L.A.'s Animal Services general manager Ed Boks left a City Council committee hearing with his tail between his legs yesterday, after being grilled about his unilateral decision to suspend his agency's spay-neuter voucher program. Last week Boks, claiming his department had to plug a huge budget gap, abruptly ceased issuance of the department's $30 discount coupons and $70 full-fee vouchers. The G.M.'s action came barely half a year after a City Council ordinance mandated sterilization of most cats and dogs became law. The vouchers are seen as essential to persuade low-income pet owners to fix their animals, especially those in chronically under-served areas of L.A.
Councilmen Dennis Zine, Greig Smith and Jack Weiss formed a conga line of critics in Monday's Public Safety Committee session. They were especially irate over Boks not consulting the Board of Animal Services Commission, as well as an animal-sterilization committee before acting.
“You have a tendency not to work with anybody, and what you've done is
alienate a whole bunch of people — the folks that love animals, council
members,'' City News Service quoted Zine as saying.
Boks has been a controversial figure
from the day he replaced the previously controversial Animal Services
G.M., Guerdon Stuckey. He also maintains a high profile through his
extensive blog, From the Desk of Ed Boks.
“I don't know of any general manager in the city of Los Angeles that
has time to do a blog with all their responsibilities, yet you find
time to do a blog … I don't care if it's your time off or your time
on,” Zine said, according to CNS.
By the end of yesterday's hearing a contrite Boks admitted he'd gone
about fixing his budget shortfall the wrong way, while KNX Radio
reported he would begin reinstating the spay-neuter vouchers. It's
expected to be back in place by week's end, with the City Council
apparently ready to overturn Boks' decision if he doesn't. Whether this
will promote a truce between the council and Boks remains to be seen.