The following letter was submitted by Beth Cruz, Bloomfield resident and president and founder of Shelter Showcase, a volunteer rescue group in Ceder Knolls.
There is much discussion lately on the future of the management of the Bloomfield shelter.
Should the township continue to run the shelter as is? It seems this isn’t palatable to any of the players involved due to the many controversies and allegations of mismanagement, wrongful termination of employees and volunteers and much more.
The Board of Health seems to be seriously interested in turning the shelter over to the Neighbor to Neighbor Network (NTNN), even without properly putting out a township bid.
The mayor rightfully seems to have concerns about the NTNN running the shelter, as it seems he doesn’t want the charity’s reputation tarnished by controversy over the shelter. This is a valid concern since conflicts of interest have already caused the charity to enter into contracts with the Board of Health that were clearly unbalanced and potentially mismanagement of assets, breach of fiduciary duties and self-dealing.
Other viable options include putting out a bid for shelter management, or keeping the shelter managed by the township but moving it out of the hands of the Board of Health. It is possible to manage the shelter without major controversy. Shelter management may never be without disagreement, but intense controversy and disasters can be avoided.
The standards requested by residents and other concerned individuals are relatively simple and include the following policies:
- A welcoming and well-managed volunteer program including a foster program, transfer of animals to rescue whenever possible, investigation of acts of cruelty and other misconduct;
- Keeping Petfinder.com and similar pet adoption listings up to date;
- Treating employees fairly;
- Providing timely veterinary care; and
- Working cooperatively with other local shelters to save lives.
Our township can have a model shelter program serving our town if the mayor and Bloomfield Council support the above mentioned policies and ensure the opportunity for effective shelter management to implement best practices with respect and kindness to our citizens and animals.
Memphis Controversy: “The Tip of the Iceberg”
I believe that Memphis is not the only tarnish to the BOH’s record over the past year. Memphis is just the tip of the iceberg, or shall we say the “mascot” of the impetus for change.
The Board of Health has unnecessarily cost taxpayer dollars on several litigation issues, and the board has spent additional money asking legal questions to their own attorney, when these questions could have been directed to the salaried township attorney, and not cost taxpayers a dime.
The media relations crisis started with the dismissal of volunteers which was simply and directly caused by poor management of the shelter overseen by the Board of Health. New policies and procedures are implemented at shelters and other organizations regularly, without termination of all volunteer staff.
The volunteer program then took six months to be reinstated, and we still do not have a welcoming volunteer, vibrant program which we should expect in our township. Trainings are not held regularly, and new volunteers are not welcomed.
The Board of Health has repeatedly exhibited what appears to be abuse of power and conflict of interest in relations to the Neighbor to Neighbor Network charity. NTNN is a valuable resource to our community and Bloomfield’s Board of Health, but the board seems to have used its power for NTNN donor funds to be spent unwisely.
There are several examples of serious issues with the Board of Health, including questionable employee terminations, and one lawsuit already lost to a wronged employee and more lawsuits pending. Animal abuse was also reported on Feb. 17, 2012, but no investigation was performed.