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.

Update 6-11-18:  The June meeting has been cancelled once again.  The last two meetings were cancelled due to lack of agenda items according to Shelter Director Morgan Chegwidden.  During this time agenda items leapfrogged ASAC and went straight to City Council.

Update 8-16-18:  The August meeting was cancelled as well.

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

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. 

Update 10-17-19:  The ASAC met today and an agenda item was a new RFP for an expanded scope of services for shelter adoptions.  One ASAC member turned to PAWS Executive Director Wilson and said, "You are going to bid on it again."  A motion was made to approve the RFP as presented.  PAWS Wilson seconded the motion, then said "Oh, I shouldn't do that."  Assistant City Manager Michael Dane said the Committee needed to give the appearance of an arm's length handling of the process.  There is no arm's length, just a big bear hug.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Cal's Convenience Operating San Angelo Stripes Stores

CSP Daily News reported:

A new company, Cal’s Convenience Inc., has acquired the 207 Stripes convenience stores in West Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Convenience Store News stated:

Sunoco LP stayed local when selecting the commission agent for 207 retail locations in west Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

CAL's Convenience Inc. acquired the stores from Sunoco in a deal that closed in early April. The two sides reached the agreement in December.
The new company characterization is correct as Cal's Convenience registered as a Texas corporation on 11-22-2017.

It's founding President lists January 2018 as the beginning of his term.  The deal was an inside job as Sunoco offered to commission deal to one of its own.

I'm not sure Cal's Convenience Frisco location qualifies as local.  Dallas-Fort Worth is not West Texas.  Many San Angelo locals recall Stripes predecessor was based here before a series of buyouts.

Overnight Cal's Convenience grew to over 4,000 employees but it only has one job posting through Breezy.

There is a Cal's Convenience store in Nebraska, but that's a different Cal's from the Texas startup.

I pondered if Alvin New might end in the Stripes commission agent arrangement.  There is no evidence of New's involvement in Cal's Convenience Inc.  Sunoco LP found someone like Alvin on the inside to do the deal.

Update 4-19-18:  San Angelo Live reported on this story today.  They failed to report Cal's is the new commission agent..

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Stripes Under New Secret Commission Agent

San Angelo's Stripes Stores have a new operator as of last week.  

Sunoco LP announced the completion of the conversion of its 207 retail sites located in certain West Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico markets to a single commission agent on April 2nd. With this conversion complete, Sunoco’s transition out of the majority of its convenience store operations in the continental U.S. is effectively complete. 

Under the commission agent model, Sunoco owns, prices and sells fuel at the sites, paying the agent a fixed cents-per-gallon commission. In addition, Sunoco continues to own approximately two-thirds of this portfolio in fee and will receive rental income from the commission agent, who will conduct all operations related to the convenience store and any related restaurant locations. 
Sunoco LP is yet to reveal the name of the commission agent in any SEC filing.  Who should dissatisfied customers contact regarding the operation of a West Texas Stripes convenience store?

Update 4-14-18:  It's Cal's Convenience Stores out of Frisco, TX.  

Update 4-19-18:  San Angelo Live reported on this story today.  It did not reveal the commission agent.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

April ASAC Meeting Cancelled

One City board cancelled 50% of its 2018 meetings, the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee.  The City offered two different stories on the February meeting cancellation.  The City Clerk's office said lack of quorum while Animal Shelter Manager Morgan Chegwidden cited a lack of agenda items. 

City Council undertook two significant Animal items during this period, renewal of its adoption contract and contracting for veterinary services.  The City selected Concho Valley PAWS for both contracts.  PAWS Executive Director sits on the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee and was its former Chair.  

This situation makes it difficult for the ASAC to hold PAWS accountable.  At no time did the Advisory Committee ask about pets being released from the shelter without spay/neuter surgery or rabies vaccinations.  Both are legally mandated, spay/neuter by the city and rabies by the State of Texas. 

The ASAC's role is to advise City Council.  It played no role in the veterinary contract expansion.  This was not the first time City staff bypassed the ASAC on a significant items over the last several years.  I expect it won't be the last.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Odd Way to Celebrate Public Health Week

The April 3rd City Council Meeting recognized public health week with a proclamation that encouraged citizens to help leaders better understand the value of public health.  It missed a possible whereas embedded in City Council's background packet.


City staff cited an over $560,000 gain from federal public health grant funding.  Surely City Council entertained this surplus in its recent Strategic Planning meeting and had this item for full presentation on April 3rd.  Nope.  Local public health leadership and city management did neither.

Excess federal grant funds received zero mention in the March 29th strategic planning event.  For April 3rd staff had the issue in the consent section, meaning no presentation.  Once the meeting started City Council went one further and dropped the item from its agenda.

City Council did keep the health department price increase where the city charges its full costs for lab testing services to patients.  In its original case to raise fees staff omitted the Health Department is/has been the recipient of state and federal grant funds intended to help members of the public get access to affordable healthcare services.

After endorsing the importance of public health City Council voted to approve the consent agenda, which included health department fee increases for at risk citizens needing access to healthcare.  Council did so knowing the City intends to go for another round of 1115 Waiver funding, even as it holds 57% of the federal money received.  In the past Health Director Sandra Villareal advised city leaders that 1115 Waiver funds must "be used for the intent of the program."  That's much narrower than the "city's budget". 

The City's significant public health surplus, courtesy of state/federal grant funding, deserves illumination so the public and local leaders can work together to fulfill the program's original aim, public health expansion.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Detmar Fails to Execute Economic Development Agreement

The City of San Angelo Development Corporation withdrew its $300,000 economic development offer to Detmar Industries for 120 new jobs.  The Development Corporation board approved the incentive funds in September 2017.  Economic Development staff crafted a contract which Detmar did not sign.

COSADC board member Todd Kolls recused himself from the discussion in both the September 2017 and March 2018 Development Corporation meeting.

Detmar is the second local company to not take or return COSADC funding.  TimeClockPlus returned $326,000 in development funds and cancelled their contract in January 2018.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Development Corporation Returns Unauthorized Dump to City of San Angelo

Assistant City Manager Michael Dane advised the Development Corporation Board to give back the land housing the City of San Angelo's former unauthorized dump.  The Development Corporation Board entertained purchasing the land in September 2017.  San Angelo City Council approved the deal during an October 2017 meeting.

The words "unauthorized dump" were never mentioned by staff or board members.  The Development Corporation did not share the history of the property under city ownership during their approval of property purchase.  City Council's October 2017 agenda packet made no mention of the city's using the land as an unauthorized dump for a decade.

The Development Corporation board heard of environmental concerns and undertook the following studies:

Phase 1 and 2 Environmental Site Assessments and the Remediation Cost Estimate for the Real Property regarding 17.58 acre parcel of real property fronting on Houston Harte Expressway, within an area bounded by Southwest Boulevard, Sherwood Way and Sunset Drive. 
Mr. Dane recommended the Development Corporation hand the land back after a potential development opportunity failed to materialize.   Dane did provide results of environmental studies or the potential cost of remediation.  He did not say if environmental problems at the site impacted economic development prospects..

It's interesting how few words have been spoken by public officials regarding the city's former unauthorized dump, the Real Property regarding 17.58 acre parcel of real property fronting on Houston Harte Expressway, within an area bounded by Southwest Boulevard, Sherwood Way and Sunset Drive. .