MAS has a new director – try not to go postal

Mayor Wharton has appointed James Rogers as “Interim Administrator” at MAS.

A native of Memphis and graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College, James Rogers has senior manager experience in operations, logistics, and administration.

Recently, Rogers was Senior Manager for Customer Service Operations at the U.S. Post Office in Memphis.

It’s possible a cat may have walked past the post office where Mr. Rogers worked at some point but in the main, he appears to have no experience working with animals.  Does anyone know if he has pets or even likes pets?


30 thoughts on “MAS has a new director – try not to go postal

  1. Well, Nathan Winograd does feel that shelter directors don’t necessarily have to have previous animal experience. As long as they are great managers, know how to manage and work with people and really care about animals. I can see it as an advantage, in that they are not mired in the shelter status quo and their own historical biases. Would have to be a pretty special person to step into this cesspool. Weird he’s called an ‘Interim Administrator’ and not Director.

    1. Call me skeptical but I am guessing this guy went to school with someone or knows someone or whatever. Memphis city politics is rife with cronyism – which is why MAS sucks as bad as it does.

      I agree the right person doesn’t necessarily have to have shelter management experience but owning and loving pets would seem to me to be an essential. IDK if this person does either.

      1. Yes, you’re right, likely a ‘tainted’ selection. The eternal optimist in me expects a miracle to happen for this place one day.

    2. The critical part of the equation is that Mr. Rogers will have to rely on current MAS staff to show him how the shelter/animal side of the ‘business’ works. Remember, these are the same employees that were in place in 2009 when the shelter was raided. Since they obviously don’t know how to feed dogs and clean kennels, how are they going to help Mr. Rogers with his learning curve in shelter management?

  2. You don’t have to like animals to kill them. In fact, that probably helps. Is there a way for you to contact him directly so you can present him with the no-kill program?

  3. Someone who can – and will – manage the people and the operations is sorely needed.

    But, whether or not the city will actually allow Mr. Rogers to really manage the employees remains to be seen.

    And anyone who writes the Mayor or the city about this or any other MAS issues, please be polite.

    Points can be made without resorting to name-calling, etc.

    1. I agree…I hate to see when people post things to someone’s cause, facebook page, etc., and they are ‘screaming’ in all caps, using 8,000 exclamation points and/or question marks after everything they say, and otherwise coming off as a lunatic. Even if they aren’t necessarily rude, It does nothing to get the point across and everything to turn other people off to an otherwise good cause.

  4. Call me cynical but whoever short-listed the candidates for this job probably had 3 things in mind–pick somebody who makes or recently made $90,000+ in a public sector job and has some administrative experience but isn’t a former bodyguard, admin asst. or crony of Willie Herenton. .Ain’t easy. As for the animals?
    Not even considered. Mainly because the whole point of putting a temp administrator in charge is probably to take the heat off all the former Willie Herenton appointees who are actually responsible for the mess at MAS. Way to go Mayor Wharton.

  5. Mayor Wharton chose him. I’m assuming that’s because he’s somebody Mayor Wharton can either work with, or work around, or ignore with impunity.
    But let’s give the new guy a chance. If he can manage 1600 humans, perhaps he can extrapolate and realize there are more than 500 animals under his direction, and not just the 30 that somebody chose to be *adoptable!*
    Do we have an address for him? I’d like to send him an-e-mail.

  6. If I just spent $7.2 million of taxpayer money on a new shelter and currently had an open police investigation into wrongdoing there and I’d let the place flounder without leadership for months, I’d probably want to reassure the public before they came for me with torches and pitchforks. To my mind, reassuring the public means conveying the idea that everyone can trust the new guy, he’s the right man for the job and here’s why. Then I’d explain that even though he has no paid experience working with animals, he has volunteered with breed rescue or fostered pets for the shelter or whatever his unpaid animal experience is. I’d also detail the management experience, which Mayor Wharton did.

    While it’s important to have a strong manager, the COMPASSIONATE aspect of any shelter director can’t be left out. The animals can’t be left out either. I hope we’ll hear that the new director does have a long history of caring for animals in need in some way or other and that Mayor Wharton left that information out due to an oversight.

