Any people who thought money they gave to the Community Animal Rescue Effort was to be used to fund an expansion of the Evanston animal shelter will apparently be on their own in trying to get their money back.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, urged at Monday night’s Human Services Committee meeting that the city pressure CARE to turn over a portion of its $1.3 million in reserves to the city.

Fiske said a 2007 plan to expand the shelter “was the basis on which a lot of residents gave to CARE.”

But City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that since CARE is a non-profit organization, “People can give money to it if they like, and I don’t believe we have the ability to take that back or retrieve those funds.”

City Attorney Grant Farrar said there were no specific agreements between the city and CARE about how money would be raised for the shelter expansion.

Residents listen to the animal shelter discussion at the Human Services Committee meeting.

He suggested, however, that under federal tax rules any donor could demand to inspect the books of the organization.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, suggested that donors do have “strong rights over what they give and to see that it’s being used properly”

“If they want to band together and bring something against CARE, they could,” Burrus suggested.

Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, suggested donors might want to contact Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office regarding whether the group appropriately represented itself in the way it solicited donations.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said, “We [the city] can’t tell them what to do as a private non-profit.”

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CARE gets a week to decide whether to play ball

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The city has standing

     The City's lawyers should consider the fact that CARE was, in essence, the authorized fundraising arm of the Evanston Animal Shelter.  In other words, the City delegated fundraising for the shelter to CARE.

    At last night's meeting, the remarks of the City Manager and the Committee seemed to indicate a belief that the City lacked standing to sue the shelter over the money. That's not true.

    The Evanston Animal Shelter belongs to the City. For the last 25 years, the City has allowed CARE to use the name of the Evanston Animal Shelter, in order to raise funds for the Evanston Animal Shelter.

    CARE and the City have had a partnership, with the City paying some costs and providing the facility, and CARE providing other costs and volunteer hours.  However, all of the fundraising that was done in the name of the Evanston Animal Shelter went into CARE's bank account.

    This is a divorce and, as in any divorce, the assets need to be divided.

    By punting this issue to donors, the City is abandoning its role as a protector of its citizens' interests.

  2. C.a.r.e.

    This is a total witch hunt with Wally stirring the pot. Mark my words, this has more to do with money than animals. The city dropped the ball in helping expand and improve the shelter, now they are In a froth over how they can drain CARE's coffers. 

    1. Not every criticism is a witch hunt

      There are real witch hunts in the world but this is not one of them. There were obviously serious problems with CARE policies that the City couldn't in good conscience ignore. 

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