More Barking about BARC

Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control Department(BARC) continues to be one of the most talked about subjects among local leaders and observers. Today, Houston City Council was supposed to vote on a contract extension for Interim Chief Gerry Fusco. Bill Stamps reports — that vote never happened.
The Bureau of Animal Care and Regulation is on its third chief this year. Gerry Fusco's job is to clean up the mess left by the previous two chiefs, one of whom was let go after just months on the job. The mayor and every councilmember has heard from the animal lovers concerned about conditions at BARC. Councilwoman Pam Holm.

"I don't think I have received in six years as many emails as I have received in the last month and a half, two months on BARC."


After one month on the job, the council needed to extend Chief Fusco's contract in order for him to get paid.

Fusco had said he'd leave if the contract wasn't voted on by Friday's deadline.

Just about every councilmember seemed ready to vote on the issue, except Jolanda Jones. Jones said neither Fusco nor the mayor answered questions she had about the contract. This is Jones:

"It is curious to me why there appears to be some emergency when almost two weeks ago I asked for specific questions to be answered and they haven't been answered yet. So hypothetically speaking, if someone had bothered to answer the questions on the email, we might not even be here. I mean, I might be voting for the contract."

So Jones placed a hold on the vote, asking for more time.

Some councilmembers including Mayor White seemed annoyed with the hold, saying there's been plenty of time and debate on the issue. This is councilmember Sue Lovell:

"The real thing is, are we really committed to fixing BARC and moving forward. I think the decision to move it out from under Health and Human Services is a good one and I just can't believe it'll be another month or so before we do anything about it."


Some councilmembers, including the mayor felt so strongly on the need to take action that they voted to override Jones hold, something that almost never happens. But the vote fell short. And since the council is taking next week off, it will be at least two weeks before they revisit the issue.

Councilwoman Melissa Noriega:

"I don't know whether this guy can fix this or not. I do know it feels like things are moving forward. I do feel like we are making progress."

But that progress will have to wait at least two more weeks . In the meantime, Fusco could work without getting paid, or he could tell the city goodbye and then, they'd be back to square one.

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston Public Radio News.