History repeats itself at Humane Society
The old Saying, "history repeats itself" is now a reality at the Verde Valley Humane Society (VVHS). Since President of the Board David Leibforth amicably resigned in September 2004 after three years of service, the VVHS has become a hollow ghost of its past.
If some of you remember the previous board and administration in the years before August 2001, accusations were publicly made by a board member who resigned that the then-president and director were: "Making all the decisions outside of the board meetings. They pretty much do as they want" (Verde Independent, 4-11-02).
The same criticisms can now be made of the current VVHS administration. The board of directors has no idea what financial shape the VVHS is in, or what the euthanasia and adoption figures are. The sad part about this is that they don't seem to care.
What exactly is it that current President Ron Wilbanks and Shelter Director Cyndi Sessoms Sessoms don't want the rest of the board to know? Why is everything pertaining to the governing of the VVHS left into the hands of Mr. Wilbanks and Ms. Sessoms only? It appears that history repeats itself.
At various times, the history of the VVHS has involved secrecy, turmoil, and distrust. This cycle has returned with the current administration. I have served as a board member for almost four years, but under Ron Wilbanks' presidency, I have been denied financial reports and euthanasia reports. I have been denied access to any information pertaining to the VVHS, and yet, as a member of the Board of Directors, it is my job to help govern the corporation and protect its assets.
I have also repeatedly informed Mr. Wilbanks and the Board that the VVHS is in violation of its bylaws and articles of incorporation by not having a Treasurer on the Board since September 2004, and that it is also in violation of our bylaws by amending the bylaws twice in 2004, but failing to update the document.
These revisions are not in the copy that the public has access to, nor do the new board members have the amended copies. President Wilbanks has chosen to ignore these violations, and has done nothing to rectify the situation.
Fund-raising efforts have ceased to exist and no grant-writing is on the horizon. No community outreach programs such as low-cost spay/mobile clinics (the Board stopped using a mobile clinic from Flagstaff at the Shelter Director's insistence; Sedona Humane Society still uses this same mobile clinic), or low-cost shot clinics are scheduled. Membership is at an all-time low, monthly Board meetings are virtually non-existent, and nothing is being planned to jump-start the VVHS back to its former strength. People who have been interested in serving on the Board — which is rare, indeed — are not even given the courtesy of an interview. If you are not on the same "bandwagon" as the Shelter Director Sessoms and President Wilbanks, you had best not apply.
If any of this is of concern to you, it should be. The Verde Valley Humane Society is not a community asset — it is a community embarrassment. The only positive thing I can say about the current VVHS is that the shelter is kept clean.
Unfortunately, as once before with the VVHS, history is now repeating itself. Until strong leadership from a strong Board is restored, the downward cycle will continue. In my opinion, the Verde Valley Humane Society, as a private corporation, should be dissolved, and the animal shelter turned over to the municipalities to run.
Privatization is the right answer for the 21st century
The sinking ship metaphor used by the editorial cartoonist March 9 completely missed the boat — in many ways (pun intended).
First, the sinking ship is the current system. Without change, Social Security will go broke. Everyone agrees on this because the math proves it.
Under the current system, by the time my kids retire in the late 20s/early 30s there will be two or less payers per payee. Using today's dollars, most retirees get $1,500 to $2,000 per month. That means workers will pay half of that amount per month to the system. In other words, about $5.80 per hour off the top will go to social security. (Currently the feds confiscate 12.4 cents of every dollar paid in wages - half from you and half from your employer.) Will there be revolt in the street over this? I would think so.
The government has three choices to change the system: tax more, reduce benefits or borrow. Taxing more and reducing benefits to the degree necessary are politically and financially not feasible. Borrowing is out of the question because there is nothing to borrow against. The "Trust Fund" has zero cash in it. It contains only IOUs from the federal government.
Privatization is the only answer. This solution is now working in 13 countries, certain local governments in this country and for all federal workers. Federal workers do not pay into Social Security. They elect to pay into the Federal Employee Retirement System, which consists of interest bearing and dividend paying investments (stocks, bonds, CDs, money market funds, etc.). What makes them so special that we're not allowed to do the same?
Historically, investing in companies via the stock market has returned over 9 percent. That average is true overall, and over any 30- to 50-year period (normal working life) picked for comparison. Social Security has returned something slightly more than 1 percent. The future of increased taxes and reduced benefits will drastically reduce that.
What happens when you and your spouse die today (assuming kids are over 18)? The money does not go to your estate. It goes away because it's not your money. Privatization means it's your money. When you die, you can pass it to your heirs, give it to worthy causes, whatever.
President Bush is not talking about privatization. He is talking about a hybrid systems that blends both ideas. I think his approach is an incremental one. If it works, then there's a hope complete privatization will come in the future. I don't trust the future. I want to provide for my family, even when I'm gone. Privatization is the right answer for the 21st century.