I was asked this question with regard to a new animal shelter/animal control agency: "Jim, I'm almost afraid to ask, but what do you suggest be done?"
I am not ashamed to say that I know very little about the specific things involved with either issue, but I AM smart enough to know who to ask or where to find answers. And smart enough to know that you let THOSE people (each an expert or a professional in their own field or business) contribute pieces of the puzzle from their individual experience sets. That's how the BEST projects get accomplished. But, here's my answer to the question:
|Well will you look at that? Fresno County has a shape that's roughly the same as ... the stereotypical dog bone. |
"There were plenty of people with the knowledge to help make this happen. But let me back up a bit here. This is a problem that took 60 YEARS to create. And Councilman Olivier, Supervisor Perea and the others who decided things needed to be better got SIX MONTHS to fix it? Seriously? Then, when they foolishly believed that the people in Animal Rescue who always jumped in front of a camera or who yelled the loudest were the people to count on for advice about building something new - they got burned. BIG TIME.
Creating anything on this scale - especially something that's intended not only to correct a problem but prevent it from getting bad again - takes time. Part of the blame lies on the CCSPCA because they're essentially the ones who set the time frame for this. And part of the blame lies on people who refuse to be realistic about how long it might take to get a FINAL solution together.
Which brings me back to your question. There are plenty of places where a TEMPORARY solution is put into place until funds can be raised or facilities constructed or a structure put into place for the PERMANENT solution. There are dozens of buildings - NON-TOXIC buildings, mind you - that could have been used for this purpose. And they're IN FRESNO. But right away, the County got stuck on either the Morgue or the Boot Camp.
There were people like Gini Richardson (who has massive amounts of knowledge and experience with this issue) who didn't stand in front of the TV cameras, but who quietly approached both Supervisor Perea, Clint Olivier, Supervisor Larson and others with ACTUAL plans. And those plans had estimated TIMETABLES, estimated costs, etc. -as well as some suggestions for temporary solutions. ASSISTANCE in raising funds for a new shelter was even offered. (I'm talking about raising funds WITHOUT any kind of "tax.") For some reason, those people were ignored. There were even people who do not have experience with Animal Rescue, but who have OTHER skills to offer that could have been useful. Skills like construction, management experience - or just plain RESEARCH. Not ONE city that has been through this (and there are PLENTY - like Austin and Houston) was ever contacted for advice on how to proceed. Sure, their solutions couldn't just be plunked down onto Fresno's problem, but it's a much better place to start than we did. Besides, getting advice from people experienced with what you're trying to accomplish can help in the biggest way possible - it can help you avoid making FURTHER mistakes. And I'm SURE that's exactly what's going to happen here.
By the way, I even offered a solution to the "no taxes for this" problem that was raised by Tea Party members WHO DO NOT EVEN LIVE IN FRESNO COUNTY, but came here just to cause trouble. And it was a damned good one if I do say so myself. I agree that it's unfair to expect people who do not own or particularly care about animals to help pay for a new shelter and animal control agency. So you add a 1/4 percent sales tax to pet food, pet supplies, pet grooming services - and possibly even veterinary care.
Easy as pie. And it's a very smart solution for two particular reasons:
First, the people who don't WANT to have to pay for a new shelter/animal control aren't forced to. And the people who DO end up paying are people who care about animals. How many of them do you think would have a HUGE problem with paying an extra 1/4 percent when they KNOW that money is only going to help improve a situation they are concerned about.
Second, you'd be able to generate both the money to construct new facilities and hire people to staff a new shelter and a new animal control agency in NO TIME. And if the tax stays in place, it contributes to the continued running and maintenance of both.
I've seen ideas like this used by other cities in the past VERY successfully. For example, when Indiana was trying to attract an NFL team, they knew they needed a stadium first. They also knew that general tax increases or bonds were not the way to do it. So they put an extra tax percentage on fast food sales in Marion County (because Marion County wanted the stadium in Marion County). They raised the money in no time. AND the idea was so successful, it was used again when it came time to replace the original stadium in 2005, this time including surrounding counties and taxing a few other things. No one was really forced to participate in surrounding counties, but they did. From Wikipedia:
'Groundbreaking for the stadium took place on September 20, 2005. It was originally referred to as Indiana Stadium until Lucas Oil purchased the naming rights. The total cost of Lucas Oil Stadium was $720 million. The stadium is being financed with funds raised by the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis, with the Indianapolis Colts providing $100 million. Marion County has raised taxes for food and beverage sales, auto rental taxes, innkeeper's taxes, and admission taxes for its share of the costs. Meanwhile, there has been an increase in food and beverage taxes in the eight surrounding doughnut counties (with the exception of Morgan County) and the sale of Colts license plates.
The County Commissioners of each county voted whether to levy the 1% food and beverage tax proposed by Marion County. Sweetening the deal for the those counties was the fact that half of the revenue from the tax would stay in the respective county. Morgan County was the only county to turn down the offer, yet in a later vote, it levied its own 1% tax - thus keeping all of its additional generated revenue."
I hand delivered my idea for the Pet Supplies Tax to a member of the City Council. Did ANYONE ever hear about it from the City Council or in any of the Task Force meetings? No. So what I'm really pissed of about is the fact that this did NOT have to be a cluster fuck - even with only six months to make it happen.
(BY THE WAY: Did you know that Indianapolis hosted the last Super Bowl? I'm from Indianapolis, and when I was growing up there, the idea of that EVER happening was science fiction. But because people had innovative ideas, the people in charge listened to them, and the people of the area were in agreement that it was a good thing for everyone - IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. The City of Indianapolis, Marion County, the State of Indiana - and thousands of businesses and even private individual entrepreneurs - made MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.)"
“Real magic can never be made by offering someone else's liver. You must tear out your own, and not expect to get it back.” - Peter S. Beagle
Now. Where did I leave my martini and do we have any Tylenol?