Dear CCSPCA: A Contract Is Not A “Suggestion” (Or: How Much More Proof Does Everyone Need? Enough. This Crap Ends NOW.)

So I understand that the Executive Director of the CCSCPA, Linda Van Kirk, showed up at the last Downtown Rotary Breakfast and displayed her usual disrespectful and disdainful behavior – with a few new twists.

First, she berated both the City and the County (and of course the usual targets, the rescues and anyone who even thinks the words "no-kill"). Then, because some people from the City and the County have supposedly "come back hat in hand to beg" the shelter to continue doing the job, she informed everyone present at the meeting it would cost them MORE should it happen. Finally, after figuratively holding a gun to the heads of the City and County and demanding more money, she had the gall to inform everyone at the breakfast that the CCSPCA would actually be doing LESS too. Why? Because they are “becoming a 'No-Kill shelter'” and should they renew contracts with the City and County it would now be the responsibility of the City and the County to euthanize animals.

Apparently, if you want to catch a glimpse of the woman whose job description requires her to be "the public face" of the CCSPCA (but is rarely seen in public), you have to get up early. And serve pancakes.
But wear your flameproof underwear.

Still with me? Got your composure back? Let's continue then.

Get that? That's what these brilliant and forward-thinking people consider being a “no kill shelter” – trying to avoid responsibility for the deaths by making someone else pull the trigger. Listen closely here, because it's important: It does not matter who is “responsible” for euthanizing the animals. If they're your responsibility because you've contracted to care for them and you "truck" them somewhere else to be put down – then you are NOT A “NO-KILL SHELTER,” you idiots. You've just “outsourced” the killing. Besides, based upon something I've been slowly uncovering, it seems to me that the lack of a surfeit of animal bodies to "dispose" of would put a serious dent in the CCSPCA's revenue stream. (More on that when I've got it completely nailed down.)

(By the way, let's take a second to get something straight that lots of people seem to be confused or just plain misinformed about. An absolute zero “no-kill” rate is not a realistic or attainable goal. There will always be animals it's impossible to save for various reasons. And everyone – including some of the animal rescue people – have to remember and/or understand that “no-kill” is a GOAL to work toward. It is NOT going to happen instantly, no matter who is running the shelter. Even some of the most vocal animal rescues are not “no-kill” because it's something that requires a multi-pronged approach and many people working together to achieve it. Most rescues do not have those resources – through no fault of their own, mind you. Many of them work tirelessly, but they still struggle sometimes. And no, “no-kill” is NOT radically more expensive and it's not going to cost “Fifty billion dollars” or any of the absurd numbers that are tossed around by “no-kill” critics.)

I'm not sure if the County has its own separate contract with the CCSPCA (they and the City split the check for the shelter's services 25/75), but I have reviewed the City's. One of the biggest issues I found is that the contract is very short on specifics (other than the money - THAT they seemed to have the time and the inclination to be specific about). That oversight needs to be better addressed in any new contract to prevent any other agency running the shelter in the future from being free to essentially run rampant because, “It's not in the contract.”

I also found some very curious things in the contract. Some merit further investigation. And some made it instantly clear that something is amiss here – possibly on both sides.

One thing that really leaped out at me is this: "All right, title and interest in and all data, materials, reports, compilations, documents, instruments and/or other information in any form/media generated by Society in pursuit of this Agreement and the Augmented services provided for herein shall be vested in the City and shall be transmitted to the City by Society upon termination of the Agreement. Society shall not permit the reproduction or use thereof by any other person except as otherwise expressly provided herein."

So, as I read that, all documents, reports, internal and external communications, emails and (here's the good part) BOARD MEETING MINUTES are the property of the City the minute the contract is ended. Interesting. VERY interesting...

Modern tech like computers and smart phones are great! They help make communication and business tasks easier. Unless you're forced to turn over all those emails, texts and internal IMs you thought no one would see.
Then you're screwed.

I'll get to something else I found in the contract that I think many of you will be furious about in just a moment. Right now I have three points I'd like to make here to Ms. Van Kirk, the CCSPCA and the City and County.

One: I would like to remind Ms. Van Kirk exactly who it is that pays her handsome salary at the CCSPCA. It's me. It's me and the rest of the people who pay taxes in Fresno and Fresno County. I don't give a DAMN if the CCSPCA is a "private contractor." I pay YOUR salary. According to the CCSPCA's own tax returns, the "Public Support Percentage" of the shelter's income for 2008 and 2009 was more than 97 percent. How DARE you continue to act like you are above the rest of us. And you can go to hell before you get any more money from me. I don't care if I have to drive around in a truck twenty-four hours a day collecting live and dead animals or if I have to figure out where to keep them afterward. The gravy train is over for you and the CCSPCA.

