Why didn't Acting Health Commissioner Benjamin Mojica and former Veterinary Public Health Services director Lisa Polk show up at a City Counsel Hearing investigating the CACC contract, when they were specifically invited to answer questions? These two defiant bureaucrats were responsible for the rubber-stamped renewal of the CACC contract.
Dr. Mojica's office told SRAC that he was in a meeting with Giuliani health adviser Dr. Rosa Gill at the time of the hearing. But a F.O.I.L. request for Dr. Gill's calendar revealed no appointment with Mojica for that day.
The following is the complete text of the press release issued by the City Council, following the truncated hearing.
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 11, 1998
Contact: Charles Walker (212) 788-7117
HEALTH DEPARTMENT OFFICIALS
SKIP ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL HEARING
Freed Angrily Recesses Meeting
CITY HALL -- Today, Council Member Kathryn E. Freed angrily recessed a Contracts Committee hearing when she learned that key Department of Health (DOH) officials would not be testifying about the roles they played in monitoring a controversial DOH contract with the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC)
Council Member Freed, who chairs the Contracts Committee, said "It's scary to think that the Administration cares more about stuffed, fictional animals, like Winnie-the-Pooh, than it does about real animals." [Mayor Giuliani has just announced that the City Public Library would not return an original Winnie the Pooh doll to England as had been requested.]
The City maintains that the CACC is an independent, not-for profit agency, but its Board is comprised mainly of high-level City officials, including Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, Yolanda Jimenez, Deputy Police Commissioner for Community Affairs and Dr. Benjamin Mojica, Acting Commissioner of DOH.
The CACC's DOH contract was recently renewed based upon positive performance evaluations conducted by DOH officials. Today's hearing was intended to question the sum and substance of those performance evaluations in light of numerous CACC contractual failures, including:
- In 1995, 80% of the animals adopted from CACC shelters were not spayed or neutered in direct violation of the contract;
- In 1995 and 1996, the CACC by its own admission, did not complete a single dog license application at any of its facilities in direct violation of the contract;
- CACC's computerized record keeping system was not operational in l995 or 1996 and is not fully operational today; its paper records system is woefully inadequate;
- CACC has alienated and shunned its volunteers instead of enlisting their aid, as they were contractually. required to do;.
- In 1995 and 1996, the CACC public education program barely functioned in violation of its contract;
- The CACC failed to abide by the terms of its contract and conduct "community outreach concerning animal control and public health issues;"
"It appears that the CACC is refusing to return City residents' property without a ransom being paid. If the pet owner cannot afford to make the cash payment in the limited time allowed, CACC will kill the animal. The issue is not whether spaying or neutering is good policy from an animal control perspective, said Freed, who ironically, has been stifled by the Administration in her efforts to get spay/neuter legislation for the past three years.
"I am concerned that a private, not-for-profit corporation is arrogating to itself legislative or a governmental rulemaking role without any apparent legal authority to do so."
* * *
of The City of New York
New York, N.Y. 10007
Kathryn E. Freed
Council Member, 1st District
51 Chambers Street, Room 439
New York, New York 10007
Phone: (212) 788-7722
Fax: (212) 788-7783
Committee member: Consumer Affairs, Environmental Protection, Transportation
February 11, 1998
Jeffrey D. Friedlander
Acting Corporation Counsel
New York City Law Department
100 Church Street
New York, NY 10007
Re: CACC imposition of fees and penalties
Dear Mr. Friedlander:
I am writing to request that you render a legal opinion on the following issues: (1) What is the legal authority for the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) to set fees for the redemption of dogs and cats it has seized? (2) What are the minimum and maximum fees allowed? (3) What factors impact the amount of the fee that can be charged? I request your opinion because, pursuant to the Department of Health's (DOH) contract with the CACC, the City is obligated to indemnify each director of the CACC for acts on behalf of the CACC. (Article VIII, subd. d, of the 1994-1997 contract; Article VIII subd. c. of the 1998-2000 contract.).
Pursuant to its contract with DOH, the CACC performs animal control functions and duties on behalf of DOH, including those authorized by the New York City Dog License Law (Chapter 115 of the Law of 1894, as amended). As part of its contract services, the CACC issues dog licenses and renewals. Pursuant to the New York City Dog License Law, dogs must be licensed annually. In addition to the regular license fee, any person who fails to obtain a dog license in a timely manner must pay a late registration fee of $2.00. The owner of a dog which has not been spayed or neutered must pay an additional $3.00 for the license. Note that neither State nor City law require cats to be licensed.
In addition to issuing dog licenses, the CACC seizes unlicensed dogs, and cats whose owners are not identified. The New York City Dog License Law provides that the owner of any dog or cat that is seized may claim and redeem the animal within 48 hours of seizure upon the payment of $3.00. Despite the unambiguous language of the statute, according to recent published reports and telephone inquiries of CACC staff, the CACC demands that an owners of an unaltered animal that has been seized pay $250.00 in cash to redeem his pet if the owners does not permit the CACC to spay or neuter the animal. If the owner allows CACC to alter the animal, the redemption fee drops to $80.00. Thus, the CACC charges redemption fees in excess of the $3.00 fee authorized by statute. Further, without citing any legal authority, the CACC has acknowledged that it imposes a $170.00 penalty in an attempt to promote animal population control.
The result of CACC's policy is that owners who cannot afford these fees are unable to redeem their animals, and their pets are subsequently killed by the CACC. In light of these tragic outcomes, I would appreciate a response to my request as soon as possible.
Very truly yours,
/s/ Kathryn E. Freed
Hon. Kathryn E. Freed, Chair
Committee on Contracts