Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Great Falls HAS a dog park

Interesting the information one finds that isn't public knowledge. Once found, one asks why ISN'T this public knowledge?

Great Falls HAS a dog park. It's Wadsworth Park, though it's not termed a "dog park".

It's owned by the City of Great Falls, and it is just outside the City limits. You may run your dog there off-leash. John Thompson, City Forester, run HIS dog there. The City even has a development plan for Wadsworth.

Here's what I find interesting. It's free. Tax dollars are already paying for it. So why did the City keep the information quiet?

Perhaps it's so the Animal Foundation could PR their way into a dog park which would make them look good, especially in light of the fact they've done nothing else with the money we've donated.

I can see another reason why Dona Stebbins and the Foundation haven't told people about the park. The people MOST interested in a Animal Foundation dog park have the LEAST control over the behavior of their dogs. (Lattes, cell phones and poorly behaved dogs, yep- really makes me want to take my dog there.) By creating a FENCED dog park, the Animal Foundation has simply created a big backyard for the owners that can't keep their dogs off-leash behavior in line in the real world.

A very good example of the type of dog and owner which one will find utilizing the Animal Foundation dog park is here. (Since many won't purchase this archived blog, let me quote it as I used it in my newsletter as a perfect example of WHY DOG PARKS ARE A BAD IDEA.)

"The first time we took Bailey to the dog park, we kept him on leash for awhile. Much like parents sending their kids off to kindergarten, we weren't sure if Bailey would make friends (or if he'd return when called)...Bailey can be aggressively playful, ready to wrestle whether other dogs like it or not. He seems to get along with dogs that either let him run the show or that like to wrestle as much as he does. Samba was neither...Within seconds of the initial sniff test she had Bailey pinned to the ground and her teeth were inches from Bailey's neck...After that, my husband wouldn't let Bailey play with other dogs--unless they were pocket pooches or labs (sic). I guess his logic is that all labs (sic) are nice and Bailey could squash even a really mean mini dog." (Kim Skornogoski, Aug 7, 2007, Dog Blog, Great Falls Tribune)

Let's recap:

The Animal Foundation, because they don't have enough money to erect their Taj Mahal of shelters and has pushed a dog park because it wants to have good PR.

Dona Stebbins, (Spay of the Falls, Mayor of Great Falls, and part of the Animal Foundation,) doesn't inform the public of this City park. Why? In order to continue funneling money to her personal projects? Because she's noted for not telling the citizens much? Because she & her dog can't correctly utilize this park's off-leash abilities?

City Parks & Rec isn't announcing this park, either. Could this be because they follow the orders of the Commission and the Commission has created a closed-door deal with the Animal Foundation?

Not the Mayor, the Commissioners, nor the Animal Foundation have done a single thing for the animals in the shelter, but they certainly have supported the idea of a dog park under the auspices of the Foundation, with the help of development by Melanie Lattin (city employee and Foundation board member).

If we have an off-leash park where dogs may run and play, why do we need the Animal Foundation's dog park? Why do we need them to waste ANY money on another playground for dogs while what is truly needed is a realistic, workable shelter?

Why are they trying to us sell political swill as bouillabaisse?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Animal Foundation Quotes of the Week

In a meeting between HSCC and the Animal Foundation on July 9, 2007, after the takeover of the shelter Bob James and John Gilbert suggested the HSCC merge with the Animal Foundation and the following quotes were taken down verbatim in that meeting:

"The Animal Foundation has worked for years to build equity with the City, County, police department and media, and would share some of their equity with the City to smooth things over for the HSCC and can make the MOU* go away, and the HSCC Board members would not have to resign" B. James

(Ed. - *MOU - memorandum of understanding proposed by John Lawton, which included the requirement that all current HSCC Board members resign, with new members to be appointed and overseen by the City.)

"We have a lot of equity with the Tribune, and if we merge, we could meet with the Tribune editorial board about a story on the new situation." B. James

"Negative PR has hurt fund raising so we are focusing on the dog park because it is good PR."
both B. James and J. Gilbert

Ed - My, my...Kind of makes one stop and consider all the statements from the Foundation about NOT knowing what's going on, what's happening, not being involved with the City, and reading the recent Tribune articles about the Foundation with a healthy bit of skepticism, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HSCC Steps Up

Since so much goes astray within the City halls, so many meetings go unreported, so many "dual purpose" employees seem unable to keep track of specific items and lead the public into the idea that "it never happened", I have taken the liberty of posting this (I have added a page I missed):

Monday, January 21, 2008

Animal Foundation Funding Stats

I read it. Yes, thank you for all the e-mails which started at zero-dark-thirty.

