Sunday, June 30, 2013

Health Insurance RFP to Reappear

The City of San Angelo should issue a request for proposal for employee health insurance in the near future.  The last RFP disappeared from the city's website, but the document can be found below:

The last time around the city wanted cost reduction and specified a single provider option to lower costs.  Despite over 60% of city employees having Shannon physicians, City Council chose a plan exclusive to San Angelo Community Medical Center.  Council kept 75% of the total savings, passing 25% on to employees via a small premium reduction.  It was the latest blow to morale, following elimination of the pharmacy, passing on draconian insurance increases to employee and retiree dependents, and raising the cost to be seen in the employee health clinic for uninsured workers.

If history is a guide look for an RFP in the next two weeks.  It's specifications will be telling.  With Mayor Alvin New gone, will his "defined contribution" approach to health insurance continue?  Will Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer continue his shell game on the city's health insurance fund?

Despite Council's approval of the Community exclusive provider arrangement which saved nearly $500,000, the budget was never updated for the public in the 2011-2012 FY.  The City stuck to its $7.9 health insurance million budget, only showing a $6.4 million when the final 2012-2013 budget was released.  Oddly, the Health Insurance Fund Balance is based on the prior 2012-2013 budget of roughly $8 million. The City Budget document shows $6.4 million for health insurance on page 122 and $8 million on page 91.  This is transparently bad financial management because it doesn't paint a consistent, much less clear picture.  

Like the City's Water Operating Fund it's impossible to garner a clear picture of the City's Health Insurance fund balance.  Michael Dane might as well be a magician, given the way these funds seem to bounce around, even disappear

Saturday, June 29, 2013

MedHab Update Finally on City Council Agenda

After being ignored for two months San Angelo City Councilman Johnny Silvas will finally get his requested MedHab update.  It took Mayor Alvin New's stepping down for this to happen.  New is a longtime member of MedHab's board of directors, something initially misrepresented by San Angelo's economic development crew as an "advisory board" position.  MedHab has an advisory board and Alvin New is not on it.

Assistant City Manager/Chief Financial Officer Michael Dane will give Johnny Silvas his long awaited update.  It's the 14th item on the agenda.  It will be interesting to see the comprehensiveness of Dane's report.  The depth and quality of Dane's presentations have varied.  We'll see if Dane lives up the City's financial transparency Silver Leadership Circle award.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Standard Times Feral Cat Poll

The San Angelo Standard Times ran a poll on their website relative to feral cat colonies.  Feral cat colonies in San Angelo have citizen volunteers who spend time and money trapping, spaying/neutering and returning the cats to their home.  Over time these colonies have achieved dramatic reduction in the number of feral cats.

The question should read:

Should the city be more aggressive in intimidating local citizens volunteering their time and resources to address San Angelo's feral cat problem?

The City Animal Shelter had the whole town to begin trapping and exterminating feral cats.  They picked an area with an organized feral cat colony, one where volunteers had already reduced their numbers from 200 to 55.

The poll above shows 80% of respondents think the city should back off.  While Arlington, Texas and other U.S. communities explore strategies to deal with the feral cat problem, the City is driving away local partners.  For years the City Animal Shelter collaborated with feral cat colony volunteers.  City leaders should require Animal Services return to such a strategy.

Update 6-22-19:   The City will use the Pets Alive model to begin reducing the extermination of excess pets.  The public will regain access to Animal Shelter kennels, taken away under the rule of James Flores and the first two years of Morgan Chegwidden's term as Shelter Director.  There will be a community cat component but the city made no mention of community groups who've long done their part by practicing trap, neuter, return and maintain.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Arlington City Council to Consider Feral Cat Program

The Star Telegram reported:

Arlington is considering a more humane strategy to controlling its feral cat population.

Currently, the city euthanizes nearly all of the thousands of feral cats that are trapped and brought into the animal shelter. But under a new proposal set to be voted on by Arlington City Council in August, the city would allow nonprofit animal rescue groups to sterilize and vaccinate trapped feral cats and then release them back into their neighborhoods with the promise of long-term care.

Arlington has seen a 15 percent increase in the number of feral, stray or unwanted cats brought into the shelter over the past two years, said Mike Bass, Code Compliance Services assistant director. About 5,680 cats were surrendered last year, up from 4,451 the year before, and only about 40 percent of them found new homes.

