police, the appointing power may designate an employee in the same department to act in case of the appointee’s temporary absence or other inability to act, or upon the written request of such appointee.


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7/27/2010 Meeting Agenda for Los Angeles Animal Services Board


Tuesday July 27, 2010
10:00 A.M.
200 N. Spring St.
Room 1060
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Melanie Ramsayer, President
Irene Ponce,Vice-President
Tariq Khero,
Kathleen Riordan
Ruthanne Secunda

A. Barking Dog Revocation Case Number: BD 093128 WV
Appellant: Cesar Gomez and Margarita Esturban
Complaining Witness: Paulina Frias
Field Operations Supervisor, West Valley Animal Care Center, Lt. Susan Botta
Hearing Coordinator, Department of Animal Services, Ross Pool, Management Analyst II

Comment: This is only the third appeal held this year. Normally, there are about 12-20 or so done in a year. I'm guessing that they are back-logged and not scheduled while the dogs, owners and neighbors wait impatiently for the slow churn that is our government. Last fall, Barth was successful first in barraging the sensitive Commissioners with an avalanche of appeal hearings to determine the fates of dogs "up on charges" for barking or being "dangerous"; and then she  instituted a new ordinance in Oct. '09 which would, if passed:
1 Will strip the Board of the power and duty to adjudicate administrative appeals for dogs.They have had this duty since 1987 with not much whining. Their procedures have not been flawless but it was, when fair, the best hope for a dog owner or complainant short of an expensive legal battle in Superior court over a barking or biting incident/issue.

2. The new ordinance was shoved down the Board's throat on a day when Riordan could not attend, Ramsayer was attending her first meeting and Ponce was just MIA. So Tariq Khero (usually fair), Ruthanne Secunda (hates appeals) and Ramsayer(clueless at the time) allowed Barth to twist their little Board arms into exactly the position  which would put all the power in the GM's hands...i.e. Barth.

3.Stalled in Committee at present, but essentially a lock unless a successful protest is mounted or Brenda Barnette decides that Barth's skulduggery is not the best thing for the animals, the people or the Department.Whether you care or not about barking dog or dangerous dog hearings, you should care about fairness and due process.

4. Barth's new "law" wipes out the 1987 ordinance which gave us due process should our dogs get in a jam and makes a hearing examiner's (read: Animal Control Officer) decision final with only a "file review" by the GM or his/her "designee" (read: Barth). For the council record on this ordinance and also "'Stu's Law" which has become entangled in this ordiance by Barth see HERE.

NOTE: the 1987 ordinance was the result of many weeks of deliberating by a committee of "experts" charged with writing the ordinance. No committee this time...just "Linda."

A. Annual Election of Commission Officers for 2010-2011
Comment: Ramsayer is out of town. She is sitting president "unanimously" appointed--I mean elected--by last fall--months late but we had to fill the seat left by Quincey and we just can't have Riordan holding office. Can we? Expect no election until Melanie can be here to be re-crowned and nominate her chosen VP: Secunda or (eek!) Ponce again. Tariq wants nothing to do with this after serving as President for nearly 3 years.

B. Approval of the Commission Meeting Minutes for July 13, 2010
Comment: Essentially, a joke on us.  Whereas the "minutes" once actually included a summary of what really happened and who said what, they are now useless and not representative of the meeting proceedings.
Blame Ross Pool who does Barth's bidding and keeps the public (and the rest of City Hall) in the dark as far as what happens at Board meetings. After several terse demands, I just received (and they are now posted) the un-posted, yet long-ago approved minutes from March 2010 to the last approved minutes in June. They are fish wrap and to know what happened at the meetings, one must wade through hours of audio available as MP3 files on the Commission page. Try it, but have snacks and good beverages on hand. It's painful.

C. Oral Report by the Commissioners on Meetings and Events attended

Comment:  One thing is for sure. Tariq Khero will have nothing to report. I don't think he's ever had anything to report. He s on this Board to gain favor with the Mayor and to take up a seat. While he often has sound opinions and decent ideas, he allows himself to be slapped around by Barth and Bickhart. Also painful, but Tariq doesn't seem to mind...when he shows up. If Ramsayer were here, she might talk about her "media event" with Lu Parker's Lu Parker Project at the South L.A. shelter. Having missed this meeting, she won't have to talk about it later. There are some real questions about exactly how turning over the shelter for a whole day to a non-profit buddy came about without Board approval.


