Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ed Sayres (and the ASPCA) to NYC Animals: Drop Dead!

I think more needs to be said about this deal, which I (and others) have railed against, but none so eloquently as Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer here.

The vote to approve this deal is coming up and in order to drum up support for the deal that they apparently helped negotiate, I recently received this email from the ASPCA - 

Dear New York City Animal Advocates,

Annual budget cuts to New York City's Animal Care and Control (ACC) program have had a predictably negative effect on New York's citizens and our at-risk animals.

You used to be able to phone ACC to come rescue and shelter lost/stray animals found in the streets—that's no longer true. Animal receiving centers in the Bronx and Queens have been forced to cut back their hours, and now operate only one or two days a week. And slashed funding has meant a loss of jobs at the city's three shelters, making it harder for remaining staff to provide the best service possible to animals and potential adopters. We would like to stress that none of this is the fault of ACC employees—it is a simple matter of insufficient funding from the City.

It is time to correct the mistakes of the past and implement the type of animal control and sheltering programs to which a first-rate city like ours is entitled. 
We are excited to announce that Councilmember Jessica Lappin has introduced a bill that will restore vital programs and services and improve conditions at the city's ACC facilities. Along with this legislation (Intro. 655), the City will commit to increasing its investment in the shelters by millions of dollars over the next three years.

A well-funded animal control program creates jobs and decreases potential threats to public health and safety—it's good for both animals and New Yorkers. Please help us seize this opportunity to help New York City's animals!
What You Can Do
Please ask your City councilmember to support and cosponsor Intro. 655. 
Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online, where we've provided a letter of support for NYC Intro. 655 that you can copy, edit to your liking and email to your councilmember. If you prefer, you may also print out the letter and mail to your councilmember. 

Why do I have a problem with this, Ed Sayres and the ASPCA? Let me count the ways...

1 - The main problem that animal advocates have with the "deal" is that it eliminates the law passed by the City Council in 2000 mandating shelters in Queens and the Bronx (two boroughs so large they would be in the top ten largest cities in the U.S. if they were cities)...and yet, nary a mention of this in the ASPCA's email blast. Reading the above statement makes it sound like you're an idiot if you are against it - Because they left out the downside (and boy, what a downside it is)

2 - In his Op-Ed piece, where Ed does mention the loss of the new promised shelters, he says, "...Let me be clear -- of course, I want the city to build animal shelters in the boroughs that currently do not have them. But the reality is that the city does not have to do this based on a recent appellate court's ruling (in re Stray from the Heart, Inc. v. Dep't of Health and Mental Hygiene of the City of New York, April 19, 2011) that a rescue group did not have standing to challenge the City's failure to open animal shelters in Queens and in the Bronx."


Who exactly does he think he's kidding? The whole "What can lil' ol' us do?" ain't fooling anyone who knows anything about the animal rescue business. The ASPCA has a LOT of pull, thanks to a huge and well-funded PR department (They helped kill Oreo's Law, for example) And just as they helped negotiate this deal behind the scenes, they can get together with their buddies at Maddie's Fund, Best Friends, and whom ever else (maybe talk to Hemsley's dog), and get these needed shelters financed. 


3. They quoted the Stray from the Heart lawsuit... If the ASPCA agrees that the shelters are necessary, then why didn't THEY take up the lawsuit. With their powers, couldn't they do an inspection, and conclude that the existing shelters are dangerously insufficient? I would think that even the threat of such a lawsuit from the highly respected ASPCA would force NYC to do something to fix the situation.


4. Just as they helped facilitate this backroom deal, they can do another, basically threatening NYC that they will expose the freaking nightmare that is the NYC shelter system (and believe me, they know that it is a disaster) if they don't do something more drastic to help the animals (like, you know, build another shelter or two). All he'd have to do is get his buddies together and threaten to drop their funding if something isn't done. Heck, it wont be hard to Maddie's fund to threaten it, as the ACC routinely breaks their agreement not to kill for space.

