Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Rabies Case Per Month in 2018


The City of San Angelo had one rabies case per month in 2018 according to city documents.
 In three of the four cases a pet dog was exposed to the diseased animal.

Despite multiple cases of rabies the city failed to produce compliance data on rabies vaccinations for shelter pets, saying the contractor had that information.  No paid city leaders or elected officials compelled Concho Valley PAWS to produce compliance data, even as local rabies cases were confirmed.

The Animal Services Advisory Committee did not meet in February or April of 2018.  The February meeting was cancelled due to lack of agenda items.

The cancellations seemed odd as the City undertook two strategic arrangements with Concho Valley PAWS, the contracting of veterinarian services and leasing land next to the Animal Shelter.  City Council missed the advice and consent of this potentially important committee on these issues.

A lot was going on for a group that was given nothing to do.

Update 5-17-18:  Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden informed the ASAC the April meeting was also cancelled due to lack of agenda items.  City Council undertook the PAWS land lease on May 1st.  An April ASAC meeting would have been the time for this committee to advise City Council.  That did not happen.

ASAC Board member Jenie Wilson gave an operational update from the board level.  Ideally she would have taken off her board hat and given testimony from the staff podium.   City Attorney Theresa James viewed Jenie's talk on May adoptions as fitting within the April statistics agenda item and allowed it to occur from the board level.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

City of San Angelo: Love is in the Air


The April Development Corporation meeting indicated big changes could be underway for the City's contract with the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce.  Chamber Board and COSADC board member Elizabeth Grindstaff set the stage for changes in an exchange with Assistant City Manager Michael Dane, currently filling in as Economic Development Director.  At the 1:22 mark Dane waffled as to the motivation for any changes and avoided details of what those might be.

Love, specifically SANANGELOVE is a theme of the San Angelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is a Division of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce.  City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and Chamber executive Suzanna Aguirre found that very thing, according to sources.

Suzanna Aguirre played a role in Daniel's first blemish, the Furniture Fiasco.   City e-mails show Aguirre facilitated the ordering and installation of Water Department Furniture as the City Manager's Executive Office Coordinator.   Daniel's investigation into the unauthorized purchase of over $100,000 in furniture failed to answer the most basic questions.  Six years later the two parties are in SanAngelove.

Valenzuela had nothing to do with the Furniture Fiasco, other than a hapless investigation.  The unauthorized purchase occurred under Interim City Manager Michael Dane.  Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Grindstaff served as project manager for the City Hall renovation and encouraged the Water Department to order furniture.  Valenzuela's investigation never interviewed Dane or the city's purchasing manager.

The same players, Valenzuela, Dane, and Grindstaff hold key roles relative to the the Chamber contract renegotiation.  Aguirre's professional role is less direct but she has a significant relationship with City Manager Daniel Valenzuela.  This may just be interesting history but it is background for critical players in the upcoming City-Chamber contract drama.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

What Killed Former Avenue P Project?


San Angelo Live characterized prior efforts to address Avenue P flooding with:

Another idea floated was to construct drainage piping below the streets there. But expected opposition from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and environmental agencies who control the drainage into the Concho River would have killed that idea if the exorbitant cost didn’t before.
It wasn't just another idea floated.  San Angelo City Council Minutes from July 16, 2013 show

ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF SAN ANGELO CITY COUNCIL AWARDING RFB NO. ES-01-13 “ENGINEERING SERVICES AVENUE P STREET & DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT” TO REECE ALBERT, INC., AND AUTHORIZING THE CITY MANAGER TO NEGOTIATE AND EXECUTE AN AGREEMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF AVENUE P STREET & DRAINAGE REMEDIATION PROJECT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SAN ANGELO AND REECE ALBERT, INC. IN ACCORDANCE WITH SAID BID AWARD, IN SUBSTANTIALLY THE ATTACHED FORM, SAID AGREEMENT BEING SUBJECT TO RESCISSION ON DECEMBER 31, 2013 SHOULD THE NECESSARY RIGHT-OF-WAY AND NECESSARY EASEMENTS NOT BE ACQUIRED BY CITY BEFORE DECEMBER 31, 2013, AS PROVIDED FOR UNDER SUCH AGREEMENT (Page 659, #2013- 07-103)

Interim City Engineer Tim Wolff presented background information. A copy of the presentation is part of the Permanent Supplemental Record. Motion, to adopt the Resolution awarding RFB No. ES-01-13 “Engineering Services Avenue P Street & Drainage Improvement Project” to Reece Albert, Inc,, as presented, was made by Councilmember Silvas and seconded by Councilmember Fleming. General discussion was held on the project funding, including Stormwater and General Fund funding. A vote was taken on the motion on the floor. Motion carried unanimously.

A slide presentation indicated the City had a $1.7 million budget for the project.  With Council's approval and dollars set aside only easements were needed.  Drainage under the street was very close to becoming a reality, however the city's stormwater engineer failed to obtain the easements and the project returned to the possible solutions bin.  

