Tuesday, November 19, 2019

City Got Little Service from PAWS Veterinary Contract

The City of San Angelo contracted with Concho Valley PAWS for veterinary services in early 2018.  The February 20, 2018 City Council background packet stated:

Due to the City's need of veterinary services to spay, neuter and rabies vaccinate adoptable pets, we desire a contract with Concho Valley PAWS to facilitate these services. Before you today is such an agreement which will expedite the delivery of spay/neuter procedures as well as rabies vaccinations. 

We currently contract with PAWS to provide adoption services which includes coordinating off-site rabies vaccinations, spaying and neutering of adoptable animals. Such services are coordinated based on availability of local veterinarians at varying rates for those services.

Concho Valley PAWS recently contracted with one or more veterinarians to render these services on-site at the animal shelter at a consistent rate. PAWS will provide a veterinarian licensed by the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on-site at the shelter as needed to provide services to include 1-2 weekly visits as well as Saturdays for surgeries. 
Council approved the arrangement by a 6-1 vote.  How has PAWS performed under the veterinary services contract?  Not as promised.

The PAWS veterinarian conducted spay/neuter surgeries for three months in 2018.  PAWS altered 87 pets, which is 29 spay/neuters per month on average.  They billed the city in May, June and July of 2018 for spay/neuter surgeries.  No invoices have been submitted under the contract since last summer. 

Twenty months after approving the arrangement the city received services for only three months.  That's PAWS performance under its existing contract with the City of San Angelo for veterinary services.

Update 12-12-19:  City staff recommended donating Animal Shelter equipment to "an organization that can utilize them and further serve this community."  The equipment is an adoption trailer and veterinary surgical equipment purchased for spay/neuter surgeries.  The proposal does not mention PAWS contract with the city for spay/neuter surgeries and why the equipment remains unused 22 months after Council approval.   It also does not state why it chose PAWS over other area animal organizations, some who offer low cost spay/neuter clinics for the public.

Update 12-21-19:  City Councilwoman Billie DeWitt asked about the PAWS veterinary contract in regard to a spay/neuter budget amendment for community cats.  Staff said the PAWS vet contract did not cover community cats.  The city's PAWS contract was for spay/neuter services for shelter animals.  Community cats are shelter animals.  There is only one reason for the PAWS vet not to be doing these surgeries.  There is no PAWS vet performing the contracted service.

Update 4-29-20:  The new Adoption Services RFP has been posted on the city's website.  It fails to address spay/neuter surgeries for shelter animals.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Executive Session to Consider Two Lawsuits from Former Councilmen

Two lawsuits are on the agenda for City Council on 11-19-19.  One arose from an motor vehicle accident.  The suing attorney is former City Councilman Jon Mark Hogg, who is running to replace Congressman Mike Conaway.  Hogg hopes to be the Democratic Party nominee.

The second lawsuit is in reference to the city's recent action allowing Texas Tumbleweeds Gymnastics to set up in a local church facility.  That suit was filed on 10-30-19.  Plaintiffs seek up to $100,000 in damages the reversal of the council's resolution allowing the business to operate in the church gymnasium.  Plaintiff H.R. Winkie Wardlaw also served several stints on City Council. 

Two Makes a Quorum for Special Election Canvassing

San Angelo's City Council held a surprise meeting today to canvas the local election.  It came nearly a week later than originally planned and two council members attended out of seven.  

In mid September City Council planned to canvas the local election during their November 12th meeting.  City Council minutes from 9-17-19 state:

The decision was made to meet November 12 and November 19, 2019 (with Special Election canvassing held November 12, 2019) to allow for two November meetings, with one falling within the State’s canvassing dates.
Councilmen Harry Thomas and Tommy Hiebert approved the special election results today.  Council meets again on 11-19-19. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

City Not Behind Stories on Shelter Being Full

I requested information from the City of San Angelo after San Angelo Live reversed its story on the Animal Shelter being full and not accepting animals from the public.  My request stated:

Please provide a copy of the communication sent to the media on 11-13-19 regarding the shelter being at maximum capacity, the one San Angelo Live referred to in their 11-13-19 article that stated the shelter would no longer accept animals from the public Also, please provide a copy of the city's public information policy for staff and contractors on communicating with the media. In addition. please provide the policy/contract that has the city's adoption contractor performing as the public face for the city animal shelter. Thank you.
The City responded with no documents and a denial on how that story got out

The City of San Angelo has reviewed its files and has determined there are no responsive documents to your request. Additionally, we did not send anything to the media. We are not sure where SAL got their information from
I'll venture Public Information Officer Brian Groves called to find out.  One can deduce the source as Live's articles quoted Concho Valley PAWS Executive Director Jenie Wilson.  Mrs. Wilson spoke of her great relationship with the media at the September Animal Services Advisory Committee meeting.  PIO Brian Groves was in attendance.

Live's Facebook feed on their original story blew up as area rescues tried to state their case to a PAWS board member, the wife of a former City Mayor.  The interchange was not a testimony to that board member's listening skills.  Rescues ended up inviting that person to tour their operations, which do significant work in our community on behalf of animals. 

