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Newsletter
August/September 2004
www.old.movetoact.org

The mission of Move to ACT is to foster an environment for the animals of
central Indiana that is safe and humane by engaging members of our
community into action through education and promotion of collaborative
programs based on principles of respect, accountability and integrity.
 
MOVE TO ACT works to:
 
Educate the public on the humane care and treatment of animals and increase public participation in effective pet training programs.
 
Increase the public's awareness of cruelty to animals in areas where it exists.
 
Initiate timely, topic-specific campaigns in the community to address key animal welfare issues.
 
Collaborate with established animal advocacy groups to promote cohesive community programs that serve to reduce the number of animals being surrendered and destroyed in our local shelters
 
***
 
The animal management system in our city continues to be in need of serious help despite the many wonderful, caring individuals and organizations that do the very best they can with the resources they have.  Last year over 18,000 animals were needlessly destroyed in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas.  
 
Organizations such as Spay Neuter Services of Indiana,  Indy Feral, the short-lived - but  successful -ICAN clinic (that sterilized 3,800+ cats), FACE Clinic (which recently was recognized for its 50,000th sterilization, ("Congratulations and thank you" to FACE) and The Neuter Scooter point their efforts and resources at "the base of the fire," (lack of education and prolific breeding).
 
"Rescue" and shelter organizations such as Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership, South Side Animal Shelter, Home for Friendless Animals, (and many others too numerous to mention here) do an extraordinary job with the resources they receive to provide genuine safety nets for those animals who have fallen through the cracks of our culture's throwaway and abandonment mentality.
 
Indiana has terrific veterinary professionals who offer superb medical skills for our animals and many of these practitioners are generous to offer their services at affordable rates for these organizations' efforts. We are grateful for them.
 
Animal care and service organizations appreciate that the public (potential donors) AND the dollars they provide requires the same level of respect as do the animals under their care.  If the audience is delivered calculated and misleading information and/or their donations are misused - they are as betrayed as are the animals we are here trying our best to serve.  How respectfully that money is utilized is critical to the success of the organization's mission and the public's confidence in the agency.
 
One of the organizations in the animal welfare scene is in financial distress.  It is not all because of 911, a burp in the economy or the press - as it claims.  It is in distress because of an inability to respect principals of accountability and responsible stewardship .  Financial resources have been misused and now the misguided thinking is that the consequential financial dilemma will be resolved by using a third trust fund as a line of credit and soliciting significant donations from large corporations.
 
Why should this concern us?  It should concern us because it has the "Brand Name" and therefore IS capable of diverting  MILLIONS of dollars away from responsible animal service organizations and meaningful programs to itself just by being "The Humane Society of Indianapolis," whether by addressing corporate donors with pleadings for help or attracting the gifts from those who want simply to "just help the animals" after their death.
 
To make sure their money is used wisely after their death, benefactors (settlors) will issue directives that are specific as to how the money is to be used by the custodian or trustee.  This is what Mrs. Mary Powell Crume did in her will of 1921, in the form a public charitable trust. A public charitable trust is just that, a PUBLIC trust.. She died in 1935. At that time, there was only one animal organization to oversee her gift, The Indianapolis Humane Society, later to become known as The Humane Society of Indianapolis, so by default, this organization became the custodian (or trustee) of the trust.  Since Indiana law forbids animals as being the beneficiary, the Humane Society  also became the beneficiary of the trust, again by default.
 
Let's take a look at item VI of Mrs. Crume's will, (caps added for emphasis):
 
Item VI.  After the death of my [mother and husband], I give, devise and
bequeath all of the trust estate and property referred to [herein] to the
Indianapolis Humane Society, of the City of Indianapolis, Indiana, as
Trustee, to have and TO HOLD THE SAME PERPETUALLY IN TRUST FOR THE SOLE
PURPOSE OF USING THE NET INCOME THEREFROM FOR RELIEF OF ANIMALS which
come under its care.  Said last mentioned Trustee SHALL HAVE NO POWER OR
AUTHORITY TO USE EITHER THE PRINCIPAL OR THE INCOME OF SAID TRUST ESTATE
AND PROPERTY TO PAY FOR BUILDINGS, EQUIPMENT, SALARIES OR ANY EXPENSES
other than relief of said animals.  . . . [usual powers in trustee to
invest and reinvest trust income/principal complete this paragraph].
 
