They noted that last October, Frank filed an animal cruelty charge against shelter manager Niki Dawson, a charge that was dropped last month. The charge could have resulted in her losing her license to run the shelter.
The LHS's members sent around a long e-mail two weeks ago to their supporters saying that Frank's attacks were meant to scuttle their plans to expand the shelter and to continue running the shelter. They encouraged supporters to write and call the mayor and ask for Frank's removal.
However, Frank said last week that the LHS simply wants to get rid of him because they don't like it when he tells them they are doing something wrong.
The city's attorney, Bill Matsikoudis, was scheduled to conduct an internal meeting among city officials this past Friday to address this situation. Also, LHS members are scheduled to meet on Thursday with Carl Czaplicki, Mayor Healy's chief of staff.
LHS hopes to settle the matter with Frank as well as another issue with the city regarding the shelter not being issued a license (see sidebar).A dogfight
There are two shelters in Jersey City - a longtime shelter on Johnston Avenue that is run by the SPCA, and a newer shelter that was built with funds raised by the Liberty Humane Society, which began as a volunteer group and won a contract with the city in July 2004 to handle the city's stray animals. They have officially operated the shelter since November 2004.
LHS members claim that Frank has launched a vindictive campaign against Dawson because he is bitter over having been replaced as temporary shelter manager in 2002 by Dawson.
Frank denied this.
"The next person they want is someone they can control," Frank said.
The city animal control officers, of which there are several, are responsible for bringing stray or abused animals to the shelter, where the are kept until their owners come to claim them or the animal can be rehabilitated. If the animal cannot be rehabilitated, it is euthanized.
LHS members sent an e-mail to supporters recently quoting Dawson as saying, "This has made my life hell. I suffer from insomnia and chronic anxiety. I never know when the next attack will come or what form it will take. Every time I see an Animal Control van I get a knot in my stomach and I wonder, what is he going to do to me this time?"
The LHS members declined to comment on the record, preferring to speak through their attorney, Howard Myerowitz.
Myerowitz said that Frank filed animal cruelty charges against Dawson on Oct. 27 related to her work at the shelter. Those charges were dropped in January.
If found guilty, Dawson's certification as a shelter manager would have been revoked and she would not be able to work in another animal shelter in New Jersey.
Myerowitz said there have been meetings in the past between LHS representatives and Frank to mend the frayed relationship, "but after every meeting, the [alleged] harassment would resume. The Liberty Humane Society has tried to be amenable in the situation, but this can't go on any further."
He added, "Someone like Niki Dawson, who is a dedicated shelter manager and a wonderful human being, should not be treated the way she has been."
Myerowitz said he has sent information on Frank to the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office and the State Attorney General's Office to investigate. Barking back
Last week, Frank said he first saw the comments by LHS requesting his ouster on a local internet bulletin board.
"At first I was laughing at what was written about me," he said, "but as I continued reading, I became upset." Frank said, "All they know is that I'm the bad guy, and they are only getting one side of the story. I know what the truth is, and I have the documentation to back it up."
Frank said he could not get into details, but will be looking to hire an attorney and sue the LHS for what he called "defamation of character and for putting a mark on his head."
He said that his supervisors in the city's Health Department know the truth and will back him up, as they have in the past. He also looks forward to meeting with the LHS again with the Law Department as the arbitrator, to settle the matter.
When asked about allegations that he was getting back at Dawson for being replaced at shelter manager, he said he earns more money than her since he gets paid not only for regular hours but also for overtime.
"I get paid $50,000 a year, but I've taken in anywhere from $80,000 to $90,000 because I'm on duty all the time," said Frank.
Regarding the animal cruelty charge against Dawson, he said he filed it based on an incident in October regarding a stray dog brought into the LHS's care that he felt was not being treated properly.
Frank said that ousting him will not solve the LHS's problems.
"Their problem is [LHS] don't want to follow the law," Frank said. "And when I complain they are doing something wrong or they are not following the law, they say I am picking on them." Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com Sidebar A license to resist
Howard Myerowitz, an attorney for the Liberty Humane Society, said last week that he is concerned that the LHS has not been issued its license to operate an animal shelter by the city's Health Department. Myerowitz thought it would be issued in November 2004.
Myerowitz said operating without a license could lead to the shelter being shut down at any time.
Myerowitz sent a letter on Jan. 25 to city attorney Bill Matsikoudis, saying that the City Council approved its contract with the LHS on July 14, 2004 and should have had its license by now.
Myerowitz detailed in the letter that the LHS made attempts to have Joseph Castagna, the city's health officer, issue a license, but it still has not happened.
Myerowitz said it should have happened after the shelter passed inspection by the state's Health Department in August of 2005.
The letter also said that LHS President Laura Moss and Executive Director Jyotshna Buyyala met with Harry Melendez, the director of city's Health and Human Services Department, on Nov. 28 requesting the license. The letter states that Melendez has not gotten back to the LHS.
A call to Melendez's office was not returned by press time. - RK