Let's dissect what seems to be a great PR job for the Animal Foundation in the Trib, yet doesn't seem to add up.

(see article side bar)

If you add the Contributions = $1,145,995
plus, Fur Ball proceeds = 161,863
TOTAL =$1,307,858

Foundation says in the article that it has: $1,308,907
Minus TOTAL from above 1,307,858
MISSING =$ 1,049

Investments total = $97,352
Expenses total = 96,349
PROFIT = $ 1,003

Let's call the missing and the profit money shown above as an equal amount or a "wash", nothing lost, nothing gained.

Sheltering Skies
(pg 4) states Foundation has contributions in the amount of: $1, 426, 207
Subtract today's TOTAL (above from Trib) - 1, 308,858
Please account for the difference of = $ 117,349

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Humane Society Checks Cashed by City of Great Falls

The City of Great Falls and the Police Department which operates the Animal Shelter admitted in their report (for download) that they accepted checks made out to the Humane Society of Cascade County and cashed them. The HSCC did NOT authorize this and it is unlike when Albertson's took over from Buttrey's, and there WAS authorization to accept checks and cash them, regardless of the name. In this case it is outright THEFT.

Ask yourselves...How could both entities, the City and Police, NOT know that was an illegal act? Yet, they did it. They didn't make the person alter the check. They didn't bother to hold the check and give it to the HSCC. They didn't contact the person who wrote the check and correct the endorsement.

I can only surmise that they did this deliberately, with malice and intent. They are the POLICE DEPARTMENT. The Fiscal Services Asst. Director HAD to know that the HSCC is NOT a City entity. Is incompetence so rampant within our City? Is corruption so ingrained that not an eye is batted? Looks like it to me.

Then, to top it off, I was looking for something else and came across this:

It seems in July 2006 at the Commission Work Session (minutes) in which they were discussing the Animal Control Ordinance, a citizen, Mr. Olson, was allowed to express concern for dogs off-leash. He was followed by Mr. "Bob James, citizen member, suggested that fines could be reduced for an unaltered animal if they had the animals altered within 30 days. He also requested that the Commission consider forwarding a percentage of the fines to the Animal Foundation to help pay for the new shelter."

I spent quite a bit of time running through EVERY meeting from Jan 2006 to Dec 2007. Mr. James was the ONLY citizen member to make ANY REQUEST OF THAT NATURE. In fact, there were very few incidents of "citizen members" speaking. Many consultants. Many reports.
Many updates. But, only
3 citizens, one of whom asked a question, one of whom made a statement about preparing a firework safety brochure, AND MR JAMES' REQUEST FOR MONEY FROM THE CITY COFFERS.

I would be interested to know if this request was honored. Particularly in light of the fact that in 2006 the HSCC was STILL operating the shelter. I don't know who was the designated recipient of fines collected on such things as unaltered animals. But, I intend to find out.

I then intend to find out if the City, did indeed, allocate a percentage to the Animal Foundation.

I expect the books of both the City and the Animal Foundation to be opened for public review. This kind of theft, from the HSCC and taxpayers should NOT be tolerated.

In light of all of this, I suggest the Animal Foundation reconsider putting in a bid to run the Animal Shelter until such time as they can produce proof that they are NOT connected to the City in any manner (which looks pretty difficult) and their books have been reviewed publicly by an independent audit/review chosen by a citizen's committee and pronounced clean.

Unless the Feds beat everyone to it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Animal Foundation and Shelter Postings

Greg, over at Electric City Weblog sent me this e-mail the other day:


