Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Of Elections and Animal Shelter Directors

It is apparent I wasn't the only New Yorker turned off by the endless barrage of negative campaigning leading up to yesterday's election.

Bloomberg won narrow reelection for Mayor yesterday in one of the lowest turnout votes in NYC history.

I was no fan of Bloomberg -- especially following his decision earlier in the year to kill more than a thousand local Canadian Geese as a kind of "knee jerk" reaction to the sad collision between a few migratory birds and a plane, which wound up on the Hudson river.

I vowed at that time not to support Bloomberg in the November election.

But, fact is, I don't know how Thompson would have responded to that situation had he been Mayor. There is nothing to suggest his actions would have been different.

Democratic candidate Bill Thompson is a good man, but his campaign failed to present him as any kind of "mover and shaker."

Continually harping on Bloomberg's successful reversal of term limits quickly became old and tired. Yes, we got the point that Bloomberg masterfully finagled his way to a third term despite the spoken will of the voters on term limits. But, what ultimately determines whether someone hauls themselves to the polls to pull down a lever for a candidate is the hope or perception of what that candidate will actually DO if elected.

And Thompson failed to come clear on that.

In the end, voters will often go with "devil we know, as opposed to the devil we don't" unless the challenging candidate is able to distinguish himself clearly and decisively as a leader in "change" and "making waves" -- presuming the wave-making or shaking things up is something people seek and need. Thompson failed in that effort.

Speaking of the "devil we know as opposed to the devil we don't," there is some possibility that we might get Ed Boks back as Director of the AC&C.

I fully support that possibility not because I think of Ed Boks as any kind of "devil" at all, but because he really was the best and most competent of all the Directors who have run the Animal Care and Control shelter system since its creation in the early 90's from former control by the ASPCA.

Boks is a dedicated animal advocate who is skilled, experienced, competent and caring. While very positive, idealistic and optimistic in attitude and goal, Boks is, at the same time a realist in the true challenges and obstacles that we face in New York City in terms of ever becoming a "no kill" city at all.

Boks was never one to deceive, "spin" and exaggerate. He always spoke honestly and directly to the overwhelming task of trying to find loving homes for the tens of thousands of animals flooding into an underfunded and inadequate shelter system each year.

Boks cared deeply about trying to maintain high morale among shelter staffers, volunteers and rescuers and was always welcoming of and responsive to suggestions and input.

Most of us in the rescue community, as well as shelter staffers and volunteers liked Boks.

Among some of the positive changes Boks instilled when running AC&C were assigning attractive names to the animals, proper breed identification, heavy promotions of shelter animals for adoption, advocacy and education for Pitbulls and a myriad of other positive actions.

It is hard to imagine that were Boks Director again, he would tacitly accept the current "showing" of adoptable animals at the Manhattan shelter in a poorly lit, cramped and understaffed, refurbished garage. He understood well, the importance of promoting and showing animals in a good and welcoming (to the public) light.

There is little doubt Boks would take quick action to change this abysmal situation in whatever positive ways were available to him.

Of course not everyone is on board with the support of Ed Boks returning to the AC&C.

One suspects there are those on the AC&C Board or at the Department of Health who do not want any kind animal "advocate" running the shelter. Moreover, there are those in powerful positions at other closely related animal organizations who might view Boks as either too honest and direct or representing potential competition to them for media attention and high profile.

Among activists in the animal community, there is also lack of cohesiveness and organization.

Many activists seem to imagine and demand a masterful "someone" who will come charging in on a white horse to save the day and magically turn NYC into "no kill."

Well, that simply ain't going to happen.

With the exception of Ed Boks, the history of the AC&C is to pick political hacks, dog breeders and brown nosers. -- Directors, who, in other words, "don't make waves."

Unfortunately, "waves" is what we need right now.

That and at minimum, a fully functioning animal control shelter in Manhattan with attractive and ample Animal Adoption areas.

Ed Boks can't personally build a brick and mortar shelter from the ground up or even shift adoptions from the garage to the main building in the Manhattan shelter (which is still under "renovations" for more than a year.)

But, he can and presumably will make waves. Boks has a history of doing so.

Yesterday, Bloomberg was reelected as Mayor in New York City despite controversial manipulations of law regarding term limits. He was reelected because, despite the criticisms, he has been a mostly strong, competent Mayor who shakes things up and keeps the trains running on time.

Ed Boks is a "mover and shaker" and like Bloomberg, we already know what he can and presumably will do.

Sometimes, reality calls for getting back to basics, but with flair, competence and wave-making. -- PCA


Anonymous said...

You do realize Boks was fired from New York. He also just lost a lawsuit with NYCACC. He was found guilty of racial discrimination. NYC had to pay for Boks' lawsuit.

He was forced to resign from LA Animal Services. He allowed 3x as many animals to die of illness and injury in the shelter, 2,000 more animals a year. Employees reported Boks to the animal cruelty task force for animal cruelty. He instructed employees to overcrowd the cages, put three pitbulls in a cage, don't euth animals for any reason, even if they're dying. You would want Boks back in NY?

The Mayor's Alliance stated that he fudged the books. Euthanasia went up his first year in NY. Then he took control of the chameleon program and euth went down.

Boks also sued NYC after he was fired. He lost that lawsuit. He aired all the dirty laundry of NY, blamed all his mistakes on Bloomberg, commissioners, employees. There's no way Bloomberg would take him back.

I could list a zillion mistakes he made in LA but you can just search for the articles. The City Council made a motion of no confidence demanding that he be fired. He even lost a sexual harassment lawsuit. You want that in NY?

Anonymous said...

Boks promises no kill but has never delivered. Perhaps it's time to look elsewhere.

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