“We are going to see a continue growth of the problem,” Bass said. “The procreation is happening on a very fast pace, and it is very difficult to control.”

Last week, an Arlington City Council committee recommended approval of a Trap, Neuter and Return policy, which has been pushed during the past year by advocacy groups such as the Arlington Feral Cat Coalition, Alley Cat Allies and Friends of Arlington Animal Services.

“We have trapping and killing [feral cats] for decades, and it hasn’t made any difference,” said Kathy Beeler, founder of the Arlington Feral Cat Coalition. “What we are doing is not helping the problem, and it’s time to try something else.”

The City of San Angelo Animal Shelter once collaborated 25 local feral cat colonies.  That fell by the wayside.  Nearly two weeks ago the City declared war on one cat colony. 

“Number one, there is free rodent control,” Beeler said. “The cats that will be in their neighborhood won’t be reproducing, so they won’t have cats having kittens in their bushes and them having to deal with that.”

Sterilization also addresses some of the feral cats’ nuisance behaviors, such as spraying and fighting.

Other cities have endorsed trap, neuter and release strategies to control the cat population.
Hopefully San Angelo's new Mayor and City Council will cause a change in practice regarding feral cats.  Threatening a local citizen, one who worked to reduce a colony of 200 to 55 cats, with arrest makes no sense.  If Council can't change the threats and intimidation, the City could lose the 13 feral cat colonies that remain.  That includes people voluntarily donating time and money to reduce the city's feral cat problem.  Arlington is a Texas story worth examining
Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, June 21, 2013

City Aggravates Feral Cat Problem

The Standard Times ran a piece on the feral cat colony targeted for elimination by the City of San Angelo.  One can see the impact trap -spay/neuter - release had at this location.  The number of cats decreased from over 200 to 55. Yet, the City targeted a local volunteer working to address the problem, stating she needed to live by city ordinances, which are written for actual pets.

City Animal Control Officers claimed the Mejor Que Nada feral cats are a nuisance.  City ordinances have a clear procedure for designating an animal(s) a nuisance.  It involves a court with the complainant and pet owner present.

Villarreal said many of Animal Control’s complaints involve outdoor cats.
In this instance, she said, complaints are coming from businesses on Austin Street, Avenue N and Bryant Boulevard. The city has a policy of not disclosing the names of the business or individuals making the complaint to protect their privacy, she said.
It appears City Animal Officials can pick and choose which ordinances apply and which ones don't.

Right now, Villarreal said, the city handles complaints about feral cat colonies on a case-by-case basis. She said she has researched how larger cities such as the Dallas-Fort Worth area handle feral cats insofar as complaints and ordinance enforcement.

“At some point, we’ll have to figure out what it is we really want to do, or what the city wants to do,” she said. “We can only bring something in, and it gets voted in or voted out (by the Animal Services Board), and we still have to go through City Council. We have a lot of hoops” to jump through.
So Animal Shelter leaders and workers implemented a change prior to "figuring out" what to do?  There is no record of any changes made by the Animal Services Board or City Council in relation to feral cats.

The City should produce the names of the complainants and actually collaborate with volunteer citizens and local animal organizations on addressing San Angelo's feral cat problem.

George Randall, who owns Randall Motors on Avenue N and is on Concho Valley PAWS’ board of directors, also expressed concern about moving the cats.

"The city’s doing is going to create, in my opinion, more problems than they’re going to solve."
City Manager Daniel Valenzuela talks about partnering with the community.  Here's his chance to call off his hounds and actually work with people shouldering the load to create sound policies that make room for feral cats.  if the city continues on its current heavy-handed course it will have no citizen volunteers and no local animal organizations with which to partner..

Valenzuela can stop the creation of more problems with one phone call.  It's one he should make.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Feral Cat Picture Reflects Little Light

The City of San Angelo determined one feral cat colony warranted action.  For the last week Animal Control Officers intimidated a citizen volunteer for doing their part to reduce our community's feral cat problem.  Below is the memo officers distributed.

The City has a new strategy underway, however it's not clear why or exactly what they wish to accomplish.  The most recent minutes suggest the city wants to approve feral cat colonies operated by area animal organizations and hold these organizations to local ordinances, many of which make no sense for feral cats.

It's been years since any local animal organization had anything official to do with feral cat colonies.  A number of citizens kept up their colonies or started new ones, despite the loss of grant funding.

