Monday, January 30, 2023

City Council Inaction Reduced Shelter Services Even Further

San Angelo's City Council took no official action on the Animal Shelter in its November 2022 meeting.  Their inaction green lit cutting off dog intake, which city management did the next day at 8:16 am.  This change had a significant impact on citizens wanting to do the right thing for San Angelo's legions of stray animals.  Historically, 70% of shelter intake came from concerned citizens.  No more.

The Animal Services webpage recently dropped its monthly recap reports.  The report started after the bad hoarding/roach infestation conditions.

 It lasted two months.

For the last four months of 2022 the Shelter took in nearly 1,000 fewer pets than it did in 2017.

Mayor Brenda Ginter was first elected in May 2017.  After winning Gunter said "It will always be about the citizens."

I wonder how the citizen threatened with arrest for expressing their intent to take to the shelter two large stray dogs that killed two of their cats felt.  Did they feel unserved, even abused by city officials while trying to manage their predicament?

In November City leaders offered to come back to Council in thirty days and let them know how things were going, but most of December was no better as the shelter remained full.   No member of Council asked for an update in January.  Council's next meeting is February 7th.  Will anything animal be on the agenda?

Concho Valley PAWS plans to roll out a new low cost spay/neuter voucher in February after dropping their $60 dog/$30 cat voucher for the last two months (December/January).  

It makes it hard for citizens to do the right thing when the shelter and its adoption/veterinary services partner are dropping services simultaneously.

Update:  The Animal Services monthly recap reports were temporarily removed by the city's Communications Director and will soon be restored.  Also, new months will be added shortly.  

Update 2-7-23:  City Councilman Larry Miller said he believes Animal Control will have an update at the next Council meeting.  It is scheduled for 2-21-23 at 8:30 am.

Update 2-10-23:  The city posted nine dogs that will be euthanized if not adopted or placed into a foster home by 5 pm today.   The City's Facebook post said:

 "The shelter must be under 180 dogs by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10."

 Comments provided a new development:


It's long past time for City Council and Animal Services to take a strategic long term approach to San Angelo's loose pet situation and a shelter operation that no longer serves citizens.  The City's Bob Salas noted the science behind a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance in 2015.  Animal Services largely ignored adopters failure to spay/neuter their shelter pet until the roach infestation, horrific hoarding situation last August.  The City Attorney focused on writing citations for owners guilty of not fixing their pet but no data has been shared with City Council on that effort to date.  Animal Services will give an update to City Council on February 21st.  

Update 2-12-23:  Shelter intake for January was 193 animals.  Animal Shelter Advisory Committee will consider the proposed No Naked Dogs QR code tag program at an estimated budget of $6,025. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Shelter Intake Down 50% from 2017

Prior to the City of San Angelo's adoption of Pets Alive strategies the city Animal Shelter accepted stray animals and unwanted pets from citizens.  The shelter reduced pet intake via a number of initiatives until closing off dog intake completely in November 2022.  

The City Shelter took in nearly 1,000 fewer pets over the last four months of 2022 than it did in 2017.  That's over a 50% drop.  

Over the last four months the city leadership wrote citations to shelter pet adopters who have not spayed/neutered their pet as required by city ordinance.  Staff have not yet presented data on that effort.

The City's adoption/veterinary service partner Concho Valley PAWS stopped its low cost spay/neuter vouchers for the last two months (December and January).  It's website states a new program will be announced in February. 

Citizens are familiar with the city's doing less in areas when concerns are raised (public health, animal services, public information).  

City leaders and elected officials will soon approach residents for funding for an update to the Coliseum complex.  I expect that to come front and center over the Livestock Show and Rodeo.  The plans will delineate facilities to house hundreds, if not thousands, of animals for several weeks in February each year.

Residents facing pet concerns may not be so charitable when that vote opportunity arrives. 

Update 2-7-23:  Rodeo renovations ran into a snag at Tom Green County Commissioner's Court.  City Councilman Larry Miller said he believes Animal Control will have an update at the next Council meeting.  It is scheduled for 2-21-23 at 8:30 am.

Update 2-12-23:  Shelter intake for January was 193 animals.  Animal Shelter Advisory Committee will consider the proposed No Naked Dogs QR code tag program at an estimated budget of $6,025.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

City Promoted Kevin Pate to City Engineer

The City of San Angelo promoted Interim City Engineer/Assistant City Engineer Kevin Pate to City Engineer as of January 1, 2023.   Prior City Engineer Lance Overstreet left in November 2020.  The City hired headhunter Strategic Government Resources to fill the position but it appears that engagement was not successful.