I went after you pretty hard. Do you care to comment?
Hey, Greg:
No, you didn't go after me hard. You did what you thought best and asked
for what you felt was the best confirmation or documentation of what I've
been saying. That's fair. That's all I've been doing with the Foundation,
City and Spay of the Falls issue.
Where possible, I've cited/linked. If it's handwritten, I've quoted. If it's
from individuals who have worked closely, I've indicated that. I can lead
people to the information, but I cannot make them think.
I must ask though, if you are requesting of me to furnish verification, why
not Mr. James, the City, or others? I suggest where people may go to read
what I'm stating. Lowe/Dern produced papers. The HSCC has produced letters
about the bid process back in June 2007. Today's blog was linked more than
a golf course. But, what have those who are being questioned about their
behavior, connectivity and business practices produced to refute any of
As an indication of the interconnectedness I have attached a copy of a
letter (with portions omitted as they are personal to Ms. Lowe) from the law
firm of Ugrin, Alexander, Zadick & Higgins. And WHO is a partner/lawyer in
the firm? Mr. Bob James. And WHO have we been discussing these many months
as pertains to the City and its close ties with the Animal Foundation?
You will note the line which reads, "I find nothing...". I have a problem
with that in two areas.
First, there is City Employee Handbook, Section 15; 15.4.2b. (in this case I
will save everyone the trouble of finding it for themselves) which states
that immediate suspensions are used in situations where it is necessary to
remove the employee immediately from the work environment and/or when time
to conduct an investigation of the situation to determine the appropriate
course of action."
I take that to mean that A) the lawyer who wrote the letter did NOT know his
job, B) said what the city wanted to hear, C) Could care less about this
issue, or D) is working on a predetermined outcome. In any case, I find it
interesting the City hired this law firm (in which Mr. James works and he is
the President of Animal Foundation) to review the Animal Shelter Cruelty
allegations, especially when the City has admitted that the Foundation, Spay
of the Falls (see second attachment) "is involved in the reorganization of
the Animal Shelter."
This brings us to my second problem: The Animal Foundation (plus the other
two groups which supports my statements of their very cozy intertwined
relationship) is headed by Bob James. If the Foundation is involved in the
reorganization then A) how is it they don't know what's happening at the
Shelter, B) how is it they went from ONLY fund raising, per Mr. James'
statements about involvement, to reorganization of a "City operated facility
(note the quotes as I don't believe it to be City oriented at all), C) be
so unaware of the conditions (and this can't be true as we have documented
statements by Mr. James going back to 2002) for the animals that they can
continue to promote how they care while letting animals be killed in
inhumane fashion and, D) did NOT have the Staton Report in hand.
"C" brings up another issue. If they ARE that unaware, then the Foundation
has NO business running anything to do with animals.
This leaves us with Occam's razor (the maxim that assumptions introduced to
explain a thing must not be multiplied beyond necessity) does it not?
As for innuendo, I see nothing wrong with posing a question. You do it all
the time. Are you told that you're promoting innuendo when you question
things about the coal plant? I believe you to be merely questioning and
letting the reader follow that as they wish.
Mr. James, the city representatives, the Police representatives, the Spay of
the Falls representatives chose not to attend the town hall meeting. Much
of this came out and documents were there for review. Why did they not come
and address these questions? What is it they fear? Why are they not
opening books? Why? Why? Why?
Hearsay? It isn't hearsay when the Trib prints it and I refer to it (anyone
may look it up, anyone may purchase the article). It isn't hearsay when the
City has posted rules for bids and they were categorically ignored. It isn't
hearsay when YOU tell me that these groups want me/others marginalized so
they can continue on their merry way. Nor when Cindy James makes statements
to volunteers that if a person can only donate less than $50 "we don't want
that type of person." (Especially if it's heard by more than two people).
It's not hearsay when the people involved make their comments public in the
hearing of more than one person.
Speculation. IRS. Laws. Call them, ask your question. I asked mine. IF
a non-profit promotes their fund raising for a specific entity, then what,
if any, laws have been broken should that non-profit suddenly chose to
ignore their intended recipient in favor of someone/something else? What
about all the money they raised in the name of the original recipient? To
whom does that money belong?
Negotiation and compromise? Look at it this way - your daughter has been
sexually abused by your once-trusted, but now revealed as a pedophile,
babysitter. Will you negotiate and compromise? I wouldn't. I'd get rid of
the babysitter, get help for my daughter and then find a new babysitter, but
be much more careful in my review of that person before letting them near my
I, and many others, will no longer negotiate or compromise with a
group/groups which allow animals to die for no reason while sitting on vast
amounts of money. We once supported these groups. They failed to do as
they promised. WE didn't destroy their credibility. WE didn't sell a bill
of goods to the public. WE didn't make their choices, they did. WE don't
trust them.
This is NOT my way. I'm not getting a job, or money, or retirement, or an
ego, or a paving stone, or anything else out of this. Neither is anyone
else who is fighting this fight against exclusivity and corruption and
disregard for the animals that wait for help. The PEOPLE of this community
are incensed. The PEOPLE, who have stepped forward because they see what is
happening and will not tolerate any more, are making consensus decisions.
Some people are going in the opposite direction. That's fine. They may.
That is one of things we are addressing here - the right to have choices
made by oneself. NOT handed-down decisions that are expected to be accepted
without murmur.
It is the PEOPLE you are hearing. It is THEIR will you are hearing. It's
their decision to fight, run, negotiate or compromise. Within the people's
group there IS common ground.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Animal Foundation - A Group that keeps on Taking

People get weary of being treated poorly. Insiders, normal people who are not in the self-determined upper echelons of groups, are often dismissed or treated as inconsequential and they become very tired of it. Once they reach that point, they speak or they act.

