Thursday, November 11, 2010

Has Town Animal Shelter Gone To The Dogs?

Nassau DA Probes Alleged Abuses At Town Of Hempstead Pound

It looks as though that "Summer of Love" may be drawing to a cold close at the Town of Hempstead's Animal Shelter.

For all those warm and fuzzy photo ops of Town Supervisor Kate "Cheshire Cat" Murray cuddling with her furry friends, word on the street -- and in the press -- has it that animals at the Town shelter are being beaten, abused, and left to die in their cages, this under the not too watchful eyes of Town employees drawing six-figure salaries.

So, it's not only the poor, helpless animals that are allegedly being abused, but the poor, helpless taxpayers as well.

Only allegations, of course, yet to be proven. Allegations.

One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Community Alliance, "Charles Milone (acting Shelter Director) is making over $100,000... Another political appointee making over $100,000, Bruce Hallbert, replaced Milone (at the Shelter) but he, too, was replaced by yet another making over $100,000, Pat Horan. The budget of the shelter is over $7.1 million yet I hear there are many inhumane practices going on and that all volunteers have now been banned from the premises - thus no oversight."

The Town of Hempstead itself  is "investigating" the alleged abuses (kinda like the fox investigating pillage at the hen house), with testimony from former shelter volunteers being heard (but not necessarily listened to) at a recent Town Board meeting.

Meanwhile, back in the kennel club that is Hempstead Town Hall  (where inbreeding at the patronage mill has set evolution on its head), Supervisor Murray calls the issue "administrative," telling a reporter at News12 that the investigation does not involve the abuse, mishandling or mistreatment of cats or dogs at the Town shelter. [Hmmm. So what exactly is the Nassau County DA's office looking into at the Town Animal Shelter? Could it be the abuse, mishandling and mistreatment of the taxpayers and their hard-earned money?]

In a town where nepotism and patronage reign supreme; where fiscal prudence is holding up a bond rating with one hand and writing a six-figure check to a political cronie with the other; where denial is a river in Egypt over which the powers-that-be disavow any control; there is a foul odor emanating from an animal shelter cuddled, coddled and held so dear by a Town Supervisor, if not complicit in purported misdeeds, then, most certainly, more than willing to turn the other cheek.

Abuses at the Town's Special Districts (of which the Town wipes its dirty little hands) is one thing. Abuse at the Town's animal shelter is quite another. Or maybe not. Abuse, of any nature, particularly in the public realm, should not, must not be tolerated, let alone ignored.

Stepping up, taking responsibility, the buck stopping with Town officials, should be the norm in this new age of accountability and transparency. In Hempstead Town, as we've come to learn, Norm is merely the Town Supervisor's father (who spent many years on the Town payroll), and passing the buck (as it is pulled screaming from the taxpayers' wallets), is as close as one comes to a public reckoning.

Town of Hempstead residents seem to be blase about the evils of special district taxation, patronage and cronyism, a complete lack of oversight (in and out of town hall), and the general decline (if not untimely demise) of the unincorporated areas of America's most blighted township. Too bad.

Perhaps, just perhaps, exposing the abuses at the Town's Animal Shelter, "administrative" (as in, "where the heck did they spend more than 7 million dollars?"), if not otherwise, will awaken the sensibilities deadened by the excess enjoyment which has accompanied years of paying more and getting less.

The quality of life for each of us is diminished by acts of neglect, be they benign or overt. Surely, we expected more for our fine, furry friends who unwittingly find themselves under what appears to be the heavy hand of the Town of Hempstead.

Our take is that, in Hempstead Town, at least, "Home for the Holidays" will have a whole new meaning this year!
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From Long Island Newsday:

Rescue groups air concerns over Hempstead animal shelter


As the Nassau district attorney's office continues its probe of Hempstead Town's animal shelter, local rescuers with long-standing concerns about a bloated budget and abuse of dogs and cats at the agency are saying, "Told you so."

At a town meeting this week, rescuers said animals had been subjected to severe neglect and horrific abuse.

