Mayor Wharton on Current Events at MAS

A piece on the billboards from ABC 24 in Memphis includes comments from Mayor Wharton:

When Wharton took office in 2009, he promised to clean up the troubled shelter.  While there have been changes, Wharton admitted there are still issues.

“We have a new shelter opening up in a couple of weeks,” he said.  “Mark my words, you all will be standing in front of me with another situation.”

Yeah.  That’s what we’re afraid of.

Another Memphis TV station quotes Mayor Wharton as follows:

“I wish we could be so selective that we could do a background check and just make sure that everybody has a demonstrated record of having loved animals.”

Woah.  Dude.  You’re saying the city of Memphis doesn’t do that?  So the folks who fail to pass the basic background checks required for employment at fast food chains or gas stations can waltz into a city job without a care?  Wow.

And what do you mean you wish you “could be so selective” as to hire people who can pass a basic background check?  Isn’t there a serious unemployment problem in Memphis, like the rest of the country?  Aren’t there way more applicants for city jobs than there are positions available?  Cause it sounds like you’re basically saying, “We have to accept any animal hating freak who is willing to don the uniform because we are just that desperate and pathetic”.

More from the mayor:

“Matthew Pepper is doing the best he can under some horrible circumstances,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe that the threats and all that have been directed against him.”

You’re right, I wouldn’t.  Because I believe that the overwhelming majority of letters and phone calls from pet lovers concerned about MAS have been civil in nature.  But if you have any evidence of threats or people showing up at workers’ homes, I assume you’ve turned that evidence over to the police for investigation.  Phone calls, e-mails and most certainly visits to someone’s home can be tracked down.  I’m all for weeding out crackpots who threaten violence.  I’ll support your efforts to prosecute these idiots 100%.  Just let us know if we can help.

But in the meantime, I hope you are not just using these alleged “bomb threats” as an excuse to draw a cloak over the killing at MAS.  You said, “Mark my words”, Mayor Wharton.  Here are your words after the raid on MAS in 2009 when you announced the installation of the webcams:

“This will be the ultimate transparency,” Wharton said at the time. “I want to dispel the image that the animal shelter is a despicable place where all these horrible things go on.”

Dispel away, Mayor Wharton.

The city will reportedly decide on whether to hide the killings at MAS by removing the webcams today.

[City of Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George] Little advises that even if the web cams are shut down there will still be security cameras in the animal shelter.

Well I’m totes reassured, how about you?  If there is any government agency who has earned the right to hide its actions from the people and police itself, it’s definitely MAS.

Transparency and accountability required.

19 thoughts on “Mayor Wharton on Current Events at MAS

  1. Sorry to be blunt, but these comments scare the shit out of me – for these animals. Why does this mayor feel/act so impotent? Who is the real power in this administration? Does not seem to be Mr Mayor Sir.
    No serious background checks? That is just negligent.
    I would like to know what’s REALLY going on behind the scenes.
    (Cue music from Twilight Zone . . .)

    1. At the very least, I would think they would sit down in the interview for employment at MAS and chit-chat about the person’s love of pets. Do you have pets? What in particular interests you about working with pets? Are you comfortable with handling both dogs and cats? etc.

      1. yeah- i mean, we don’t do background checks at the shelter, but we do check references. And expect you to have a reason for wanting to work in Animal Welfare (it sure as sh*t isn’t the pay). Pretty much we actually have a hard time weeding out the people that love animals MORE than they love people (b/c seriously- your coworkers are people and our customers are people. We don’t have a spot for you if you can’t work with people).
        I literally had to turn away a dozen applications for my most recent job posting- and that’s not counting the 6 i interviewed that DIDN’T get the job.
        how can it be so hard to find people that WANT to work with animals?

  2. I wrote to the list of email address provided by your site and explained my reasons for keeping the web cams up in the shelter. I would be surprised if one of our emails was actually read though.

    I also mentioned that if there were also web cams in the public
    vehicles operated by MAS employees, much of the animal cruelty issues that have occurred in the vehicles could possibly then be avoided in the future. Some of these employees need the constant surveillance unfortunately, because they are ex-cons hired with little concern whether they care about the animals they have been hired to help.

    I pray they don’t take down the webcams but I have a feeling this is just what the goon squad wants to do.

    I also mentioned to the Mayor and others that taking down the webcams is simply going to encourage undercover investigations which could be much more damaging to the city. I mean everyone knows some unemployed thug with a criminal background who would be snatched up by the city of Memphis to work in their animal shelter…

  3. Once again the people who care get screwed and the felons get what they want…taking away cameras will not make anyone think for a second that things are better. We know thats the begenning of worse things to come….Memphis officals are just like gang members…. we shal call them MafiaMemphis….AC it sitting at the head of the table….

  4. In 2010 the City of Memphis decided to go for the “ban-the-box” ordinance.

    http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/jun/23/council-removes-criminal-02/

    The city of Memphis will eliminate the requirement that potential employees list their criminal history on a job application.