***
 
 "I guess we walk over dead people in more ways than one."
 
Move to ACT (mtA) and other animal organizations are currently working to prevent Mrs. Crume's trust from being violated AND potentially vanished into a hole of no-return by the trustee (or guardian) of this trust.
 
In order to appreciate the Humane Society's explanation to the public on this issue please visit the  "Going Home" newsletter at  http://www.indyhumane.org/going_home/7_August2004.pdf 
 
"Recent media coverage highlighted concerns from a few other animal welfare groups about our ability to achieve our (financial) goals."
 
MtA and the coalition's ("few other animal welfare groups") concerns regarding "ability to achieve our financial goals" is based on the following HSI financial history:

Since 1999 HSI has run through more than $15 million PLUS hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in donations from its community; HSI depleted its own charitable trust, which was worth $4 million just 2.5 years ago; it has borrowed against the Stokes testamentary trust "to its limits;" and now wants to come after the Crume Trust in order to bail itself out from the consequences of financial indiscretions -- which further fuels the argument for its removal as trustee.
 
Additional concerns, but not limited to, is: approval of personal credit card spending by the previous E.D. and a $100,000+ severance package when she resigned, a near 10-fold increase in advertising expenses after the appointment of an advertising agent as a board director, compensation to a public relations consultant since the credit card scandal, luxury spending for the development staff after the dismissal of animal care staff last summer, and recent public statements that the agency is running $50-100,000/month in the red.
 
Yes, a large constituency of the animal service community is concerned because this organization wants to use  (and risk) the corpus of a PUBLIC charitable trust (money intended for the "relief of animals") for a loan to compensate for its reckless regard for donor dollars,  is a poor credit risk, and defaulting on a loan secured by using this trust as collateral to pay for expenses not intended by the settlor will vanish 90% of the trust forever.  This betrays the wishes of the settlor and the animals it was designed to serve
 
"Unfortunately, offers from HSI to engage these groups in a productive discussion focused on solutions were rejected. In their zeal to argue their position, their leaders maintained an untenable "all or nothing" stance, which stalled any possible movement or resolution."
 
Let's un-muddle this, again:.
 
First, the "few other animal welfare groups" mentioned in the newsletter are well-established and highly respected organizations of the central Indiana animal service provider community.  
 
Second, "these groups" were not engaged in this issue at the time, only the move to ACT organization.
 
Third, HSI's "offer" was a token invitation to mtA to submit name(s) of any candidate(s) for HSI board consideration during the spring director appointments. Perhaps we should also mention the March 6, 2004  e-mail (actually the first of three) sent  from HSI to mtA supporters with the confusing return address,  "From Move to Act {mailto:mta@indyhumane.org}" that would fool people into thinking they were receiving a notice from the mtA office.
 
As the community has learned in the past several years, previous individual HSI board members who have voiced concern about excessive spending and misguided priorities have been shutout of the decision making by inner-circle directors and consequently resigned out of frustration after being unable effect change from within the agency.. 
 
In regards to the "all or nothing" reference:  
 
MtA encouraged replacement of those board members (who are the common denominator during the $15M+ of assets loss in the last 3 years and are steering the direction of the agency today) with respected and experienced individuals from the animal service community who stepped forward as a slate to offer their assistance to HSI . This would have infused the organization with the wisdom, credibility, community participation, support and respect it so desperately needs to engage rebuilding public confidence in the agency.  Support for this action was evidenced by more than 2,500 individuals who signed the "Down to the Bone" Petition, http://www.old.movetoact.org/petition2.htm .
 
... "they (these groups) attempted in Probate Court to block our strategy to use remaining trust assets as collateral for a line of credit that could help address our cash flow issues."

