Mayor Jerry Abramson held a press conference earlier this afternoon to make official the resignation of now-ex-Louisville Metro Animal Services director Gilles Meloche, offering the embattled doctor’s head on a silver platter to attendant news media and essentially telling them “That’s it, that’s all there is for dinner,” and pledging full support behind the services’ new interim figurehead, Assistant Director Wayne Zelinsky.
Nowhere in his comments did the mayor acknowledge any of the egregious offenses and improprieties that have plagued Meloche since 2006 — ranging from medieval shelter conditions, illegal searches and seizures of pets, sexual harassment, etc. — saying instead that Meloche was a “change agent” who “modernized” LMAS, taking it into “the 21st century.” His last day will be Dec. 31st.
“Meloche made significant changes,” Abramson said, “and he felt that now was the time to move on.” He added that Meloche met with him last Friday because the director wanted to discuss a future beyond LMAS in lieu of greener, private-practice pastures. From what I gathered, the mayor didn’t regard it as a difficult conversation to have. Aesthetically, Abramson did a good job dodging the questions lobbed at him, showing characteristic profluence in the art of the non-answer answer that will no doubt serve him well on the campaign trail, but does not acknowledge the legitimate, non-partisan moral and bureaucratic outrage stirred in his hometown by the disgraced Meloche.
Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, R-16, who chairs the Government Accountability and Oversight committee, offered a more accurate asessment of the “change” Meloche actually catalyzed.
“He was a misfit,” he said. “I believe he has done damage to our city and to the animal services area. Now is time to turn a new page. Everyone had a different thought about what was appropriate, but in the end the right thing is happening and I’m happy.”
Downard pledged his support of Zelinsky, whose background in law enforcement makes him, in the Mayor’s words, “managerially” skilled, but whose implication in the scandals surrounding Meloche while Zilensky served as Assistant Director has yet to be proven, tacitly or otherwise, so the jury’s out on him.
Chris Poynter, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, declined to comment along these lines.
In the spirit of saving the biggest explosion for the very end of a sub-par 90′s action film, the most fascinating element in this sordid equation is Meloche’s resignation letter (PDF, FYI), a document of circular logic and false correlations that I’ve encountered before, and needs to be read about three times for its true meaning to sink in: Meloche, like some Euro villain-archetype of said action film, justifies a systematic failure of bureaucracy by wrapping cherry-picked data in layers of verbosity and, somehow, emerges from the climactic explosion relatively unscathed to star in yet another, even more disgraceful film.
There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance on display here as well, especially considering that I took a tour of the Manslick Road primary shelter last Saturday and witnessed enough contradictions regarding his letter’s rhetoric to write a bizarro version of it, nearly line for line. (Q. Question: Would any handwriting experts be willing to step forward, in the name of science, to examine his signature?)
To cite a few examples: The main reason that the mobile personnel houses and trailers were built was the ubiquitous August 4th flood, which destroyed the previous administration/personnel building that remains, to this day, unused; saying that the shelter was “decades behind” when he came to it when animal care facilities are currently understaffed and overcrowded upon his resignation; and the construction of the “first phase” in a new facility by January, 2010, will consist of an adoption center followed by new care facilities that will only be built a year later, in 2011; and other sins of omission.
But to the Mayor’s credit, he did a good job of pretending, too, and to be fair the employees at LMAS will have a much deserved New Year’s party worth celebrating.
[Additional reporting by Phillip M. Bailey]