    The City Council approved a “ban-the-box” ordinance Tuesday sponsored by council members Harold Collins and Janis Fullilove.

    “It removes the box so if an individual is qualified for the job they will at least get the opportunity to interview for the position and they will get the opportunity to explain themselves,” said Collins

    In essence the City can just go on ahead with an interview and human resources may or may not do the criminal background check later on down the line.

    Prior to Wharton being Mayor, Herenton was Mayor for a good 18 years. He was historically known for not really giving a good gosh darn about a thing or two to an awfully fair degree. The longer he tried to remain Mayor the longer he pandered to certain things and during his ending reign (if you will) he gave a speech where he literally said that if people do not like how he ran Memphis then they could leave and a very fair amount of folks left!

    I think that the full on lack of a proper staff might have something to do with certain things pertaining to a full on lack of criminal background checks and the like. What I literally cannot understand is why nothing proactive was ever brought forth after the raid in 2009. One would think that they would have cleaned house from top to bottom like the dickens, but it is obvious that did not happen. Why?

  5. Another POS politician elected to office now trying to deflect responsibility he committed to…go figure. The really crappy part is this completely dispells the myth that we hold that government is by the people and for the people. Concerns regarding animal welfare continue to go unheard. Not a democracy from where I sit.

  6. Foxes in charge of the hen house.
    Will they placate the abusers?

    Why can’t the city see that the cameras are NOT the problem?!!! If they take them away, trust me, things will get worse for the city.

    Taking the cameras away won’t improve transparency or accountability. Closed meetings won’t either.

    PLEASE show leadership & proper management; have the staff do what they’re SUPPOSED to do (keep the place clean, be professional, answer questions about animals, other duties as required), AND FOLLOW PROPER ANIMAL HANDLING PROCEDURES. Do more staff training if needed – PLEASE!

    People all over the world are paying attention. I asked someone yesterday, ‘What do you think of when I say “Memphis”, and she knew what I was talking about. She saw the photos of the billboard online too.

    Maybe people could do a mail-in postcard campaign, so the mayor can see by our postcards that people don’t think this is some silly little issue. I’m not some radical nut, & neither are the others who care about this issue. I’m not a member of PETA (Indeed, they are NO authority on animal sheltering or adoptions! Anyone who thinks so needs to do their research.).

  7. They are hiring for two positions. One of the positions seems to be what Ms. Hogan used to do.

    http://www.cityofmemphis.org/framework.aspx?page=631

    11-079Animal Services Officer

    Annual Salary: $39,145.60 Bi-weekly: $1,505.60

    Public Services & Neighborhoods/Animal ServicesPublic Services

    MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: High School graduate or GED and two (2) years of general work experience, preferably in the animal control or animal care field, including some direct experience working with the public; or any combination of experience or training which enables one to perform the essential job functions. Good communication skills and experience working independently preferred. Must possess a valid driver license. Must obtain and maintain a certification as a Certified Animal Euthanasia Technician within one year of employment, as a condition of continued employment.
    =====================

    11-078Animal Care Technician

    Annual Salary: $36,753.60 Bi-weekly: $1,413.60

    Public Services & Neighborhoods/Animal ServicesPublic Services

    MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: High School education or equivalent and one (1) year of work experience in animal care preferred; or any combination of experience or training which enables one to perform the essential job functions. Basic computer and typing skills preferred. Must obtain and maintain a certification as a Certified Animal Euthanasia Technician within one year of employment, as a condition of continued employmen

  8. So everyone that works at MAS has to be a euthanasia tech, but no requirement to actually like or respect animals?

    1. Or have a proper background check because of that silly “ban the box” nonsense that was passed last year.

      Very odd.

      I have written everyone I can think of about this to no avail. I really have.

  9. I remember watching a video of an Advisory board meeting where they said there were going to be cameras in the new shelter and they would be streaming video not just a snap every 15 seconds like the current ones. So they evidently were in the plans at that time even though the Mayor is saying they were not.

    Was that a joke about a big screen TV in the employees breakroom? I hope it was.

  10. Between (possibly) not having any webcams anymore, not letting people into the meetings and the situation at MAS getting worse every day..I just fear for those poor animals more and more.

  11. I feel SO relieved that security cameras are in place. Of course, they won’t be reviewed unless there’s an ‘incident’ and there won’t be an ‘incident’ because nobody will report anything. And if there IS an incident, who will review the security footage? Oh, that’s right, Mr. Pepper. Can we say the “fox is guarding the hen house”? And any idiot knows what that means! Animals will suffer and die on a greater scale than they are now, because MAS workers will take out their anger and frustration on the poor defenseless dogs and cats that have cause them to feel ‘threatened’. As if! Prove the threats. Allegations don’t count because anybody can tell a lie and that seems to be the city’s way of condoning what goes on at this torture chamber.

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