San Angelo Live pulled a valid project out for trashing.  Why the journalistic miss?

Addition 5-2-18:  That engineer who failed?  That was Tim Wolff.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

PAWS Expansion Bypasses Animal Shelter Advisory Committee


In early 2018 San Angelo's City Council approved a new five year adoptions contract and a new veterinary services contact for Concho Valley PAWS.  Council will consider leasing 3.6 acres of land to PAWS for an adoption/veterinary services center in its May 1st meeting.  City staff state "none" for the financial impact of the project 

Consider a resolution authorizing the City Manager or his designee to negotiate and execute a lease agreement and all related documents with the Humane Society of Tom Green County, d/b/a Concho Valley Paws on vacant land adjacent to the City of San Angelo Animal Shelter facility, for use as an animal resource center for the performance of related animal rescue, shelter, veterinarian and adoption services (Preas)
Two of the three strategic items bypassed the Animal Services Advisory Committee, which had its monthly meeting cancelled twice thus far in 2018.  After the February ASAC meeting was cancelled the city approved extending PAWS contract for five years despite serious compliance concerns with the local spay/neuter ordinance and state law requiring rabies vaccinations.  City staff assured City Council they had reconciliations and statistics showing no problems, yet staff could not produce the very information they represented to council.  After cancelling the April meeting Council will entertain the lease proposal.

Two major decisions bypassed the advice and consent of the body charged with sharing their expertise with City Council on animal related matters. As a result of these decisions two PAWS representatives sit on the ASAC and are charged with providing oversight for the very services they provide the city.  Something stinks in San Angelo's City Hall.

Update 5-2-18:  City Council approved the PAWS lease in the consent agenda with no presentation or discussion.  Council did not explore PAWS plans or vision.  The public missed yet another opportunity to learn how PAWS wants to help the city in return for what fees.  A responsible council would explore what a successful project would look like and have provisions in place if plans don't materialize. 

Update 5-16-18:  The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee learned of four rabies cases thus far in 2018.  That is one topic of the ASAC meeting tomorrow.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Development Corporation Compliance Audit Goes Internal


Assistant City Manager Michael Dane informed the City of San Angelo Development Corporation Board that the compliance audit shifted from an external audit contracted to the city's professional auditor to an internal audit.  He stated:

Roland had been working to have compliance audit done by CPA firms and because of the large number of contracts he was having difficulty finding a firm that was independent.  Rather than continue to chase that rabbit down the trail I asked the city's internal auditor to help get us caught up.  So that's why he is here before you today.
Actually, the Development Corporation approved the switch from an external to internal auditor on October 25, 2017.  The change is embedded in the city services agreement, approved six months ago.

Audit COSADC agreements, administrative files and financial records for compliance with relevant requirements and regulations.
Previous agreements had the city's external auditor conducting the contract compliance audit.   

CITY ’s audit Agreementor will audit COSADC Agreement, administrative files and financial records for compliance with relevant requirements and regulations
The Development Corporation will pay the city $578,000 for services for the current fiscal year, up over $100,000 over the last two years.

Former City Councilwoman Elizabeth Grindstaff serves on numerous city boards.  She remarked later in the Development Corporation meeting on a different Dane response:

"I never got away with answers like that."
They do now, with great regularity.  Watch peer Assistant City Manager Rick Weise's presentation near the beginning of the meeting.  He phoned it in.

I found it amazing how competent business people defer their management expectations when dealing with city staff.  Mayor Alvin New and Councilman Kendall Hirschfeld looked like they might burst when city staff stonewalled or failed to show basic competence.  Yet, they never did.   

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Three Members of Animal Services Board Are City Employees/Contractors


Nearly half of San Angelo's Animal Shelter Advisory Committee are city employees or contractors with Concho Valley PAWS.  Committee members Jenie Wilson and Victor Schulze, DVM perform contract work for the Animal Shelter through PAWS.  Wilson is PAWS Executive Director and over two programs, adoptions and veterinary services.  Dr. Schulze is a PAWS veterinarian, a service City Council recently awarded with no bidding.

Flashback to February 2015 when:

The City of San Angelo teamed with Concho Valley PAWS to launch an initiative aimed at reducing the number of unwanted animals who enter the shelter and are eventually put down. This effort was purposely rolled out to coincide with National Spay/Neuter Month.

Dubbed the Spay Neuter Initiative Program – or, appropriately, SNIP – this partnership will seek to persuade the public of the need to alter pets and will educate citizens of the many benefits to their pets of doing so.

Further, SNIP will raise awareness of the options for obtaining low-cost spaying and neutering through Concho Valley PAWS’ voucher program, which is detailed at ConchoValleyPAWS.org.

The current state of PAWS voucher program is "on hold until September 15th."  That's five months from the day I captured the screenshot.  That's a long time for a rescue organization with a new veterinarian on staff.


