Sunday, May 31, 2015

Will New Castle County Auditor's Shelter Get State Bailout ???

There have been a number of articles recently regarding the questionable actions of New Castle County Auditor Bob Wasserbach in recent weeks, and a couple of discussions at New Castle County Council meetings.

New Castle County legal teams clash over making auditor emails public
"Grimaldi and Councilman Bob Weiner contend the emails are ethically questionable and potentially criminal. Wasserbach said he's done nothing wrong."

Weiner calls for investigation into Wasserbach
"The emails indicate Wasserbach was in discussions to have the county contract altered to benefit Faithful Friends.
Wasserbach has denied any wrongdoing. He did not respond to requests to comment for this story." 

Attacks become norm in New Castle County government
"Grimaldi also cited Wasserbach's 2012 audit of the Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which Grimaldi said was self-serving. Wasserbach was a board member of the Faithful Friends Animal Society, a no-kill shelter. The KCSPCA did not have a no-kill policy."

Handing out swords along with audits 
"Unfortunately, for him, Mr. Wasserbach appears to have given his enemies the sword. He now faces an inquiry into a previous audit he conducted. Serious issues have been raised about his personal interest in the outcome of the 2013 audit of Kent County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Mr. Wasserbach was on the board of another animal shelter group, Faithful Friends Animal Society. The two groups, let us say, have philosophical differences.
It would appear Mr. Wasserbach should not have been involved in this audit. We will leave it to the appropriate investigators to determine whether he did anything wrong."

Sadly the New Castle County Council has talked about it, but in the end have chosen to do nothing about it, so we clearly see them as enabling the situation.  I can't imagine anyone will take the audits performed by New Castle County going forward seriously, as they will be questionable at best given the emails that have surfaced, so I'm not even sure why the county should bother to have an audit department at this point.

Since these stories were printed, there has been a letter to the editor campaign by some of the very people that were involved in the emails involving the  plotting and planning of the KCSPCA audit for over 2 years, and they are using those letters to once again attack the shelter.

As stated on some of our comments on those articles, our intent wasn't to harm other shelters, but to stop the insider politics and preferential treatment that is occurring in Delaware, with the ultimate goal to harm First State Animal Center and SPCA (previously known as KCSPCA).  We want the public to support the shelter of their choice, even shelters whose tactics we don't respect, because ultimately the animals in those shelters depend on that support. Which is another reason we find it amazing that anyone would take part in a hate campaign for ideology sake like we've seen against FSAC.

But given the continuing orchestrated attacks by supporters, and more importantly insiders of Faithful Friends, against FSAC for bringing the issue to light, we do think the public needs to understand what is potentially driving these attacks.

Not only were the attacks in recent years part of an agenda for Nathan Winograd's "No-Kill", but they were also in part due to the fact that "No-Kill" in Delaware needed to destroy the competition so they could drive up the prices of the county dog control contracts first, so dog control could eventually provide their own "No-Kill" shelters with a financial lifeline.

We all saw how quickly Safe Haven crashed and burned, even with the planning that ensured that the highest contract per population was acquired to give them the best opportunity at success.  But they weren't the only "No-Kill" in Delaware that was teetering financially.

Since CAPA was enacted, Faithful Friends has not only had financial concerns, but also faced multiple judgments by the Delaware Department of Labor.  The first for $21,029.31 that was filed on June 14, 2011 and not paid until March 5, 2014, taking them several years to pay.  But now they are facing an even larger judgment filed in recent weeks for $88,544..45 that was filed on May 12, 2015.

Why is this important?  
  • Because when you look at Faithful Friend's most recent financial statement, this does bring to question their solvency as a result of the above judgment.  