Tired of ill treatment, being "marginalized" (a VERY popular term used by this group for those whom they have no regard and wish to dismiss, put out of business, or nullify) these aggrieved people engage in a private boycott and may even offer up information they have been privy to while inside the organization. Such is the case with the following information from HSCC meeting minutes.

Interesting time line and note how the Animal Foundation repeatedly has taken money from the HSCC - but we don't see that acknowledged, do we?

10/22/02 - Melanie Lattin, City of Great Falls employee, voted liaison between the HSCC & Humane Society Foundation of Cascade County (now Animal Foundation of Great Falls)

02/03/2003 - Melanie Lattin, City of Great Falls employee, President of HSCC. At this point $125,000 of HSCC money was given to the Humane Society Foundation of Cascade County (later HSCC Board would demand this money returned, which it was)

05/19/2003 - Melanie Lattin, City of Great Falls employee, resigns from HSCC, its Board accepts resignation and enters it into minutes

07/02/2003 - Melanie Lattin, City of Great Falls employee, becomes listed on Humane Society Foundation Board (now Animal Foundation of GF)

04/10/04 - Power Point presentation by Animal Foundation (new name) to HSCC Board. HSCC gave the Animal Foundation $8,000 towards their total (as yet undetermined) pledge to help with architect costs. Foundation said that they would be providing and ESTIMATE OF DOG PARK FENCING, drawing and other proposals to the City & are asking City to donate land.

Then you can throw in Gloria LaMott and Dona Stebbins and the circle remains unbroken.

What do we have here in the way of donations by the HSCC to the Animal Foundation?

$125,000 HSCC (returned by demand of HSCC Board)
$8,000 HSCC
$20,000 HSCC

What do we have here in the way of real progress or actual achievement by the Animal Foundation?

Nov 13, 2002 - "Humane Society of Cascade County has formed a foundation to raise money for a new, bigger animal shelter
...Foundation President Bob James described the current facility as a territiorial prison. "It's time we provide adequate housing for the animals," James said...The dream shelter could cost as much as $1 million, but a feasibility study is in the works to determine how big they can build...To donate to the foundation, send checks to the Humane Society." (Great Falls Tribune, section: Montana, page: 1M)

Dec 02, 2004 - "The Animal Foundation is currently working with the HSCC to determine the size, services, and fund raising budget for the new animal shelter. Once this decision is made, Mark will provide a preliminary design and revised cost estimates prior to the project being handed off to a local architectural firm." (Sheltering Skies Newsletter, Animal Foundation of Great Falls, Dec 2004/Winter 04, page 2)

April 2005 - Great Falls Neighborhood Council Meeting @ Meadowlark School - "Sally Cerny (Volunteer for the Animal foundation of Great Falls and Chuck Tourtillot Director of the Humane Society of Cascade County provided a Power Point presentation about the Capital Campaign and future plans...The purpose of the Foundation is to provide good care to all pets/animals within the county. Their plans are to build state of the art Animal Shelter and a dog Park. Also they will do on-going fund raising for the Humane Society...they have...identified potential sites for both the shelter and the dog park; consulted with an Architect who designs animal shelters. The are hoping to build a 12,000 sq ft shelter @ a cost of $160/sq ft. The total cost will be about, $2,000,000.00" (see Neighborhood reports online at City site as almost, if not all Councils were visited by Cerny promoting this information during this period.)

June 2005 - Foundation "Speakers Bureau - BOB JAMES, SALLY CERNY AND CHUCK TOURTILLOTT are serving as the Animal Foundation Speakers Bureau. Armed with an informative PowerPoint presentation, either Bob or Sally will accompany Chuck, as theHumane Society representative, to speak to any group that would like to hear more about the Foundation, the plans for the new animal shelter and dog park, and the fundraising campaign. They have already met with the numerous groups in town such as the Electric CityKennel Club, the Lion’s Club, the Realtors Group, the Uptown Optimists, and all the Neighborhood Councils.
If you belong to or are aware of a group that would like
to know more about the Animal Foundation and the animal shelter, call Executive Director Mary Willmarth at 727-6826 to schedule a presentation." (June 3, 2005, Sheltering Skies pg 7)

April 04, 2006 - Let's make this easy, just go to Sheltering Skies and read the same old, same old...We're raising funds. We're working with the architect. We're planning.....