Professional Engineer Zeferino Mendoza was promoted to Assistant City Engineer at the same time.  These moves will hopefully bolster the city's engineering department beleaguered by frequent management turnover since City Engineer Clinton Bailey left for Fredericksburg, Texas where he is now the City Manager.

Update 2-3-23:  The City put out a press release on the promotions.  It came over a month after the promotions went into effect.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Development Corp Board to Meet after Council Slapdown

The City of San Angelo Development Corporation Board of Directors will meet on Wednesday.  The Board will take up City Council's rejection of their proposed bylaws amendments.  

Discussion and possible action regarding City Council denial of the ratification of the proposed revisions to the COSADC Bylaws at their January 17, 2023 meeting. (Presentation made by Michael Dane, Interim Director of Economic Development) 

Assistant City Manager Dane presented the bylaws changes to Council and oddly answered "I don't know" a number of times to questions from Mayor Brenda Gunter and other Council members.  Not one board member spoke during the meeting.  The Assistant City Attorney who helped the COSADC board develop the changes had a very minor role.

A viewer might believe Dane submarined the bylaws changes given his lack of enthusiasm about the proposed language.

That leaves the Development Corporation trying to figure out a way forward.  The Board officer not given the opportunity to speak on the proposed bylaws asked for the following agenda item.

Discuss economic development initiatives to be addressed with City Council and possible avenues for such discussion between COSADC and City Council. (Per the request, of First Vice President Bariou)

It may take a new Economic Development Director to navigate a way forward.  Dane will have an update on that in the Board meeting.

Update 1-25-23:  The recruiter for the Economic Development Director position prepared a community profile to use in finding qualified candidates.  Dane will send his thoughts on the draft back today and invited any board members to come to his office after the meeting if they wish to review the draft and provide input.

The discussion on Council's rejection of proposed bylaws changes and the way forward with City Council used a number of words, including adversarial, shooting from the hip, misunderstanding and backfire.  COSADC board members sought information on Council's concerns and lamented the lack of presentation of the rationale behind their proposed changes at the last City Council meeting.

The City hired the PACE Group as reported to the COSADC board on 12-19-22.  Anthony is the recruiter.  The recruiter will present 3-5 qualified candidates within 75 to 90 days.  

Michael Dane texted on July 14, 2022 that the city would quickly begin the process for filling Guy Andrews position.  

Update 5-24-23:  After the first four candidates failed to move forward the city's recruiter has two candidates to present.  Their visits could be scheduled in the next one or two weeks.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Shelter's Contortions to Continue in 2023

spoke with Animal Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden on the shelter's plans for 2023.  The reporter did not share statistics on dog intake since the city shut that down in November 2022.  Their story stated:

“Statistics show that if I impound your pet within six months you’re just going to have a new dog,” said Chegwidden, “In six months I still may have your dog.”

In seven years the shelter may still have your dog.

The promise of a mandatory microchip ordinance included Animal Services Officers scanning lost pets and taking them home without a trip to the shelter.  City Council passed that in 2016.  San Angelo Live reported:

“We’ll scan that dog and take it back to your house,” Flores (Morgan's predecessor) stated. Additionally, whatever issues arise with that pet in regards to spayed/neutered and licensing will be dealt with at that time. 
He continued and said that with the microchip, no tag or veterinarian is involved.
ConchoValleyHomepage reported in 2019:

Micro-chipping is required by city ordinance and can help relocate your pet if they ever go missing.

“If your dog gets out and we pick it up, a rescue picks it up, or anybody, a vet’s office can scan that microchip and get a hold of you. That’s how we register pets in San Angelo and we just want folks to have this opportunity,” said Morgan Chegwidden, Assistant Director for Neighborhood and Family Services.

No after hours vets will scan lost pets for microchips.  That puts the burden on Animal Services, which spent the last four years reducing services to tax paying citizens via the Pets Alive program.   The shelter will not accept owner surrenders due to illness, moving into a senior living facility or death.

A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) representative offered this after the shelter closed dog intake, per ConchoValleyHomepage.

