Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | July 29, 2008

Show me the evidence

I’m not buying the theories offered by Gilroy Dispatch columnist Ben Anderson about the Gilroy Unified School District’s $150 million bond measure that’s slated for the November ballot. If approved by Gilroy voters, the bond will fund construction of Christopher High School and other capital projects.

Anderson speculated that GUSD might not finish bond-funded projects because the bond doesn’t include completion-requirement language, but then he dismissed his own bogeyman, writing, “I do not think GUSD would intentionally start work they couldn’t finish.”

Why bring it up then?

But Anderson wasn’t done spinning conspiracy theories. Next, noting that he hasn’t received a pro-bond mailer yet, Anderson wildly speculated that GUSD officials are hoping that the bond will fail, theorizing that GUSD officials might want a bond failure so that they could take advantage of provisions of AB2173.

Why do I call this wild speculation? For these reasons:

GUSD board members have a fiduciary duty to Gilroyans to use the district’s resources wisely. We might disagree with the choices they make – preferring one textbook series over another, or preferring different middle or high school configurations – and evidence-based criticisms are certainly fair.

But to me, Anderson’s speculation is tantamount to charging GUSD officials with shirking their fiduciary duty and violating the public trust. That he based that speculation on proposed state legislation and a slower-to-start-than-he’d-expected bond campaign has me wondering if Anderson has a tin-foil hat collecton.

Allegations that serious ought to backed with at least a shred of evidence and ought to amount to more than spun-out-of-thin-air conspiracy theories. Lacking that, Gilroyans ought to give Anderson’s wild speculation exactly the amount of credence it deserves: None.

•••

Thanks to the folks from as far away as Berkeley who offered help and advice about the three kittens born in my backyard.

In the end, I borrowed a live trap from Gilroyan Marcus Hughes. With his trap and some smelly sardine bait, I caught two of the three kittens in about 90 minutes late one evening.

I immediately drove the kittens to the Humane Society’s shelter in Santa Clara where I was told that the Humane Society no longer accepted cats from Morgan Hill residents. I pressed the employee on duty and he finally agreed to take the kittens.

With my reporter instincts on high alert, I got a supervisor’s name and set about discovering why Morgan Hill residents suddenly couldn’t take cats to the Humane Society. Without a place to take any cats I might catch, I suspended my trapping attempts.

In the meantime, I heard from a feral cat-colony advocate who offered to help me trap the remaining kitten and mother cat and find homes for them.

We successfully trapped the last kitten and an adult cat – who turned out to be a male – but the mother cat remains free and fertile.

The kitten that the feral cat-colony advocate and I trapped was too feral to be adopted and will be spayed and become a barn cat. The male cat will be neutered and released.

One of the kittens I took to the Humane Society shelter was also too feral to be adopted and will be euthanized. The other will be put up for adoption after it is socialized.

After lots of phone calls, I’ve learned that the Humane Society does accept cats from Morgan Hill residents. It’s unclear why I was told otherwise by a shelter employee. I have a theory, but lacking hard evidence, I’m keeping that theory out of my column.

The big-picture question of what to do about homeless cats remains unresolved. Should they be taken to shelters or released into feral colonies? Should humans feed cats in feral colonies? That’s a debate for another column.

But this much I do know: First, homeless cats should at least be trapped and sterilized. It’s the only way to reduce their significant numbers.

Second, it shouldn’t require a newspaper column, a won’t-take-no-for-an-answer attitude and reporting skills to make that happen. Without those things working in their favor, the kittens born in my backyard would be well on their way to making thousands more homeless kittens.

It simply shouldn’t be this hard to do the right thing for homeless cats.

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