  • It also makes you wonder why New Castle County Council would think Mr. Wasserbach was competent to do an audit of another shelter when his own shelter clearly lacks in their ability to to manage their business, and more importantly manage their liabilities?  Remember, this is the second judgment that Faithful Friends has faced, and the first one took years to finally pay.  
  • Lastly, this also speaks to motive in Mr. Wasserbach's and friends in their attempts to attack FSAC (KCSPCA) with an audit that even some of the county council thought was beyond the scope of what should be audited by the county, which as a result became another tool in the arsenal in their attempt to get KCSPCA out of the picture from a competition standpoint. 
Some of Mr. Wasserbach's very own emails from his county email account show just how concerned he was with his own shelter's financial condition during the period the audit was taking place, which also speaks to potential motive.

So it was no surprise when we saw that the Office of Animal Welfare and Senator Blevins are proposing a plan which sounds much like what Faithful Friends had discussed with Kent County when Safe Haven was faltering. Obviously this will bring funds into their shelter, without the risk of euthanasia that a shelter faces when they become full with a dog control contract.  

I thought the clause about returning difficult to adopt dogs was ironic.  So send back the difficult to adopt dogs so someone else could kill and keep their own statistics clean?  Talk about a shell game.  

Word on the street is that legislation will be proposed in the upcoming week, despite the fact that the state's budget is still $83 million in the hole, even before this new legislation that would require more spending.  So even if the Senator Blevins manages to put this late spending initiative on the short remainder of the legislative year, which is how they always make sure the public has less opportunity to examine and publicly comment, there continues to be a whole lot of unanswered questions that counties should clearly be asking:
  • When shelters run out of room, where will the state send dogs?  And what will that cost the county taxpayers?
  • Will the counties be paying for dogs to go to multiple kennels until a space opens up at a shelter like we saw with Safe Haven?  Won't that obviously drive up the costs of dog control for the counties?
  • Will the counties be the ones forced by the state to decide which dogs will die, and as such be the target of the "No-Kill" movement? 
  • If a dog is picked up in Sussex and ends up at a New Castle County shelter, how will residents ever find their dogs, or even access them if they don't have transportation for that long of a trip?
  • Considering the county auditors actions and that of Senator Blevins, does anyone really think that dogs will be disbursed to the various shelters fairly?  
  • Or will some shelters get the cute fluffies because of their favored status, while others get the hard to adopt ones which cost them more in the long run and harming their financial solvency?Will it depend on whether they have favor with Senator Blevins at any given point?
  • And if there's no additional space left to place dogs in shelters, will counties face what Kent County did during the Safe Haven mess where dogs were left on the streets when Safe Haven didn't respond to residents dog at-large complaints?
  • Lastly, what happens if this all falls apart lie we saw with Safe Haven?  What will the counties alternatives be once FSAC has laid off their employees and liquidated the excess equipment?
So in the end, it does appear that this plan is not only a means to expand the unfunded mandate on the counties, but it also appears to be a financial bailout of Faithful Friends.  And with so many questions about sustainability, aren't we just going down the same foolish path that occurred when Safe Haven took on the Kent County Contract?

Also, using taxpayer dollars to bailout legislator friends is not fair to the taxpayers either, when so many of them also have pets that it costs to care for, which is getting harder every day with the state adding more taxes and fees.  

The answer is to get rid of CAPA, get REAL shelter standards that ensure proper care of animals, and then bring everyone to the table to address the pet overpopulation that we all know is at the heart of the problem.

In the end, the only thing the FSAC, and those of us that have defended them, are guilty of is being upfront with counties as far as costs and not taking part in the collusion with Senator Blevins and friends.  If the state truly believed that "No-Kill" was a viable and sustainable business model, then they wouldn't have pawned off dog control costs to the counties just before they passed CAPA, and they would have supported it themselves without the need for CAPA.  But they didn't, and that speaks for itself. 

Sadly, I don't doubt that Senator Blevins has the power to shove her legislation down everyone's pocket, and if that power gives her satisfaction, then so be it.  Her conscience has to live with her actions.

But if she actually cares about animals, and not just shelter statistics and the "No-Kill"agenda, then it's time to come up with a solution that is fiscally responsible, financially sustainable, and doesn't require the pathetic political games to put a nonprofit "underwater" that have now become her legacy. She can change that legacy if she wanted, but it will never happen with underhanded tactics and collusion.  It can only happen with transparency and collaboration.