Nov 05, 2006 - "Although the floor plan is not 100% finalized, it is close." Just go to Sheltering Skies - again (pg 1 & 2). Just HOW LONG does it take to PLAN the schematics for a building???

Dec 06, 2007 - "The Animal Foundation has continued to seek assistance from Mark Hafen,
the architect from Animal Arts/Gates Hafen Cochrane in Colorado, who we’ve been working with since we first began this project. Mr. Hafen will be coming to Great Falls in December 2007 to meet with a variety of people to obtain the necessary information to begin designing the actual construction drawings. L’Heureux Page Werner will be the local architect/engineering firm that will design the exterior of the new animal shelter." Ah, hell, here we go again...Sheltering Skies pg 2.... They NOW want 3 MILLION DOLLARS, up from 2.2, for the new shelter.

5 years and still planning. 5 years and animals are still housed in a sub-standard facility. 5 years so that an elitist group can party while our animals die.

I wonder if it's ego for a building that's all twisted steel and sex appeal?

I wonder how they can claim to be FOR animals when they've known for 5 years that we have a problem?

I wonder how they can demand the HSCC donate money to them when the HSCC was grossly underfunded and supposed to be the entity the Foundation was in business to help?

I wonder if the money is there. Is THAT why we experience all the delays?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Animal Foundation Money

Carefully worded statements are the hallmark of any lawyer. What wasn't stated yesterday seems interesting and the fact that original intent on the part of certain parties is ignored interests me.

The original name of the Foundation was the Humane Foundation of Cascade County and their purpose was to get the McLean money in order to build the shelter for the HSCC (see here)

You will note in the side bar of that publication was Melanie Lattin, ex-President of the HSCC, grant writer for the City of Great Falls. That would be a handy skill if one wanted to present a group and their intent in order to get that money.

In yesterday's letter is the statement, "outlined in its very thorough proposal and elaborated upon by certain of its trustees." I would think this would be Mr. Bob James. Could it be that yesterday's letter is an example of lawyers calling in favors? (Just a personal question.)

From all documents I've been able to read, neighbors of McLean I have spoken to, and information from various individuals active during this period of which we are speaking, the currently named Foundation stepped up to the plate to ensure that McLean's money went to building the new shelter for the Humane Society of Cascade County.

We are back to square one. That money has been promoted from the beginning as funds for a shelter for the Humane Society of Cascade County. It's printed, it's been taken down in the form of statements by Mr James (and other representatives of the Foundation) at various times and places. The community was clearly led to believe that the donations they made were for a shelter for the HSCC.

The time line, the interconnectedness of the people and groups, and the FACT remains that the Animal Foundation publicly solicited funds for the HUMANE SOCIETY OF CASCADE COUNTY and its shelter.

The "trumped up" charges which were brought to the Tribune and NEVER substantiated last summer, between the questioned bid scenario and hostile take-over of the shelter, seems to be the final act of the combined groups to make a public, but not legal, split from the HSCC in order to keep the money for their exclusive use and control of all facets of companion animal affairs.

A non-profit which raises funds in the name of a specific purpose BUT then uses those funds for something else is engaged in duplicity and the IRS laws are very specific about this form of behavior. Common sense would lead us to believe that the IRS would be interested in investigating.

I wonder if Margaret would have allowed her legal representative to give that money to the Foundation had she known that the shelter was going to be ripped from beneath the HSCC. That the new shelter would be a monument to the exclusivity of the private club (as I call it) which would be the sole determiner in the future who, what, where, and when of our animals, while not responding to immediate needs of the shelter animals during the past 5+ years.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ric Valois Recall Requests at GF Commission Meeting

Here, in their entirety, are the requests for recall or resignation as presented the evening of Tuesday 8, January 2008.

Ric Valois:

"Before I begin I'd like to preface my statements concerning resignation or recall, that the new commissioners, Mary Jolley and Bill Bronson, are not enjoined.

"I am here for the voiceless and uncared for animals in our community. I am here for those among us who give voice to their urgent cry for help.

"The remedies I put on the table tonight are purely of my own opinion and may, or may not, reflect, the remedies of others concerning this animal shelter crisis.

"We in this community who pay the bills through our taxes to our local government, and donate our time, our hearts, and our financial resources to the various charities of our choices, are the employers, not the subjects or employees, of those we entrust to carry out the order of civic responsibility or charitable cause.