  7. I doubt this man will be able to have a thought in his own head. Every move he makes will have to be run through the no so dynamic duo of Hooks and Hall. I wish him the best of luck and hope that he turns that place around. But until someone is able to handle the staff in the way they see fit, discipline and fire as necessary, no one will be able to be an effective director.

    1. I believe he may of been picked because of his Postal Service experience, being he has experience dealing with unions.

      Being en ex-Postal Service employee, I understand everytime anyone blows their nose, a Union grevience is filed, which causes headaches for the Postal Service.

      Dealing with the un-fireable MAS Union employees appropreately surely will be a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope New Guy has a heart & soul for cats & dogs.

  8. I still think folks in Memphis need to get together and seriously work on a recall of the Mayor. Hard work, but sounds like the punk needs it.

    1. Unfortunately, the voters who agree with you are out-numbered by the people that vote for him or anyone of color (including the thugz). They don’t go by record, criminal past, etc, – they vote by color and for anyone who is willing to give them something for free. I hate to say that, but it’s true.

  9. Perhaps with the support of fantastic volunteers and our continued scrutiny, this new person – James Rogers – will be able to root out the evil in the MAS halls and ensure that the animals are well cared for.

    We’ll never know what the conversation was between the Mayor and the temp director – but I hope it went something like this “Fix what’s broke, the correct way, get rid of the problem PEOPLE (not the dogs) and work with the community.”

    I feel sick inside, but I’m going to try to remain hopeful and supportive (with my fingers crossed and not while holding my breath).

  10. Wasn’t there a shelter in upstate NY that had a problem with its director and he had no experience with animals? I believe he had marketing experience. That experience is real good when one wants to spin a story or raise funds without actually helping the animals.

    I am not optimistic about this choice.

  11. My fantasy is that Mr. Rogers has a reputation of clearing out deadwood employees, is not afraid to fire union members, only adopts rescued animals, and will be attending the next no kill conference. Paws crossed here for this to be true.

  12. “…I’d probably want to reassure the public before they came for me with torches and pitchforks.”

    The problem is that there seems to be only a couple dozen people in Memphis who would even try to find a torch and/or a pitchfork, and sadly, if they all banded together and tried to march on City Hall, the police would knock them down with tasers and toss them in jail. Noisy activism in this country is very hard to do, because we have so much apathy that when someone does get loud and even very, very slightly scary, the response is mostly fast and furious overkill, as so many loud but peaceful OWS demonstrators found out.

  13. Great question -does like animals or even have any and if he does what condition are they in? Management experience is not the only thing needed here.

  14. To me this is potentially an interesting choice. Clarice could be right, in that tough management in a union environment has been a hallmark of the Postal Service in recent years, and Wharton might have selected Rogers to deal with the union issues and make the place functional — and that would include standing up to Hooks and Hall. IMO it’s likely an experiment (possibly on both sides) or something that’s viewed as a necessary phase before longer-term leadership is hired, hence the term “interim.”

    It’s also interesting to think about why Rogers took the job — I’d be curious to see his resume. He could be a change agent who needs a new challenge, or someone under-appreciated in his current role who thinks he can turn the place around. Or he could be choosing this point to leave the Postal Service because USPS is in such turmoil right now. You never know.

    And it could be helpful that he worked in customer service. But he’ll need to communicate with the public to some degree, even if Wharton has arranged for Rogers to focus on internal operations and have public statements continue to come through the Mayor’s Office . . . and interacting with the public is something he probably didn’t do at the Postal Service. To me, his ability to communicate with all the stakeholders is just as important as his compassion for animals. I doubt the man is an idiot; he has to have followed the shelter controversy closely and my guess is that he knows what the community wants. And he knows that if he delivers, Wharton will look like a hero — it’s not like Wharton would object if things turned out well.

    Of course, the whole thing could just be a disaster. One thing’s for sure. Thanks to the activists in Memphis, Rogers won’t be doing this alone. I will be interested to see if he meets with animal advocates early on, or deals with the staff first.