For the city to achieve their objective, they'd need to partner with local animal organizations.  Their heavy handed approach this past week portends a less than collaborative relationship.  Who'd want to step up for that?   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Minutes Regarding Feral Cats: A Historical Perspective

The Animal Services Board discussed feral cats in their February 21, 2013 meeting.  The minutes relative to that agenda item are below:

Feral Cat Program (Sandra Villarreal)
Sandra – I put this issue on the agenda to find out what y’all want to do. I did some research about other cities’ feral cat ordinance. Dallas has a TNR program and those colonies are managed by 2 rescue organizations. Denton’s colonies are registered and managed by the city. Ft. Worth, in my opinion, has a really good program. The animal groups have to comply with the ordinances and the city approves sponsors (rescues) to manage these programs. Caregivers who fall under sponsors have responsibilities and it’s all laid out on paper in defined rules. Lubbock and Alamo Heights have the city run their whole program which I think is too much. So see what y’all want to do about this. Do you want to pursue it or leave as is?
Linda – I see no reason to pass an ordinance because we don’t enforce what have now. And there are no groups stepping up to fix the issue because they can’t afford to
Julie – yes we do manage cats, we just can’t chase them around with a snare pole. We will pick up cats in traps or injured cats and we have traps to loan out
Linda – why does the city insist people by their own trap? It’s ridiculous. The city should purchase these traps
Julie – we had them at one time and they were damaged by people, the resources were depleted and some people would just rather buy their own. We don’t have the resources to handle everyone
Linda – I’m tire of fighting about this. No one cares; no one wants to take responsibility. We should just take it off the agenda
Wendy – we try but we have a hard time with not enough staff
Linda – I understand
Tom – the city should require a deposit for the trap that way when it’s returned without damage, they can get the deposit back
Julie – that’s a good idea and we had that at my other job, but San Angelo people don’t have the money for that. We go out and chain the trap and log it and talk to people about feeding feral cats. We have a handle on it
Faye – is there a length of time that they have the traps?
Julie – it depends but usually 7-10 days
City officials presented the following slide, which mentions "Trap Neuter Release" during the meeting.

 Under "Topics for Next Meeting" the following was documented:

Dr. Russell – so we’ll see about getting the statistics reports for the feral cats
Wendy – if the rescues aren’t actively participating, can we see the reports too?
Sandra – it’s still not approved. This would have to go through council and maybe require an open ended public information request. You’re welcome to look at it, but it needs to be approved
Linda – please take this seriously
Dr. Russell – we’ll look this over and talk about it at the next meeting
Linda – someone said it’s illegal to feed these cats. Is that true? Because I see people doing that all the time
Julie – you need to let us know when you do so we can address it
Linda – it’s every day
Julie – we will go to the address and speak with the resident. It’s not enough to just say there’s a cat problem
Linda – no, there’s a people problem
Cristie – I think feeding these cats is more cruel. It needs to stop
Linda – maybe by letting people know it’s illegal?
Sandra – we should look into getting that in articles in the paper
Faye – when will you go to council?
Sandra – we have to approve this first so April or May

At least one person in attendance stated their comment was both incomplete and taken completely out of context.  While it's clear the city wished to do something different regarding feral cats, no formal program has been shared with City Council, area animal organizations or the public.  A deeper historical dive might be instructive.

Feral cats came up in August 2011.  The minutes show:

