That's all I can say...
I am writing this after everything went down so there's nothing left to do but recount the timeline of how it was politics as usual in NYC, and who lost out? Those who can't vote (or speak).
1994 - The ASPCA gives up ownership of the NYC shelter system because they didn't want to be so closely associated with the killing machine that was the NYC shelter system.
You don't believe me? Read this. (That deserves it's own blog - How the ASPCA basically abandoned NYC's animals when they needed them most because it was a PR nightmare and was costing them donors)
1995 - Animal Care & Control (ACC) is created by Mayor Giuliani and the Department of Health to take over the contract for animal control services. ACC is supposed to be an independent charity, but it was to be controlled and funded by the DOH.
April 2000 - The NYC Council passes a law, mandating new shelters be built for the two shelter-less boroughs - Queens and The Bronx. The law was passed following a scathing audit by the City Council’s Contracts Committee showing the inhumane conditions in the ACC’s overcrowded shelters.
2000 – The DOH budgets $7.8MM for running ACC. 2002 - Mayor Bloomberg gets an extension on building the new shelters.
2002 - The DOH allocates $8.5MM for the ACC.
2005 - The DOH allocates $8.1MM for AC&C.
2006 - Bloomie's extension passes...No one on the City Council says a word.
2009 - Animal rescue group Stray from the Heart says, "Eff this...You don't wanna obey the law, let's see what the courts have to say about it." They file a lawsuit, against the DOH and NYC, in hopes of forcing the city to obey it's law (I couldn't make this up if I tried).
Stray From The Heart won! A Superior Court Judge judge says the city must come up with plan to obey their own law!
NYC appeals (becaaaause...they don't want to follow their own law?)
April 2011 - NYC wins - For some reason, an appeals panel ruled that Stray from the Heart didn't have the "standing" to sue (if they don't, who does?)
SUMMER 2011 - Bloomie, Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Lappin, the ASPCA, and the Mayor's Alliance meet in a dark, smokey, backroom (I'm assuming) somewhere and upon emerging, announce Intro Bill 0655.
I'm not going to get into why this is a horrible bill, just read this statement from Stray from the Heart here.
The worst part of it is because it reverses the law that the City Council passed in 2000, mandating shelters for Queens and The Bronx, two boroughs so large that population-wise, if they were cities, they'd be in the top 15 in the U.S.
A few other things stood out about this bill...
1 - The vast majority of the "new" funding is backloaded to fiscal 2014 - If anyone believes that the AC&C will see that money, I've got new shelters in Queens and The Bronx to sell ya, if ya get my drift.
2 - I put "new" in quotes because, not only does some of this "new" funding only gives back funds previously cut, if you take inflation into account, even if all the funding does come in, it barely makes it back to 2002 levels, when the shelter was killing about 70% of the animals that came in.
3 - Many don't think mandatory spay/neuter works.
4 - The fact that they are suddenly willing to give all this money to the ACC, given the dire economic straits that the city and the people in this city are in (I don't think links are needed here) tells me that things are even worse at the shelter than we previously imagined. I mean, we've read and saw stories about the filthy cages, animals being killed who weren't supposed to, a volunteer program without volunteers, dogs not being walked, and an executive director so enamored with power, that she's managed to alienate pretty much everyone, from her staff to rescue groups. Is there even more!??!
5 - This op-ed, by Ed Sayres (he runs the ASPCA), telling us why this bill is awesome, kills me. Especially these sentences...
Nevertheless, a few detractors are upset because the city did not agree to build animal shelters in Queens and in the Bronx. 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.
Given the appellate court's decision, I believe the agreement we brokered with the city has the animals' best interests at heart for the immediate future
This is funny to me because...
SEPTEMBER 2011 - Stray from the Heart convinces the NY Court of Appeals to hear their appeal from the mid-level decision. All of a sudden, it appears that our State’s highest court is verrrrrrrry interested in deciding whether a rescue group does have standing to sue a City for violating its own law. If Stray From the Heart wins the appeal, it means not only that it had standing, but that the City must build those shelters!!
So, now that the "reality" has changed, I assume Sayres will go back to his buddies (Bloomie, Quinn, Lappin et al) and tell them that he stands by his belief that the city needs the two new shelters and that they should amend the bill to remove the deletion of the law requiring NYC to build them. Right?
SEPTEMBER 2011 - We get this Daily News headline
City Council fast-tracking bill to let city wriggle out of obligation to build animal shelters
(slaps my head)
which leads to this...
Excuse me while I vomit.