Both the city of Memphis and the state of TN have issued opinions that the MAS advisory board meetings are not subject to the TN Open Meetings Act.
The city’s opinion is signed by Herman Morris (he of I-heart-SC-laws-so-muchly fame) and Jill Madajczyk (the senior assistant city attorney). Interestingly, Jill Madajczyk attended the first meeting of the new advisory board where she seconded the motion to shut the public out. When a local taxpayer questioned how Ms. Madajczyk could participate at this level (being that she is not a board member), the board changed the minutes of the meeting and removed Ms. Madajczyk’s seconding of any motions. They thought we wouldn’t notice?
My opinion is that the advisory board meetings ARE subject to the TN Open Meetings laws but I’m not an attorney. What seems indisputable though is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which guarantees the right of citizens to peaceably assemble, to petition their government for redress of grievances and to speak out without fear of retribution by their government.
As such, I hope every compassionate person in Memphis will exercise their First Amendment rights tonight and peaceably assemble at the advisory board meeting location to petition their government for redress of grievances. Bring a sign if you want (e.g. “Stop the Killing at MAS”), bring a friend, or just stand silently for all the pets – living at dead – at MAS. They have no voice but yours. And unless the city of Memphis or the state of TN plan to suspend the U.S. Constitution and declare martial law, you have every right to use that voice.
Remain peaceful. Remain strong.
According to the city of Memphis website, the advisory board meeting is listed as follows:
Wednesday, August 10
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM Benjamin Hooks Library (3030 Poplar)
Conference Room A
Summary of Concerns at Memphis Animal Services
- The killing of pets who are not medically hopeless and suffering nor have they been declared a danger to society by a qualified party.
- The killing of pets when there are empty cages at the shelter.
- The killing of pets who have never been made available to the public for adoption, rescue or foster.
- The killing of pets due to disease outbreak without ever making a public plea for help with quarantine to save lives.
- Failure of the shelter to vaccinate all incoming pets as per standard disease prevention protocol.
- Failure of the shelter to remove dogs and food from cages during cleaning as per standard disease prevention protocol.
- Failure of the shelter to utilize their Chameleon software to interface with PetHarbor so that every pet is viewable online by the public.
- Failure of the shelter to properly train and/or enforce humane handling of pets by the staff.
- Failure of the shelter to implement a TNR program so that the number of feral cats in the community can be reduced over time.
- Failure of the shelter to keep cats separated from the sight, sound and smell of dogs in order to reduce stress and make the population less susceptible to disease.
- Failure of the shelter to provide daily aerobic exercise for dogs for social stimulation and in order to reduce stress and make the population less susceptible to disease.
- The proposed removal of the webcams from MAS which were installed – and are still needed – for the protection of the pets being abused and killed at the facility.