Both of you who followed along with yesterday's liveblog of the Animal Shelter Commission will remember that former ASC member and animal rights bigwig Jonnie England wondered during the public comment: Why is Tyrone McGill, the former Dallas Animal Services manager who has been indicted on charges of animal cruelty for his role in allowing a trapped cat to die within shelter walls, still on paid leave while he awaits trial?
England, with whom I've spoken about this subject a couple of times, is incensed that taxpayer dollars are going toward paying McGill -- and, actually, two other DAS employees being investigated for poor treatment of animals -- to do nothing at all, when she believes he should at least be reassigned to another city department and put to work in some harmless but useful capacity.
"I plan to let my council member know I don't want my tax dollars wasted like that," England vowed during the meeting. And today she followed through, sending a letter to Dave Neumann that she forwarded on to me. She writes:
"As a tax payer, I deeply resent my tax dollars being given to someone, anyone, to just sit at home and do nothing. I strongly believe these employees should be working in other departments. With all the layoffs in the past two years, surely there are many departments where they could work answering phones at the rec centers, filing or doing data entry, or shelving library books -- anything outside of Dallas Animal Services just so they'd be earning their pay."
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Neumann responded to England thanking her for her advocacy but saying that he had "been advised by the City Attorney not to comment due to the pending personnel actions and litigation." Besides McGill, the other two individuals on paid leave are being investigated for forcing a dog with broken legs to walk and for injuring a cat after trying to inappropriately use a catch pole to restrain it.
England's entire letter is after the jump.
Subject: Indefinite Paid Leave for Dallas Animal Services employees
Hi, Dave. I don't know if you're aware of this, but three Dallas Animal Services have been on paid administrative leave for the past three months while they are being investigated by the City, and one of these could easily be paid to do nothing for two years or more.
One of these employees was put on paid leave after a DPD officer witnessed him dragging a dog with two broken legs across the pavement. Another employee was reported to have hit a cat with a catchpole so hard that it caused a serious head injury.
The third employee who is being paid to stay home is Tyrone McGill, who as you know, was indicted by the Grand Jury on felony animal cruelty charges in early August and is awaiting trial.
At the Animal Shelter Commission meeting in October, I asked Joey Zapata about this. I requested that these employees be reassigned to other departments while they are being investigated so they would earn their paychecks instead of essentially being given an indefinite paid vacation. He said he would look into it.
At the Commission meeting Thursday, I brought this issue up again. Joey said that the investigation was completed on one of the employees, but that the disciplinary action had not yet been decided. The other investigations are ongoing, and he confirmed that all three are still being paid. Joey said there would be "no change in the plan" to continue to pay them indefinitely.
As I'm sure you know, court cases in Dallas County can take two years or more to come to trial. As a tax payer, I deeply resent my tax dollars being given to someone, anyone, to just sit at home and do nothing. I strongly believe these employees should be working in other departments. With all the layoffs in the past two years, surely there are many departments where they could work answering phones at the rec centers, filing or doing data entry, or shelving library books-anything outside of Dallas Animal Services just so they'd be earning their pay.
You know better than I do the City's financial situation, and this is an outrageous waste of taxpayer's money and a slap in the face to the thousands of employees who have taken on extra duties to take up the slack from coworkers who have lost their jobs because of budget cuts.
I hope you'll look into this and be able to do something about this
Well, City folk? We're listening.