Feral Cats(Dr. Russell)
Dr. Russell – it’s obvious we have a problem around town with feral cats so here’s where we discuss how to deal with them. Any ideas?
Faye – what about TV time? Or we could offer cages to trap them for the shelter
Julie – we get calls all the time about this issue and we advise where to by the traps. We have a few on hand and would love to supply them but people have abused the privilege before so we no longer can. Harbor Freights, I believe, is the cheapest.
Faye – this is a real problem in San Angelo. We need to get the message out to the general public. Sometimes people don’t think about how they can help with the problem
Julie – there are organic remedies on how to get rid of them like cayane pepper or mothballs and not feeding your animals outside.
Linda – the city seems like it wants to throw the problem onto the citizens but the city needs a program in place to deal with this
Susan – the goal is to decrease the population
Julie – we do already pick up all trapped feral cats
Linda – this is not against you, but the city needs to take responsibility for this. Right now it’s on the home owners and citizens and the city needs to step up. Spay and neuter or kill the cats. All of your suggestions throw all responsibility back on the public
Julie – I am sure the city would want to help in any way they can but there’s money involved
Susan – I don’t really feel like there’s enough awareness out there and that brings me back to TV/radio advertisements. I think more people would be more responsible if they were more aware
Linda – I know some people will feed these cats and like having them around, but they see them as semi-pets and they’re not taking responsibility for them
Julie – yes we have certain ‘problem’ houses that we will go to and talk to owners about. We do try to go out and educate
Tom – I have a comment about killing cats. That may be a great idea to get rid of feral cats but the problem is that that could also affect owned cats
Linda – yes but owned cats are not supposed to be outside as far as city ordinance is concerned but it’s not enforced.
Dr. Russell – does anyone know if any other cities have policies in place?
Linda – I’ll ask Abilene
Dr. Russell – it seems like the problem is bigger here but I’m sure it’s not a problem that’s unique to us. I disagree with poisoning and would much prefer trapping because you never know what you might kill with poison and it’s more humane
Linda – but by having a lot more trapping, the shelter would have a lot more cats to handle. How many are adoptable?
Julie – we hold them for the stray hold if they’re not sick but we judge what is adoptable by their temperament
Faye – do you let people know that some of these cats are feral?
Julie – we have a wild cat room where we place the feral cats so while we have some people who have reclaimed their wild cat we don’t adopt out cats that have the potential to hurt someone
Faye – has anyone wanted to specifically adopt out a feral cat?
Julie – no, we can’t adopt them out
Linda – can the shelter handle the larger influx of cats if we had some kind of trapping program?
Julie – we would have to. We do what we can
Dr. Russell – ok we can check more into that later and possibly come up with a proposal

Here's the content of a May 2010 discussion on the same topic.

Review of current feral cat policy.
Ms. Vrana reviewed the Procedure for Finding a Lost Pet at the Shelter with the board members. This is the same procedure for feral cats. Ms. Olesen asked if the procedure is in effect right now. Ms. Olesen also wanted to know if the procedure is not followed who the public goes to for rectification of the situation. Ms. Vrana informed Ms. Olesen to call the shelter first and if she is unable to answer her question then she will be directed to her immediate supervisor.

Mr. Lockett stated that at one time there were special programs for feral cats. He stated that whenever a notched ear cat was brought into the shelter the Humane Society was notified and they picked up the animal form the shelter at no cost. Ms. Wilson stated that this was the case about 2 years ago and that the funding for feral cats was exhausted. Currently there are 12 colony mangers on file and active with the Humane Society. Since the funding was exhausted and the Humane Society doesn’t have any funds available now these managers take advantage of the low cost spay and neuter voucher program. Ms.Wilson stated that notched ear cats do have colonies they belong to. Ms. Vrana stated that the shelter did get a notched ear cat and called several colony managers and were told they were not an active colony. 

Ms. Wilson asked Ms. Vrana to call the Humane Society next time they have a notched ear cat, because sometimes these cats can be integrated into the rural area colonies of the county.  Ms. Marcelli asked for an explanation of what a colony and a colony manger were. Ms. Wilson stated that a feral cat colony is where all the cats have been spayed or neutered and vaccinated and taken care of by a colony manger. 

These colonies keep these cats from reproducing and are under the Trap, Neuter Release Program. Ms. Marcelli stated that this doesn’t stop a feral cat from going to her yard and spreading diseases. Ms. Olesen stated that only killing all cats would take care of the spreading of disease problems. 

Mr. Lockett informed the board members that catch and kill doesn’t work. Ms. Marcelli stated that in the city of San Angelo there is a huge feral cat population. Ms. Wilson stated that the Trap, Neuter, Release program does work put you need to have people that can invest the time and commit to continue to work on the feral cat issues for an extended period of time. A project like feral cat colonies needs to have community support and neighborhood involvement and commitment in order to be successful.

The city withdrew its community support of feral cat colonies last week.  With its limited resources San Angelo's Animal Services went after the few people making a difference in this regard.

Yesterday I suggested the City learn from those with experience.  That includes Angelo State University which instituted trap and kill over Christmas 2011 under Dr. Rallo.  The two cats pictured at the top of this post survived ASU's Christmas Cat Massacre and are proof that some feral cats can be socialized and become adoptable.

It's clear the city wants a change regarding feral cats.  The minutes aren't much help as to how or why?  Animal Services should explain their desired changes to City Council and why they jumped on a dedicated local volunteer last week.