"When those who are charged with this responsibility or cause refuse to do so, whether by incompetence or deliberate design, it falls to us, the employers, to remove said people charged from their neglected duties.

"1) I call for the resignations of Mayor Dona Stebbins, Commissioners Bill Beecher and John Rosenbaum, Chief of Police Corky Grove, City Manager John Lawton, and shelter director, Jamie Bennett. The correct and officials documents to be on the desks of Commissioners Mary Jolley and Bill Bronson no later than Wednesday morning, Jan 8, 2008.

"In the event this call for resignation by same mentioned parties is ignored, I will call for a legal public recall of same mentioned parties, signature gathering to commence this week.

"2) I am calling for the immediate transfer of care and responsibility of the existing shelter to be placed back in the domain of the Humane Society of Cascade County, with a full team of citizens oversight on board at the moment of transfer. All funding and financial resources approved by the City and County, at the level stated in the Staton report, to revert back to the HSCC as well.

"3) I am calling for the HSCC to install people of proven capability and integrity, Amy Lowe and Jason Dern, to positions of authority in the care and function of the reacquired shelter.

"4) I am calling for the return of all funds, donations, and financial resources raised by the City of Great Falls, Spay of the Falls, and the Animal Foundation of Great Falls, returned to the HSCC in full, effective immediately.

"5) I am calling for an immediate opening of the financial books of the City of Great Falls, Spay of the Falls, Animal Foundation of Great Falls, and the City Police Department. To be conducted and supervised by an independent specialist and citizens' oversight committee, approved by the HSCC and all affected parties, in an open public forum.

"In the event of procrastination or prolonged duplicity on the part of the City of Great Falls, the Animal Foundation of Great Falls, the City of Great Falls Police Department, and/or Spay of the Falls to meet this criteria of an open public audit, then a demand to investigate and audit the personal financial books of the individuals within these entities, and those named in the public recall, will be enjoined.

"6) I call for the creation of a permanent, independent citizens' oversight group to oversee local government as needs arise to ensure promises made will be promises kept.

"In closing, Mayor Stebbins, Commissioners Rosenbaum and Beecher, Chief Grove and City Manager Lawton, the contempt, arrogance, and belligerence you've displayed concerning this animal shelter crisis, and lack of compassion or empathy towards the animals in that shelter, have betrayed your false intentions to do good, to your true intentions to do otherwise, making your official positions untenable - entering the realm of villainous. It is time for you to go! The only choice before you now is the speed in which you do it."

Pam Hendrickson:

"I ask for the resignations of Mayor Dona Stebbins, commissioner Biil Beecher, commissioner John Rosenbaum, chief of police Corky Grove, city manager John Lawton, and shelter director Jamie Bennett, to be effective Wednesday, January 9, 2008. In the event this request is ignored, I call for a legal recall of same mentioned parties, with signature gathering to commence immediately.

"Once again I am here to say shame on you to our city managers. Not only for the excruciatingly poor treatment of the helpless animals in your care, but for the prodigous waste of tax payer funds and community resources.

"Mayor Stebbins was quick to point out that the City purchased a brand new, heavy duty washer and dryer set. Thanks to staff members who overstuffed the washer with soiled blankets, still full of feces, and who used an ultra concentrated bleach that is not to be used in that manner, the washer did not work for at least 2 months. So they did not wash soiled bedding, but threw it out after one use. Do you have any idea how many blankets they must have gone through if they were not re-using any of them? Did they have to buy bedding, or just abuse the generosity of the individuals and businesses who donated?

"Dr. Rick Scherr was going to donate a bank of approximately 12 cat kennels, but that never happened.

"Private food donations are not being used, but in fact are stacked in a back room and left to rot. Why? The Humane Society had a program that provided emergency pet food to those in need, and to the shelter foster homes, but that program has been eliminated. Please tell us why you have turned your back on pet owners in need. Why you can't even give what you have no use for.

"Fourteen foster homes were told their services would no longer be utilized because they do not live within city limits.

"The shelter does not want volunteers or dog walkers and is turning away offers of FREE help. Why in God's name would you prefer to let animals suffer? Why would you deprive a dog a short walk, instead condemning him to days or weeks confined to a kennel with no exercise? Why do you think it is better to pay for what people will gladly give?

"Ric Valois, who owns The Tree Man business, has rescued cats from trees for years, at absolutely no charge to the shelter or the pet owner. The Fire Department does not provide this service. NO ONE ELSE provides this service. But shelter management is so petty they will not call him for help, nor will they tell the public that his help is available. You would rather let a trapped cat sit for days in all kinds of weather.

