Wednesday, August 10, 2016

[Orange County] Santana: OC Animal Shelter Born From Engagement

Blog note: this article congratulates the Orange County Grand Jury, among other people and institutions.
People really can make a difference.
That’s what ran through my head this past weekend after watching Orange County Supervisors on Friday hold a thoughtful groundbreaking on a new modern animal shelter in Tustin. It replaces the oldest animal shelter building in our region, a WW-II era structure in Orange that had become an embarrassment after nearly a half dozen critical grand jury reports in recent years.
Now, while county supervisors really do deserve credit here for thinking long term and offering taxpayers a better future vision and facility for animal care, all of us should also send a hearty thanks to Rose Tingle.
I first met Rose a few years back when she first came to speak at the Orange County Board of Supervisors weekly public meeting about the dismal conditions at the county animal shelter.
She challenged supervisors during public comment to understand that animals feel pain, arguing it’s below us as a county to keep animals that are in public care in substandard cages and facilities. Tingle also wanted to show a video to back up her contention but was cut off at the speakers’ podium and left frustrated.
I followed her out that day and told her she could present her arguments and video at Voice of OC as often as she liked as we were expanding our opinion section to allow residents like her to challenge local government in an open forum.
Rose certainly took me up on that challenge.
She wrote her first editorial in September 2013, eloquently challenging supervisors to “imagine yourself as one of the many scared and confused animals who enter that shelter every day.”
“It is clear the residents of Orange County, as well as the animals, need and deserve a new shelter or shelters,” Tingle wrote.
She spent the next few years regularly challenging the entire county to step up its services, posting regular op-eds about the animal shelter and fueling several grand jury probes, I think, with her persistent and thoughtful questioning about the need for a new facility.
Grand jurors here also deserve a ton of credit for staying on top of the issue and pressing the county in report after report.
It made a difference.
I know personally that Rose’s constant writing on the issue certainly got under the skin of several county supervisors and county executives who bristled at her coverage of the shelter issue.
But Rose’s pen and the grand jury also got them thinking.
Both touched supervisors’ human side and challenged them to do better.
And they have.
When Rose started writing a few years ago, the issue of a new animal shelter was considered politically dead.
It wasn't going anywhere.
This past week, county supervisors held a groundbreaking ceremony on a new facility.
Again…thanks Rose!
Thanks OC Grand Jury!
And believe it or not, Rose, the same guy that shut you down that day as chairman of the board of supervisors, Shawn Nelson, is the same guy who came up with the idea of swapping out some public land in the county portfolio to get the animal shelter proposal moving.
And it’s probably because you got under his skin and challenged him to think.
Nonetheless, Nelson stepped up.
And his colleagues backed him
So it may have been messy at times, but hey, you’ve all made a key difference in the history of Orange County!
I was especially heartened to read a recent editorial in the Voice of OC by Orange County CEO Frank Kim about the county’s future plans for the animal shelter, a far cry from where the county was several years ago.
I hope Kim’s efforts find a good response from animal rights activists and also fuel a potential movement to take over the old animal shelter and use it as a non-profit base to coordinate with the county shelter.
One of the reasons that San Diego’s public shelter works so well is that there’s a strong civic non-profit community working closely with the public model.
I’d like to take this opportunity once again to invite anybody with a take on local public policy or what’s happening around your streets to submit op-eds as Rose Tingle did.
Opinion journalism does make a difference.
August 1, 2016
Voice of OC
By Norberto Santana Jr.

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