Cruel Twist from City Animal Shelter

Last week the City of San Angelo declared war on one longtime feral cat colony.  Animal Control Officers entered a private parking lot to tell a citizen volunteer they could no longer feed their feral cat colony.  Officers instructed them to trap and remove all the cats, despite having permission from the property owner to manage the cat colony through a program of Trap - Spay/Neuter - Return.

Animal Control Officers threatened this citizen with arrest for creating a nuisance.  First, Animal Control Officers do not have the power of arrest.  Second, city animal ordinances speak to how an animal is judged a nuisance.  This process involves a determination by the municipal court.

Complaint Procedure: Upon written complaint wherein any dog or other animal is alleged to be a nuisance, as defined in this article, the municipal court of the city shall have the authority to order and hold a hearing upon giving notice to the owner of such dog or other animal and if such court shall determine at such hearing that such dog or other animal is vicious or dangerous to persons or animals or has bitten or attacked any person, or other animal, the court may order that such dog or other animal be kept muzzled; or that same be kept within a sufficient enclosure; or that same be delivered to the Animal Services Director and by him be destroyed; or assess a fine against the owner thereof, as provided herein; or any combination of the foregoing.
Third, City ordinances show the following to be animal cruelty:

"cruelly treated” includes tortured, seriously overworked, unreasonably abandoned, unreasonably deprived of necessary food, water, care, or shelter, cruelly confined, or caused to fight with another animal.

Note that City Animal Control Officers instructed a citizen to stop feeding, i.e. deprive the cats of necessary food and water.  Officers ordered a citizen to be cruel to animals.

In addition, the officers did not give the citizen time to act on their instructions.  City Officers trapped four cats and removed them from the colony.  Three of these were exterminated.  These same three cats were spayed/neutered just months ago.  Did officers trap the four cats on private property?  Did they get the owner's permission to do so?

Many in the animal community are asking why this issue, why now?  It's truly not clear.  The Animal Services Board discussed feral cats in their February 21, 2013 meeting.  No minutes have been publicly posted on the content of that discussion or any action plans the City would enact to deal with feral cats.

The City knew about local efforts to control feral cats, as the item was discussed in the May 2010 Animal Services Board meeting.  The discussion showed a number of local citizens addressing the feral cat issue in certain areas of town via Trap/Spay-Neuter/Return.

This method is a humane way to control and reduce the feral cat population and is very effective over time.   It's deeply concerning that the City chose to start its new feral cat strategy by intimidating the people in the community already taking concrete action n the problem.

The Animal Shelter did not seek input from, much less provide notice to any local animal organizations.  Feral cat volunteers donate their time and significant resources to get feral cats spayed and neutered, provide them veterinary care  and ensure they are properly fed.  Animal Control officers have distorted local city animal ordinances, falsely claimed powers of arrest and threatened the very people the city should embrace as partners.

This heavy handed approach and execution has little legal basis and appears to be an exercise in intimidation.  This citizen deserves a medal for reducing their colony from 100 to 40 in partnership with a local animal organization.  They have three quarters of the feral cats spayed-neutered and were working to get the rest fixed with permission from property owners.. 

Animal Control has other success stories they're choosing to ignore.  They could learn from Angelo State University, which has been through several cycles of remove and kill, only to return to a comprehensive trap/spay-neuter/return program run by area volunteers.

The City can learn from those doing the work or they can drive them away.  They've already run off one feral cat colony volunteer.  How many more will be bullied away?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mayor Morrison

Councilman Dwain Morrison bested fellow Councilman Kendall Hirschfeld in Saturday's Mayoral runoff.  The last election surprise occurred in 2003 when J.W. Lown beat Jim Hughes.  J.W. went on to serve as the public face of San Angelo, listening to many citizens.  I expect Mr. Morrison will live up to his promise to do likewise.  That means meeting many citizens, listening to their concerns and giving out lots of cards.  Congratulations Mayor Morrison.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

MedHab Update for Councilman Silvas

Mayor Alvin New suggested Councilman Johnny Silvas look through Development Corporation minutes and reports for his requested MedHab update.  Silvas was Mayor Pro Tempore when the MedHab vote was taken in August 2012 and deserves to have his request honored.  So, this is for you, Councilman Silvas:

