To the Editor,
June has been an interesting month for Hi-Tor. Three articles in different local newspapers detail conflicts between the Hi-Tor Board of Directors and the volunteer group Rebuild, which has vigorously been dedicated to raising funds for a new animal shelter for the past two years. The current Hi-Tor BOD president claims Rebuild to be a committee of the HTBOD, however, the board minutes of 5/2012 simply authorize Don Franchino to raise funds for a new shelter.
Apparently, the board also agreed to his requirements to include separate bank account, phone number, web site, mailing address and to be a non-board committee (Our Town 6/18/14), as these requirements have not been disputed. Funds raised by Rebuild volunteers were independently transferred by the HTBOD to the Rockland Community Foundation as protection from possible litigation from a short term employee.
With no access to the Rockland Community Foundation, Franchino then opened another account for deposit of ongoing donations. Accurate bank records should be readily available detailing deposits, withdrawals and transfers and by whom. Other than nasty postings on social media suggesting theft of donations by volunteers, there seems to be no speculation or indication that any funds raised have been dedicated to any purpose other than a new animal shelter.
Perhaps the fund raising effort should have been “Replace Hi-Tor,” rather than “Rebuild Hi-Tor” – an impossible task. The primary issue seems to be one of power and control of funds rather than concern for a new facility. Donald Franchino is not the only target in the sites of the Hi-Tor BOD. Volunteers have been described as ‘behaving badly’ (Open meeting 1/14) and over the course of the past year or so, many who have organized successful events or provided animal care have taken their efforts elsewhere. In the past few months, one board member (after serving for eight years as vice president) was terminated for alleged ethical misconduct, another (who served as treasurer for seven years) resigned and is now accused by the current board of leaving shelter finances in disarray (Rockland County Times 6/19/14).
Previous boards seem to be charged with creating problems due to mismanagement (RCT 6/19/14). Five current members of the HTBOD also served during 2013. Three of those individuals served three to five years. If problems existed, why were they not identified and addressed much earlier, especially by those with greater tenure? Maybe they were too pre-occupied with other interests to focus on installing and supporting a qualified executive director and creating financial stability?
Something is terribly wrong with the oversight of Hi-Tor and its management group. In three years , the turnover of board members for a small board is remarkable – 15 resignations and 4 terminations.
Former Hi-Tor volunteer