And while we will never see justice done in Delaware because there are apparently too many who are afraid of our Senate President to call her out or enforce laws that prevent collusion, we are still hopeful that each and every piece of legislation and action that clearly benefits her friends will eventually draw the attention of federal law enforcement. especially since the actions that have taken place have clearly had an impact beyond our state lines when you look at the many victims of the Safe Haven mess that was enabled by their actions.

It will be interesting to see what legislation is put forward, but the fortunate part of all this is that Delaware residents have had an opportunity to see what "the Delaware Way" truly means.  We all heard the sighs at the Kent County Levy Court when the decision was made to drop the Safe Haven contract, so we know that the public gets it now.  But apparently our politicians don't represent the majority.  Instead they represent the vocal minority that support their own personal agendas, and that's not only a sad legacy for those involved, but also a sad legacy for our state.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Markell's Office Confirms that Transparency Is A Myth In Delaware

Nathan Winograd's battle cry is that pet overpopulation is a myth, but as most communities across the U.S. know, pet overpopulation is a sad reality and a reality that will continue to be perpetuated as people like Nathan blame shelters for euthanasia, rather than blaming those that created by backyard breeding and those that dump their older pets even when there isn't a reasonable reason.  Many of us are still waiting for Nathan to provide that list of adopters that are willing and have the resources to take on the many old, sick and injured, pitbulls which have been over bred the most,

Unlike Nathan's unproven claims about pet overpopulation, we can show without doubt that transparency and FOIA under Governor Markell's office is very much a myth.

For those not in our state, Delaware resident's of our state became aware that that our Governor Jack Markell had a second state email under the name of Alan Jackson.  Understand that this is not a personal pseudonym email to allow him to express his viewpoints publicly, but an official state email account on the state server that appears to be a way to avoid the transparency of open records.

Many had a field day with this revelation, and even if the governor's office did provide FOIA documents involving that email address (which is doubtful), how would other agency's FOIA administrators know to also search the name Alan Jackson?  In fact, some have already shown that to be the case as you can see:
"As part of another FOIA request from this office, another individual received emails between Governor Jack Markell and Michelle Rhee however there were none in this FOIA request."  - Exceptional Delaware Blog

Wasserbach Emails / Ranji Emails

After some in New Castle County (NCC) took notice that their might be some concerns regarding Mr. Wasserbach's actions in his capacity as County Auditor for NCC, the Wasserbach emails were eventually released by New Castle County to the First State Animal Center and SPCA (previously known as Kent County SPCA or KCSPCA).  As a result of the discovery of those emails, it also became apparent that it would be beneficial to FOIA the emails of the major players in the drama that surround the Wasserbach emails.

We realized that First State Animal Center couldn't do a FOIA request of Senator Blevins email account, despite the fact that she appeared to encourage another shelter to under bid a contract so KCSPCA would be "underwater for sure".  That's because our cowardly legislature exempted their own email accounts when they wrote and updated FOIA legislation. That in itself should tell you something about our legislature, but we knew that lack of transparency has always existed..

But the governor's office is not exempt from FOIA requests.  Or at least that's what people thought. Apparently the governor office has conveniently decided to avoid producing documents by claiming that "no public documents exist", despite the fact that we already have a number of emails that we received as a result of the Wasserbach emails, and clearly don't fall with the parameters that the letter noted.

Below is the response from the governor's office to the FOIA request that was made.

Given the many Jennifer Ranji email threads that we received in the Wasserbach emails, we know that is utter nonsense. Below are the exemptions referenced.

(l) "Public record" is information of any kind, owned, made, used, retained, received, produced, composed, drafted or otherwise compiled or collected, by any public body, relating in any way to public business, or in any way of public interest, or in any way related to public purposes, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which such information is stored, recorded or reproduced. For purposes of this chapter, the following records shall not be deemed public:
(6) Any records specifically exempted from public disclosure by statute or common law;    
(16) Emails received or sent by members of the Delaware General Assembly or their staff

Below are just a couple of the many innocuous emails we have in addition to the ones included in my previous post and many more.  Clearly just copying a legislator onto an email that was sent to people at state agencies and animal shelters across the state is not the intent of the exemption above.  If you read the email below, this was not correspondence with the General Assembly, they were just provided a copy.

