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The Cast of Characters

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The Lincoln Closed House Society Saga

In any production there is a cast. In order to clarify who is doing what to whom I thought it might be beneficial to supply some facts. I shall begin with the Board of Directors of LCHS for 2011 – 2012. As of this writing there has not been an AGM so until such time as there is an AGM and the democratic process be permitted allowing open voting in order to either maintain or replace this Board, this is what we are stuck with.

The Cast of Characters:

President: Ann Davidson:

There really isn’t a great deal that I can tell you about this woman.  Ann professes to be an expert in the field of Human Resources. Given that, it makes one wonder how a strike was able to last three months while she was at the helm.   According to Management who stated numerous times, her basic theory was to cave into all demands with no negotiations and call it a day. I found it very disturbing that Management felt in order to move forward with negotiations it was necessary to actually sneak around behind her back and meet with the negotiating committee and the lawyers to avoid her  input.  What makes this doubly sad is Ms. Davidson was so reticent to meet with the press to support Kevin Strooband when he was being publicly vilified basically leaving him to flap in the breeze all on his own. This professional, who is so committed to the care of animals was not capable of RENEWING her membership at LCHS in order to comply with the Bylaws for maintaining her position as Director, never mind President. More on that later.  How many walk- a- thons she has attended, how many times has stood by and watched the killing. How many times she has worked the shop. How any times she has cleaned a cage or walked a dog or taken a cat to be socialized. In spite of the fact that she had to have her own membership RENEWED on the night of Oct 17th, Ann voted against accepting the 53 applications for membership. Nice…..

Vice President: Tom Manney

Tom has been on the Board of Directors for a number of years and throughout his tenure has been THE voice for change, competence, growth and improvement. He operates in a quiet dignified manner, his style being very low key but make no mistake he is a change agent .With virtually no support for making LCHS be the “top dog” Mayor McMullan stated is his wish for LCHS, Tom continue to work for change. Because Tom believes that LCHS is a business, it needs to be run like a business. He understands that there must be rules, and compliance is mandatory not just when it is convenient and self- serving. Tom is a proponent of transparency that includes, open meetings, open membership, open communication and open books.  It was Tom along with Grace Pang who pushed for and ultimately achieved the building of the Spay Neuter Clinic.  It was Tom who had the decency to keep the public apprised of the ridiculous manipulations of the Board on Oct 17th.

Tom is part of the future of LCHS. He possesses integrity, strength of character, compassion and a true affection for animals. Tom wants to reduce the killing.

A man of conviction and commitment, Tom unfortunately was unable to cast a vote on the motion to accept the 53 membership applications. Due to Ms..Davidson’s incompetence Tom had to assume the chair rendering him unable to register his vote in favour of the motion.

Treasurer: Nadia Kobylka: 

Frankly I cannot pass judgment on Ms. Kobylka’s abilities as Treasurer because as we all know, the public is not permitted accessibility to meetings and or documents at the Lincoln Closed House Society. I have no reason not to believe that her work as Treasurer is accomplished with great professionalism and integrity. Honestly I do not know what it is she does as Treasurer. LCHS employs a bookkeeper, Jane Lindsay who is well compensated.  In addition there is the also the accounting firm Crawford Smith Swallow, http://crawfordsmithandswallow.com/ who prepare the CRA return so again, I am not entirely sure who does what but I do know that that is a lot of people to handle pretty basic accounting and bookkeeping for a $1.6 million CHARITABLE operation http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/ebci/haip/srch/t3010form22Qui.ckView-eng.action?b=130115397RR0001&e=2011-12-31&n=LINCOLN+COUNTY+HUMANE+SOCIETY&r=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cra-arc.gc.ca%3A80%2Febci%2Fhaip%2Fsrch%2Fbasicsearchresult-eng.action%3Fk%3Dlincoln%2520county%2520humane%2520society%26amp%3Bs%3Dregistered%26amp%3B%3DSearch%26amp%3Bp%3D1%26amp%3Bb%3Dtrue%26amp.  OOOPs! I stand Corrected. According to John Willey , legal beagle http://www.chownlaw.com/practice_areas/business_law.html, LCHS is a “Private Corporation”!  Please note, there is no reference to working with Not for Profit associations in the “menu of services” on their website.

Let me tell you about a meeting that I did have with Ms. Kobylka just last month. I was being interviewed, yes interviewed for the second time yes, second time in an attempt to fill the vacancy on the Board of Directors LCHS. This is a vacancy that had been open for quite some time and I had been busting my little buttons to fill the spot since making application on July 13th 2012. More of this later.

In the course of the interview, my experience with raising funds for Non Profits was raised. I provided Ms. Kobylka with information on a number of the campaigns in which I had been involved. She then asked if I would be interested in heading up a Fund Raising Committee to which I replied I would be delighted. Oh, but there is a catch, no position in the Board. . Was that acceptable? In hindsight it makes perfect sense. Like all of the dog walkers, cat socializers and others who give they time and energy as volunteers. Nadia who obviously belongs to the Lincoln Closed House Society says, we’ll take you money and your effort but you can have no say, no vote! Yep, Nadia jumped on that secret society band wagon and voted against the motion to accept the 53 applications for membership.

