In New York City, the Mayor has enormous power over the city’s animal services. Under a law that dates back to 1894 the Mayor alone chooses who is to be responsible for providing the City of New York with animal services; they choose the agency. From 1894 – 1994 animal services were provided by the ASPCA, but when they gave up the contract Mayor Giuliani created New York City Animal Care and Control and made sure that the agency could never leave the city in the lurch: while it is technically an independent 501(c)3 and contractor to the Department of Health, the Board of Directors is appointed by the Mayor and the Chairman is also the Commissioner of Health. The department is firmly under the control of the Mayor; the arrangement gives the city license to blame the “independent” agency for its failures while grossly underfunding them. This is how it was under Giuliani and how it has continued under Bloomberg.
Given the enormous power of the Mayor’s office, one of the plausible paths to permanent and lasting reform is to elect a Mayor who genuinely cares about the animals of New York City and will change the system to be truly independent and accountable to the voters of New York. Of the likely candidates, there is only one who not only fully understands the problem but has an excellent suggestion for restructuring the animal services of New York City: Scott Stringer.
I do hope Borough President Stringer runs for Mayor in 2013, and to that end I’ll be attending a fundraiser for him on October 3rd, where I hope to bend his ear a bit about how he could help the animals of New York City.
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