Tag: allege

Animal welfare groups allege unresponsiveness, neglect from Liberty Humane Society

Last month, residents of the Jersey City luxury building The Beacon were getting concerned about a dog.

A husky had been seen lying on an outside balcony for several days, with no apparent food or water. Photos show the dog lying on a balcony strewn with feces.

“The dog was living in filth,” one resident of the building said. Residents were so concerned that they lowered a dish of water onto the balcony and slid food under a divider for the animal. After the dog was outside for two days, the neighbor called Liberty Humane Society.

But instead of removing the dog, animal control officers from LHS allowed the owner to keep it.

Liberty Humane Society Executive Director Irene Borngraeber said the organization acted appropriately, but a coalition of animal welfare groups throughout Hudson County say the incident illustrates what they describe as the longstanding inadequacy of LHS.

The incident at the Beacon is “just one story of, like, hundreds of stories just like this,” said Anne Mosca, a board member of the cat rescue organization, JerseyCats.

In a series of interviews, the leaders of six Hudson County animal welfare groups said LHS often declines to help injured or sick animals. The organization often requires residents to pay a “surrender fee,” even when they are simply seeking help for abandoned strays and not trying to surrender their own pet, the animal advocates said.

And LHS sometimes leaves traps for animals unattended for long periods at a time, the leaders said, meaning an animal could spend days inside a cage outdoors before being picked up.

LHS has been providing animal control and shelter services to Jersey City since 2017, when the nonprofit was awarded a two-year, $1.2 million contract. The City Council has renewed that contract twice, most recently in May. Jaclyn Fulop, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s wife, sits on the organization’s board. Bayonne and Hoboken also have contracts with the nonprofit.

But in interviews and written accounts, more than a half dozen people said the organization was unresponsive to calls and appeared reluctant to help animals in danger or in poor health.

“People give up on calling animal control because they’re not going to be responsive,” said Denise Labowski, a director with rescue group PAD PAWS Rescue. “So they figure, why bother?”

In one account, a person wrote that an animal control officer from LHS declined to help remove a kitten from a sewer, saying that its mother would return to take care of it. Another said that when a kitten was stuck under the hood of a car, an LHS officer suggested leaving a note on the vehicle. Others said that officers appeared hours later than they said they would.

Borngraeber said she was unaware of those specific complaints.

“I would encourage the individuals quoted to contact LHS directly to discuss their concerns and provide additional information needed to document and assess next steps,” she said in an email. “We must work together.”

And she pushed back on

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6 whistleblowers allege misconduct by government media boss

“[T]he research was to be utilized in evaluating career civil servants’ abilities to carry out the duties of their positions,” the complaint reads.

The complaint says that Grant Turner, who was pushed out as USAGM’s chief financial officer in August, three months ago started telling the State IG that the media group’s CEO Michael Pack and top lawyer Mora Namdar were violating the law in pressuring his office to withhold congressionally appropriated money from USAGM’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, a law that prohibits agencies from spending money that they don’t properly have on their books.

Turner, who testified in front of Congress last week, also alleges that Pack “crossed the firewall” that is meant to protect the journalistic independence of USAGM’s news networks from political interference, including by removing an Urdu journalist who had done a piece on former Vice President Joe Biden. All six of the officials who filed the whistleblower complaint were removed from their posts on the same day in August but remain at the agency on “investigative leave.”

The complaint also details concerns former chief strategy officer Shawn Powers raised internally about how a freeze on spending was putting the organization’s journalists in danger.

“Mr. Powers raised urgent concerns regarding the impact that Mr. Pack’s spending freeze was having on USAGM’s ability to support internet freedom tools in Hong Kong amidst the ongoing Chinese crackdown and takeover of local governing authorities,” the complaint says. “Mr. Powers specifically pointed out that the spending freeze was placing USAGM’s journalists at grave risk, and that the funds needed to be released to ensure that both USAGM’s journalists and its audience were safe from surveillance and persecution. Mr. Pack’s failure to support the internet freedom tools created a specific physical danger to USAGM journalists.”

Powers also made a “protected disclosure” to a staffer for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about how Pack’s reorganization had led to a “substantial reduction” in his duties without first providing a mandatory 14-day notifcation to Congress. Powers, who was worried about reprisal for disclosing this information to Congress and was in fact removed from his job in August, also told the Menendez staffer that he feared Pack was going to circumvent a congressional hold on $7 million in appropriations in order to cover expenses for the Cuba broadcasting office.

Another of the six officials who filed the complaint, Marie Lennon, who was director of management services, alleges that the Office of Personnel Management had said that USAGM had exceeded its authority in trying to hire four new staffers for temporary positions and that she was worried that Pack was bringing these people on board to “politicize” USAGM.

After she raised concerns about this to Cullo and USAGM chief of staff Emily Newman, Lennon says, she lost her access to classified information in a “clear and explicit retaliatory action.”

Controversial hires have continued despite the criticism. The latest example is Robert W. Patterson, who

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Six whistleblowers allege misconduct by government media boss

Six senior officials at the U.S. Agency for Global Media have filed a whistleblower complaint with the State Department’s inspector general and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, alleging that they were retaliated against for raising concerns about the new political leadership installed earlier this year by President Donald Trump.

The 32-page complaint, obtained by POLITICO and being shared with Capitol Hill, accuses top officials at the taxpayer-funded media group of abusing their authority, violating the law and mismanaging the organization.

In perhaps the complaint’s most explosive allegation, its authors say one of them was told the media group’s CEO Michael Pack or one of his aides ordered a senior USAGM official to conduct research on the voting history of at least one employee at the media agency — a violation of laws protecting civil servants from undue political influence or reprisal.

“[T]he research was to be utilized in evaluating career civil servants’ abilities to carry out the duties of their positions,” the complaint reads.

The complaint says that Grant Turner, who was pushed out as USAGM’s chief financial officer in August, three months ago started telling the State IG that the media group’s CEO Michael Pack and top lawyer Mora Namdar were violating the law in pressuring his office to withhold congressionally appropriated money from USAGM’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, a law that prohibits agencies from spending money that they don’t properly have on their books.

Turner, who testified in front of Congress last week, also alleges that Pack “crossed the firewall” that is meant to protect the journalistic independence of USAGM’s news networks from political interference, including by removing an Urdu journalist who had done a piece on former Vice President Joe Biden. All six of the officials who filed the whistleblower complaint were removed from their posts on the same day in August but remain at the agency on “investigative leave.”

The complaint also details concerns former chief strategy officer Shawn Powers raised internally about how a freeze on spending was putting the organization’s journalists in danger.

“Mr. Powers raised urgent concerns regarding the impact that Mr. Pack’s spending freeze was having on USAGM’s ability to support internet freedom tools in Hong Kong amidst the ongoing Chinese crackdown and takeover of local governing authorities,” the complaint says. “Mr. Powers specifically pointed out that the spending freeze was placing USAGM’s journalists at grave risk, and that the funds needed to be released to ensure that both USAGM’s journalists and its audience were safe from surveillance and persecution. Mr. Pack’s failure to support the internet freedom tools created a specific physical danger to USAGM journalists.”

Powers also made a “protected disclosure” to a staffer for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about how Pack’s reorganization had led to a “substantial reduction” in his duties without first providing a mandatory 14-day notifcation to Congress. Powers, who was worried about reprisal for disclosing this information to Congress and

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