If you heard what sounded like a sonic boom this morning, it was the thunderclap of Hair Balls's head exploding. And why would that be?
Because one of the nation's biggest newspapers -- the daily for the fourth-largest city in the country -- allowed a columnist to print the bizarre evangelical ramblings of a private consultant who was hired in secret to do the work that the director of Health and Human Services should have been doing over the last five years.
Lisa Falkenberg's interview of Gerry Fusco is, at best, a milestone of blown opportunities, and, at worst, a disaster that perpetuates the systemic culture of ignorance, cruelty and neglect that has defined BARC since its very inception -- a smoke-screen that helps shove pacifiers down the gullets of previously lucid critics who suddenly and inexplicably believe that the simple act of hiring a guy no one knows anything about will mean that decades of needless animal suffering will be gone with the wave of a Bible and a wand. See, if our council and next mayor, whomever that will be, start believing that the simple firing of two employees means BARC is now the nation's shining beacon of animal control and care, the animals are in even worse danger than they were three weeks ago.
Without asking a single question that could shed light on why Fusco is qualified, or how he was even chosen in the first place, Falkenberg allowed him to ramble on about his God-given talents, and one can only guess she was too busy sipping the Kool-Aid to not ask the journalistically sound question What the fuck?! when Fusco lapsed into Jim Jones territory with the unbelievable "You will find that I'm The One."
Her column did not include his work history. It did not address the fact that one BARC critic is now facing potential jail time for complaining about a veterinarian who has since been fired, something Fusco told us yesterday he had no knowledge of. It did not address why Stephen Williams hadn't fired "Dr. O" or the kennel attendant who beat a puppy, and why the man who oversees Houston's health department is so ineffective as to require a "consultant" to point out what has been so obvious to animal lovers for years. It made no mention of the fact that the facility is still so woefully mismanaged that it had to transfer 68 puppies to the Humane Society's shelter, prompting that shelters' director to write an urgent e-mail describing the dogs' deplorable health.
It did not present any evidence that she verified Fusco's pedigree or spoke with anyone who worked with him in New Jersey.
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We expected more from Falkenberg, who a short while ago fell for an inexcusable deception about increased vaccination rates BARC was trying to hawk. But maybe you don't get interviews with The One when you ask tough questions. The first time Hair Balls tried to get any information out of Fusco, he denied any knowledge of being the "change agent" and hung up on us -- which is why we were so surprised to later learn he's a self-described "Christian."And shockingly, in an e-mail to a BARC critic Monday, Fusco wrote
You will see change and positive change. Of this, there is no doubt. Much is happening that you are not aware of nor can you possibly be at this junction. I trust you can "suspend your disbelief" and give me/us a chance.The old adage, "Rome wasn't built in a day" can not be more appropos [sic] than now. All problems will not be solved in a few weeks. See the light and you will be drawn to success. See the darkness and you will be blinded.
Much is happening that we're not aware of? Does this mean continued lack of transparency? And "see the light and you will be drawn to success"? That sounds like something that might be appropriate at some corporate motivational retreat in a suburban Hyatt conference room, between the Applebee's catering cart and that trust exercise where you fall backwards into the arms of your co-workers, but not now, not when those who have been asleep at BARC's wheel need to be held accountable.
But maybe Fusco is right about one thing: the suspension of disbelief. After reading Falkenberg's irresponsible, sycophantic and downright shameful column this morning, suspension of disbelief is pretty much a requirement.