“Closing a shelter’s doors during a homeless-animal crisis is like shutting down a fire station during wildfire season, and churning out more litters of animals is throwing gasoline on the fire."

The City's new solution to San Angelo's legions of loose dogs?  QR code technology.

In order to promote returning lost animals to their owners Animal Services is working on a program affectionately called, “No Naked Dogs.” This program is currently in the fundraising phase and was created to provide a collar and tag for every pet in the community.

When the program launches, the hope is to serve 500 pets in the community and each collar will come with a QR code tag.

Rather than an Animal Services Officer scanning the dog for a microchip the citizen gets to use their phone.  

Flashback to when the city moved from issuing metal tags through area veterinarians to a microchip:

"That tag is not a good type of system to ID this dog,” Flores noted. “Very seldom does a dog have its collar when it's loose.”
City Council representatives and the City Manager have noted San Angelo's significant loose dog problem.  That came about from years of Pets Alive strategies which choked off intake from citizens needing to surrender their pet.

Pets Alive does not prioritize spay/neuter of shelter pets and the City of San Angelo released 1,500 unaltered dogs over the last two fiscal years.  The City Attorney's office is researching those for potential citations for failure to spay/neuter their pet per city ordinance.

Animal Services has asked the city for facility improvements, additional Animal Services Officers for the 2023 fiscal budget and a low-cost spay/neuter assistance program funded by the city.

Those funds were not granted in the current budget, so it seems an odd thing to include in the article.   

Shelter adoption/veterinary service provide Concho Valley PAWS stopped their low cost spay/neuter voucher program for December and January.  Prior to ceasing the program PAWS had 30 dog and 28 cat spay/neuter vouchers available for the month of November.  Their website promises an updated program will be announced in February.  

Morgan did not share the lengths Animal Services will go to not serve citizens.  A loose dog was shot by a retired SAPD officer on Oxford Street.  There are conflicting narratives about the circumstances.  The City is yet to clarify the situation for citizens concerned about public safety and animal cruelty.

Another San Angelo resident recently had two pet cats killed by loose dogs.  The resident was later able to restrain the dogs and called the city for assistance.  Between SAPD and Animal Services they determined the dogs were not a danger to the community, despite them having killed two small pets.  The resident wanted the dogs away from their home and thought they were a safety concern.  After expressing their wish to drive the dogs to the Animal Shelter they were informed they would be arrested for trespassing if they did so.  

Years ago I called the Animal Shelter after my mother-in-law was attacked by the neighbor's dog.  The shelter had no interest in the case.  

In 2017 an aggressive dog pack killed over thirty pets around Glenmore Park.  Former Standard Times editor Jack Cowan and the mother of KLST's Carolyn McEnrue live in the area.  The Shelter did nothing to address this problem, other than accept the dangerous dogs we trapped.

PETA's letter also stated:

Astonishingly, residents are reportedly now being asked to house stray animals for the city, a plan that’s dangerous for animals and residents alike when untrained laypeople try to do the job of trained animal care and control professionals.

Shirking the city’s responsibility and obligation to protect animals and residents is not a solution to animal homelessness.

The future of the Animal Shelter is less service for tax paying citizens and more misery for the loose pets they refuse to serve.

“We recognize that first and foremost we were created to keep this community safe…We think we can keep this community safe and save a good many cats and dogs,” Chegwidden said in closing.

Threatening to arrest someone for delivering dogs that killed a number of their pets is the opposite of making the community safer.  

Update 1-30-23:  Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden informed City Council on 11-1-22 that 70% of shelter animals came from citizens finding stray pets and bringing them to the shelter.  That has been severely restricted.  

Science based solutions would have had the shelter micro-chipping and fixing every animal since City Council enacted mandatory spay/neuter and mandatory microchip.  That didn't happen.  The City Shelter released roughly 1,500 unaltered pets over the last two years and is combing through records to issue citations to adopters.

Council heard only 10 out of 178 shelter dogs had microchips or tags on 11-1-23.  The city is now pursuing tags with QR codes so citizens can use their phones to scan for owner information.  

Update 2-7-23:  City Councilman Larry Miller said he believes Animal Control will have an update at the next Council meeting. It is scheduled for 2-21-23 at 8:30 am.

Update 2-12-23:  Shelter intake for January was 193 animals.  Animal Shelter Advisory Committee will consider the proposed No Naked Dogs QR code tag program at an estimated budget of $6,025.   

