Saturday, September 06, 2014

City Staff Control Board Appointments


The answer finally came as to why four board applications for the Animal Shelter Advisory Board never received any action, much less a response.  City Clerk Alicia Ramirez

"I work very closely with the individual board liaisons to make these appointments."

"Board liaison" sounds like she might be working with members from the individual boards to get new blood.  I looked up board liaison on the city's website.  Nope, it's city staff.  That means Animal Shelter Board Liaison Julie Vrana screened out these four applications in favor of two other appointees.

"Whenever I receive applications to serve on these different boards, the criteria, membership criteria says preferred.  We don't always get individuals that meet that criteria.  We try real hard to recruit individuals with that background experience.  But sometimes if a council member comes to me saying, "No, I want this person appointed," then I submit it to the council as a whole and that's where it's approved."

This language is twisted given the four applicants are strong leaders in local nonprofit animal service organizations and the two appointees were not.

Alicia Ramirez implied that City Councilman Johnny Silvas forced an appointee who wants community cats starved and poisoned in violation of state laws against animal cruelty.  Silvas did withdraw the application for one meeting after these concerns were shared.  Yet, he resubmitted it with the following justification:

The City Staff were in total agreement with her appointment.  Many thought that she would bring a "balance" to the group as a whole.   

Silvas cited staff's, not his strong desire, for this appointee.  This is the typical, maddening mix of responses frequently offered by city staff and elected leaders.


So how have these appointees done in their new term on the Animal Shelter Advisory Board?  The public has no idea, given the website only shows four agendas.  There are no meeting minutes from January, February, April or July.  It's now September.

City Council repeated has used the policy board excuse to go light on staff not performing their jobs.  City Council members invite the public to serve on these boards.  They have a right to know that applications are treated with respect and dignity.

Animal advocates, the people donating significant time, money and other resources to care for San Angelo's lost, injured or unwanted animals are the kind of folks the city requires be on the board.  Why the situation is otherwise deserves exploration and examination.

Council not only has the right to ask for this, it has the obligation.  That is if Council wants the community to believe public service is truly desired. vs. club dealing.

Update 9-15-14:  Jim Turner has a thoughtful piece on San Angelo's various boards on his ConchoInfo blog.  It's worth the read.

1 comment:

P Hines said...

It's interesting that Julie Vrana is the liaison between the city clerk and the city council regarding appointments to the Animal Services Board. That explains a whole lot, since she seems to have no use for those involved with rescue. Julie should not be the liaison and as long as she is, rescue will not be represented on the ASB even though state law requires rescue be a member. This violates the state law, as well as, the city's own requirements for the make up of the ASB. Something is rotten in San Angelo. The best interest of the animals, the citizens and taxpayers is not be attended to as long Ms. Vrana is a road block to appointees from rescue.