Comment:  this is a good thing as we await the arrival of Brenda Barnette. Barth has slammed through enough ordinances, contracts and pet projects to last a lifetime. Hopefully , her lifetime at LAAS is limited.
Board of Animal Services Commission Meeting

Commission Meeting Agenda for July 27, 2010
Page 2

A. Fund Raising (Continued from the February 9th, February 23rd, March 23rd, April 27th, and May 11, May 25 and June 22, and July 13, 2010, Commission Meetings)
Discussion and input from the public on effective and efficient ideas for raising money to supplement funding for Department core responsibilities of greatest financial need, and direction to staff relative to ideas presented.
Comment: huh? again? This is the 10th meeting with this lame item and no resolution or plan. This is a municipal shelter operating from your tax and fee dollars, not a charity. If they want a charity, they can form one like the Police Athletic League or something similar. If they can't care for the animals on their budget they should quit or fire some fat captains.

B. Report and discussion of Activity Statistics for Animal Control Officers, by shelters for Fiscal Year 2009-10.
Comment: might be intersting...if the numbers are real.
Comment: more pablum from Davis and some smiles from the Board. How many cute dogs did we ship out to other cities this time at the expense of the taxpayer for full vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries?

5. PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD - (Comments from the public on items of public interest within the Board’s subject matter jurisdiction and on items not on the Agenda.)

Comment:  The Phyllis Daugherty show because you didn't show up along with her comments during all of the above. Chances are she will thank some officer for their service or maybe she will thank Davis and Barth for holding the fort...if you can call it that. Maybe there will be a cake for Kathy Davis as this should be her last meeting as Interim General Manager. Then she will disappear from whence she came into the woodwork on a near $200K salary.

Public Comments: The Brown Act prohibits the Board and staff from responding to the speakers' comments. Some of the matters raised in public comment may appear on a future agenda.
Comment: This is a god-damned lie and it may take a court order to remove it. Don't dare me.
A. Additions to, and prioritizing the list of pending reports and future agenda items.
This is when the Commssioners ask for agenda items that never see the light of day. this should be the last time this happens as I have hopes that Barnette will seek the board's help without interference by Barth...if she's still around.
Comment:prediction: 11:50 a.m. depending on when Tariq shows up so that the meeting can begin.
Next Commission Meeting is scheduled for 10:00 A.M., August 10, 2010, Los Angeles City Hall, Room 1060, 200 North Spring Street, Los Angeles, California 90012.
Comment: Be there, send a public comment or shut the hell up.  Whoops, Barnette still not in office. Put the cake back in the freezer.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

S.F. Animal Welfare Commission puts our Board of Commissioners to shame

It seems as though (from recent "Board Reports" submitted to Council by Linda Barth) we-- the 2nd largest city in the nation-- want to emulate the practices of smaller cities when it comes to our Animal Care and Control. Here's one for you that's putting us to shame.

The San Francisco Animal Welfare Commission.


Publicly Held Monthly Meeting  
  • 2nd Thursday of each month (no meeting will be held in the month of December)--I bet they don't cancel any of the other 11 meetings.
  • 5:30pm
  • City Hall, room 408
  • Interested individuals are welcome to attend  

The Commission of Animal Control & Welfare is a representative body acting as the eyes and ears of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with regard to animal issues within the City. The Commission is an advisory body and makes recommendations to the Board. The Board of Supervisors is responsible for all policy decisions and development.

Enacting Legislation Section 41.2

In addition to any other powers and duties set forth in this Article, the Commission of Animal Control and Welfare shall have the power and duty to:

Hold hearings and submit recommendations regarding animal control and welfare to the Board of Supervisors and Chief Administrative Officer. The Commission may study and recommend requirements for the maintenance of animals in public, private, and commercial care. The Commission may work with the Tax Collector to develop and maintain dog-licensing procedures and make recommendations. The Commission of Animal Control & Welfare is made up of seven voting commissioners and four non-voting commission members. The voting commissioners are appointed by the Rules Committee and approved by the Mayor for two-year terms. Non-voting commission member are City employee delegates representing Animal Care & Control, the SF Police Department, the SF Health Department (seat currently vacant), and the Recreation & Park Department (attending on an as-needed basis).

The Commission of Animal Control and Welfare shall consist of the Director of Animal Care and Control or his or her designated representative, seven members to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors and one city department representative member appointed by each of the following: the Director of the Department of Health or his or her designated representative, the Chief or Police or his or her designated representative, and the General Manager of the Recreation and Park Department or his or her designated representative.

The members appointed by the Board of Supervisors shall be six members representing the general public having interest and experience in animal matters and one licensed veterinarian practicing in San Francisco.