Update 2-22-23:  The February ASAC meeting did not occur as the committee failed to reach a quorum.  Hopefully, the ASAC will hold their first meeting of 2023 on April 20, 2023. 

Update 5-15-23:  The city explained why it releases a euthanasia list.  That has long been part of Pets Alive strategies which the shelter adopted in 2019.  The families I talk to in San Angelo share how the shelter does not help citizens who've found a loose dog.  SAPD officers say similar things about the lack of support from Animal Services.  

In 2016 City Council heard how "No Kill" along with mandatory spay/neuter and micro-chipping would transform the city shelter.  Staff waited six years to begin serious enforcement of shelter pet spay-neuter.  In between staff enacted a series of intake diversions that make it nearly impossible for a citizen to drop off a found or unwanted dog at the shelter.  Citizens have been threatened with arrest for trespassing for doing that very thing.

Update 1-17-24:  Shelter Chief Morgan admitted to Council that changes at the Animal Shelter "led to pet owners dumping their animals at the Animal Shelter or letting them loose."  This was predictable

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Animal Shelter Advisory Committee Yet to Issue Agenda

The City of San Angelo missed the notice deadline for this week's Animal Shelter Advisory Committee (ASAC) meeting.  The ASAC is scheduled for noon on Thursday, January 19th.  

That same day the Design and Historical Review Commission plans to meet at 10:00 am.  That agenda states:

This notice of meeting was posted on-line and on the bulletin board in the lobby of City Hall for the City of San Angelo before 10:00AM on Monday, January 16, 2023, in accordance with Chapter 551 in the Local Government Code for the State of Texas.

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee bylaws state that it follows the Texas Open Meetings Act which specifies a 72 hour public notice for agenda posting.  That did not happened by noon yesterday.

A cancelled meeting means the public has no opportunity to provide feedback on drastic service reductions implemented by the City shelter and its adoption/veterinary services partner Concho Valley PAWS since November.  The shelter cut off dog intake, while PAWS stopped issuing low cost spay/neuter vouchers.  Previously, their website indicated distribution of at least 60 vouchers per month, 30 for dogs and 30 for cats.

The City's motto for Animal Services could be "No voice, No service."

Update 1-18-23:  The new date for the ASAC meeting is 2-16-23.  There will no meeting in January.

Update 1-19-23:  The city placed a postponed notice on its website for the ASAC meeting. 

Update 11-1-23:  Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden had a family crisis the weekend prior to this meeting and apologized to committee members for not posting the agenda.

Council Nixes COSADC Bylaws Changes

San Angelo Mayor Gunter scuttled a number of proposed bylaw changes that would have given the Development Corporation Board more power in COSADC leadership/officer selection and the ability to contract with other entities than the city for business support services.  

Councilman Harry Thomas said he was surprised the City Attorney allowed the document to be brought forward.  City Attorney Theresa James stated she did not have the ability to screen items between the COSADC board and City Council as that is a direct reporting relationship.

This is the second item from COSADC that Council rejected since former Economic Development Director Guy Andrews spoke out against City Manager Daniel Valenzuela and Assistant City Manager Michael Dane and Economic Development Board First Vice President John Bariou raised concerns about the independence of the Development Corporation Board as stated in Texas law.  The first was the two year contract with the Chamber of Commerce for direct marketing services.  Council required it be a one year agreement.

Council planned to slap down Bariou in their November meeting but backed down when he asked the item be moved to Open Session.  It did so indirectly today by denying the proposed bylaws changes.  Bariou was in attendance but not offered the opportunity to speak.  I'm sure he took good notes as he sat in the front row.

Update:  Michael Dane's "presentation" on the COSADC bylaws felt like a setup.  Dane's series of "I don't knows" must have been a disappointment to the majority of COSADC board members who voted for the changes.  Councilman Tommy Hiebert's sitting there silently must have been a great disappointment to Bariou.  Hiebert and Bariou are two names I associate with the Development Corporation since it began. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

PAWS Stopped Spay/Neuter Vouchers for Two Months

The City of San Angelo's adoption and veterinary service provider ceased issuing spay/neuter vouchers for the last two months, December 2022 and January 2023.  