    1. Completely agree with all of this.

      Lets just hope that Rogers will go out of his way to do things the right way rather than depending on the workers and Hall & co. to tell him since Im sure they will be telling him to take the easy/wrong way out instead. It will just be a new cycle of abuse/disaster, rather than starting fresh, which we hope is happening.

  15. For my part, I don’t care if he’s never so much as owned a gerbil.

    As for animal-related experience (and has owned pets and claimed to LOVE animals), Matthew Pepper had tons of that. But his management skills were very sub par.

    If James Rogers can make MAS run correctly and efficiently – and that means proper sanitation/disease control, usage of Chameleon software for EVERY ANIMAL UPON INTAKE, following the humane handling guidelines (Matt Pepper wrote a lovely manual with pictures and all, he just couldn’t convince anyone to follow it), and getting animals out of MAS ALIVE.

    The fact that he has no shelter experience will hinder him in some areas, but it does not take an experienced shelter director to see that a big dog stuffed in a small cage is wrong. It doesn’t take an experienced director to realize that dragging a nearly unconscious dog by the neck through his own urine is wrong. It doesn’t take an experienced shelter director to realize that leaving puppies in their own filth without food or water is wrong. All it takes is someone with a little common sense and a touch of compassion – both things that have been sorely lacking at MAS for…well, for ever.

    So I say if James Rogers can turn this Titanic of a shelter around and avert total disaster, I support him! If he can make the difference for those animals, I will back him 110%, buy him a steak dinner, and slap a “James Rogers is AWESOME!” bumper sticker on every car in my neighborhood.

    I can understand the cynicism, really I can. But we don’t know enough about him to say either way, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and offer our wholehearted support to the new guy.

    After all, WE are a resource he can use! I’m sure the local rescue groups will want to meet with him and let him know what they can do to help him (foster care, crossposting, volunteering, assisting with offsite adoptions, etc.). And those of us in the ether can offer crossposting of animals, fundraising assistance (for real beds, for example, or for animals with special needs or whatnot – whatever we have permission for), and suggestions/ideas for marketing, etc.

    Oh – and James? You may want to consider a “reinstall the webcams and encourage people to help keep an eye on your shelter” policy. Not only will it go a long way towards helping with the whole “transparency” thing, but it will also give you more eyes reporting to you on the operations aspect of the shelter.

    1. I whole-heartedly second everything you’ve said Mikken! I will be keeping my fingers crossed for all the animals.

    2. Awesome post. I agree 100%.

      We should welcome him, offer help, and expect good things. Then see what happens. There is absolutely no point in being down on him at the word “go.”

      In fact it could cause him to feel attacked and defensive and that won’t help anyone, especially the animals.

  16. I think perhaps we should give the guy the benefit of the doubt, given that I have NEVER met a shelter director who has a degree in animal management, let alone a PhD in ANimals and Public Policy.

    Let’s see now, Mr. Rogers: Can you spell “No Kill”? Hmmm? Can you? I wish you all the success in the world, because if you succeed the animals win.

  17. Well, I live there and am going to give the fellow the full on benefit of the doubt just as of right now. That is as tolerant minded as I can be on this matter.

    What I am curious about is if what AC Wharton told the Memphis Flyer is true or not. I am sorry but I haven’t the heart to go to the new building yet because the whole situation saddens me just that much.

    My link looks super long! If it does not work then please just google “Memphis Flyer” and then look for the article entitled “Interim Administrator Chosen to Lead Memphis Animal Services.” It is not behind a paywall or anything, btw.

    Here is what AC Wharton claimed.

    “We have increased our positive outcomes for animals to the highest level in the history of the shelter,” Wharton said. ” We have reduced the euthanasia rate to a 20 percent lower level when comparing 2011 with 2009. In one day, we moved every pet from the old facility to the new shelter. In our new facility, we have installed some 45 cameras that are linked to Memphis Police’s award-winning Real Time Crime Center. Along the way, we have been able to root out irresponsible employees and fix broken internal systems.”

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