Sunday, April 28, 2024

City "Holding Ground" on COSADC Executive Director

The Development Corporation meeting openedopened with public comment on the new Amazon delivery facility being constructed in the city's industrial park.

Later the board received an update on the city's not filling the Economic Development Director slot.  The report came from interim Economic Development Director and Assistant City Manager Michael Dane.  

Dane said city management has no plans to fill the job at this time.  He did share a recommendation from Dr. Clifton Jones that ASU's Small Business Development Center conduct a study of how other Texas cities have organized and staffed their economic development function.  The Development Corporation funds the SBDC.  Dane mentioned an ASU graduate student could conduct the study.

Board member Joe Spano asked Tina for information on the economic impact of not filling the position (empty since August 2022).  Dane answered for Tina in general terms.  He said roughly $200,000 in "savings" have fallen to the "future projects" line.

The Development Corporation Board will have a strategic planning workshop after its May meeting and will have the opportunity to consider its priorities for the coming fiscal year.

The meeting closed with Board member Spano thanking the Chamber of Commerce for their work on the new Amazon facility.  A Chamber rep called it "an extremely complex transaction."

Amazon is known for avoiding taxes and garnering public subsidies.  There is no information in either arena at this time.  The Development Corporation approved tax abatement for Technology Tower after the board had been made aware of the possible project.  

Amazon's last mile delivery facility could be similar with incentives to be approved later.  I just wonder if  possible public incentives are part of that incredibly "complex transaction."

Monday, April 22, 2024

Animal Services Found Local Dog Hoarder

The City of San Angelo's Animal Services identified a dog hoarding situation with over 80 dogs.  An officer returning two small dogs to the home found the disturbing situation.  

The officer found a situation that violated numerous city ordinances, unaltered dogs, no breeding permit for puppies/neonates, exceeding maximum of seven dogs, and no vaccinations (rabies state requirement).

The dogs needed flea treatments and vaccinations.  The following texts are from PAWS leadership.
Several needed medical care.  

Animal Services took the dogs to PAWS.  The parvo case was an adult dog.  Vaccinations would have prevented that dog from suffering inflicted by the parvo virus.  

News reports on the dog hoarding situation came from Concho Valley PAWS, which encouraged people to suspend judgement on the dog owners.  

The City of San Angelo passed numerous ordinances over the years to prevent such a situation.  Animal Services promised a year of community education after Council passed a mandatory spay-neuter ordinance in October 2015.  The shelter contracted out adoptions to Concho Valley PAWS in 2017 with the promise that staff time would be freed up to do enforcement.  

GoSanAngelo reported on 2-25-2017:
Right now, (PAWS Director Jenie) Wilson said, the city doesn’t have the resources to enforce the (mandatory spay/neuter) ordinance because it is also working on reducing euthanasia rates. 

“By bringing our resources together, maybe we can free up time for animal control so they can go out and enforce the ordinances, which may answer some of the problems of how animals get here in the beginning,” she said. 

In addition to enforcing the ordinance, high-volume spay/neuter clinics and adoption events help achieve the no-kill goals.
Fast forward to August 2022 when the City conducted an intensive review of unaltered dogs returned to owner from the Animal Shelter.  Nearly a year into that effort city staff reported to Council:
Owners claimed 956 cats and dogs in FY22, 282 of which were already spayed/neutered. 44 pet owners have since provided proof of spay/neuter. 24 provided proof of an exemption, such as moved outside city limits, pet is medically fragile, pet has died, etc. This leaves 606 pets still reporting as unaltered. We’ve cited or filed a complaint with municipal court for almost 400 animals and are moving through the remaining backlog.
That's a ten percent success rate in getting returned shelter pets fixed.  Leaving 90% unaltered and on San Angelo streets is a symptom of a multi-year problem.  

It's long past time to make the Animal Shelter bad owner proof.  That requires a combination of support programs, especially low cost spay-neuter, and enforcement of existing, longstanding ordinances.  

Thousands of animals have left city facilities with the rodeo ended.  Maybe the next roundup can be loose dogs on city streets.

Update 4-28-24:  PAWS has the resources and connections to share any portion of their involvement with this household it wishes via local media.   My intent was to show City Shelter actions which included the initial referral to PAWS.  

A PAWS board member noted the address is outside of city limits.  Fruitland Farm is right on the edge of city limits in an area being explored for a future interstate highway. 

Historically the shelter served the Concho Valley, then trimmed their service area to Tom Green County and then further restricted it to city limits.

 If the area is outside of city limits how did Animal Services become involved?

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Council to Address Animal Shelter Advisory Committee

San Angelo City Council will consider changes in the composition of the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee in Tuesday's meeting.  Staff notes the committee failed to hold the required three meetings in 2023.  The three meeting minimum is spelled out in City Ordinances.

The October meeting had numerous members of the public in attendance, many wishing to provide comment on San Angelo's loose dog problem.  The committee Chair and Vice Chair missed the meeting, each saying they didn't realized the meeting was that day.  The Chair said they "didn't get an e-mail," while the Vice Chair said they "should have remembered."

Agendas will be prepared by the ASAC City Liaison and reviewed by the chair prior to posting. Meetings shall be conducted by the chairperson, and if absent by the Vice-Chairperson. 
The public in attendance requested that the meeting be quickly rescheduled.  That did not happen.  By November 14, 2023 Director of Neighborhood and Family Services Bob Salas directed the third (required) meeting not be held. 
Bob, missed you at 4pm – wanted to clarify this messaging. Brian’s referencing a reschedule of ASAC but you’d previously discussed proceeding with the 2024 calendar with no additions. Will there be a meeting in the near future?
Did Mr. Salas realize the committee needed another meeting to comply with City Ordinances?

The City Council background packet shows the membership for the ASAC in 2023.  It omits Sgt. Chris Carpenter who attended the two meetings held, resigning by e-mail after the August meeting.

The public was unaware of Sgt. Carpenter's resignation, so the "lack of quorum" appeared legitimate.  Only after the meeting was cancelled did I learn of his August resignation.

Three members attended with two slots vacant. Three out of five is a majority, the city's requirement for a quorum. The public did not know this on October 19th as that August ASAC member resignation had not been shared with the public.

To Sgt. Carpenter's credit he reached out to Shelter Chief Morgan Chegwidden and asked if he needed to attend the October ASAC meeting.  Morgan wrote to Sgt. Carpenter on 10-16-23: 
You can disregard, still actively trying to fill your vacancy so still included you in the email.

One could deduce that staff did everything in their power not to hold an ASAC meeting in October 2023 and not reschedule another meeting before the end of the year, given they had over two months to do so.

The Texas Open Meetings Act does not address failure to hold a meeting when a quorum exists.  Apparently, there are no consequences for staff failing to meet ordinance requirements via a series of purposeful actions.

City Council will likely approve the four person ASAC, comprised of the City Veterinarian, its Adoption Contractor, Shelter Chief and a dedicated City Councilperson.  

Three of the four played significant roles in shifting the burden for loose dogs onto the community.  It's been a multi-year effort, one not challenged in the least by prior ASAC's.  I hope this version is different.

Update 4-16-24:  City Council did not take up proposed changes to the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee in today's meeting.

Update 4-18-24:  One Councilmember wrote back that the ASAC quorum is "4 out of 7."  That language does not exist in city ordinance or the current ASAC bylaws.  The bylaws state a quorum is a simple majority.  

The Councilperson did not address Morgan's steering one of the seven away from attending two days before the meeting.  I found his message timely as the ASAC is scheduled to meet today and it only has four members.  The stated requirement "4 out of 7" means 100% attendance by current members.