Our low-cost spay and neuter voucher program will change in response to increases in veterinary costs and grant funding. We are in the processes of finalizing funding and contract agreements and should launch an updated program in February! We apologize for any inconvenience. WE WANT TO HELP YOU GET YOUR PET FIXED. But we have to secure the best possible ways to ensure we can offer the most help to the most people. Thank you for understanding. Please reach out to other rescues to learn about their available spay and neuter programs.
PAWS last solicited their spay/neuter vouchers in November, the same month City Council approved completely cutting off dog intake.  

The City increased enforcement of the spay/neuter ordinance in September.  It did so after public outcry over horrific shelter conditions amidst a serious roach infestation.  PAWS went on the offensive with a "Be the Change" campaign which encouraged citizens to spay/neuter their pet(s). The City Attorney's office hired part time staff to assist in the research and citation issuing process.  The city is going back two years to cite shelter adopters who failed to fix their new pet.

Last year the shelter released far more unaltered dogs (760) than PAWS likely issued in dog spay/neuter vouchers (30 per month = 360).  I asked PAWS for their numbers but they did not reply.

There is and has been a need for more low cost spay/neuter services for San Angelo residents.  Area rescues have asked the city to devote more resources in this area.

PAWS and the City shelter reducing services while upping enforcement is poorly timed, given our community's widespread need.  Area rescues have been overwhelmed by the city's repeated reductions in shelter intake and San Angelo's street animal crisis.  Both the City and PAWS repeatedly refer the public to "area rescues" despite being asked over and over to cease and desist.

One has to wonder if all this is intended to be punitive.  Raise an issue and the city does less.  Raise that they've done less and city leaders find an indirect way to deliver payback. It's happened in Animal Services and Public Information.

Update 1-17-23:  It appears the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee will not meet as scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2023 given city staff are yet to post an agenda.  The Texas Open Meetings Act requires the agenda to be posted 72 hours in advance.  That deadline has passed with no agenda posted for the scheduled meeting.

Update 1-18-23:  The new date for the ASAC meeting is 2-16-23.  There will no meeting in January. 

Update 7-10-23:  PAWS posted on Facebook that it will not offer spay/neuter vouchers for July.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

PIRs on Public Information Restrictions Show

A Texas Public Information Handbook stated:

Texans have the right to see how their government is spending their tax dollars and exercising the powers they have granted it. That knowledge is essential to preserving the rule of law, protecting the democratic process, and defending the liberty we all cherish. The Public Information Act is a critical protection for that right
The December 13th background packet stated "San Angelo City Council wishes to establish a policy" restricting citizen access to public information requests.  The packet was released on December 8th which left insufficient time for a citizen to research the issue before Council made its decision.

I had not heard Council discuss this topic in any strategic planning session or at any City Council meeting.  In what deliberative public forum did Council express this wish?  They hadn't expressed such a desire prior to the release of the meeting background packet on December 8th. 

Public information requests revealed two people drove the effort to limit citizen access to public information to 36 staff hours in any fiscal year.  City Councilman Tommy Hiebert began lobbying in 2018 for a change in state law to allow a hard stop at the 36 hour limit.  City Clerk Julia Antilley supported Hiebert's lobbying efforts.

City Council-member Tommy Hiebert wrote staff on August 21, 2018

Just to be certain I understand the request is to strengthen HB3107 as written and to add to that existing statute ... if they use 36+ hours of staff time in a fiscal year they then can be labeled vexatious and no further requests made for that fiscal year, correct?

Should the city council simply pass an ordinance stipulating the 36 hours rather than codifying it into state law? Or is there a matter for the greater good that if the state would simply state any municipality receiving requests totaling more the 36 hours that person is finished for the remainder of that fiscal year?

Deputy City Clerk Julia Antilley replied that day:

As currently written in Texas, once a requestor is labelled vexatious they can be charged for additional requests. For our office, charging an additional fee does not help. We would propose that once a requestor is labeled vexatious (after using 36+ hours of staff time within a fiscal year) they are unable to make future requests until the next fiscal year.

One week later Hiebert contacted Rep. Drew Darby's office with a request:

...was wanting to see if Drew would be open to strengthening HB 3107 that deals with vexatious open records requests. Vexatious open record requests are consuming more and more staff time. What is currently allowed is to charge for requests. While it is helpful to be able to charge, the real issue is the staff time consumed by vexatious requests. 

In order to deal with the growing time component, it would be most helpful to have the law state after 30-35 hours of staff time which has been consumed by the vexatious requests of one individual, that specific individual could no longer make any open records requests for the remainder of the year

If you might need further info or have questions, please feel free to call me.