The "cash flow" issue is discussed above and Mrs. Crume wishes are clear in regard to the use of her generous gift. Wanting to violate this trust corpus insults the dignity of Mrs. Crume, jeopardizes considerations of individuals thinking about leaving their estate to any non profit organization in the future.
 
The Crume trust is a PUBLIC charitable trust.  It is not for use as a line of credit for a party with the financial record as described.
 
Who oversees public charitable trusts?  The Attorney General. Where? In the probate court.
 
Initially, the Attorney General (A.G.) kindly gave his blessing to HSI for the Crume loan collateralization.
 
MtA and cojoining organizations illustrated to the A.G. the nature of the HSI stewardship of their own (i.e. donor's) money and that the trust should at least be protected with some kind of security in exchange for the loan. HSI tried to offer the HSI property and buildings as security but after a review at the assessor's office mtA validated and shared with the A.G. that the buildings and land where HSI is located (that HSI tried to offer as security) actually belongs to the Mary Crume Trust!  The Crume trust has reversionary rights to the property improvements. HSI officials denied knowing this but documentation at the time of construction of the new facility indicates otherwise and several board members (one of whom goes back 16 years!) know well the HSI/trust history.  In addition, a senior partner with a well known accounting firm has been a HSI director as past treasurer and president who's signature is on the tax returns.  HSI has had a $3+ million (real estate) asset of the Crume trust on its own side of the  ledger and has passed this off in the annual statement of accounts (SOA) submitted to the Attorney General for 24 years!  This was repeated again with this security offer to the A.G!
 
The A.G.'s  decision to approve the loan was wisely reassessed and he re filed with the following objection on July 1:
 
“The Attorney General believes that the proposed loan and 3 year plan are not in the best interest of the public or the trust, do not follow the intent of the settlor and may result in an unnecessary diminishing of the assets of the trust.”
 
Curiously, now the HSI states in their newsletter...

"Effective collaboration between HSI and the state Attorney General's office brought about an appropriate
resolution to the legal issues, and an additional vote of confidence for our three-year plan."

Collaboration?
 
"We were very disappointed to find that anyone in the community believed that costly legal battles will ultimately help our animals."
 
Oxygen, please.
 
There would be NO costly legal battles if HSI weren't trying to invade and risk a PUBLIC charitable trust for a line of credit because careless financial management..
 
"Ultimately (helping) animals" is not accomplished with a stream of scandals, it is accomplished by focusing resources that produce results: education and aggressive low/cost sterilization. We cannot adopt our way out of the problem of pet overpopulation.
 
***
 
Regarding the issue of  parties other than the A.G. having standing in the court to address issues of abuse or misuse of a public charitable trust:
 
Originally, the A.G. did not object about mtA and cojoiners having standing in court to address the objection to the Crume SOA and the loan collateralization.  Then the A.G. decided he would oppose (with HSI), the coalition's standing in court to address this issue.

The Probate Court has recently decided that the coalition of animal advocacy groups do not have standing in court to address this issue, http://www.old.movetoact.org/sept3_star.htm.
 
Concern with this decision is that when the A.G. is so overwhelmed with hundreds of trusts to oversee, is understaffed and/or unable to effectively monitor trustee stewardship, transgressions can occur and the public will be eliminated from assisting with protecting the wishes of a settlor.

The Sept 7th "Request to Borrow" decision against the trust loan http://www.old.movetoact.org/sept8_star.htm was postponed until October 14th.
 
Trying to access the Mary Crume trust for a line of credit is a desperate act. Smiling faces, fuzzy stories and pushing misinformation to officials and the public does not substitute for accountability.
 
***
 
Donations to assist in the protection of the Mary Powell Crume Trust can be mailed to:
Move to ACT
P.O Box 68658
Indianapolis, IN 46268-0658
 
Questions can be mailed to:
Info@movetoact.org
 
***
Please forward this to anyone interested in accountability of animal welfare dollars
in central Indiana or is thinking about establishing a public charitable trust.

   
   
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