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E-mail Draws Lines In Humane Society Debate, Setting Up Monday Showdown

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An e-mail obtained by WBAA News appears to show a Frankfort city councilman and the now-head of the county’s embattled Humane Society teaming up against Mayor Chris McBarnes as the shelter tries to explain how it spends its money – an e-mail McBarnes says he was dismayed to read.

The message, sent on Aug. 30 by Humane Society Interim Director Ben Pfeffer, describes a conversation Pfeffer says he had with at-large councilor Eric Woods. Pfeffer says the Humane Society board wished to suspend a trap, neuter, release program funded by the City of Frankfort. But he says Woods convinced him not to do so, because “the mayor would win.”

Reached by phone Friday, Woods declined to answer any questions about the e-mail or explain what that statement means.

“These were the director’s words, and they were his opinion in this e-mail and that readers of the e-mail that were not properly informed of this matter, it could easily be taken out of context, I get that,” Woods says.

The e-mail also says Pfeffer and Woods believe former Humane Society Director Jim Tate is scheming to use Frankfort Police Department money to carve out a high-paying animal control job for himself. Tate says he hasn’t had conversations about such a position.

"To be honest with you, I really don’t even know where they would even -- where or how they would have even thought that up,” Tate says.

McBarnes flatly denies such a thing is possible.

“That is a delusional comment founded in nothing but fiction,” McBarnes says. “I, nor anyone in my administration, has even uttered those words. I have not even had a conversation with Mr. Tate since this transpired.”

McBarnes says the situation has strengthened his resolve to learn more about the shelter’s cashflow and operations.

“No matter what the dollar amount appropriated, until those things happen and we see this situation start to heal and we see things become more transparent and we make sure there’s no collusion behind the scenes for political reasons, which, if it is occurring, it’ s just immature – until those things are remedied, we won’t approve any claims,” McBarnes says.

Tate says he’s looking forward to a Monday evening city council meeting so he can tell his side of the story.

“I just want to see the truth come out,” Tate says. “I don’t want them to be able to get by with still scamming the public for money.”

Because of an overflow crowd at an earlier meeting concerning the Humane Society, Monday’s gathering will instead take place in the Skanta Theatre at the Frankfort Public Library.

Ben Pfeffer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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