So in the end, it was okay for Faithful Friends to pass around as they like to their board members, but the rest of us in Delaware that pay for the resulting regulations aren't supposed to see the process involved in creating those regulations?  That's transparency? FAIL.

And this example is even better. Nathan Winograd, who lives in California, was able to see this email, but the governor's office thinks it's okay to keep this hidden from Delaware residents that make public record requests.  That's transparency?  FAIL.

As you can see, the Freedom of Information Act under Governor Markell's office is not complied with, and the lack of transparency couldn't be more evident.  Transparency is only avoided when you have something to hide, and apparently that is the case when it comes to the many emails surrounding the attempt to put KCSPCA "underwater".  What else is this administration hiding?

Given that transparency in Delaware has clearly been shown to be a myth, I think the REAL Alan Jackson should address the political 'games' that take place behind closed doors in Delaware.  Hiding the truth when it comes to so many issues in Delaware also shows us the lack of class and professionalism that is current in our top office for the State of Delaware and it's time for the redneck games to end.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Beyond Redemption - Conspiracy & Dirty Politics of "No-Kill"

New Castle County Audit

Recently there has been quite a bit of ruckus about casting some sunshine on the deep dark hole of New Castle County Auditor Robert Wasserbach's emails, especially because of what a county councilman described as concerns "that there could arguably be ethical, professional, and criminal violations of the law" in the emails. The council meeting discussion can be heard and read about on the Delaware Way blog.

I've previously addressed the fact that the audit of Kent County SPCA (now known as First State Animal Center and SPCA) by New Castle County, at the request of Mr. Wasserbach, appeared to be a conflict of interest because of Mr. Wasserbach's board position with Faithful Friends, and that it was extremely odd that the scope of the county audit focused almost entirely on the state law of CAPA when Mr. Wasserbach's handpicked auditor found clean conditions at the shelter.

In recent weeks, an anonymous whistle blower provided a number of people with emails that are clearly concerning regarding the audit of KCSPCA. What makes this person a whistle blower, rather than a leaker, is the fact that not only were county tax dollars (at least $10,000) wasted on an audit that appears to have been done to satisfy a political agenda of Mr. Wasserbach and Faithful Friends, but may also be a part of a bigger plan to put KCSPCA out of business to drive up the cost of dog control services that the county tax payers fund.  If KCSPCA was no longer around, it would cost more money to entice another shelter to take on the contract, or for the county to provide those services.

While these emails were apparently not released to the KCSPCA by Mr. Wasserbach's employer the New Castle County Council, and more specifically the council's legal representative Carol Dulin when a FOIA request was made back in 2012, the whistle blower has provided us with an opportunity to see some alarming information that should be of concern to all taxpayers in that county and across the state.

The county council needs to provide oversight over their employees if they don't want to end up implicated in the shenanigans that appear to have taken place.  If they truly represent the taxpayers of their districts, they should be sending this situation to the Attorney General for a complete investigation regarding possible antitrust violations that may have been engaged in against their constituents interests.  These emails also bring into question every audit that has been performed under Mr. Wasserbach's watch during his tenure with New Castle County, and as such, the county should also request that the Delaware Board of Accountancy who oversees accountants in Delaware investigate this matter.

CAPA Legislation Signed July 23, 2013

Not only does it appear that the audit of KCSPCA was a regular topic of discussion between Mr. Wasserbach and Jane Pierantozzi of Faithful Friends for 2 years prior to the actual audit occurring, but the discussions go at least as far back as just 7 days after CAPA was signed ceremoniously by Governor Markell.

