Thursday, March 22, 2012

How Did Richard Gentles End Up at NYC's Animal Care and Control? (And how did he manage to get a raise during budget cuts!)

I came across this recent blog post, authored by fellow animal activist John Sibley.

In it, John mentions (and links to proof) that Richard Gentles was arrested on felony charges while working in the Parks Department, under Commissioner Adrien Benepe. Here is the "money" part of the PR about his arrest -

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today the arrest of the Director of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) Enforcement for lying on an affidavit which he stated that "he had no relatives or friends taking an exam for Associate Urban Park Ranger (AUPR)." The defendant's fiancée, who is also a DPR employee, took the exam and received an above-average score.
The defendant, RICHARD GENTLES, 40 of Staten Island, has been charged with Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a class E felony which is punishable by up to four years in prison.

I can only guess is that Richard didn't consider his fiancee, with whom he lived with at the time, his friend.

We know that Richard ended up at NYC's Animal Care and Control (The "AC&C"), and has been there ever since. We also know that Adrian Benepe is also a Board member of NYC's Animal Care and Control (though you wouldn't know it by his lack of attendance at the meetings). We also know that Sara Hobel was a friend of Gentles, and was a Director at the NYC Dept of Parks and Recreation. Hmmm...

What we don't know is what happened to those charges? Anyone? 

Actually, according to this lawsuit, which the AC&C lost (for racial discrimination), it appears as though Gentles pled guilty to the charge, which makes his employment at the AC&C even more curious.

Something in the lawsuit even makes his hiring even more bizarre...

Plaintiff also submits evidence that he was substantially more qualified than Gentles for the Director of Operations position. Plaintiff states that Gentles had no experience with animals, and highlights Gentles' admission that his "only experience with veterinary personnel was when he took his pets to the veterinarian."

So, he was just arrested and pled guilty to a felony AND admitted that he had no prior experience with animals an yet, he was hired as Director Of Operations of an animal shelter (of course, not just any animal shelter, but the largest pet organization in the Northeast!)????

And the lawsuit seems pretty sure about how Gentles got his job...

Plaintiff also submits evidence that Gentles had a close relationship with ACC Board Member, Sara Hobel ("Hobel"), and that she recommended Gentles to Boks

What else do we know about Richard?

We know that sometime in their 2009 fiscal year (which ended on 6/30/10), Richard got a RAISE, from $104K in base salary to $116K - This, mind you, was at a time when the AC&C was in dire financial straits, employees were being fired and services were being cut. Ironically, the interim director at the time, Risa Weinstock, was making these budget cuts, under Richard's guidance no less, as she hadn't a clue.

And, oh yeah, in their 2009 fiscal year, Richard also received $13,590 in "other compensation." I don't know what constitutes "other compensation" but I gotta ask my job why I don't qualify for "other compensation."

(BTW - Info from their 2010 fiscal year, which ended 6/30/11, is STILL not online)

By the way, he also gets use of a company car, which makes a lot of sense too. It's not like the city is navigable by public transportation.

He also changed responsibilities during this time period, moving from day to day responsibility for operations of the shelters, into development/fundraising (I'd LOVE to hear how that move warranted a raise, especially considering he also got an assistant out of it, something he has always clamored for, since he arrived at the AC&C. In fact, one volunteer confided that he was upset because had several assistants in his previous job but none in this one.).

Speaking of assistants, all of his assistants have been attractive young women...but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

How do the people under him see him? Well, one volunteer described him as an "entitled, smug jackass" and added "He's exactly what you'd imagine -- a snake, two-faced, a diva."

Why does this person think so little of Richard's work ethic? Here are a few examples -

1 - He promised, and then failed, to thank major food donors on the website.
2 - He promised, and then failed, to create a "feel good" thank you presentation showing staff giving out blankets after an unprecedented flow of donations.
3 -His last couple of hires to add volunteers included one woman who wouldn't train anyone and Elisabeth Manwiller, a former waitress and actress, whose first move was to shut down the volunteer program. During that summer, she was redirected to assist Gentles on offsite events.

Oh, also, he discouraged press, including a reporter from NPR, from covering the compassion program (which deals with volunteers who make animals on the euth list have one last great day on earth), in favor of doing interviews with Julie Bank.

Other quotes about Gentles from volunteers - "The most maddening thing about Gentles is not his laziness or his stupidity but the fact that he gets raises when key hard working people get laid off" and "He is completely useless" and "We call him Genitals" (!?!)

 On the bright side for Richard, he sits on the BOD of Stop the Silence, certainly a worthy charity, though I have to say, his bio on the website is pretty entertaining....

 Richard Gentles, Special Advisor - New York, NY Richard is a highly qualified Executive who brings proven leadership, operations, administration, fundraising, media relations, financial management, and strategic planning capabilities to Stop the Silence. He is a visionary with strong interpersonal communication and team building skills.  Richard has worked since 2003 in various positions with and current as the Director of Development and Communications for Animal Care & Control of NYC in New York, NY (formerly, he was the Director of Administration and the Director of Operations, and thus also brings expertise in areas of staff supervision, budgeting, etc.). His work includes operations, human resources, development and fundraising, the volunteer program, special events, field operations and facilities management. As the Director of Development and Communications, Richard heads a new Development Department of the Animal Care & Control, which raised over $1.4 million in the first year. He plans and manages several successful fund raising events and four direct mail campaigns per year and brought in 6,000 new donors in less than a year and a significant increase in shelter donations over previous years, as well as secured over $3 million in capital funding, managed several multi-million dollar capital projects working closely with the City, and increased numerous partnerships and initiatives. He played an active role in revamping and expanding the volunteer program to include over 500 volunteers. Richard directs all aspects of media relations for Animal Care & Control and has been enormously successful at creating and implementing proactive communication strategies based on organizational success as well as external factors, including his monthly appearances in The Today Show’s “Bow to Wow” segment. He is responsible for new marketing materials including a logo, website, brochures and flyers, and three monthly newsletters...

So, he is a "visionary with strong interpersonal communication and team building skills"
Huh? I'm guessing that most of the staff at the AC&C would have a good laugh at that one (as the volunteers that I quoted did.)

He also takes credit for over $1.4MM in fundraising! I would LOVE to hear how he came up with that figure, I HOPE he's not including Mayor's Alliance, Maddie's Fund monies, or monies SI Borough President Guy Molinari raised for the Staten Island shelter as he had zero to do with any of it. 

He claims to have played an active role in revamping and expanding the volunteer program to include over 500 volunteers!! When I asked a volunteer if this is true, she laughed (most laugh when I ask about any of Richard's "accomplishments")...She's love to know where he's hiding those 500 cause they sure as heck ain't at the shelters.

I wrote to Richard asking for his comments on the felony arrest as well as his bio claims. As of now, he hasn't gotten back to me, though even if he did, why should we believe him?

Harris Bloom