Darby's office shared their phone number with Councilman Hiebert.  The state of Texas is yet to pass the hard 36 hour limit requested by Hiebert and Antilley. 

The rationale for approving the restriction on public information came down to staff time.  City Council heard from staff last month:

“If these numbers continue going up and we don’t do anything about it, at some point we’ll need more staffing to assist with this ...” -- City Manager Daniel Valenzuela 

“The amount it would save in staff time would far exceed the $5,000.” -- Julia Antilley

“This has been on our radar since 2017 but until recently we were unable to track each individual request and so we were unable to declare anyone vexatious.” -- Julia Antilley 

City Clerk Julia Antilley worked with public information vendor GovQA and her counterpart in Pharr to craft this restriction:

I’m going to try to get calendar year adopted by Council before year end since we have missed this fiscal year! -- Julia Antilley e-mail on 10-21-22 

… it’s good to see you adopted the ordinance mid-year…hoping we can do the same. -- Julia Antilley e-mail on 10-21-22 

“As soon as I get the proposal, I will send to SHI so they can provide you with the quote for the subrequests cost.” – Senior Customer Success Consultant GOVQA e-mail on 10-21-22

…GovQA is saying it’s not possible even though you are using the very feature (I even asked them to use your letters as an example!). They state the system only counts time spent on all PIRs from whenever the system was implemented, not FY only. -- Julia Antilley e-mail on 10-26-22 

 I’m hoping to take a policy December 13th that adopts 552.275 to charge for ALL requests someone submits in excess of 36 hours/fiscal year and/or 15 hours/month. I discussed briefly with Chief Howard and Christine at PD. -- Julia Antilley e-mail on 11-10-22

One member of City Council actively worked to limit citizen access to public information, not the whole Council.  

Mayor Brenda Gunter said the financial numbers did not add up for instituting the limit to get at a small number of requestors for only $5,000 in revenue.  Councilman Larry Miller voted with the Mayor against instituting public information limits.  

Five Council members voted for the change, in part to prevent the need to hire additional staff.  The city posted a temporary/seasonal job in the City Clerk's office.  The first task listed is helping with public information requests.  

Assists with request for public information citywide.

Providing customer service and responding to public inquiries and requests for information. 

Knowledge of Public Information Act, Open Meetings Act, City Charter, Code of Ordinances, Election Code, and Local Government Code.

That was a fast change, one that City Council could expect not to happen so quickly after their vote. 

Update 1-19-23:  Councilman Tommy Hiebert filed for reelection.  Voters may wish to consider his efforts to limit citizen access to public information. 

Update 2-20-23:  City Clerk Julia Antilley is no longer in that role.  Interim City Clerk Heather Stastny may be permanently appointed to that role in tomorrow's City Council meeting during Closed Session.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Temp Staff Needed to Assist with PIRs

San Angelo's City Council voted to restrict citizen access to public information requests in its lone December 2022 meeting.  City leaders suggested additional staff would be required if Council did not approve limiting public information requests to 36 hours in the city's fiscal year.  Council voted 5-2 to implement the policy suggested by staff.

One month later the City is searching for temporary staff to assist with Public Information Requests.  The pay is $18 per hour.  Are any of the five "yes" voters on Council surprised by the timing of this temporary staff hire?  Nevertheless, it's not a good look. 

Sunday, January 08, 2023

DISH-KSAN Feud Returns

It seemed like yesterday DISH and KSAN pointed fingers at one another for their failure to reach agreement on a contract.  Friday evening I turned the channel to KSAN and saw a DISH "executive" lobbying viewers to call KSAN and complain.  

Concho Valley Homepage did likewise, running news pieces asking readers to call DISH and complain.  

KLST is owned by Nexstar Broadcasting while KSAN is owned by Mission Broadcasting.  The two local TV stations share staff, facilities and an internet presence.  DISH and KLST last battled in December 2020.

San Angelo Live offered a different assessment over the weekend than they did three years ago when the story was almost non-news.  Both pieces mention NFL games.  

Let the playoffs begin.  How many points should I give DISH in its battle with Mission?

Update 1-22-24:  It took over a year for DISH and Mission to settle their feud.  I imagine political ads fueled the incentive to reach an agreement. 

As for the Superbowl the 2024 version is on CBS.