7 Days After CAPA Signed, A Complete Outline For An Audit of KCSPCA was sent to Wasserbach by Jane Pierantozzi

Given how quickly discussion of the audit happened after the signing, it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibilities that the audit was already planned as one of several ways to use CAPA as a weapon against KCSPCA when Faithful Friends and company proposed CAPA as legislation.  This may be the reason the audit seem so focused on this state law, and not focused on ensuring county funds were being used for the services contracted that most reasonable people would expect of a county audit to do.

Keep in mind, that Faithful Friends is another animal shelter in our state, and that all shelters not only compete for the same sector of donation funds, but also have the ability to bid on the same dog control contracts.  In what world is it appropriate for an auditor to get advice on doing an audit from a competing business, let alone a shelter director who has been openly hostile to the KCSPCA.

There are thousands of shelter directors across the country if Mr. Wasserbach didn't have the first clue how to audit an animal shelter, even though county audits should have the same scope as any other audit in ensuring that the county is receiving the services it has contracted for. But instead Mr. Wasserbach chose the path that not only appears to be highly biased, but also a path that appears to be self serving given the fact that the shelter director he sought advice from appears to have had a vested financial interest in the outcome, not to mention Mr. Wasserbach's own interest as a board member of that organization.

In this email below from Mr. Wasserbach in August of 2010, the following statement was made - "I am also going to suggest to someone who has complained about the KCSPCA to file a report on my Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline, so that I have even more reason to do this audit".  In his email to shelter directors Jane Pierantozzi of Faithful Friends, and Anne Cavanaugh of Delaware SPCA, it appears that Mr. Wasserbach is eliciting a complaint be made on his hotline to help him make a case to the county that an audit is needed, so he can then use the complaint to provide Chris Coons with reason to not extend the contract.

Even the statement that he wants someone to "pose" as his assistant sounds like he is working hard to make the audit appear genuine, Maybe it's just me, but if the assistant is going to actually provide assistance, wouldn't most people state "act as my assistant", rather than "pose as my assistant".  But then again, maybe he really did just want the person to "pose" for appearances, especially since Ms. Pierantozzi had already provided Mr. Wasserbach with an outline for the audit a month earlier.

In that audit outline, Ms. Pierantozzi also told Mr. Wasserbach to "pretend your may want to help them with cats". I can't imagine audit 101 teaches accountants to lie during an audit process, but let's be honest, "pretending" is just a pretty way to say LIE.

A month later in September of 2010, it appears that Mr. Wasserbach is still trying to elicit a complaint from his friends through his hotline. Encouraging complaints certainly doesn't seem unbiased or independent to me, and most reputable auditors place great value on an audit being both unbiased and independent.

Part of a Discussion About Auditing KCSPCA

So at least the public now has an opportunity to see that the complaints on Mr. Wasserbach's hotline didn't just come in as many have portrayed in the past, instead it appears that they were encouraged to be made.

In the email from Jane Pierantozzi of Faithful Friends on June 15, 2012 you can see that Faithful Friends, who Mr. Wasserbach is on the board for, is talking to New Castle County officials about the future possibility of working with the county if the shelter gets land from the county.  She also mentions that another shelter Safe Haven, who Ms. Pierantozzi references as "partners", was attempting to get the Sussex dog control contract "away from KCSPCA".

Two years later, land was eventually given to Faithful Friends for $1 by the State of Delaware,   While Safe Haven ended up losing the bid for Sussex, they did eventually end up with the Kent County contract., which you will see later was discussed as the higher paying county on a per capita basis.  What's also noteworthy about this email on 6/15/12 below, is the fact that was sent just one day after the audit notice was sent by Mr. Wasserbach to KCSPCA.  Coincidence? Maybe, but the timing of this discussion certainly seems suspect to me.

State of Delaware Land Giveaway

In 2014, as noted earlier, the state legislature did eventually hand the shelter that Mr. Wasserbach is board president of a valuable piece of land in New Castle County for $1.   The fiscal note for the complete property, that was also partially given to Colonial District, was valued as follows:
 "Using the assessment-to-sales ratio provided in the above mentioned report, the estimated market value of the 40 acres to be transferred is $4,623,030. - Fiscal Note
This was a luxury that no other nonprofit had an opportunity to bid on, and unlike Delaware SPCA who was granted property in Sussex County many years ago, Faithful Friends wasn't providing a public service (dog control, animal cruelty investigations, handling livestock at large) for local taxpayers as Delaware SPCA was at the time of their land deal.

