Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Open Letter To Speaker Sheldon Silver

Speaker Silver,

I'm sure that by now you've not only heard from hundreds (thousands?) of people regarding bill No. A05449A, that was sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.

I'm not going to bother explaining to you why it's a poor bill, especially when there is a much better bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Micah Kellner, that has been circulating for months, because I'm sure that you've already heard the pros and cons of both bills (and by much smarter people than I!)

Actually, I merely have questions - Questions that I have asked the ASPCA but they have not answered. I am hoping that you can get an answer -

1 - Why did the ASPCA decide to suddenly write a bill when there was a bill designed to save more animals, and help make better shelters already written? It's almost like they are begging for us to compare them and I'm sure that you will.

2 - If they didn't like aspects Assemblyman Kellner's bill, why didn't they work with Assemblyman Kellner to re-work his? I don't know Mr. Kellner, but I'm guessing he knows that most (all?) bills are passed after differing sides compromise.

3 - Why did the ASPCA craft its bill (and let's face it, it's THEIR bill) on its own, without discussing its contents with any of the other leading rescue groups. Already, several large groups (including the highly respected national organization Best Friends Animal Society) have come out diametrically opposed to it, while supporting CAARA (Assemblyman Kellner's bill)

4 - The ASPCA has already said they are in the process of changing the wording of their bill, and that they can understand why people are "freaking out" (this is what their representative told me on their Facebook page). The obvious question is why didn't they realize that it was so poorly written before? Why were they in such a rush to get this passed (before Assemblyman Kellner's bill) that not one person who read it in their organization realized what their bill would mean? I mean, why didn't it freak any of them out?

Furthermore, they have not said that they are changing the wording of the part of their bill that gives shelters the right to not work with certain rescue groups. They claim it is due to hoarding concerns but in reality, here in NYC, that would result in the already notoriously difficult-to-work-with regime more difficult to work with as they (Julie Bank, the executive director, specifically) have already threatened the access of rescue groups, solely for speaking out about conditions that they've witnessed within the shelters.

Are they going to amend that part too?

5 - And finally, why are the vast majority of the animal rescue community/advocates for CAARA and against the ASPCA bill, while the only groups that I hear supporting the ASPCA bill are shelters that have high kill rates?

I think you for taking the time to read this, and hope that with your position that you can get the answers that I couldn't.

Respectfully Yours,

Harris Bloom


Anonymous said...

Well said.

Kathleen Jack said...

Wonderful, Harris. I also have one more question. In an time when the country is concerned about conflicts of interest (let's think about the financial firms on Wall Street), how is it that the ASPCA is permitted to actually WRITE this bill AND get an Assemblywoman to somehow have it "fast tracked" to Committee for vote. This whole situation wreaks of conflicts. Why is it that this is permitted to happen. After all, wouldn't this be like one of the large Wall Street firms writing financial regulation and then fast-tracking it past everyone to get it approved. You can be sure that would never be permitted, so why was this permitted?

Stewie to the Rescue! said...

Kathleen -

I didn't want to get into that aspect... for political reasons