Culver City Observer
Nov. 13, 2008
by Stephan Hadland
Hawthorne Chosen to House Culver City Animals
The Culver City Council voted Monday night to authorize $29,000 for a contract with the spcaLA, located in Hawthorne, to house animals picked up by Culver City's new Animal Control Officer who has yet to be hired.
The audience was supportive of the addition of spcaLA in Hawthorne as a new animal shelter. The issue seemed to be a lack of communication between the council subcommittee, the Friends of Culver City Animals, and the rush of some councilmembers to circumvent the normal orderly process of the working of city government.
Vice Mayor Gary Silbiger felt the stafff report was personally critical of him and was offended by the report. He stated that the issue establishing a shelter for the animals was an issue of "life and death."
Staff reports were critical of this lack of communication. City Manager Jerry Fulwood spent a great deal of time explaining the staff report and the process. Ultimately Fulwood took full responsibility for all reports generated by staff.
"I don't believe it (staff report) criticized the subcommittee. But it did clearly explain that the staff would not be able to answer all the questions. This is first time staff has not had a chance to meet with each of the subcommittee members. What staff should have done was to let the full subcommittee know they needed to spend time with them. I didn't say the subcommittee was at fault. I said the process was," said Fulwood.
Fulwood also told councilmembers that Friends of Culver City Animals not only participated with the subcommittee but became a part of the decision making process.
Deborah Weinrauch presented photos of alleged abuses at the Carson Animal Shelter. She showed cages with filthy conditions and dead animals in and on top of cages. Photos were also presented of the Hawthorne SPCA facility with clean cages, toys, blankets and updated medical records.
The audience consistently applauded comments from their friends, even when Susan de Benedittis compared the Carson Shelter to the Holocaust. She reflected on the additional money needed for the shelter, "Since we are allocating money for the two year pilot, let's do the whole piece and allocate the money needed."
Roger Maxwell summed up the feeling about the Carson Animal shelter with "So much talk about something that is so simple, ABC - Anything But Carson."
The Friends of Culver City Animals have been politically active in the community and in the last election. They also endorsed candidates in the last council campaign.
Unanswered was if the county would go along with the proposal before the council. Councilmember Andy Weissman and Mayor Scott Malsin wanted to wait to see if the proposal was workable with the county.
Weissman attempted to strike an accommodation to find out more information for an appropriate decision. Silbiger was adamant and did not want to put off a vote. The issue was whether the Los Angeles County Animal Services Officers could be allowed to use the spcaLA facilities during hours when it was closed. Christopher Armenta and Silbiger were unwilling to wait and find out the appropriate answer.
Armenta stated, "I am prepared to go forward with this... even if it is not correct I am still willing to go forward with it."
Malsin charged that the two councilmembers wanted to push through the vote, "You could get a 5-0 vote tonight which would get the services to start on exactly the same day, but you have two people (councilmembers) who want to hold it up so they can vote on it tonight instead of having everybody vote together. That's politics at its worse."
Assistant City Manager and City Clerk Martin Cole came up with a compromise that seems to save the day to allow a 5-0 vote for the usage of the spcaLA facility on the presumption the county will go along with new terms presented on Monday night.
If the county does not agree with the new terms of the agreement the council will then revisit the issue next Monday.
In an ever increasing act of political correctness it was announced that the "animal control" officer should be changed to "animal services" officer because animals should not be controlled.