And worse yet, what reasonable legislator gives land to a nonprofit who owed the state $21,029.31 for almost 3 years without any state follow up in the court system,  I don't imagine it was coincidence that Faithful Friends magically paid off the debt just before the bill is introduced to give them land.

And also concerning is the fact that at the time the property was handed to Faithful Friends by the state of Delaware in July 2014, Faithful Friends last financial statement on record was for the year ending 6/30/11.  Given the restrictions built into this land conveyance below, it would certainly seem prudent for our legislators to have a more recent financial statement on hand, but then again, fiscal stewardship is a trait we rarely see in Delaware.

"No deed shall be executed until the Colonial School District has received a copy of Faithful Friends construction plans for the new parcel along with written confirmation of construction financing, or other adequate funding source for the entire Pet Adoption and Community Resource Center from the Faithful Friends no later than July 1, 2019. At the time of conveyance of the land to Faithful Friends from the Colonial School District, Faithful Friends must agree to accept the new parcel in "as is" condition, after which Faithful Friends shall be legally permitted to use the new parcel for a Pet Adoption and Community Resource Center, and for no other use. After conveyance of the new parcel, Faithful Friends intends to construct a building(s) of not less than 20,000 square feet in total size upon the new parcel for use as a Pet Adoption and Community Resource Center, and to construct not less than one-hundred parking stalls upon the new parcel to serve the aforementioned use. The building(s) and parking stalls shall be constructed in accordance with the then applicable provisions of the New Castle County building code, State drainage code, State critical natural area regulations, State wetland regulations, and federal wetland and floodplain regulations. The deed to Faithful Friends shall set forth the restrictions and covenants expressed in this act."

Miraculously, Mr. Wasserbach did manage to finish Faithful Friends financial statement for their year ending 6/30/12, just a month after the land transfer deal was signed into law, and this financial statement showed that Faithful Friends net assets or fund balance as negative at -$8,147 for that period.  So it's not surprising that this financial statement didn't become public until a month after the land deal on 8/25/14, 2 years after the fiscal year end for that period.

The state auditor should really look at deals like this, because our legislators either don't have a financial bone in their bodies, or they just don't care when it comes to taking care of their friends. We certainly saw that was the case when it came to the Tigani land deal a few years back, and yet despite Mr. Tigani ending up in jail, it appears we are going down the same path with friendships trumping good financial sense on the part of our legislature.

The Plot Thickens Even More

If the actions surrounding the New Castle County audit weren't bad enough, emails that have been received more recently through FOIA, paint an even more nefarious conspiracy that has been taking place.

While I have previously discussed the concern that CAPA was born out of and being used in a manner that pointed to collusion, I think that cause for concern is even greater after seeing some of the emails that were taking place, with a combination of shelters involved and with some individuals in positions of power at the state and county levels.  There are  publications that talk about the fact that nonprofits can also be involved in antitrust violations, and more specifically the Sherman Act, so make no mistake that antitrust only applies to for profit corporations.

So first lets start with the most damning of the emails that was found.  The players in this drama are based on the email:
  • Senator Patricia Blevins - State Senate President, Board Member of Delaware Humane
  • Anne Cavanaugh - Executive Director of Delaware SPCA at the time, Board Member of Delaware SPCA now
  • Jennifer Ranji - Governor Advisor that wrote CAPA, per Jane Pierantozzi in an article was a previous board member of Faithful Friends, later promoted to Secretary of Child Services for the State of Delaware
  • Jane Pierantozzi - Executive Director Faithful Friends
  • Kathleen Gallagher - wife of Delaware SPCA Board Member, supporter of Faithful Friends
  • Robert Wasserbach - New Castle County Auditor, Faithful Friends Board Member (now President of the board)
The complete email with our annotations and questions in red is at this link, but as you can see from this portion below, there does appear to be a plot to destroy the Kent County SPCA.  This plot involved several representatives of other shelters colluding to try and use political power and underbidding to put KCSPCA "underwater", but what's just as alarming is the fact that people in positions of authority took place in writing and introducing CAPA in Delaware were also involved. So it would certainly seem feasible that this same group plotted to pass CAPA for the very purpose of destroying Kent County SPCA (KCSPCA).