On 4-17-18 City Council reappointed PAWS Executive Director for another term on the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee.  The City had no contracts with PAWS when Wilson joined the Animal board the end of 2015.  PAWS now has two city contracts worth a combined $125,000.  This relationship was not detailed in Wilson's ASAC application shared with City Council.

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee has both an oversight and advisory role to City Council.  It makes no sense for the rescue slot or the veterinarian position to be occupied by shelter contractors.  Wilson and Shulze are in a position to not ask questions regarding their performance and public accountability.   Non conflicted rescue and veterinary members of the public would provide City Council more impartial advice and counsel as ASAC members.

City Councilman Tommy Thompson nominated Jenie Wilson for another ASAC term.  Mr. Thompson may see conflicts of interest like his veterinary friend sees animal genitalia.  You miss a few now and then.

How did two members of a public board get large chunks of city animal shelter work and get to remain on that same board in an oversight role?  At least one member of the public wants to know.

Update 4-26-18:  The City plans to lease nearly 4 acres of land to PAWS for "no financial impact," which translates to free.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

PAWS Director with Expanded City Business Up for Another ASAC Term


City Council Tommy Thompson nominated Jenie Wilson for another term on the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee.  City Council will undertake this nomination in its April 17th meeting.

Wilson resigned twice from the board, which advises City Council on animal related issues.  She served from February 2009 to August 2010.  Once the Tom Green County Humane Society hired Jenie as Executive Director she resigned her spot on the Animal Services Board, citing a conflict of interest.  At that time HSTGC was an animal rescue with a working board and volunteer membership.

Names changed.  The Animal Services Board became the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee and HSTGC turned in Concho Valley PAWS.  Jenie went back on the ASAC and rose to Chair in January 2016.  PAWS became the adoption contractor for the City shelter in February 2017 for an annual fee of $60,000.

Jenie resigned again in June 2017.
 
"I have my hands full with Concho Valley PAWS," Wilson said about her resignation. "There are only so many hours in the day and I decided to focus on all the positive things going on with PAWS and the shelter."
Her resignation came during a time of significant concern regarding the city's handling of animal issues.  Jenie's resignation had not been acted on by City Council.  Her sitting in the audience prevented a quorum where many concerned citizens showed up to participate in local government.  ASAC Chair Jenie Wilson's action kept their voices from being heard.

City Councilman Tommy Thompson reversed Wilson's resignation from on the Animal Services Advisory Committee.   He did so despite receiving letters of concern regarding Jenie's conflict of interest in overseeing her agency's work on behalf of the city animal shelter.

In the latter part of 2017 area veterinarians identified a significant no show rate for spay/neuter surgery and rabies vaccinations for dogs adopted from the animal shelter.  City ordinance requires pets be altered and state law mandates rabies vaccinations.  Research showed 75% of 913 dogs left the shelter unaltered from April to November.  They had a vet appointment for surgery and vaccinations but vets reported roughly 100 missed appointments.

When asked for compliance date on shelter adoptions meeting these legal mandates the city said it did not have this information.  Yet, when staff testified before City Council they presented assurances and referenced "numbers."

Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden represented to City Council that their were no rabies or spay/neuter compliance concerns on 1-23-18 when she spoke of a "trusted reconciliation process" and again on 2-20-18 when she cited "dozens of pet deaths prior to spay/neuter surgery."

“So the veterinarians report a missed appointment but we would not report a compliance issue.” -- Morgan Chegwidden to City Council on 2-20-18
Despite Morgan's testimony to City Council staff said information on the trusted reconciliation was not available and it did not have information on pet deaths prior to vaccinations/surgery.  How can staff represent information exists to Council and not be able to provide it?  City Council members provided no response when this was shared.  .

As Council considers Wilson's nomination for reappointment questions linger.  Why hasn't the City compelled contractor PAWS to provided compliance data.  Why has PAWS not done so voluntarily?  It's the most basic accountability:  How has the city animal shelter's adoption contractor complied with local and state law and the initial RFP specifications?

With answers murky at best City Council awarded PAWS a new multi-year adoption contract and a new contract for veterinary services.  The veterinary work was not put out to bid, nor did the Animal Services Advisory Committee get the opportunity to recommend this proposal to City Council. 

The ASAC has had four months to get the spay/neuter and rabies vaccination compliance issue on their agenda.  It hasn't.  The City issued notices of cancellation for the February and April ASAC meeting.  

PAWS is the city's contractor for two services, adoptions and veterinary care, for a combined $125,000.   Wilson's presence on the oversight board resulted in the committee not addressing legitimate concerns in June 2016 and early 2018. 

Jenie can educate the Animal Services Advisory Committee from the staff/contractor side of board table. It's also the preferred location for the city to conduct contractor oversight.

As for Mrs. Wilson's application for board service, an update would show she lives in Wall, not in SMD5.  An update would also reveal the potential conflicts of interest as a city contractor for two services.  These were not in effect when the original application was submitted.

City Councilman Tommy Thompson should withdraw his nomination.  The public deserves non-conflicted representation.