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Task force reviews 1st set of records, asks for more

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Robert Reinbolt, chairman of the Special Citizens Task Force that is investigating problems at the Toledo Zoo, sent the e-mail below to William Dennler, executive director of the zoo, on April 1. The e-mail was written the day after Mr. Dennler had presented his testimony to the task force.


Several members of the citizens task force charged with investigating recent controversies at the Toledo Zoo met yesterday to review the first batch of documents provided by zoo administrators though they said the documents fell short of what was needed.

Members of the personnel and finance subcommittees of the task force, which was set up by Lucas County commissioners last month following the firing of head zoo veterinarian Tim Reichard, met to discuss documents covering topics ranging from finances to personnel issues.

In one instance, Linnie Willis, chairman of the personnel subcommittee, said she had asked for any reports generated by human resources consultant Scott Warrick, but was told in a meeting with zoo human resources director Sheri Caldwell that there was none.

Mr. Warrick was hired in March, 2004, by zoo officials to provide training and address human resources issues at the zoo. In August, he completed an investigation into the zoo s mammal department, the conclusions of which he detailed in a nine-page confidential document with a cover letter stating: Attached is a report from Scott Warrick.




I guess they must have misunderstood what we were asking for, Ms. Willis said.

Ms. Caldwell said yesterday she was not asked by the subcommittee for the reports when they met, and that the only document requested at the meeting was Mr. Warrick s contract.

In the finance subcommittee, chairman Stan McCormick said at this point he is satisfied with the zoo s cooperation though he hopes for more information, including detailed budgets and audits, which have not yet been provided.

They ve been forthcoming, Mr. McCormick said. At this point, we just don t know what we don t know. It ll take us some time to figure out what s missing.

But task force member Larry Conway, who also is on the finance subcommittee, said he was distressed by the type of information provided.




It seems like they re snowing us with details and eliminating the meat, he said.

Even as the subcommittees are struggling to determine what they need from the zoo, the chairman of the full task force, Robert Reinbolt, is maintaining a cordial relationship with William Dennler, zoo executive director as evidenced by a recent e-mail obtained by The Blade.

On April 1, the day after Mr. Dennler testified before the board, Mr. Reinbolt sent an e-mail to Mr. Dennler thanking him for his time:

We have a great Zoo and I believe that much of this credit belongs to you and the past as well as current board members who have spent many hours working behind the scenes to bring this about.

Clearly your passion and that of your Board members came thru during your presentations. ... I hope this experience wasn t too bad.

Yesterday, Mr. Reinbolt said his e-mail was not an indication that he has made his mind up about Mr. Dennler, but merely an effort to keep the lines of communication flowing.

I think you want to stay on a working relationship with everybody. It s a tense time for everybody, people have a lot of pressure, Mr. Reinbolt said. I don t want people to be terrorized when they talk to us, and I want to be appreciative when they do show up.

Contact Tad Vezner at:tvezner@theblade.comor 419-724-6050.

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