Seriously, what kind of senator thinks it's appropriate to encourage underbidding to put a business in her state "underwater"?  Should she be Senate President after this comes to light?  And it's shameful that she has a position on the senate ethics committee.

Email acquired as NCC releases PART of the documents in FOIA request of Robert Wasserbach emails.

And in what world is it appropriate for a senator, a governor's advisor, and a county auditor to take part in actions like this that wreak of suppressing competition and predatory pricing?  Was the purpose of trying to harm Kent County SPCA to get them out of the dog control business so they could drive up prices for dog control services and force more funding out of the counties for their own shelter's financial interests once they destroyed Kent County SPCA?  

That's how it appears to me given there are also a number of emails where it was discussed that the county contracts are under funded.  It's no surprise that this is why Kent and Sussex contracts were targeted, while no shelter is willing to bid for the contract in New Castle County. 

The counties should be appalled at this behavior, especially since CAPA was enacted just after the state dumped that responsibility off on the counties, making it even more shameful that state officials would take part in what appears to be a conspiracy to drive up the price of dog control for the counties.

I also find the actions of these board members and shelter directors to be extremely reckless given that they have a responsibility in protecting their organization's reputation, and ensuring the shelter's financial well being by avoiding any behavior that could result in litigation if a complaint were made under state or federal laws, especially given the fact that the law frowns on conspiracies that manipulate prices and attempts to suppress competition.

Although Delaware's antitrust law is pretty weak, I'm not sure if it matters since in the past we've seen the previous Attorney General Beau Biden's office accommodate this same senator by doing multiple opinions to ensure other shelters weren't impacted by the original request against KCSPCA.  I guess we can only wait and see whether Matt Denn has more integrity and independence than his predecessor.  Here is the state statute:

"§ 2103 Restraint of trade unlawful.Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce of this State shall be unlawful." - Title 16

Here is a typical definition of Restraint of Trade:
restraint of trade
n. in anti-trust law, any activity (including agreements among competitors or companies doing business with each other) which tends to limit trade, sales and transportation in interstate commerce or has a substantial impact on interstate commerce. Most of these actions are illegal under the various anti-trust statutes. Some state laws also outlaw local restraints on competitive business activity. (See: monopoly, trust)

Task Force Confirmed to Be A Sham

And lastly, not only were New Castle County taxpayer funds wasted on a sham audit of the KCSPCA, but Mr. Wasserbach's emails show us that state taxpayer funds were also wasted on a long series of Task Force meetings at taxpayer's expense to pretend like the state was involved in a discussion about bettering animal welfare, when the fact is that Senator Blevins and friends already had a plan in place and were merely creating the hand picked Task Force to create the public perception that the legislature was getting input from outside of this small cartel of conspirators that we referenced above.

In this 11/22/11 email, that was part of the same thread as the "underwater" comment, it is mentioned what in the end was almost entirely identical to the final recommendations that were proposed by the Task Force.  This email was 7 months before the Task Force was even put in place, and 1-1/2 years before the recommendations would be publicly posted as being the result of the Task Force on 4/30/13, but now we can see from the emails that this plan had already been hatched by the political cartel in their own private meetings that took place back in November of 2011.  

Keep in mind that many legislators who passed the legislation to create the new Office of Animal Welfare were probably also under the mistaken impression that these recommendations came out of the Task Force, rather than this small cartel of conspirators.