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Animal Related Calls to SAPD up 46% Over 2020 Levels

Animal related calls to San Angelo Police Department (SAPD) rose significantly after the City began reducing citizen access to Animal Shelter services.  The shelter began managed intake in 2019.  SAPD calls involving animals rose to 1,728 in 2022, up 46% in the last two calendar years. 

City Council person Lucy Gonzales and City Manager Daniel Valenzuela have remarked in City Council meetings about the large number of street pets in San Angelo.

The Animal Shelter remains chronically full with large, long stay, difficult to adopt dogs.  Shelter leadership and City Council decided years ago to prioritize its shelter pets over tax paying citizens needing assistance.  That decision drove down owner surrenders significantly.  Owner surrenders are down 90% from 2014, dropping from 1,964 to 184 in FY 2021-22.

The shelter released 1,500 unaltered pets since 2020 while issuing a scant 74 citations for failure to comply with the city's mandatory spay/neuter ordinance over the same period.  Council approved a part time position in the City Attorney's office to issue citations for spay/neuter noncompliance over the last two years.

The shelter took in 1,492 puppies and kittens in FY 2021-22 but only issued 4 breeders permits for the same period.  Some pets gave birth while in the shelter.  The City's veterinary service provider had two months to spay a pregnant Husky but did not.  That resulted in seven puppies which contributed to shelter overcrowding in early summer.

The statistics cited above is city data and came from public information requests.  Last month Council chose to limit citizen access to public information once it reaches 36 hours in a calendar year. 

The total number of hours worked on this SAPD Animal Related Calls request was: 0.50 

The total number of hours worked on all requests submitted by you since October 1st is: 25.92

Elected officials have the ability to ask questions and submit an unlimited number of public information requests.  The City has a website and Communications Office with many avenues of making information available to the public.

Five members of City Council voted to restrict access to public information in order to avoid having to hire part time staff.  Two voted against it.  How do those members feel about SAPD's increased workload due to San Angelo's loose pet problem?   

Update 1-17-23:  It appears the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee will not meet as scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2023 given city staff are yet to post an agenda.  The Texas Open Meetings Act requires the agenda to be posted 72 hours in advance.  That deadline has passed with no agenda posted for the scheduled meeting.

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

City Council Enters 2023

San Angelo's City Council met for the first time in 2023 with one item on the regular agenda.  Council got an earful from citizens during public comment.  One gentleman offered predictions that some form of justice awaited those seated in their high chairs.  

A number of citizens asked for the city to do more for the community's homeless population.  One request was for city leaders and elected officials to simply show up one day later this month.

Another resident asked City Council once again to prioritize the Animal Shelter and do more to serve the countless stray animals in city limits.  During public comment she said:

"My friends are sick of getting up here to ask for help. They feel anything they say falls on deaf ears.  On Tuesday mornings... many of them are at a spay/neuter clinic on Council meeting days.  They have at least one clinic a week where they spay/neuter with pain meds and vaccinate at least 35 animals.  They are volunteers and they seem to be doing more to solve our pet overpopulation problem than our city.  Why is our city not hearing any feedback?  We are not hearing from anybody."

She asked Council to steer more funding to spay/neuter services and ordinance enforcement.  Council did not respond.  

The City used the same "no response" strategy after receiving urgent letters from PETA and two local animal rescues regarding the Animal Shelter's shutting off dog intake for the month of November.  Refusing lost dogs stretched into December due to high shelter occupancy.  The current state of shelter availability was not shared with Council or the public in today's meeting.

Council decided last month not to serve citizens requests for public information once staff time reaches 36 hours in any fiscal year.  They passed the restriction two and a half months into the fiscal year, making it retroactive.

Council's public information vote included an exemption for elected officials, i.e, they retained a privilege they took away from interested citizens.  Generally, that goes over poorly with the public.

The public likes rule changes to be forecast, well communicated and citizens be given time to change behavior.  That's not the City of San Angelo in the areas of public information or pet spay/neuter ordinance enforcement.  The "go back" period for the city to issue citations went from two months to two years with no explanation.  

2023 is off to an expensive start, thanks to the one item Council approved.  Sewage upgrades at Lake Nasworthy will have big economic development impacts.   If only stray animals and homeless people fit into an economic development framework.  I imagine employers don't want to relocate to a community with third world treatment of pets and people.