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Rockland Green’s Maneuver Takes Place At Unscheduled Mid-Day Board Meeting With No Notice To Hi-Tor Animal Shelter
By Tina Traster
Complete chaos has engulfed the Hi-Tor Animal Care Shelter in Pomona with a sudden move by Rockland Green to end its affiliation with the nonprofit Hi-Tor Board and contract with Four Legs Good, a nonprofit cat rescue that has been operating an illegal animal shelter on South Mountain Road in New City for years.
Rockland Green on Thursday passed two resolutions at its board meeting – changing its usual meeting time from 5 pm to 11 am – to terminate a two-year contract that was promulgated in Jan. 2023 for two years. Sources say Rockland Green is not within its legal right to sever the contract, even if they claim the shelter is in breach because the contract allows for a “cure” of that breach.
But as has been shown over and again, Rockland Green (the former Solid Waste Management Authority), headed up by Howard Phillips, has little regard for adhering to rules.
RCBJ reached out to Gerry Diamiani Jr., Rockland Green’s Executive Director, for comment. He said he was “on the phone with counsel” and hung up.
At noon today, Hi Tor Board President Kim Von Hein brought staff and volunteers together to announce that as of 5 pm today, the doors would be locked and tomorrow morning Nixie Gueits, who runs Four Legs Good and her acolyte Michael Sanducci, are taking over. Gueits is a former Hi Tor board member who has been at odds with the current board for years, following Sanducci’s firing from the shelter in November 2018. Sanducci joined Gueits, who’s been running a cat rescue out of the former Dr. McGuffie mansion at 591 South Mountain Road for years, and has been boarding several rescuers at the facility. Gueits is expected in Clarkstown Town Court in October for violations of Clarktown’s residential residency and other charges.
Hi-Tor has had a long history of chaos. But this move is unprecedented.
“There is no transition plan,” said Maryann Goldman, a Hi Tor employee. “There’s no training. No effort to understand the medical conditions. Where things stand in terms of adoptions, medical conditions? They haven’t invited the staff to help the transition. Everyone’s locked out as of tonight.”
Staff and volunteers said board president Von Hein was “in tears” as she announced the news.
Rockland Green has no legal right to terminate this contract. Even if Hi-Tor breached the contract, there was a built-in “cure” period that would enable the board to right any wrong and continue operating. There is no provision for “emergency termination” or any other type of termination, aside from Hi Tor’s breach of its obligations, according to the wording of the contract.
According to staff and volunteers, the board seemed shocked by the decision and had no advance notice. However, when asked about retaining a lawyer to defend the contract, Von Hein, said “We have no money to hire a lawyer.”
This is false, given that Hi-Tor is the recent recipient of a $50,000 bequest that was deposited into Hi-Tor’s general fund account within the last three weeks. There is talk among staff and volunteers that the board members worked behind the scenes and were complicit to hash out this new arrangement, and surrender the shelter, according to more than one source.
During Sanducci’s rein, the shelter population exploded, leading to severe overcrowding and neglect, as well as the build up of an outdoor feral colony.