Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Catty Comments About Animalkind Story

It would appear to be an expectation of reporters at the Register-Star that they will write at least one article after every public meeting they attend. That being the case, I wondered briefly what topic, from a fairly uneventful agenda at last night's informal Common Council meeting, Joe Gentile would choose and was mildly surprised this morning to see that he had settled on Animalkind: "Questions raised over city contract with Animalkind." The article and the headline assigned to it give a exaggerated impression of the situation.

Last night, two resolutions having to do with Animalkind were introduced: one to pay the not-for-profit $3,000 for its work in 2012; another to pay them $5,000 for 2013. This raised two questions: Why are we getting the resolution for 2012 now? Why is there a 40 percent increase in the fee?

Council president Don Moore answered the first question by explaining that Animalkind executive director Katrin Hecker had been late in submitting the requests--reasonable, since Animalkind has been working at a significant disadvantage since May 2012 when fire severely damaged the shelter--and he had not drafted the resolutions as quickly as he might have. No one seemed to make what was to me an obvious observation: that Animalkind had delivered its services to the City of Hudson in 2012, which included, of course, dealing with the scores of feral cats left abandoned at the Furgary Boat Club when the human occupants were evicted, without receiving any compensation from the City. No one present seemed able to address the question of the apparent increase in annual fees, although there could be all manner of reasonable explanations.

Alderman Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward), who regularly plays the role of fiscal watchdog for the Council, wanted to know if there were reports that showed what the City was getting for its money. City treasurer Eileen Halloran indicated that reports are submitted to her office every year, but obviously they are not passed on to the Council. Aldermen John Friedman (Third Ward) had an issue with the contract itself, saying that it does not define the City's expectation. According to Friedman, Animalkind could spay, neuter, and release only one cat a year to fulfill the obligations of the contract as it is currently written.

Another correction: It was Claudia Bruce, Linda Mussmann's wife and partner in Time & Space Limited, not Mussmann, who spoke in support of Animalkind. To my knowledge, Mussmann was not present at last night's meeting.

Gossips Note: Readers are encouraged to read the comment posted on the Register-Star article by Kristal Heinz, who is a member of Animalkind's board of directors. 

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