"If this is your idea of improving animal care in our community, I certainly don't want you to take over the ambulance service as well. It seems that this administration is bent on taking over businesses that are already being managed in a competent and professional manner. How can it possibly be in the City of Great Falls' best interests to have rank amateurs such as yourselves take over?

"And where is the Animal Foundation in all of this? As usual these past several months, conspicuously absent. Focusing their efforts on a ridiculous dog park. Dog Parks are for animals that already have good homes and caring owners. Dogs that are not in dire need of assistance. That money should be going to the animals NOW. The money that has been collected to date should be used to build a shelter NOW.

"Once again shame on you. Reinstate the Humane Society, or we will do it for you. "

Christian Cornelius:

"I ask for the resignations of Mayor Dona Stebbins, Commissioner Bill Beecher, Commissioner John Rosenbaum, Chief of Police Corky Grove, City Manager John Lawton, and shelter director Jamie Bennett, to be effective Wednesday, January 9, 2008. In the event this request is ignored, I call for alegal recall of same mentioned parties with signature gathering to commence immediately.

"After the allegations of abuse and cruelty were made public, Pam Hendrickson and myself decided to visit the shelter.

"On December 21st we visited at approximately 1:15 p.m. and immediately noted several dogs' cages with feces and urine in them. We also noted the absence of any identifying kennel cards which would contain the animals' sex, available adoption date and other pertinent information.

"In the cat room we saw at least five (5) cats that were obviously sick. They were coughing, sneezing, and had runny eyes - all of which are indicators of an upper respiratory infection. There were also at least ten (10) dogs wearing collars - a potentially serious hazard as the dogs might become entangled by the collar in their cages and literally hand themselves to death.

"When we approached shelter director Jamie Bennett with our concerns, she told us that the kennel cards were absent due to lack of time and staff. When we attemtped to question her regarding the sick cats, whether they had received veterinary attentions and why they were in the general population and not in isolation, the collared dogs and messy cages, she promptly turned to leave to attend a "meeting" and told us to refer all further questions to Captain Tim Shanks at the GF Police Department. Pam left Capt. Shanks a message that afternoon and is still, to this day, awaiting a response.

"Why can't the shelter director, supposedly the person in charge, answer a few basic questions regarding the animals in her care? Why refer us to someone who does not even work in the shelter on a daily basis? Capt. Shanks could not possibly answer our questions and, in fact, did not. So much for accountability to the citizens of Great Falls.

"The following week on December 29th, we returned to the shelter at approximately 5:45 p.m. Our arrival did not go unnoticed and within three (3) minutes we were approached by an ACO. He asked our intended business and when we told him we were going to look around and film what we saw, he asked us to quit filming. He then told us that unless we were interested in adopting a animal, that we would have to leave. We politely refused and he then told us to quit filming and leave and that if we did not, that the police would be called to escort us from the shelter.

"Why? What are they hiding? What didn't they want us to see? Given the recent allegations, I would say there's plenty they don't want the public to see and know.

"I will continue to be a voice and an advocate for the animals, regardless of this type of harassment. These animals deserve nothing less.

"I am certainly glad that the Humane Society's name is no longer attached to the shelter. There is certainly nothing humane about what is happening there now."

Mine was short and sweet, I asked that Mr. Valois' statement stand as my own. I also stated that the City was hemorrhaging money, as well as the fact they needed to place someone who truly cared in charge of the shelter.

Another woman spoke, I'm attempting to contact her for her statement.

I also wish to thank those of you who are helping in this issue, both on the inside and outside.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Great Falls Mayor Donna Stebbins Offered Choice to Resign or Face Recall

Last night I sat through what had to be one of the poorest examples of representing citizens at a city meeting it has ever been my misfortune to encounter.

I also observed a stellar example of why Mayor Donna Stebbins, two commissioners (Beecher and Rosenbaum), the City Manager, John Lawton, Police Chief Grove and shelter director, Jamie Bennett, were asked to tender their resignations by this morning or face a recall by the citizens of Great Falls which would commence at the end of this week.

Montana allows for a recall for a limited number of reasons. Two being pertinent to this discussion: violation of the oath of office and official misconduct. Ladies and gentlemen, they were apparent in spades last night.

The room was packed with local firemen, a Missoula fire chief, paramedics, local ambulance company representatives, a gentleman straight from a corporation in South Africa, boy scouts, animal shelter crisis people, airport authority issue people, a Cable 7 supporter, and at least one television camera (other than cable 7) and Richard Ecke of the GF Tribune.

