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.

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