Update 11-20-19:  Live ran another PAWS shelter story featuring Executive Director Jenie Wilson from start to finish.  Jenie mentioned "critics" but avoided the main concern from area animal organizations that animals are adopted from the shelter unaltered with an appointment for spay/neuter surgery.  Many miss that appointment leaving unaltered animals, some of which end up at area rescues.  Also, Wilson did not address PAWS or the shelter not taking animals back when the adoption does not work out.  Live fell for the straw man ploy.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Shelter "Not Taking Animals" Message Reversed

How did a story get written about the San Animal Animal Shelter no longer accepting animals?  That message hit San Angelo Live yesterday around 3:30 pm.

A different message ran on this morning:

The shelter continues to accept animals, according to adoption contractor PAWS Director Jenie Wilson.  Wilson is the only person quoted in either piece on the city animal shelter.  That seems odd given shelter operations encompass more than adoptions.

Below is information from the city's website from all departments potentially involved:

As of noon today there is no official communication on the city's website relative to the shelter being full and any ramifications for the public.  I know of no city department where public information is outsourced to the vendor.  That's not supposed to be the case for Animal Services.

Update 11-21-19:  City officials provided Live no information on the shelter being full, saying "We are not sure where SAL got their information from." Only one person was quoted, PAWS ED Jenie Wilson, so it's clear Live got their information from the city's adoption coordinator.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Council Accepts Whitewashed Minutes

On October 15, 2019 I stated the following in public comment

"I am here to ask Council how the City decided to no longer record four boards and commissions.  That decision was made six months ago.  I found that out when I returned from a trip and I was interested in watching the Animal Services Advisory Committee.  It was not available for me to view.  The public can no longer watch on Channel 17 or the City's YouTube channel four boards.  They are:

  • Water Advisory Board (which only meets when y'all charge it to meet)
  • Civic Events Advisory Board
  • Animal Shelter Advisory Committee
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
After noticing those meetings were no longer recorded I did contact Mayor Gunter and you were kind enough to reply, thank you.  The Mayor did indicate she was not aware of the change in her communication with me.  

I have learned the city does not have a policy on recording board meetings for the public to view.  It does have a practice and that's available on its website.  That practice changed six months ago today (changed on 4-15-19).

During the discussion of the frequency of one board's meeting City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said "It's what Council prefers from an advisory board."  It's clear Council was not consulted prior to the decision was made to drop video public access for those four boards.

Many of you ran on transparency and openness of government.  I believe that has been reduced by staff's action.  I encourage Council to explicitly shine some light on this, the rationale for the decision to stop and if Council wishes the public to continue to hear the advice you receive in these boards and their deliberations I would be grateful for that information.  Thank you very much."

The minutes of that meeting condense the above into:

""Citizen Alan Prest (SMD1) spoke regarding city board meetings."  
That sentence does not adequately represent my concern that four city boards/commissions are no longer recorded and shared with members of the public.  It leaves out my concern that this decision was made without City Council input and that staff refused to share any information as to why the decision was made.  It's clear to me that staff do not wish to be transparent with the public in this matter.  On 11-8-19 I requested Council change the minutes to reflect my actual concern, not some attorney's whitewashing.

Council has shone no light on staff's decision to reduce government transparency and accepted the whitewashed version of my public comment. What's the point of public comment?

Update 11-18-19:  Council minutes state the following for public comment on 9-4-2019:  "Operations Director Shane Kelton gave an update on potholes and encouraged citizens to report new potholes online or at 657-4231. He also mentioned job applications for positions on his crews are available at City Hall." 

Friday, November 08, 2019

City to Lower Bar for CalTech Employment Incentives

City Council will entertain reducing the number of new jobs CalTech must provide for economic development assistance.  The original agreement was approved in August 2016.   Staff wrote:

CalTech Software Systems Inc., located at 940 Arroyo Street, San Angelo, is a business enterprise engaged in computer systems design, consulting, and support services. The company has determined that over the next several years they will be hiring between 15 and 100 new employees at a starting salary of at least $30,000 per year plus benefits and performance bonuses and also will be investing a minimum of $100,000 in capital investment. CalTech is headquartered in San Angelo and currently employs 38 full time employees, 2 part time employees and 1 Intern.
The Development Corporation board discussed CalTech changes during their October meeting.

"From what they told me they have been creating jobs but its actually other locations than San Angelo.  So, the job creation is there, it's just not here in town."--Staffer Shannon Scott at 10-23-19 COSADC Board meeting.
Isn't that the purpose of economic development agreements, to incentivize companies to create jobs in San Angelo?   Where is CalTech hiring that they need to lower their San Angelo promise from 15 to 10?   Their website shows all over Texas:

Not one person asked why CalTech was hiring elsewhere, even with a $600,000 incentive to place jobs here. That question deserves an answer.

Update 11-12-19:  Councilwoman Billie DeWitt asked why CalTech jobs were being created elsewhere and not in San Angelo.  City staff did not know the answer.