Thursday, August 29, 2013

Animal Welfare Office - Starting As Expected - Somewhere?

Delaware shouldn't lack money for animal welfare the way it does.  There's enough drama in the sector to create one of those ridiculous reality television shows that so many people seem to love. In this day and age where people seem to be drawn to to watching other people's mind numbing lives, I bet people would love watching our backroom politics and constant drama we've encountered. The backstabbing of Big Brother pales in comparison to the political world of animal welfare in the state of Delaware.  And the pathetic games that are being played at the top make Snooki from Jersey Shore look like a scholar.

From Safe Haven's spokesperson trying to spin blame on the interim director for not getting animals spayed and neutered, even though it was apparent to most of us at the beginning of the year that Safe Haven had run out most of their funds, to the same spokesperson now attacking the volunteers who started a fund to get animals spayed neutered and necessary medical attention when Safe Haven no longer had enough credibility to bring in donations. For the life of me, I can't see what Ms. Lofthouse or the Safe Haven Board of Directors think they will accomplish with these actions, but then again it really is just an extension of the campaign of hate and destruction that we've seen Safe Haven spew at other shelters in the state for a number of years. We can see how well their venomous approach has worked for their shelter and the animals in their care, but apparently it's an addictive cycle that the shelter can't seem to break.

Animal Welfare Office Begins Hiring - Legislative Laison Not In Or Near The Capitol ???

Last week the Department of Health And Human Services began the hiring process for the Executive Director of the new Animal Welfare Office that our slanted Task Force proposed.  I say that lightly because the report that launched the process was not a compilation by the members of the Task Force. It was the creation of a few on the Task Force and just thrown out to the rest of the members at the end of the Task Force, and as a result the Task Force basically lived up to what many of us expected.

So it was no surprise that the hiring of the Executive Director shows not only the bias that will be interwoven into the Animal Welfare Office, but also the fact that it will be a thrown together freak show from Day 1, like every other thing we've seen legislators do with animal welfare in Delaware in recent years.

This first screenshot shows the header of the job posting that was on the State of Delaware website. We knew the new office was going under Public Health division, and that the primary claim that the state needed to spend an additional $500,000 in salaries was to consolidate everything animal related. But when I saw the posting and where it was located in Dover, I thought it was strange that the state would choose to house the new office separate from Public Health's Rabies Control Program which is located in a different part of Dover. So much for the great consolidation that was sold to everyone. We all knew that it had nothing to do with consolidation, and that Public Health concerns will NEVER be a priority of the new Animal Welfare Office, so it's no surprise that Senator Blevins would prefer it be kept separate from Rabies Control.

As you can see, the posting above was supposed to close last Friday, 8/23/13.  The posting did go down when it closed, but it miraculously reappeared this week.  Since most of us believe this position was filled before it was ever posted, just like the Task Force positions are known to have been, it was odd that the posting reappeared.  

That was until I saw what had changed, as seen below. When the new posting came out, it showed that not only would the new office be located in a different location than the Rabies Control unit in Dover, it wouldn't even be located in the same county now. So yet again our suspicion that this office will be the crony pet project of Senator Blevins has been confirmed.  A huge part of the justification for this position and the office was to liaison and make recommendations to legislators concerning animal welfare issues, so it seems ridiculous that the office would not be located in our centrally located capitol city of Dover where ALL legislators would have access to the office. The Executive Director's first function listed is:

-Act as liaison to members of the State Legislature, other State Agencies, state veterinarians and the media. 

So we're going down the same road as occurred with the Animal Welfare Task Force, where Senator Blevins and her buddies in New Castle County took center stage, and they will now continue to take us further down the road to ruin by putting the office in their own backyard, allowing the NCC contingent to continue their dictatorship over animal welfare laws in our state. Remember these are the same people that wrote our current laws that were so poorly thought out, written without enforcement which was acknowledged in the Task Force meetings, and laws that contain holes as wide as the sinkhole that swallowed the resort down in Florida recently. 
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein
It was fiscally irresponsible enough that we're essentially paying for a legislative aid for one issue, when legislation is what we already pay legislators and their aids for.  But now we find out that NCC legislators will really be the only ones who have ready access to the department.

And there's nothing lost in the irony that the new office which is expected to be up and running January 1st, yet the job posting shows "Facility To Be Determined", meaning they haven't even decided where it will be located with only 4 months left.  I'm glad I added the timer to this site, because apparently those in charge are going to need it as a reminder. 

January 1 - What Happens??

What recent articles about the new Animal Welfare Office didn't explain was that the Budget Bill that created the office doesn't task the office with any authority.  I guess if I was a Senator and used the backdoor to spend taxpayer funds, I wouldn't want to explain the fact that the state will be paying $500,000 for an office that doesn't have legislative authority to deal with CAPA or other animal welfare laws at this point. 
“It got thrown into the budget bill. After it passed, that’s when people became aware of it,” Usilton said. Blevins, he said, “went through the back door and put it through the budget office, rather than creating it through legislation.” Blevins did not return calls for comment Wednesday. - James Fisher, DelawareOnline
The budget bill only moved the regulations for CAPA to Public Health, but the actual law is still in the Department of Agriculture. Not that it matters since the law doesn't allow inspections or enforcement anyway, but it's a shame that our state leaders have allowed people to believe that the new office will be able to enforce CAPA come January 1. And it's even more shameful that Senator Blevins doesn't have the courage to respond to requests for information. So much for transparency. 

I do have to give the Senator and her cronies an A for the adept political maneuver. Create the department in the budget bill first, that way if there are objections to her legislation in the new year, she can just tell the other legislators that it must be passed anyway, or the state will be paying $500,000 per year for all these new people who won't have anything to do. They will just tell the other legislators that they can fix it later, and then just ignore the objections for the foreseeable future once it is passed. It's like signing a lease agreement for a cool new sports car, then going home and telling your wife that you will have to pay thousands of dollars if you take the car back to get out of the lease. Once the lease is signed, it takes much more effort and cost to get out.

So what happens January 1? The state will be paying for a department of 5 people ($500,000 per year) and they don't have any legislated duties yet. I guess Senator Blevins thinks that is a small price to have a department that will get all the disgruntled calls that her office and other legislators are now getting due to the mess they created, but still no solutions for the animals, or the residents her games have impacted. 

And sadly, since the rural areas of Kent and Sussex have been the most impacted by the growing cat overpopulation that has occurred since CAPA, residents of the 2 slower lower counties will continue to have little voice in what happens regarding animal welfare in our state. Many Kent and Sussex residents have gone to their legislators concerning issues, but it unfortunately appears that Kent and Sussex legislators don't have the courage or backbone to address their constituent issues. It really is a shame that constituent issues aren't addressed because their legislators are afraid the next bill they try to introduce won't make it to the floor under the current leadership, but that is the "Delaware Way".  

And despite the fact that we've almost had dog tent city and cats thrown into the upstairs of a shelter without air conditioning, it doesn't appear that real animal shelter standards or inspections will result from this office. Just more of the same division and drama.  

Since the additional money budgeted to date has only gone towards creating jobs for people that will most likely have connections to the Senator that took us down this destructive path, or at the very least, individuals that she gives her stamp of approval to, maybe we should at least earn some funds for the animals with Delaware's very own reality show called "The Shelter Wars".  And if they don't want their backroom antics taped for fear of prosecution, maybe we could at least have a cartoon version with our very own Mayor Quimby characters at the state level.