Two (Here's where that other discovery in the City's contract comes in...): Ms. Van Kirk, you have SOME nerve behaving like you hold all the cards and you can make everyone bend to your will if you so choose. You see, I have discovered that you appear to be personally in DIRECT VIOLATION of one of the terms of the CCSPCA's contract with the City of Fresno.

How? It's right here: (From the CCSPCA's 2001 contract with the City of Fresno) "Society shall not enter into any proposed transaction or series of transactions, if any person who is then one of its directors, employees, or officers, would, directly or indirectly, receive any income as the result of such a proposed transaction or series of transactions."

That's so concisely and clearly written that it doesn't even need to be rephrased into non-legalese for everyone to get it. Isn't it? And I know that term is still enforceable, because there is nothing about it being removed in Renewal Addendum No. 10, which made minimal changes to the 2001 contract when it was renewed in the fall of 2011. With the exception of those changes, “In all other regards, the Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.”

Ms. Van Kirk, as of late April, the CCSPCA was paying you to keep horses that were confiscated from an abusive and/or neglectful home AT YOUR COMMERCIAL HORSE STABLE. I believe that's what's known as a “breach” of the above term. What's even worse is that since at least 2001, the CCSPCA has been violating that very specifically worded part of its contract with the City by doing business with its own board members as a regular matter of course. In light of that little revelation, I think I'd tread just a tad more carefully when making demands of the City of Fresno if I were you. It wouldn't do to make them angry enough to sue the CCSPCA (and/or you and other current and previous Board Members personally) for breach of contract – retroactively for at least a decade or so.

Third (and this one is for the City of Fresno and Fresno County too): I have conclusively proved that the CCSPCA kept a man convicted of tax evasion (Leroy Combs) on its Board of Directors (occasionally even making him President of it). They also (again in breach of their contract with the City of Fresno) paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for "printing services." And most damning of all, I think it's clear that the CCSPCA colluded with Combs to commit further tax evasion AFTER his conviction in 2001.

The IRS will take LOTS of things besides money if you creatively tried not to owe them and got caught.
And they're not landlords so they tend to sell off that kind of assets pretty quickly.
Hmmm. Now THERE'S something to ponder.

First the IRS and then a Federal Court found that Combs and his wife "diverted income from their businesses to several trusts. These payments are ineffective assignments of income. Thus, the diverted income is taxable..." The CCSPCA reported on its Federal income tax returns for several years that Combs' non-profit "religious organization” – a church that does not exist – was contracted by the shelter and paid for "printing services." They did this despite the fact that Mr. Combs ALSO had a commercial printing business that existed as a different entity. How could the CCSPCA NOT KNOW that they were colluding in attempted tax evasion by filing their taxes with Combs' phony non-profit listed as a contractor? Especially since a Federal court had already ruled that money had been funneled by Combs in a similar fashion into improperly administrated and accessed “trusts” (the 21st Century answer to “tax shelters”) – in a transparent attempt to avoid paying his taxes. And it appears Mr. Combs has continued to do that, because the Federal government filed ANOTHER suit against him earlier this year in the Tax Court here in Fresno.

Ms. Van Kirk was right about one thing. I know there ARE some people in City and County government (and indeed, on the Shelter Task Force itself) ready to throw up their hands and go back into business with the CCSPCA. Are you kidding? I've proved – at the very least – collusion with criminal activity and breach of contract on the part of the CCSPCA. I've proved they continued to allow a convicted tax evader to sit on their board while they paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. So tell me, what is it going to take before the City and the County will see that they are dirtying their hands by continuing to contract with the CCSPCA?

I am telling you right here and now: I will do everything I can to make sure the City and the County do NOT continue to do business with people committing crimes and using taxpayer money to do whatever they damned well please. Because that's what this comes down to – working with people who are blatantly breaking laws and thumbing their noses at everyone while daring them to do something about it. Enough. No more. That's it. Let the CCSPCA's contract end. And then pursue them for breach of contract and anything else you can find through a complete investigation. The IRS is ALREADY investigating them. They're not at liberty to share any information with the public about that, but I'm sure that they'd be happy to share what they've learned with the proper local authorities conducting their own investigation. So do it already. I'm not shutting up or quitting until that happens. And I don't care how long or how loudly I have to shout about it.

And before anyone thinks it might be a smart idea to fire up their high-priced lawyers to come after me, you should know that I can prove (indeed I have already proved) everything I've said here with publicly available documentation. That's not libel, slander or anything else. It's telling the truth and backing it up with cold, hard facts. As far as I'm aware that's still perfectly legal in this country.

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” - George Orwell

Stay safe, hug somebody who looks like they need it - and make sure your animals have plenty of shade and fresh, clean, cool water in the hellish Fresno heat that's coming.


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