More bad news for advocates who want the city's animal shelter to go no-kill: a proposed contract between the city and national no-kill consultant Nathan Winograd appears to be stuck in limbo....sorta like a puppy in a pound, come to think of it.
Bett Sundemeyer of No Kill Houston tells Hair Balls that she can't get any information on the hold-up - an especially frustrating thing since, she said, no-kill supporters raised $8,000 to pay for Winograd's consulting fee. (Winograd successfully turned San Francisco's shelter to no-kill, and then did the same with a county shelter in New York, making him a sort of no-kill messiah. Hair Balls remains unconvinced that no-kill is the way to go, as animal warehousing seems to be part and parcel of the whole thing).
"It's been stuck in the city's legal department, unsigned, and from what I've heard, if they really wanted this to go through, they could do it, you know, within a day or two," Sundemeyer said. "So we think they're just stalling for some reason, and I'm not sure why
What? The city's legal department deliberately stalling? That's just capital-K Krazy! So Hair Balls called Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control Spokeswoman Kathy Barton to get the scoop.
After checking with the city attorney's office, Barton told Hair Balls that the contract is held up on a bit of a technicality: state law, she said, does not allow cities to waive liability on contractors - they're responsible for their own insurance.
"[The] state constitution requires that cities who enter contracts are not permitted to indemnify their contractors," Barton said. "And...Mr. Winograd's position is that since it's only a $5,000 contract, he should be indemnified - he should not be subject to any lawsuits that arise from whatever he does. And...the state law doesn't allow us to do that for any contractor."
Barton then told us that this whole situation could be avoided if an outside group paid for Winograd. Um, but they did. Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?
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Hair Balls is still waiting to hear from the city's legal department - and Winograd -- for further clarification.
However, the silver lining here is that, apparently, the city's legal department is such a stickler for state law that it at no time ever finds legal loopholes to carve out contracts that are in the city's favor....like, say, contracting with unlicensed red-light camera operators, which a Dallas judge has found in violation of state law. We're sure there's a reasonable explanation for that!
Meanwhile, if and when Hair Balls hears from the City Attorney's office, we'll let you know....
-- Craig Malisow