An investigation into the country’s largest animal shelter system devastated by budged cuts.
I want to finish my investigative project into the country’s largest animal shelter system.
I'm a former daily newspaper reporter, and I volunteered for nearly three years at what was considered the most dysfunctional animal shelter in Los Angeles County. After volunteering, I wrote a story about my experience and the young Vietnamese-American woman who took on the leadership in order to make much needed changes.
The multi-media project, which included a video, was a labor of love about my local animal shelter, and cost me thousands of dollars out of my pocket to produce it. I have no regrets, except that I ran out of money to complete it.
I was unable to perform a detailed examination of payroll records because the county wants more than $1,500 to produce the public records. This is an outrageously inflated amount, as it only takes a couple hours to copy several databases. But this is how agencies keep public information private: Put a price tag on it that an independent journalist like me can’t afford.
So I’m appealing here to conclude this project by taking a close look at how these facilities are staffed through an inspection of electronic records— the best and most thorough way to do this sort of story.
The money donated would cover the cost the county wants in order to copy the records for me, as well as the fee for a qualified computer-assisted reporter to examine the data and reproduce it in easy-to-read charts and graphics.
In the last part of my original Carson story, the head of the agency said she does not have the staff to run the L.A. County shelters properly. But instead of doubling the staff, which she says she would need to do in order to make the facilities work, staff is being cut.
Lack of money is a problem many of public agencies face today. But L.A. County is the largest animal shelter system in the country. It handles more than 90,000 animals a year while its staff has been cut from 385 in 2008 to 350 last year, with more cuts coming.
This story would take more than just a look at the department’s performance.
Donating to this project would mean you have helped raise awareness of these undermanned facilities, and supported an invitation to volunteer at a public shelter-- something I know can be so rewarding.
Upon completion, the story will run online for everyone to read for free. Backers will receive a link immediately when it goes live.
if I get funded, $400 goes to kickstarter and amazon, leaving about $2,100. I will spend $350 to fly to Cleveland to review the numbers produced by Gabriel Baird, the computer-assisted reporter. Gabriel will receive the balance of the money, about $1,750.
You might wonder why i can't go over the numbers by phone or skype with Gabriel. It's just not practical. There can be no misunderstanding of any detail of these numbers, which include hundreds of employees and thousands of hours worked over several years. I triple check his numbers as well as his notes. My reputation as a journalist is everything, and sometimes the process of producing indisputable numbers is very laborious.
For example, when he crunched the 600,000 electronic animal files for my original story, he had dozens of questions, some of which I couldn't answer until after i contacted sources for clarification and we dug deeper in to the data.
Gabriel is a veteran journalist who specializes in data analysis. He uses computer programs to glean trends and insights from data. In many cases, including the original Carson project, the data he analyzed contained so many records that it would have otherwise been impractical or even impossible to make sense of it all without the help of a machine.
I did, and the county responded by saying it would take them a whole month to produce the records at a cost of $1,526. Under the law, the county is allowed to charge for the time it takes to produce public records. I maintain, as do several computer assisted reporters, that the county is asking way too much money to produce the records.
For example, in my original story on the Carson Animal Shelter, the Department of Animal Care and Control produced 600,000 electronic files on animals for less than a hundred dollars. That was a reasonable fee. The county appears to be more possessive of its payroll records.
I did. Originally, L.A. County wanted more than $1,600 for the public payroll records. I told the county attorney that was way too much for the simple task of copying databases. The price was subsequently lowered about a hundred dollars to what it is now: $1,526.
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I will thank you for your generosity and list your name at the conclusion of the story.Estimated delivery:
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The thank you at the end of the story, as well as a 5 x 7 print of the flowers cover photo.Estimated delivery:
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The thank you at the end of the story, the 5 x 7 print of the flowers cover photo, along with a hand written thank you note.Estimated delivery:
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The thank you at the end of the story, the 5 x 7 print of the flowers cover photo, along with a personal letter of thanks.Estimated delivery:
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The thank you at the end of the story, the personal letter of thanks, the 5 x 7 print of the flowers cover photo, along with a humorous story (about 400 words) from my time as a shelter volunteer, which hasn't been published before.Estimated delivery:
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The thank you at the end of the story, the humorous story from my time as a shelter volunteer, the personal letter of thanks, along with a 5 x 7 flowers cover photo that's matted and framed.Estimated delivery:
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Everything I have listed above, along with a phone conversation in which you can ask me anything about this story or my time volunteering at the animal shelter.Estimated delivery:
- (31 days)