While they won't give specifics, officials insist problems at the shelter don't involve animal abuse.

The town banned several rescuers from the shelter in late October after its own, ongoing, internal investigation and it remains unclear what role, if any, they play in the scandal. For years, the rescuers had sought to find homes for animals at the shelter, which practices euthanasia.

Town officials, who contacted the district attorney last month, would not say why the rescuers had been barred. Supervisor Kate Murray said she was surprised by the abuse allegations, and none of the rescuers had gone to the district attorney with such charges.

Murray wouldn't offer details on the town or the district attorney's investigations, but said administrative matters, not animal abuse, are the focus.

Acting shelter director Charles Milone, a Hempstead employee for eight years, and adoption coordinator Regina Thorne, an employee for 24 years, have been transferred from their jobs pending the outcome of the probes. Milone and Thorne continue to collect annual salaries of $122,559 and $83,612 respectively.

The shelter has a budget of $7.1 million this year.

Frances Lucivero, a Levittown rescuer who was banned from the shelter, said neither she nor any of the other barred rescuers had spoken with the district attorney's office. Lucivero said she didn't know what the office, which declined to discuss the investigation, was looking into, but doesn't think it has to do with rescue work at the shelter. Lucivero said too little of the shelter's money is used to help the animals and she would like to see a full-time staff veterinarian and an animal behaviorist.

"They have a $7 million budget," Lucivero said, "and that outrages me as a taxpayer."
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"Thank You So Much For Yor Patronage"

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Folow-Up from the Town of Hempstead:
[If only they would care for the humans in their care...]
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What You Can Do To Help:


  1. This story has it all. Waste of taxpayer money, animal abuse, and a possible cover-up.

    District Attorney Kathleen Rice should have a field day with Kate Murray and Hempstead Town Hall.

    Kate really stepped in s@#t on this one!

  2. another homerun! keep the pressure on! this is the year they fall!

  3. The TOH Budget for 2010 indicates there are 32 FT and 2 PT employees at the shelter and there is $3 million for salaries. According to the what I have hears from the volunteers there are not many employees ever present. They need 2 people making over $200,000 in salary to supervise an animal shelter with 32 employees?

    The Newsday article didn't mention Bruce Hallbert ($134,000) and Pat Horan ($103,000), if Pat Horan was in charge why wasn't he removed? or maybe all 5 were on the books. The TOH budget indicates 3.5 Million for administrative charges god only knows what's hidden in that charge.

  4. As a former TOH employee, I can tell you, "you don't know the half of it!" While the real workers on the bottom of the hive try to do their jobs, and do them well, for miniscule salaries and little recognition, the big GOP wheelers and dealers, and Queen Bee Kate Murray, get all the money and patronage perks.

    This place is run like a family business, with every father, brother, sister, daughter and son on the padded payroll at one time or another, all on the taxpayers' dime.

    It's nothing short of an outrage. Believe me, not only the dogs suffer in Hempstead Town. This place is a sewer, with special district taxes to show for it.

    By the way, I moved out of New York. Don't miss Hempstead Town one single bit!

  5. Who else out there thinks that the animals in this shelter would be better taken care of at the Courtesy Hotel?

  6. "Administrative problem" my right clavicle (or whatever other body part you like.) As the writers above indicate, this is a cultural problem. Hempstead's government has a long tradition of showing very little concern for taxpayers or the overall quality of municipal services. Instead, Hempstead's bureaucracy supports a full-employment program for the politically connected, even when that means hiring people into positions for which they are unqualified.

    You are right: taxpayers in Hempstead have been unbelievably indifferent to all this. A lot of what goes on in this town should give rise to a groundswell of popular indignation, but that never seems to happen.