5 - His statement that the problems are due to a "simple matter of insufficient funding from the city" is bullshit as well. Horrendous mismanagement (8 ED's in 8 years? 'nuf said) and a BOD that exists only to serve Bloomberg's interests are the real problem. Is the ACC underfunded? Yes, ridiculously so... but it wont be adequately funded until the main problem is fixed, and that's breaking off the ACC from the DOH (as Mr. Stringer suggests). 

6 - Sayres isn't an idiot. He KNOWS what's going on between the walls at the ACC to the poor animals (Even Wikipedia knows). The question becomes why doesn't the ASPCA use their powers of enforcement to bring the real situation to light and maybe make revolutionary change rather than keep spinning the usual politically tinged pr about things getting better?

I think if they actually went in and documented what was going on, they'd have no choice but to take over... something they desperately wouldn't want to do (they had a miserable time running it thru 1995).

Anyway, I'm tired. 

Long story short (I know, too late!), the ASPCA and Sayres are accomplices to this "deal" and the maintenance of the status quo (i.e. DOH oversight), which, as long as it remains, means death to way too many of NYC's animals.

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Are Horrible People

First of all, sorry I am late to writing about this, but I was busy dealing with kidney stones, and lemmee tell ya...holy crap are those painful! I wouldn't wish those on anyone...okay, maybe a couple of people.

So... this came out last week -

My guess is that the first take on that headline for most people who aren't familiar with the history and current situation of the city shelter is, "Gee, how awesome!"

Of course, those of us who are privy to such things thought, "Hmmm... I smell a rat."

And, as expected, we were correct. The devil is in the details (or, in this case Gracie Mansion)....

To those who want to hear why with agreement sucks but don't really need to hear a long-winded numbers heavy (hey, I'm a numbers guy!), lemmee tell ya with a hypothetical situation....

What if a group of people set fire to building, knowing there were 100 people in there. Then, while the fire was raging, they ran in and saved three people, with the rest dying. When the news cameras arrived, they were interviewed, and congratulated each other on saving those three lives.

THAT is what is happening here. Again, not gonna get into details, but the budget this year, which has been slashed several times in previous years, is the SAME as it was 16 years ago! And it was considered too low then! The point being - They are "cash-strapped" because they the city doesn't grant them any money! And now, they dare claim to be coming to the rescue?!?

btw - I wish I were making this up.

So, now, Bloomberg, Quinn, the ASPCA, and The Mayor's Alliance are falling over each other with congratulations for taking a step in the right direction. At least they are doing that, right? Stepping in the right direction?

Um, no. Not even close.

Here's the key sentence in their press release (which laughably includes the phrase "agreement to enhance services for shelter animals.")...

With the agreement, the Health Department will no longer have a legal obligation to build and maintain full-service shelters in every borough, only to maintain the existing shelters in Staten Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Yup, the devil in the details...

But seriously, they've gotta be shittin' me!

In 2000, The City Council passed a law requiring the city to build shelters in two boroughs which didn't have shelters (The Bronx and Queens) - The city, under animal hater Mike Bloomberg, managed to defy said law for the past ten years, and now, has gotten animal hater Christine Quinn to help change the law (The fact that animals don't vote prolly has a lot do with this, which makes them horrible people), with an assist from The Mayor's Alliance and the ASPCA (nice work guys! btw - as a side note, any time the big boys get together on anything, assume the worst - I'm surprised the Humane Society hasn't come out with a big thumbs-up for this "deal" as well)

So, thanks to this backroom "deal," the largest two boroughs in NY, which, if cities, would both be in the top ten in the United States in population, will have no city-run animal shelters.

Congratulations are definitely in order!

Rock On,

Harris Bloom

Monday, August 1, 2011

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This is our Director of Mixology Erin Garmont, and her pup Wilson, sporting the very latest in Stewie Fashion...


Rock On,