No Kill Advocates Stunned by Press Conference About Pueblo Animal Services
No Kill Learning hosted a Facebook LIVE press conference regarding a request for proposals (RFP) to run Pueblo Animal Services on October 9, 2018 (full video is above). It is raising concerns from animal advocates in Pueblo and beyond. Prior to the press conference, No Kill Learning had announced its intention to submit a proposal in response to the RFP. However, during the press conference, Mike Fry from No Kill Learning outlined many reasons they were withdrawing from the RFP process. These reasons stated included:
Insufficient time provided to prepare the proposals
The timeline for bidders to begin preparing their bids, nearly everyone agrees, should have begun in May or June of this year. However, the RFP was not released until September 19, months late. Documents show that the City and County agreed that the May/June timeline is what should have been followed. Still, the RFP remained stalled for months. Making the timeline worse was the fact that the RFP omitted critical information needed by bidders in order to prepare their bids. While bidders were allowed to ask questions to seek more information, responses to their questions were not published until October 2, which effectively left bidders 12 business days in order to complete their bids, because the final proposals are due on October 19. As impossible as that timeline would seem, it is even worse than it appears, because the City and County of Pueblo say they intend to select the winning bidder on November 23, which happens to be the week of Thanksgiving, effectively leaving the successful bidder with only a month during which to acquire all of the resources needed to take over Pueblo Animal Services on January 1.
The City and County refused to answer important questions asked by bidders
When the responses to questions asked by bidders came back, No Kill Learning was shocked to find that the City/County refused to answer a range of important questions - ranging from simple things, like the monthly cost of the utilities in the building, to information about existing staffing levels and more. During the press conference, Fry summed this topic up by saying, "In short, the City and County are asking bidders to submit detailed line item budgets when they refuse to provide the information needed to put those things together."
Ownership of stuff
One of the most troubling aspects of the RFP process has been what appears to be a massive give-away of assets to the current contract holder. Key assets needed to run Animal Services, paid for using Pueblo public funds and donations by Pueblo citizens are, effectively, being given away to the current contractor, based on language in the RFP and answers back to bidders. Even though Pueblo Animal Services financial reports clearly document purchases of capital equipment, like animal control vehicles and veterinary equipment, using these public funds, the RFP and responses to bidders's questions from the City and County say all of these assets now belong to the current contractor, Humane Society of Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR). This seems to directly contradict language in the existing contract between the City & County with HSPPR.
In the answers to bidders' questions, the City and County even said the name "Pueblo Animal Services," and other related identities, are all owned by HSPPR and that, if a new contractor is selected, a new name would need to be selected, and all of those resources would need to be established, in effect, from the ground up.
Based on these and other things, No Kill Learning has concluded that the RFP process has been tainted so badly that it is clearly an effort to maintain the status quo by disadvantaging potential bidders so much that it is impossible for them to compete with HSPPR.
The press conference also included a lot of background about the No Kill conversation going on in Pueblo and beyond, making this video an important one for No Kill advocates around the United States to watch and share.