    Maybe this scandal will prompt a reaction. I hope so. But remember the underlying problems here - i.e., political cronyism and incompetence - were also on display some months ago at Greenfield cemetery, when Town workers committed the horrendous act of moving a grave without permission, causing real emotional pain for family members. As I recall, those responsible were simply moved to other jobs in the Town, a total failure of accountabilty. Yet the popular reaction was nothing if not muted. It's up to the voters to hold Murray and her team accountable for these kinds of problems and yet, sadly, that doesn't seem to happen. Even more sadly, that lack of accountability virtually guarantees more of the same going forward. If we want this to change, we have to do it.

  7. Same old game, only the victims have changed. [Or, as the blogger so poignently intimates, maybe not.]

    Raping taxpayers through special taxing districts. Beating dogs in the animal shelter. Burying the dead in the wrong graves. Neglecting "Main Street," but for a Victorian-style streetlamp and a planter bearing the skelital remains of what was once a shrub.

    It's the Town of Hempstead's MO, and simply another instance, as Yogi Berra would say, of deja vu, all over again.

    Too bad no Nassau Republicans were tossed out of office earlier this month. The Town could have swooped up one of the electorally-rejected GOPers (as they often do), appointing him as Acting Director of the animal shelter. No experience (or even showing up for work) necessary. $100,000+, guaranteed (plus full pension, health benefits, an SUV,and a 56' HDTV to be named later).

    If dogs and cats could vote, they'd throw Kate Murray and her cronies out on the street in a heartbeat. Let them put her up in a shelter. Too bad us humans don't have the same resolve!

  8. I think it's a shame that these animals were not being treated properly under the care of people who are making big salaries way over $100,000 a year, which I think is outrageous. I know of one individual who works at that shelter for many years, who I've seen many times come home after 3 hours work and getting paid for the whole day. I reported this to Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, several years ago and it fell on deaf ears. In my opinion she should step down because she did nothing in looking into this matter. It's unheard of people getting big salaries, and instead of being at work their home doing things around their house.Also I've seen this individual work one day and then take off four days. Then work two days and take off three days. This was a continuous thing that she's been doing for many years, and has gotten away with it because nobody investigated her.In my opinion these people should not only be fired for abusing the system, but they should never see their pensions.

  9. The one that has to take the blame for this, that has turned her back on many complaints in the past about the shelter is Kate Murray, the high salaries are bad enough but most of the people that work at Wantagh, Animal Shelter, are given vans to take home. Another thing adding insult to Injury these employees take the company vans home. With the big salaries that they derive from the town, why don't they get their own transportation to work instead of using the town's vans. Also I know it to be a fact that a lot of them use the vans for their own personal use.These kinds of salaries and abuse has to stop.

  10. What amazes me is not only these people are making big salaries and not doing their jobs properly,but shouldn't be allowed to take home the company vans. With the money that they make they should use their own transportation.

  11. In today's long Island Newsday, there is an article in which Patricia Horn, of Amityville a supervisor at the Hempstead Town dog shelter, falsified her address in order to vote in Nassau County. The Dstrict Atty. Of Nassau County, is investigating the allegations.People like them should not only lose their jobs but their pension as well

  12. How in good conscience can the town of Hemptead, give their employeesa brand new vans for transportation. Especially the supervisor of the shelter who was found voting out of her district,and falsifying information which is a felony. They should take the vans away from them.I guess it's nice to drive around in somebody else's car and use somebody else's gas instead of your own, I think it's a disgrace. Let them find their own transportation. Also the supervisor who falsified information they should make an example of her.They should not only fire a but she should lose a pension.And town supervisor Kate Murray, better do her job because up till now she's done nothing.

  13. I hope by the time I post this that something has been done to rid society of these idiots. What kind of City would allow this behavior. Do you not interview people before paying the an insane amount of money. Maybe you should consider mental evaluations before you hire the next director, that's assuming that you are intellegent enough to see that all the people in this video need to be fired immediately. There is never an excuse for this kind of behavior when working with animals. If these people worked for me they would have been fired so fast and brought up on animal abuse charges. But are you as the officials of this town going to set an example to the rest of the country that this behavior is not tolerated anywhere. Just remember the animal rescue community is watching you and will except nothing less then the removal of all envolved.