Editor’s note: The St. Helena Star is a sibling paper to The Weekly Calistogan.
The initiative process is a funny thing, but at its best it can produce some good policy.
That’s the case with Measure A, which is aimed at achieving a higher live release rate at the Napa County Animal Shelter. It’s a balanced measure that represents a compromise between two animal rescue groups and the county.
There’s no reason to vote for Measure B, which was a rough draft of the more refined Measure A. Its own early backers have disowned it in favor of Measure A, which is endorsed by Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (JARR), Wine Country Animal Lovers (WCAL) and the Board of Supervisors. However, since Measure B collected enough signatures to get on the ballot, there’s no legal mechanism to get it off.
Measure A would require the animal shelter to conduct a more thorough process before euthanizing a healthy, non-dangerous animal. The shelter would have to perform behavioral and medical evaluations and reach out to local animal rescue groups that might be able to save the animal.
As we mentioned, Measure A has broad support and no organized opposition. That’s because representatives of JARR and WCAL, the Upvalley animal rescue groups that had gathered enough signatures to put Measure B on the ballot, sat down with county officials and hammered out a compromise that alleviates the county’s concerns about the original proposal.
Most notably, Measure A removes a vague clause that would have required the county to “utilize all available resources” before euthanizing an animal. County officials had worried about the threat of litigation from someone (not a well-meaning group like JARR or WCAL) who might use that phrase to force the county to divert an unreasonable amount of money to the animal shelter.
JARR and WCAL had never intended for the clause to be interpreted that way, so they were happy to take it out, as well as a few other clauses that gave the county pause.
The result is a ballot measure that reflects something we’ve been talking about a lot lately: the power of compromise, collaboration and moderation.
The county wanted to neutralize the threat posed by a less-than-ideal ballot measure, and JARR and WCAL wanted an initiative with broad support. Measure A represents a win-win.
County staff released reports estimating how much each ballot measure would cost, and the results raised some eyebrows: $258,264 for Measure A and $406,548 for Measure B.
Monica Stevens of JARR and Pam Ingalls of WCAL told us that the actual cost would be dramatically lower. Supervisor Diane Dillon – a straight shooter with a fiscally conservative track record – agrees, estimating that Measure A would cost somewhere in the $20,000 range.
If the new system doesn’t work, or if costs soar, the same groups that pushed for Measure A could work with the county on an improved measure that would appear on a future ballot, Dillon told us. But she didn’t seem too worried about that happening.
There’s some disagreement about the county’s actual live release rate: JARR and WCAL say it’s 67 percent, and county staff say it’s 83 percent. But the bottom line is that Measure A will increase that rate and save the lives of healthy, adoptable dogs and cats.
We urge you to vote no on Measure B and yes on Measure A. B stands for bad. A stands for animals.