Assumption is the mother of all ……

From today’s Herald
C.B. council to deal with shelter issue
December 17, 2011 – 4:37am
By AARON BESWICK Staff Reporter
On Tuesday Cape Breton regional council will hear whether a Sydney animal shelter has complied with recommendations to better its care for the municipality’s stray pets.

After the former Cape Breton SPCA’s board of directors locked horns with its provincial masters in November, council hired two veterinarians to inspect the premises. Tuesday’s report will detail which of the 27 recommendations made by those veterinarians have been instituted.
“We have assumed the role that the province would usually be responsible for,” said Mayor John Morgan.
“The province has regulations for these facilities, but they are very minimum standards and they provide no funding for meeting them. The veterinarian will report on whether the first concerns have been met and update us on what needs to be done to make this the most modern facility, irrespective of who ends up owning it.”
Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s three-year contract, worth about $250,000 annually, to meet its pet bylaws expires in March.
Ownership of the facility is at the heart of a legal battle between the provincial SPCA and the shelter’s board of directors, which have removed it from under the SPCA’s umbrella and renamed themselves the Cape Breton Humane Society.
In November the SPCA was locked out of the shelter after it attempted to fire its shelter manager and board of directors.
“The former Cape Breton branch failed to address significant concerns related to animal care, particularly in the area of disease control and provision of vet care,” said Kristin Williams, executive director of the Nova Scotia SPCA in an email on Friday.
“Because the former branch failed to address these concerns at the time that they were raised and then ultimately failed to stay engaged with the provincial body, the provincial board of directors for the society dismissed the board, and ultimately dissolved the branch.
“The former board instead rejected the society’s polices and authority and are now occupying a facility that does not belong to them.”
The SPCA is seeking an injunction, scheduled for Sydney provincial court on Jan. 4 and 5, to be granted access and ownership of the shelter. The Cape Breton Humane Society is fighting the injunction.
While no one from the humane society could be reached for comment on Friday, board members presented their plans to regional council in late November.
“Ten or 12 of the recommendations can be cleared up in an hour, but others can’t be done right away,” board chairman Mel Neville was quoted as telling council by the Cape Breton Post
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Thirty odd years ago, when I was still wet behind the ears,  workplace wisdom was served straight up by senior NCO’s who did not have to worry about being politically correct.  
No question about it … there were a lot of home truths in those earthy expressions!   To this day, my favourite is still “assumption is the mother of all screw ups”.
Most situations that snowball out of control start with a shaky premise of some sort.   Brian Mulroney radically underestimated the opposition to the GST.    The Royal Family truly misjudged the groundswell of grief for Princess Diana at the grassroots level.
And our former fiddling Premier is now gracing the Gaelic College with his management skills since suggesting that we could all just “take the bus”!
But I am wandering afield … as I often do in my meandering way!   When one looks at it carefully, the assumptions just keep piling up here:

  • First of course was the bald assumption that the 2011 Shelter Audit could not possibly be true!  It was beyond anyone’s imagining on the Council that folks they knew everyday could be responsible for such things!
  • Followed of course by the inference that this was the first instance of any trouble …. instead of simply being the first unannounced visit where there was no time to hide anything
  • Hand in hand of course with the notion that the provincial folks from the city just wanted to scoop up assets belonging to the good people of Cape Breton… when in fact it was repeated and sustained complaints at the local level that prompted the surprise inspection
  • When the Council commissioned their own “inspection” … and the results mirrored the 2011 Shelter Audit, the renegade shelter was allowed to take over the animal control contract.  Why?   Because of course the Mayor and Council assumed there were no other options!
  • This of course begs the bigger question as to why the Mayor and Council have assumed that it is acceptable to pass out an untendered contract like candy without due legal process.   Of course this also raises the even more interesting question …. if the tender for the animal control contract is due for renewal at the end of March, where is the new call for tender?

Now, I love going to the health food store down in the village.   Not the bulk food barn in the mall, but the little store across the street that has been in business for decades.  
To be perfectly honest, I do quite a bit of my shopping there!   One would be hard pressed to find better prices for baking supplies and spices!   Even better, it is the only place around where I can get the alternate types of flours for healthy wheat free dog cookies.
Best of all of course is that I can buy dry goods in bulk.  Not only is that more economical, but it is more environmentally friendly to be able to purchase without the extra packaging.
It is really frosting on the cake that this little store is a local business that is now owned and managed by the daughter of the folks who founded it.  
Do I sound biased?  You bet!  Cindy and I have been friends for years and I have a great deal of respect for her knowledge and expertise!
Is that a problem?  Of course not!  As a private individual, I can choose where I want to spend my money!
It is a different kettle of fish for our elected representatives!   There are  checks and balances in our legal system to prevent our politicians from using their position to line the pockets of their family and pals. 
In Nova Scotia, government spending is categorized in one of two ways:

  • Low Value Purchases – which are goods and / or services valued under $10,000.  These are usually handled directly by departments and agencies by either going to a business that has a Standing Offer, by getting three quotes or by going directly to a supplier that will give good value.
  • High Value Purchases – which are goods and / or services valued over $10,000.   There is a formal tendering process that includes advertising publicly, evaluating all bids received, awarding the bid and publishing the results.

In Nova Scotia, tenders are advertised in one of two places:

  • Locally on municipal or county websites and in the the local newspaper.  
  • In the Procurement Services Department of the Government of Nova Scotia Website

How does this work in realspeak?   A good example would be the tendering process for the Animal Services Contract in HRM a couple of years ago:

  • the contract was due for renewal at the end of March, 2010
  • the call for tender was published on the HRM website by November 8th, 2009
  • the deadline for submissions was December 1st, 2009
  • the results were decided on at the end of January, 2010.

What time is it?   In the midst of all the hoopla about the renegade shelter, it is time to wonder just where the darned call for tender for the new CBRM Animal Control contract is?  It would be poor logic … and indeed would suggest of favouritism … to suggest that the council was waiting for the legalities to be sorted out.
Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.   John Kenneth Galbraith
And that is how I see it on Saturday, December 17th …. the THIRTY – FIRST day since the dismissed shelter manager and the disbanded board created the renegade shelter.

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