Houston Officials “Frustrate” BARC Leader

After quitting earlier this week Houston’s turnaround agent for BARC now says he’ll stay on even though he’s not getting paid right now to stick around. Laurie Johnson has more.

“In my 30-plus years in business, and I’ve been through some very, very difficult times, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s very frustrating.”

Gerry Fusco was supposed to be hired by the City of Houston to help turn around the city’s dismal animal control department.

After five weeks of stalled negotiations and discussions on the terms of Fusco’s $135,000 contract, he decided to
resign on Monday night.

“I just felt that perhaps some councilmembers don’t understand what change agents do, nor what we were trying to accomplish at BARC. So I thought it was best to just step aside and say maybe stepping aside will give you the opportunity to make whatever decision you need to make.”

Fusco says he changed his mind the next day when a couple of people in Mayor Bill White’s office contacted him and asked him to reconsider.

His contract was supposed to be approved at this week’s city council meeting. But Councilmember Jolanda Jones used a procedural maneuver to delay a vote on it for another two weeks.

“But I agreed to stay on without a contract, without any compensation, until this thing’s resolved. I’m not going to walk away from the people here at BARC. I’m not going to walk away from the animals. I’m not going to walk away from the volunteers. And I’m going to assume that some of the councilmembers who don’t see what’s really happened will begin to see what’s really happening and in two weeks they’ll vote in favor and we can move forward.”

Fusco says donating the next two weeks of his services and will cost him about $16,000.

“I don’t want to walk out now, I feel there’s a turn. I really feel this is going to be a different organization in six months when the contract’s over. So yeah, I really feel we’re at the cusp of some positive changes here and it would be a shame for me to walk out on this and leave everyone up in the air as to what’s happening and for volunteers and others to say here we go again, we’re going backwards.”

City Council is on break next week for Labor Day, which means it’ll be the week after that before a final vote on Fusco’s contract can happen.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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