Secretary: Grace Pang

Grace is the driving force behind all of the positive changes and attempts to make LCHS a better place. She and Tom Manney have worked long and hard to bring to LCHS what is good today at LCHS. The first one to admit she is not a “hands on” animal person. Cage cleaning and poopy scooping is not her thing but she more than makes up for it by shoveling the ridiculous amount of BS that has plagued LCHS for years. Grace fought for the Spay Neuter Clinic, Grace fought to have the OSPCA take on the clinic for a year to see the clinic operating and saving animals rather than continue to stagnate and sit there like a million dollar paperweight.  It is Grace who was at the shelter virtually every weekend during the strike to man the desk, clean up the place and supply support as requested. It is Grace who is one of the most significant contributor of funds to LCHS.  It is Grace who has said and continues to say, no more killing! It is Grace who has campaigned for open membership, open books, open meetings, open doors. It is Grace with whom I went to hear Nathan Winograd in Toronto last March and it was Grace with whom I travelled last August (at our own expense) to Washington DC to the No Kill Conference, http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-conference/

in order we should obtain the tools necessary and learn how to reduce the killing by implementing the No Kill Equation. It is Grace who sponsored fifty-three people to become members of LCHS and made the motion to accept the applications for membership. Grace continues to offer her name as sponsor for membership. Best hurry as it has become abundantly clear there is motion afoot to have Grace removed from the Board of Directors as soon as is practicable or in the case of the Lincoln Closed House Society as soon as they can get away with it. Save Grace, save LCHS, Save the animals. That is they way it works.

Joe Kushner, St Catharines City Council Representative

Oh where to start? I believe, 1977. Yes you read that right. 1977!  Thirty –Five years!!!!! This man has been permitted, nay encouraged to make LCHS his own little fiefdom for 35 years!!! Enough already. Mr. Mayor, please I beg of you remove Kushner as City Council Rep immediately.

Let me give you a sample of some Kushnerisms; when there was public outcry regarding the new rules for obtaining membership at LCHS, which include having to have a member of the Board sponsor the applicant, Kushner’s response?

June 10, 1989, St Catharines Standard “St Catharines alderman also a board member, said he “can live with “ the strict new rules.

But he said he also has “some difficulty” with the rule which eliminates members of competing organizations from eligibility and leaves the definition up to the board.

On the heals of the “election” which ousted Catherine Ens and installed Ashley Shannon as President LCHS, the illustrious Kushner had this to say,

October 7, 1989, St Catharines Standard, Ald. Joe Kushner, St Catharines council’s representative for 12 years, agrees that the society is there to protect animals.

Although he considers himself a part of the “old guard” he stops short of saying people with different beliefs on animal welfare should be prevented from serving on the board.”

Further on in the article “In a memo to the board, Ald Kushner insisted that the board meetings be open to the public.”

Two day after the 2012 AGM meeting that, well didn’t, big Joe had this to say,

October 19, 2012, St Catharines Standard, To Siscoe’s threat that the city should look elsewhere for animal control services, St. Catharines Councilor. Joe Kushner — the municipal representative on the humane society board — said dropping the agency might not be a good idea. “If the contract is ended, what does the city do with animal control?” he said. “In my opinion, the humane society does an excellent job. But when you’re dealing with animals, you have very passionate feelings and it can be difficult at times. “Kushner did, however, agree the doors should be open for the agency’s meetings.”

REALLY!!!! 23 years and 11 days later and this sorry excuse is still saying people should be permitted into the meetings and yet would not let members let alone the public into the Board meeting on Wednesday October 17th 2012.

Ugh, I have a headache…

Now on to the Directors at Large (no pun intended)

Let’s begin with a personal favourite of mine,

Ed Klassen: I don’t know the guy, I am sure he is a very pleasant, upright member of society. I believe his profession is working with challenged youth and that is really remarkable and kudos to you Mr. Klassen. HOWEVER, as Membership Chairmen , not so much. Case in point. In 2011 there were 57 annual LCHS members eligible for renewal. On October 17th there were 15annual members eligible to vote. Now let’s break this down. There should be 11 Directors eligible to vote  – check, and there were 10 members at large eligible to vote,  – check which brings us to a grand total of 21 potential votes. – check. So right off the bat Ed has lost or misplaced or was unable to generate or didn’t try to generate or renew 36 members. Huh? It gets worse. Did I not say that there were 11 potential Board members eligible to vote? Uh uhhhh!  Ann Davidson, Mary Lou Davidson, Michael Howe and Christine Probst had not renewed their memberships by the night of October 17th, 2012. The By Laws state “

3.01 Directors shall be elected by the members in a general meeting on a show of hands, unless a poll is demanded and if a poll is demanded such election shall be by ballot. Subject to the provisions of this by law, director shall be eligible for re- election

3.02 DIRECTORS TO BE IN GOOD STANDING Each Director for forty-five (45) days prior to his/her term of office, at the time of his/her election and continuously throughout his/her term of office, shall be a member in good standing, of the corporation.

