Below is information provided by Great Falls resident Pam Hendrickson which is making the rounds on Facebook. I was asked to post the piece on my public Facebook page and did so yesterday.
Every concerned citizen in Great Falls needs to read this and understand what is going on with our city commission. This is the opposite of transparency and honesty. To think that they are drafting a joint mission statement with a non-profit and doing it in secret behind the taxpayers backs is alarming. And it is totally unacceptable. Remember Electric City Power?
Please share this information widely.
“The City of Great Falls and the MacLean Animal Adoption Center are having private talks about a partnership between the two entities. While this could be a good situation for the animals, which is great, can it be done without additional cost to the taxpayers?
And shouldn’t those discussions involve public participation before it’s too late?
Here are my primary concerns:
- The two commissioners involved are Mary Moe and Owen Robinson. Mr. Robinson is a past president and long-time board member of the Animal Foundation/MacLean Center. Several of us have objected during City Commission meetings that Robinson has a conflict of interest. The City refuses to acknowledge his conflict, and Robinson refuses to recuse himself.
- Because only two commissioners are involved, they are not required to include the public, post meeting notices or provide any information to the taxpayers. These meetings resulted in the postponement of the cattery contract award on April 2 (there are emails that prove that). Ultimately public outcry and a legal notification resulted in the commissioners rescinding that decision and voting to proceed with the cattery and award the contract.
- When I questioned Mayor Kelly about the lack of transparency involving these discussions, he advised that the meetings were not official City business, and were “exploratory at best.” However, a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act) (Editors note: submitted to the City submitted by Jeni Dodd), produced a “Joining Hands” mission statement document that looks like it is ready to be printed (document attached). In addition to the mission statement, it outlines the shared and separate responsibilities of both the City Animal Shelter and the MacLean Center. While it does not provide any specific dollar amounts, it does stipulate that the City will “provide insurance, maintenance, personnel and legal services for both organizations”; also the City will fund all of its normal operations; the City will pay for [health] insurance for the Foundation director; and the City will provide insurance for the MacLean Center building. The Foundation retains ownership of the building (but essentially doesn’t pay for operating it). It also appears (based on an email from Mary Moe) that the City will be leasing space in the MacLean Center.
Since the City is already nearly $500,000 in the red every year, operating the current shelter according to the fiscal 2018 budget statement, how does it save money to work with MacLean under these agreements?
If any readers of this post have an opinion one way or the other, the next City Commission meeting is at 7 p.m. on Tuesday June 4 at the Civic Center. Public comment, with a 3 minute limit, is available to anyone at the beginning of the meeting. Even if you do not want to get up and speak, one of us will ask for a show of hands in support of more transparency in this process, and against more taxpayer funds being spent. You do not have to stay for the rest of the meeting.
For those who don’t know me, I have been rescuing animals in Great Falls for the past 18 years. Animal welfare is of utmost importance to me. The City Shelter staff are doing a very good job. I am not in favor of a taxpayer bailout of the MacLean Center.
If you would like to talk to me for more specifics, you can call me at 453-9459.