January 2012 - Economic incentive package for MedHab approved

August 2012 - Economic development contract with MedHab approved by COSA Development Corp and San Angelo City Council.  Economic Development staff reported for August:
o Met with Councilman Silvas regarding MedHab agreement prior to Council meeting
o Presented the final MedHab Performance Agreement to COSADC and City Council.
o Agreement was approved and signed
o Working on tax reimbursement agreements for MedHab
o Worked with Mr. Ross, Mr. Wilson and Shawn Lewis on press release regarding MedHab agreement.  o Reviewed Incubator agreement for MedHab. Discussed changes to the agreement with Johnny Ross

November 2012 - Finalized MedHab Incubator agreement per City Attorney’s recommendation. SBDC has connected MedHab LLC to ASU students for employment.  A Chamber of Commerce report stated "John and Phil attended the demonstration and reception held for MedHab hosed by the Small Business Development Center."  The Chamber's Strategic Plan stated "All recruitment supports the graduates of ASU, and we will continue to work with projects like MedHab which has hired ASU graduates."  An odd performance measure had economic development staff citing:

Provide incentive offers within 10 business days of COSADC/Council approval
o MedHab
As MedHab's incentives are performance based, what could the city provide within ten days of Council approval?

Economic development staff "Published legal notice for MedHab incentives" and "Attended meeting with MedHab to discuss website development."  In addition they "Sent MedHab Incubator agreement to City Legal Department for review."

December 2012 - Economic development staff met with MedHab regarding move to Incubator

February 2013 - MedHab CEO Johnny Ross gave the following update on February 13, 2013:  The first paragraph is from the minutes of the meeting while the second is from the agenda packet.

Mr. Schneeman introduced Mr. Johnny Ross from MedHab. Mr. Ross provided an update on the progress of his business and StepRite product. MedHab will be launching the retail product in March. Two employees have been hired and an estimated eight positions will be filled in 2013. Manufacturing and distribution will be moved to San Angelo once there is FDA approval and a redundancy location is identified. MedHab projects to sell approximately 10,900 units in 2013. Mr. Teague asked if this was a realistic number and Mr. Ross stated that TMAC has analyzed the production and believe that the manufacturing process can hit that number. 
The Economic Development annual report stated "Transitioned MedHab to the 2009 West Beauregard location."  A maintenance agenda item said this regarding MedHab, "The 2009 West Beauregard building, occupied by MedHab also provides certain challenges."

March, April and May 2013 - The City expected to pay MedHab nearly $800,000 of the $2.8 million in cash incentives.  Year to date MedHab has not submitted any requests for payment.

June 2013 - COSADC board meeting for June 12 has been cancelled.  No background packet has been posted for public review.

Medhab's website is now "under construction," its years of static existence broken only by the San Angelo production site announcement.  .MedHab will present to Fort Worth angel investors on June 20.  Will C-suite rainmaker Johnny Ross unveil the new website in that meeting?

Mayor New indicated two MedHab employees doubled to four in his "I could give you an update right now" teaser to Council member Silvas.

"I know a lot more than that, but let's go by what is presented.  OK."-Mayor Alvin New
It's not clear where these four MedHab employees are located given Ross' stated conditions on moving production to San Angelo, FDA approval and establishment of a redundancy site.

A simple presentation would provide Council and the public their deserved update.  Maybe it'll come after MedHab board member Alvin New steps down as Mayor.

Update 6-28-13:  A MedHab update is on City Council's agenda for July 2.  It took three requests and Mayor New's stepping down for that to happen.

City Confesses to DSHS Shakedown

Consent agenda item #5 was not pulled by any City Council member for more in depth discussion.  Thus it passed in approving consent items.  City Council's agenda packet described the situation as:

5.  Consideration of adopting a Resolution ratifying the application and contract for, and accepting, if awarded, additional FY2014 Texas Department of State Health Services, Regional Local Services System (RLSS)/Local Public Health Services (LPHS) Grant funds in the amount of $20,000.00, to address public health immunization and disease prevention activities and services (submitted by Health Director Sandra Villarreal)
Page 119 of the City Council packet states under History:

Due to the Department of State Health Services policy changes to the Texas Vaccines for Children in January 2012, the Nursing Division experienced a 50-60% decrease in Revenue in FY12. The decrease in revenue, along with the $78,000 decrease in City General Transfer dollars to FY13, left no choice but to cut three positions plus public services in FY13, to include Immunizations and STD Clinics.