I doubt most legislators were aware that the agenda in adding the enforcement provisions that previously didn't exist and in creating a new agency, was to finally use their weapon of mass harassment CAPA against the KCSPCA even more, in hopes that they would go away and give the "No-Kill" shelters the leverage to gain more funding from the counties. This would allow them to have budgets similar to "No-Kill" communities like Austin where prices have increased $500,000-$1 million every year for animal services

And remember that this new agency that was hatched in a backroom meeting, also comes at a cost of $700,000 to the taxpayers.

Cape Gazette Headlines of May 1, 2013
Senator Blevins having a discussion with Anne Cavanaugh & Jennifer Ranji


While the cabal of conspirators referenced above didn't destroy KCSPCA with their unethical, immoral, and possibly illegal actions, the shelter did face financial losses the year that CAPA was enacted and also when the shelter lost the Kent County contract in Kent County, so I guess part of the goal of putting the shelter "underwater" was attained for those periods, even if it didn't put them underwater completely into insolvency. As a result of the political games, and the fact that the audit continues to be used by the shelters enemies, each and every time the biased audit resurfaces the result is that the shelter faces actionable harm.

I'm sure the shelter is grateful to the many supporters that have stood by them despite the political nonsense and campaign of destroy them.  Obviously the shelter is and continues to be harmed by these political games, and Mr. Wasserbach's sham audit continues to be used as one of the tools in the arsenal against them in addition to CAPA, but there are fortunately many supporters who see through the smoke and mirrors and continue to support the shelter.  

Hopefully the county commissioners and council persons now understand why they have to listen to the constant attacks against the shelter, and now realize that these attacks will also cost them and their constituents dearly if KCSPCA is ever pushed out of dog control, because the counties will then become the objects of the conspirators attacks and attempts to drive up prices and budgets. 

County officials would be foolish to enter into a partnership that was proposed earlier this year by the state, because as they can now see, the state officials involved and their partners in collusion will eventually pass on the higher costs to the counties. Given what county officials have now had the opportunity to see in the full light of sunshine, they would have to be foolish to believe that Senator Blevins is acting in their best interest or that of their county constituents.  

In addition to KCSPCA, there are many others who have suffered as a result of theses political games.  
  • The employees at KCSPCA that lost their jobs when the conspiracy resulted in Safe Haven taking over the contract in Kent County. 
  • The Safe Haven employees that may have left other positions to end up losing their jobs when the ill prepared Safe Haven went bust within 18 months.  
  • The many creditors of Safe Haven who were left with Safe Haven debts, from the USDA to the many kennels, vets, and others.  Many companies and individuals, both in state and beyond our state boarders were impacted.
As you can see in the conspirator's discussion surrounding Safe Haven's demise, the only concern is whether their agenda has been lost.  There doesn't appear to be any regret or concern about the many people and pets that their actions have harmed with underbidding contracts to try and prove that people are wrong when we said that "No-Kill" was costly and unsustainable.  This is the reason I used the title beyond redemption, because obviously there can't be redemption for people that ignore and deny their own culpability.

Unfortunately the political games also extend beyond animal welfare, and I suspect that every audit performed during Mr. Wasserbach's tenure will also now be suspect.  I don't know what the situation was at Police Athletic League, but that audit by Mr. Wasserbach should also be questioned given the appearance of impropriety involved in Mr. Wasserbach announcing the audit to Jane Pierantozzi before it occurred, and what appears to be excitement about the fact that he will be auditing another nonprofit whose accountant may have issues with Faithful Friends as well.  

Let's hope that the shelters who have board members or executive directors involved in this mess eventually understand that these individuals are not only placing their own shelters in danger of litigation and possibly criminal investigations, but also hurting animal welfare in our state, and that these individuals are also part of the reason that nearly every shelter is suffering financially.  We certainly don't need to see another Safe Haven debacle.  Bankrupt shelters don't save any animals in the end.  

Until shelter boards and leadership roles are cleaned up of the corruption and back room conspiracies, things will never improve for animals in our state, so shining some sunlight on what has occurred will hopefully make shelter boards consider the need to clean up their own ranks so we can eventually move forward for the sake of the animals in our state.