PFFFFFFFT – don’t let the rules confuse you. John Wyllie  http://www.chownlaw.com/practice_areas/business_law.html, said it was okay for Davidson, Davidson Probst  and Howe to be renewed by  a vote of the Board because we all know the membership wasn’t allowed in the meeting let alone vote!

So let’s recap. Out of a potential 57 members, only 21 members were renewed because the membership chairman did not or was unable to do so.  Hell, even President and three other directors of the Board of Directors were not signed up and paid up as per the By Laws! The good news is that Ed did renew his OWN membership. Well done!

One more thing you should know about the Membership Chairman, he voted AGAINST having the 53 new applicants joining LCHS on October 17th, none of which were as a result of his efforts as Membership Chairman. Gotta’ love it eh?

Mary -Lou Davidson

Nice woman, loves animals especially cats. She has given a ridiculous number of hours towards the care and welfare of cats.

She was/is a member of NAfA;

She was/is on the board of CAAN. Apparently Mary Lou was/is in charge of fundraising which according to Mary Lou was incredibly successful having organized many events resulting in a great deal of money hence why she was recruited to LCHS.  At LCHS – not so much.

Presently a member of Best Friends – the no-kill facility in Utah.. Ummm, are any of these organizations considered “competition” as per the Membership Application?

Oddly, while being a member or having been a member of so many organizations dedicated to the welfare of animals I find it rather strange that Mary Lou would vote AGAINST her fellow rescuers and volunteers to become members. Yes folks your good friend Mary Lou stabbed you in the back on October17th when she voted against the motion to include the 53 applicants. But then this is the woman that stated in an open room when asked to sponsor a new member who don’t forget she voted against, “It’s dangerous to let just anyone join ” But apparently she is okay with having the fab 3 back in the fold – oh yeah, she’s one of them!

Maria Sgambati

What a gem of a person. Maria doesn’t need or crave the limelight. Maria works hard and every bit as importantly, Maria cares. You may count on Maria at the drop of a hat. If she is able, she will be there to help. During the strike, the washing machines broke down and the laundry was piling up. I am sure you can imagine some of the odours that were emanating from the mountain of towels and sheets etc. I had never met Maria before and had no idea who she was. All I saw was a body that we could use. I asked if she would be willing to hit the Laundromat and that was the last we saw of her for the rest of the day. To be honest I had forgotten all about her until there was a bang on the back door and there she was with bags and bags of clean dry bedding and towels for the animals. God we laughed! I have a great deal of respect for this woman who not only can be counted upon but is as loyal as the animals we choose to help. To you 53 applicants for membership, you should know that Maria the second on the motion and the only other vote with Grace in FAVOUR of you becoming a valued member of LCHS. I do so hope that we are able to hold on to Maria.


Christine Probst

That’s all folks! Don’t know anything she has done. Nor am I able to find anyone who can tell me what she has done. It would appear that she is either way too busy or  preoccupied or , or ,or  as she was unable to renew her membership at LCHS. Okay, that’s not fair she does show up to meetings on a regular basis including the 17th when she voted for the fab 3, (oh yea of course she was one of them ) to be renewed and against welcoming the 53 new members into LCHS. Beyond that, butkus!

Joe Kushner

Whoa, didn’t we already discuss Joe buddy? No, well, yes, but okay that is the “other” Joe Kushner, that is St Catharines City Council Representative, Joe Kushner. This Joe Kushner is all round good fella and Director of LCHS. THIS Joe Kushner has a vote and has done so since 2007 when Kevin Strooband figured Joe should not only be City Rep but a Director too. Again, how these things happened is soooo beyond me but happen they did and apparently continue to do so. According to a previously noted article when I was speaking of the other Joe Kushner, it stated.

June 10, 1989, St Catharines Standard “St Catharines alderman also a board member, said he “can live with “ the strict new rules.

This would suggest that back in June 1989 there were two Joe Kushners just like now, Joe Kushner the City Council rep who does not have a vote and the Joe Kushner, regular guy who does have a vote. Confused? Really?  So you have to ask the obvious question, is there a conflict of interest here? I really don’t know from a legal standpoint but from an ethical point of view I find it questionable


Joe Kushner the City Rep has now been quoted on two separate occasion 23 years apart stating he want open public meetings, he has stated that he doesn’t feel that applicants should be discriminated against for having ideals or beliefs that may be contrary/different/ non-compliant/ with his own or other board members. BUT Joe Kushner, great guy and friend of the animals voted AGAINST the 53 applicants for membership. Joe Kushner was a part of the Board meeting that was carried on behind closed doors on October 17th/12. Yep the same guy that said he wanted open meetings. Or was that the “other” Kushner?

Joe, joe, joe, joe joe, you can understand his problem though, it can’t be easy keeping track of two people at the same time.

 35 years, 2,000 cats/year = 70,000 and counting

That folks is your Board of Directors, Lincoln County Humane Society. These are the folks that are entrusted with a $1.6 million budget. These are the folks that are entrusted with the welfare of thousands of innocent animals every year.

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