The shakedown, which I called last year, materialized recently

DSHS was compelled to assist because San Angelo is considered a HUB to the surrounding counties of DSHS Health Service Region 9/10 and the only local health department for 112 miles (Midland). Region 9/10, comprised of 36 counties, is serviced by five (5) local health departments: Andrews, City of Midland, City of El Paso, Ector County, and City of San Angelo.  Health Services Director reapplied for a DSHS Immunization Grant for FY14, but was denied and reference was made that there is no funding available for new or prior contractors. The San Angelo-Tom Green County Health Department had been a former recipient, last known to receive funding in 2005-06. 
Financial Impact: The receipt of $20,000.00 will pay the rent and utilities of the Nursing Division for FY14.

If positions haven't been restored and funds allocated for personnel and supplies, how does this grant bring back immunizations or the STD clinic?   It doesn't.  It pays rent and utilities for extremely limited services.  The big shakedown is the 1115 waiver.

Three goals the project strives to achieve: 1) offer a lower cost STD clinic, 2) establishing the STD clinic in a central location, and 3) increase the number of patients seeking primary care and treatment for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis at the Local Health Department, thereby providing the right care, at the right place and at the right time.

I would add a fourth goal, paid for by someone else.  The document stated:

in 2011,the Health Department saw 791 patients for initial STD screens for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis, and 414 follow‐up visits
The City cut $138,000 from the current budget, eliminating the STD clinic.  It asks for $887,500 over a four year period to restore the clinic.  Yet during that period the city projects it won't serve as many people as it did in 2011.

The Health Department anticipates that by Year 4, we will see 700 patients for initial STD screening visits and 300 follow‐up visits.
The City expects the state/feds to furnish a new clinic building, but otherwise tax money will supplant funds traditionally spent by the City of San Angelo.  I see the one year cut of $138,000 as a shakedown given the City set aside an unbudgeted $225,000 for a Downtown Master Developer.  Also, it implemented a new employee holiday, estimated to cost $135,000 the last time the city added a day.

The grant application emphasized:

There is no Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic at the San Angelo‐Tom Green County Health Department, nor any available space, and therefore, hundreds of patients needs are not being met. Therefore, the Starting Point/Baseline of this project is: there is no STD Clinic and no patients being seen for STDs at the San Angelo‐Tom Green County Health Department as of October 1, 2012.
There was one on September 28, 2012.  It was one of the few remaining health services offered by the City.

San Angelo's Mayor New, City Council and paid staff hatched this sleight of hand.  It'll be interesting if CMS sees through it.

Update 7-13-13:  While the city no longer operates a STD clinic, city staff will help the state conduct a STD clinic on July 17 and 19. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Executive Business

San Angelo City Council did act on an item taken up in yesterday's Development Corporation Special Meeting.  Anthony Wilson wrote the following:

The item was discussed in executive session and then approved in open session. In short, the COSADC board agreed to recommend to the City Council approval of an offer by Scott Measurement Service, Inc. to purchase 6 acres in the Industrial Park for $17,500 per acre
City Council discussed this item in their today's Executive Session, then approved the motion unanimously.

Mayor Alvin New referred to Bob Schneeman as City of San Angelo Development Corporation Director, i.e. without the "interim" title.  However, the screen graphic kept the Interim designation. The Director search is now six months old.  There's been surprisingly little information shared on its progress.

Monday, June 03, 2013

City Council & COSADC Agendas

San Angelo City Council and the city's Development Corporation each failed to post a public information packet for their early June meetings. 

The Development Corporation met in Special Session today with only Executive Session on the agenda.  The City has been in active negotiations with three firms about locating in San Angelo.  It also is in hiring mode for both an Executive Director and Development Coordinator. 

The City posted an agenda for the June 4 Council meeting but not their usual supporting information packet.  In Executive Session City Council can discuss "an offer of financial or other incentive to a company or companies with whom the City of San Angelo is conducting economic development negotiations and which the City of San Angelo seeks to have, locate, stay or expand in San Angelo."

The last economic incentive package to MedHab left many with an uneasy feeling about leadership ethics or lack thereof.  recently Mayor New implied Councilman Silvas asked for a MedHab update to inflame the election environment.  Silvas was well within his rights to ask for a presentation on MedHab's progress, without having to dig through Development Corporation documents for the sparsest of data.

Tomorrow the information void will be filled.  The question is with what?  The public deserves access to information.  That need seems, even more important during a local election.