After reading the updates on the SPCA allegations this morning all we can do right now is say oh no! How sad it is that this confused, tangled web now gets elevated to yet a higher level for the animals (if the allegations are true), for Cecil County’s reputation, for the SPCA, and for the taxpayers.
We fully realize that disinformation can be spread on the Net, but it can be spread other ways too and what is needed right now is for independent fact-finding so everyone has reports that will be accepted as reliable by most people. It appeared that the process was finally underway Tuesday for the county commissioners, after a few stumbles over closed doors meetings, were going to seek out an investigation from the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.
On top of that action, it had occurred to us that a nationally recognized group was needed to do a more broad study of operational practices at the SPCA, something more than the criminal investigation. Though the county commissioners didn’t talk about that, the SPCA took the initiative late yesterday in an announcement on the Whig’s website. That too was a step in the right direction and we congratulate the SPCA for requesting an audit, though we would have moved in that direction when this started breaking in October. That would have been a better, defensible strategy, rather than launching a website attacking a reporter investigating the complaints. What better defense than a study from a national body saying nothing was wrong?
Those two fact-finding initiatives, independent of even the most minor hint of Cecil County politics and behind-the-door maneuvering, coming from dependable sources, would be the way to resolve criminal, operational. and public relations nightmare for the SPCA and many other stakeholders.
But what do we read today, one of the county commissioners took his campaign manager to the SPCA board meeting, purportedly to be the public relations consultant for the nonprofit. Now we fully realize disinformation can be spread on the Net, in print newspapers, and in lots of other ways so we don’t particularly rely on the blogosphere for fact finding. But as the blogs turned, a portion of the story was confirmed by the person attending the meeting with the commissioner by a post in Delegate Smigiel’s weblog. She confirmed she was there, after having been asked by the Commissioner to head a Task Force looking into the investigation. It was not to serve as a PR person for the nonprofit, she wrote in her piece.
Speaking of yet another public relations nightmare, can it get any worse! We need to bring this PR fiasco to a close, not by adding more fuel to the fire with each step. Closure will happen by getting the truth out there. That was the way to put a stop to this mess in October (perhaps earlier, we don’t know) Can you imagine if one could go before the television cameras In October and city print reporters and say look, we hard these allegations and went to this trusted independent source (Attorney General, National Humane Society, we’re not sure but something like that). Here is what these reliable investigators, with no connection to the Cecil County SPCA and politics found.
Please, please commissioners put this on the right path and put the story to rest as soon as possible. It is the right thing to do for the animals, the SPCA, the organization’s board of directors, the taxpayers, and for Cecil County’s reputation. Let’s clear the air on this for this is the only way you’re going to resolve this. Any PR person knows that.