Correct me please, as I only have the on-line Trib version, but I saw no coverage of 5 people's request for resignation or recall reported in the newspaper this morning.

Two new commissioners were seated last night, Bill Bronson, who gave every indication he's a party-line man with his unwavering support of whatever the old regime required, and Mary Jolley, the only Commissioner who questioned anything and whose questions showed just how out of skew this entire shell-game has become.

And let me tell you, it IS a shell-game.

Today's Tribune, in Opinion, had this statement, "What is not needed or justified is a campaign for recall of city commissioners or, worse, a boycott of an unrelated foundation's fundraising efforts. "

The Tribune is sorely remiss in the one job they exist to do - to report news. This shows where the paper is aligned. This shows where they receive their bread and butter. This shows they present ONLY the news that is "approved by committee." They censor. They filter. They decide what you hear.

The Tribune did NOT report a request by 5 citizens for resignations of the above entities and failing that, the inception of a recall by citizens.

By saying there will always be problems with the animal issue they have given it tacit approval.
They are saying, in short, "There's always been an animal problem. There will always be an animal problem. Why address it? Learn to live with it because it won't change. And keep giving your money to entities which WE endorse, that won't do anything to change it."

Do it our way. The way we approve, through the Animal Foundation, Spay of the Falls, etc., just not YOUR way. YOUR way is not to be borne. YOU are not legitimate. YOU are not US.

This is the exact ideology and intent which demonstrates the penchant to take anyone's money, but decides that the animal activists who voice concern over actual care and life and death of animals are of no consequence, not worthy of acknowledgement and that the concern they voice for the animals is of no importance.

We actually find ourselves in the exact position that the animals we care about are in...the animals are of no importance to them. WE are of no importance to them.

The Trib cries, "It's not that animal suffering is less important than human suffering; it's that people seem to get more worked up about pain among animals than about pain among fellow humans."

This is because the animals cannot file the paperwork for recall or blog to protect themselves. They have no recourse to fight back. WE can on their behalf.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Animal Foundation Seed Money

A valid confusion came to light in a post at ECW by Mjefferson01. If one goes back to my post of Nov 14, 2007 one can see where this issue was already posted. Below is a relative excerpt:

  • McLean in her will donates $400k, I believe to be allocated by the lawyer, in 2002 I believe.
  • It's offered to the HSCC, they state they cannot with the limited manpower do the fund-raising, and to issue it to their fund-raising arm, the Foundation, as seed money.
  • The Foundation promotes & maintains it's their mission to raise funds for a new HSCC shelter. They printed it on EVERYTHING.
This is NOT, regardless of how anyone would like to spin it, a fight between disaffected groups.
This is an issue which is ONLY about the animals, their welfare, their safety and being taken care of correctly.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bob James' (of the Animal Foundation) response

I am not a great fan of coincidence. I discovered long ago that "coincidence" is often a cloak for acts that need to become apparent, but which cannot stand transparency. I'm not saying that coincidence is non-existent in our universe. After all, it's a big place and I'm sure that almost anything is possible.

I'm looking at just a FEW events that have taken place and am attempting to decide if they are coincidence, or something else. You be the judge.

1) On June 19th, at a City Commission meeting, I state that the Animal Control bid procedure and award process looks fixed and ask that the Mayor be removed from the award committee. I stated that "the City has never allocated an increase in funds in order to keep up with general rising costs which would negatively affect the running of the shelter. Coincidence? (see Staton report )

2) I further state that the bid may "already be predetermined by an unseen committee which is interested in assuring the Foundation complete control and the City the ability to circumvent or ignore actual bid and awarding procedures". That the City and Foundation want control of the shelter, which at that time was run by the HSCC (See here) Lo and behold! Who are the 3 entities now running the shelter? Coincidence?

3) After the ACO's press conference it was pointed out to me by various people that the one of the television stations had run an OLD pro-Animal Foundation piece from a couple of years back. Coincidence?

4) I blog this piece (Saturday 29, Dec. 2007) and invite almost every entity in Great Falls to the Town Hall meeting, Jan 5, 2008 @ 7 p.m. University of Great Falls Theater Building - not a peep is heard from any of representatives of those groups invited. But I know they read the blog. Coincidence?

5) This morning I e-mail key individuals within those groups from the link above and other than the "receipt" to show that they received the e-mail, there is no response until this pops up (a couple of hours after sending the invitation) on ECW. Coincidence?

I blog this list. Coincidence?