Contact information: (yes, they have an office)

Mailing Address City Hall

Attn: Commission of Animal Control & Welfare

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 362

San Francisco, CA 94102

( 415) 554-6074 (and their own phone number which is NOT the Department of Animal Care and Control--someone takes messages for them)

Hey...check out those minutes. One can actually tell what happened at the meeting and who said what. And wow...the June meeting minutes are posted and it's only July!

Excerpt of minutes:

7. Unfinished Business (they return to subjects rather than pretend they never existed)

7 A)

Continuation of discussion and possible action to recommend to the board that they pass an ordinance prohibiting the sale of cats, dogs and possibly other small animals in pet stores. Ordinance is intended to stop the sale of dogs and cats from puppy mills  as well as decrease euthanasia rates of other small animals in city shelters.

Comr. Gerrie – Last month our Commission voted to recommend a ban on the sale of dogs and cats in SF including a ban on selling certain small animals not from rescues or shelters. That part was not included in the agenda so we are revisiting the issue this month. Our intention was two-fold. First, was to endorse a compassionate, symbolic as well as preemptive ordinance to stop the sale now and in the future of puppy mill dogs and cats in SF. Only one store in SF currently sells puppies not from shelters or rescues.
Our second intent was to include other animals, many wind up at ACC which cares for them and are eventually euthanized or taken by rescues. If we could stop the sale of “other” animals, they would not wind up at ACC. We felt that banning “others” now would be more doable along with banning the sale of dogs and cats. A separate ordinance just for “others” may prove difficult to pass.

What was missing from our discussion and decision last month was hearing from pet stores that would be affected. I’ve talked with the three big pet stores in SF that sell small animals, Petco, Animal Connection, and Pet Central. Representatives from  Petco are here today. Pam and I met with Petco and ACC last week to talk about the ban and possible alternatives in which Petco and the other stores would take ACC’s unwanted “others” and sell them in their stores. Similar to the adoption Pact that ACC has with SPCA. It has been illegal to sell rabbits in SF since 1978. Petco recently announced they would only be selling rabbits from shelters and rescues nationwide. An ordinance banning the sale of “others” may be ineffective as they would still be for sale just outside the city. Are there any comments or questions from Commissioners before I invite our speakers up? (HEY...he's running the meeting- A commissioner is running the meeting--not a "secretary." or an AGM)

Just food for thought. I thought I might send one of our meeting minutes --with audio--up there and get some input. Nah.
~ Jeff.

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A Working Animal Commission...At Work in San Francisco

I haven't delved into the issue at hand; nor do I quite yet understand all the ramifications of a ban on all animal sales ("pets"). I'll let you know when I do. The point of sharing this piece is to illustrate the power of a real and working Animal Commission...not unlike our own Board of Commissioners. Read on...

Fur and feathers fly as San Francisco weighs ban on pet sales

What began as a proposal to ban sales of dogs and cats quickly grew to include birds, hamsters, rats and other small mammals. Shelters and rescue groups could still offer adoptions.

July 25, 2010|By Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco — Here in the land of animal companions and their faithful guardians — do not call them pets and owners — a battle is raging over just what it means to be creature-friendly.
In true San Francisco fashion, city officials are considering a ban on sales of almost all pets. If the prohibition passes, it would mean no cats for sale here, no dogs, no hamsters, no rats, no guinea pigs, no macaws, no parakeets, no cockatiels, no finches. If Junior wanted a snake, Mom could probably still buy him one within the city's precious 47 square miles. But forget about those mice for Drago's dinner.

The proposal started out small: prohibit commerce in cats and dogs as a way to discourage puppy mills and kitten factories. South Lake Tahoe and West Hollywood passed such laws within the last 18 months; in Texas, Austin and El Paso are considering similar ones.

But this being San Francisco, the discussion didn't stop there.

After multiple meetings of the Animal Control & Welfare Commission and hours of impassioned testimony — peppered with the word "symbolic" — the narrow proposition blossomed to include most creatures great and small. The commission is set to vote on a ban in August. If it passes, the Board of Supervisors will weigh in.

Read the whole story.
Related links
Listen to NPR story
Read NPR transcript


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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ron Kaye's Plan to Overhaul the Commissioner Selection Process

 Read the whole story.

Kaye says, "The mayor simply has too much power.

A simple solution that would find popular support would be to allow the mayor only one appointment and give the Controller, City Attorney and the Council one each.

The fifth commissioner should be chosen by the Neighborhood Councils.

This would at least create some semblance of balance and actually empower the Neighborhood Councils in a way that City Hall has fought since their inception.

We don't need commissions that are simply going to roll over to the orders of the mayor and Council. We need people who will stand up for what's right, not sign off on what's wrong."

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