When Joliet Township Supervisor Dan Vera ordered the firing of an experienced animal control officer over his desire to adopt a Chihuahua by the name of Chew, well, let's just say there has been enough of an uproar in the community that it may just chew him up politically down the line. And from all I have heard, and read, well, maybe that is not such a bad thing either.
You see, Mr. Vera decided to fire Bryan Jones, an experienced fourteen-year employee over a disagreement regarding a dog who had been determined to be "aggressive" by another animal control facility employee. Jones disagreed with that assessment and decided that he would like to adopt the three-year-old dog. Mr. Jones, though, was scheduled to take some "comp time" from the job and took the dog home with him without telling his supervisor. Bear in mind, I have been told that that has been done before by employees contemplating adoption without much fanfare.
Still, that didn't go over well with Joliet Township Supervisor Dan Vera after he was told of the impending adoption by Animal Control Director Sara Gimbel nearly a week later. Vera demanded that Bryan Jones return the dog to the facility because it "was township property" or be terminated. Jones refused for fear the animal would be put down needlessly. And that is when a controversy that never should have been, escalated into one.
Property, though, isn't exactly what I would call an animal considering that the job of animal control is custodial in nature. But hey, what do I know? I am just the taxpayer paying for these grown adults to argue over the labeling of a animal as being aggressive, an experienced and trained officer disputing it and his supervisors trying to make a big deal out over nothing. I mean come on now! This was an animal that would be properly adopted and cared for. I would think that the mission of any animal shelter is to provide homes for their intakes what their officer did was actually a good thing.
No wonder people are so up in arms over the firing of this man!
But since this story is so whacky I will have leave it up to you to read the full accounts of this in the Herald News and let you decide for yourselves. Please click here and here for related news articles.
For me, though, once this controversy became bigger than it ever should have - I had to begin asking myself what in the hell was I missing here? Surely this can't all be about some little Chihuahua and a matter of "township property." After all, this was an employee willing to give a needy animal a loving home.
So what's really going on here? Well I suppose that it must be pretty plain and simple - it has got to be about politics and a "I Am the Boss Ego Trip." Although, I would have thought the person who should have decided on that would have been Gimbel. But, do the taxpayers of Joliet really need its elected officials and paid managers to make a big ado over something as stupid as this or should they be more concerned about the perception (and the complaints) that their animal control department has not done a satisfactory job in safeguarding and caring for the animals in their charge?
That, to me, has to be the bigger question here.
You know, Joliet has figured out some pretty ingenious ways to keep socking it to the taxpayer while diminishing nearly every public service that they pay for. Quite frankly I am getting sick and tired of it. Yeah, I think we all understand that the economy is bad and that cuts have to be made - but you cannot take away everything. Besides, the takeaways usually revolve around getting rid of the "grunts" who actually do the work than those who are managing them. Not exactly the route I would take, you know?
So far as Joliet Township Animal Control goes, it is already short-staffed and incapable of covering their boundaries. And if they had any expectations of the Joliet Police Department to chip in on animal issues, well, good luck because they are already dangerously low staffed themselves. The way I see it, though, these government departments are subsidized by the taxpayer and as such are charged with a task. They need to do it correctly and efficiently. And I have to say this about Animal Control - if the allegations of dirty conditions or letting animals die because they don't want to give them food, water or the veterinary care that they deserve - well then that begs for an immediate change over there.
I have be honest here. I have also been told by people familiar with the township that Dan Vera got rid of his 20+ year Animal Control director and then hired the friend of his secretary, Sara Gimbel for the same position. In addition to that, Gimbel also received a $5,000 raise after only 2 months on the job. What is that all about? Beside the hiring of Gimbel, the only other so-called improvement made made at the Animal Control facility has been the superficial remodeling of the interior and exterior spaces.
Well damn it, as a taxpayer I don't expect new facades and/or superficial improvements. I want them to do their primary job and do it without favoritism. I also expect them to do those duties with the proper staffing levels required! Sadly, the next time Dan Vera runs for public office he will probably be touting those superficial improvements as some sort of accomplishment.
Another thing. If what I have been told is true about Dan Vera hiring his own secretary's friend, then I am mad as hell. Matter of fact, I would like to know the complete circumstances behind the removal of a long time employee and the subsequent hiring of Sara Gimbel. And I think that to be a fair question. Especially after she received a hefty raise for being on the job for a short time. I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like what they do in Chicago.
You know, once I really think about this, I really have to question why Dan Vera hasn't canned Sara Gimbel as his well-paid director of Animal Control? I mean she should be on top of things in her own department, right? So could it be that the wrong person got the axe here? And another thing, while I am venting here; isn't a longtime employee who knows the difference between an aggressive animal and one who doesn't more of an asset than a liability? The way I see this is that Bryan Jones saw that something was wrong at the facility and acted out of compassion with this dog. How can that be wrong?
As a matter of fact, I give Bryan Jones a lot of credit here for not wanting to play God with an animal who was incorrectly labeled as being aggressive and as such, deserves to be reinstated immediately.
As for Mr. Vera. Well there are a lot of questions about the way he does things. One thing I know for sure,
taxpayers and voters will remember the next time he runs for office.
Tags: Animal Shelters, Dan Vera, Joliet, Joliet Animal Control Controversy, Joliet Animal Control Director Sara Gimbel, Joliet Fires Animal Control Worker, Joliet Illinois, Joliet Township, Joliet Township Supervisor Dan Vera, News and Opinion, Op Ed, Politics, Sara Gimbel