Another BARC Volunteer Canned After Daring To Offer Criticism
Continuing a pattern perfected while the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care was still under the auspices of Health and Human Services, another outspoken BARC volunteer has been banned.
Interim Bureau Chief Gerry Fusco banned Nela Brown, a volunteer since January 2007, last Sunday over what the Mayor's Office described as a difference of opinion, but which sources have suggested might be related to Brown's asking about recent euthanasia numbers that BARC's new regime considered "confidential."
Here's Brown's statement to Hair Balls:
I am hurt and puzzled by the whole thing. I don't want any misunderstanding or disagreement between Gerry and me to hurt the animals at BARC. Gerry has called me arrogant, disrespectful, and mistakenly claimed that I have tried to dictate policy at BARC. He also stated that I may have gotten away with this with other Bureau Chiefs, but I won't with him.
Clearly, this is so far from my intent that I have to assume some misunderstanding has triggered this outburst. It has never been my intent to be arrogant or disrespectful, and policies have entered the picture only when I have been asked for my comments. I value my good working relationships with many of the BARC employees.
Decisions have to be based on what is best for the animals, not what is best for my ego or Gerry's ego. In late August, I received an e-mail from someone who was probably using a pseudonym stating, "Nela, Gerry's plan is to be-friend you until his contract is signed. Once signed, he is planning on banning you from BARC. Be careful who you trust!" I shared the e-mail with Gerry and others and readily accepted Gerry's statement that it was not true.
And here's what Frank Michel, Mayor Bill White's communications director, e-mailed us:
The truth is that Gerry, who is passionate about what he's doing, and Nela Brown, who is admirably and equally as passionate about her volunteer efforts, had a difference of opinion and we're working to resolve that between them. Meanwhile we are developing a set of clear guidelines and rules for volunteers that we will circulate as we go forward so everyone will know those guidelines and we will treat everyone equally in enforcing them. That's another of the issues surrounding BARC, that there have been no clear, consistent guidelines and we expect to correct that. That's part of what tonight's meeting will be about. We want their input.
Michel said he'd provide us a list of volunteer guidelines as soon as they're ready. But in the meantime, it appears that no one's saying Brown violated any volunteer guidelines....other than having a differnet opinion than the Interim Bureau Chief.
Strangely, we thought an uber-professional making $24,000 a month, and who supposedly has been a "change-agent" for multi-million dollar companies, would be able to put up with a difference of opinion. And, as a matter of fact, during the pitch to City Council to hire Fusco, the City's Alfred Moran told council members that Fusco would seek advice from others.
Apparently, what Moran meant to say was: Fusco will seek advice from others who agree with him.
Based on the paucity of information we're getting from Michel, we can't for the life of us understand why Fusco would ban a woman who runs a rescue group. Um, isn't the whole idea to get more such people?
But shit, we don't make anywhere near $24K a month. We guess it's one of those "change agent" strategies that's just beyond our paygrade. And understanding.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.