Reactions to HSI 

Were things omitted?
Thank you for your coverage, "Financial Disclosure:

Were things omitted?
Thank you for your coverage, “Financial Disclosure: The Humane Society of Indianapolis Opens Its Books” (Dispatch, May 5-12). Sadly, Mr. Burris’ article clearly enables one more calculated and well-orchestrated presentation of misinformation. This agency’s habitual practice of misrepresentation continues to contribute to its self-generated (as IBJ refers to) “death spiral.” This behavior alienates the support the agency so badly needs, embarrasses the community and betrays the animals it is designated to serve. The readers should know that Mr. Burris spent considerable time with HSI officials, upon their invitation, for his report and afforded Move to ACT representatives about 20 minutes of phone interview and declined an invitation to visit for equal time. Twenty minutes does not allow a newcomer on the scene the time to comprehend the complexity of issues that surround the culture of this organization. When reporters limit themselves to one-sided information they contribute to a profound disservice to the readers, potential donors and especially the benefactors — which in this case are the animals of our community, now and tomorrow. Although the inaccuracies in this article are too numerous to mention here, let’s take a look at an inkling of what is and is not reported: • Balances from the three trusts are reported from 2002, but there is successful omission of the fact that the Charitable Trust is now depleted. Was Mr. Burris provided this information to pass on to the readership? • The bottom line, after the circular information about validating credit card expenditure repayments by the Ness accounting firm, is that “much of the supporting documents for the credit card transactions” are missing because of a “break-in.” It doesn’t require a forensic accountant to know that credit card bills, if lost or stolen, can be reproduced. However, money spent on a forensic audit (that HSI didn’t want to do “because that would have cost thousands of dollars”) to reassure the community would have been a wise investment to restore trust in an agency in a crisis of trust. As a side note, contrary to the report that Miss Boden took over in 2003, she actually took over in 2002. And don’t forget to witness, like we have, that people coming to HSI to surrender their animals, upon learning that there is a newly adopted surrender fee, are offering those unsterilized animals to other customers in the parking lot, or turning around and taking them to the already overwhelmed Indianapolis Animal Care and Control on South Harding Street. But we’ll hear the encouraging tune that “adoptions are up and euthanasias are down.” The game is over for too many animals because resources are wasted and priorities confused. Warren and Karen Patitz Co-founders of Move to ACT
Full range of facts
While any exposure the media brings to the dire situation at the Humane Society of Indianapolis is appreciated, I want to insure the public is given the full range of facts from which to base its decision. As such I would offer up counterpoints to and discrepancies in statements from the article “Financial Disclosures” by reporter Tim Burris (Dispatch, May 5-12). To begin, I want to make it clear to readers that Move to ACT is not a small, radical group bent on haranguing HSI nor spreading unfounded, uninformed “miscommunications” as Ms. Boden implies. MTA consists of a large and growing membership from the very animal welfare community HSI serves, including one former HSI board member, a 12-year HSI volunteer and lead animal behaviorist/trainer, several well-respected veterinarians, board members from affiliated animal welfare groups and a large gathering of generally concerned animal lovers. Now, as this forum is meant to rebut statements in the “Financial Disclosure” article and not be a PR release, I invite readers who wish to learn more for themselves to visit their Web site ( Now let’s rebut. First, it was not as simple to convince HSI to open their books as the article portrays. It has taken over two years of repeated requests, public pressure and finally a court filing before HSI finally capitulated. In fact, it wasn’t until after MTA filed a legal objection in probate court on March 2, 2004, that HSI officials, likely knowing they would be deposed, used the print media (IBJ) on March 29, 2004, to inform the public of moves to use restricted Stokes trust assets as collateral for a multimillion dollar loan in 2003. Doesn’t Mr. Burris see this as a major concern? I do. I am further troubled by the financial mismanagement of HSI particularly due to the fact that their board president is a senior partner at corporate finance and tax auditing firm Ernst & Young. Though Martha Boden came to HSI with no professional experience running a major animal welfare organization, the board president certainly has the experience needed to direct the overall financial course that the organization should be taking. Yet the article reports using the charitable trust principle itself as collateral for a multimillion dollar loan, thus still placing the trust at risk. This is not careful stewardship of dollars donated by a community believing the money would be spent on homeless animals. On one point I do agree with Ms. Boden, it has not been a single source or event which has brought about this plight, but a blatant pattern of poor governance by the long-standing HSI board — a pattern which must be broken. The goal is not the closure of this one-time shining star of animal shelters, but to restore its integrity and rejuvenate and innovate lagging programs. Our goal must be the rescue of HSI for the sake of the community and the 13,000-plus animals that come through its doors each year. Stuart Ough Indianapolis
Art vs. Art
I was one of the participants of Art vs. Art Friday night. Though hesitant I went with an open mind to see for myself what this new venue for artists was all about. Creating a work of art in three to four hours with only the basic painting materials to work with was a challenge. Even though my specialty is sculpting I enjoyed working alongside so many talented artists. I was very impressed with how many strong works of art that were created and the diversity of that art. Primary Colours is to be commended on bringing together so many artists in a creative productive way. That is where the positive aspect of Art vs. Art ends and the negative effects begin. I believe the City of Indianapolis, Mayor’s Office, Indianapolis Arts Council, Indiana Arts Commission, Lilly Endowment for the Arts, Mass Attractions, Cultural Districts and etc. have worked very hard at strengthening the status of the arts in Indianapolis and especially the standing of the visual artist. There has been much positive work over the last 10 years in Indy that has elevated artists. This event, if it continues, turns back the clock on our future as artist in this city. It lowers the bar on how artists value their art and how we allow others to handle our work. If an artist can look on and watch his/her fellow artists’ works be destroyed for entertainment ... we all loose. Why should the buying public purchase our work for what we ask when we are allowing it to be destroyed for cheap entertainment? This wonton destruction of art and the mayhem that played out in front of our eyes is reprehensible. We owe it to ourselves and to each other not to let ourselves be cheaply entertained or persuaded the destruction is just innocent fun. In the process of trying for $1,000 we allowed our integrity to be stolen. How great it would be if Primary Colours took this energy and enthusiasm to create and display paintings through a similar venue that has an auction of all the art created in a four-hour period and start the bidding at say $50 to $100. The artists would get public exposure, the art would not be destroyed, more funds would be raised for the desired cause, the public would have more time to absorb and decide to purchase on the work, many more people would get to enjoy the work and what does not sell over three to four weeks is returned to the artist to do as they wish, possibly to sell and add to their income. How much more positive this would be than to have a screaming crowd trying to set the highest level on a decibel meter that predicts whose art gets trashed. I for one, and several others I have spoken to, will never go to another Art vs. Art. This behavior does not advance artists and casts a detrimental view on our artist community. Let’s not be a bunch of foolish gladiators or passive puppets, but a city of intelligent, mature, creative professionals. Patrick Mack Full-time metal sculptor, Indianapolis

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