Update on city, Maclean foundation discussions on tonight’s work session agenda

The city’s relationship with the Maclean-Cameron Animal Adoption Center is back up for discussion at tonight’s City Commission work session.

Commissioners Owen Robinson and Mary Moe are scheduled to provide an update on their discussions with Maclean.

Robinson and Moe have been meeting with board members from Maclean’s foundation, causing consternation among some in the community.

Their meetings have been outside the public eye and with limited staff involvement.

Robinson told The Electric in June that they’d met with Deputy City Manager Chuck Anderson and city shelter director Lynn Formell months ago, but no proposal was made.

In February, Robinson announced during a commission meeting that he intended to explore a possible partnership with Maclean and had asked Moe to join him in the meetings.

The Electric asked Robinson immediately after that meeting to keep us in the loop on the progress of the meetings. Robinson said that since it would only be two commissioners, their meetings wouldn’t constitute a quorum or a public meeting or require public notice.

In April, the commission was asked to consider awarding a contract for construction of the cattery addition at the Great Falls Animal Shelter.

The funds for the project were raised entirely by donations and the project was part of the shelter’s master plan that was approved by the commission in 2013.

At the April 2 meeting, Robinson moved to delay consideration of the cattery contract to September, which would have killed the bid. Commissioners approved that motion in a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Bill Bronson and Tracy Houck dissenting.

Numerous members of the public asked the commission to reconsider and in May, commissioners reversed course and voted to approved the contract.

The discussions between Robinson, Moe and the Maclean foundation have continued to face scrutiny.

Commissioners have given different answers at different times as to whether Robinson and Moe are acting in their official capacity as city officials or as private citizens meeting with a community nonprofit.

Robinson is a past president of the Maclean foundation and in 2016 asked the city to take over operation of their facility.

In emails with the foundation Robinson and Moe have used their private email accounts, but those were made available through records requests.

Robinson told The Electric in June that the ideas regarding a potential partnership between the city and Maclean have morphed since the early documents included in those emails, which are available, along with a variety of city documents, in this file.

We’ll have an update after tonight’s meeting.

In the meantime, here’s the background on how we got to this point:

Commission approves cattery contract; Maclean partnership discussions ongoing

City Commission rescinds April 2 action putting cattery contract on May 7 agenda

Cattery back on commission agenda for special meeting

Commission reverses course on cattery decision for city animal shelter

Cattery for city animal shelter likely to come up at April 16 meeting

Commission delays cattery decision to September, effectively rejecting bids

Cattery addition at city shelter up for commission vote this week

City again seeking bids for cattery addition at the Great Falls Animal Shelter

City rejects bid for animal shelter upgrades

Bids open for expansion project at the Great Falls Animal Shelter