It was standing-room-only Thursday night as more than 50 people crammed into the tiny Womans Club meeting room to discuss the status of the Payson Humane Society.
The humane society board of directors -- which was not represented at the meeting -- has come under fire lately when policy changes and increased tensions between the governing body and animal shelter manager Cindy Bradford led to her Jan. 28 resignation. Bradford was followed out the door by her husband, Dave, daughter Debbie, and employee Allison Young.
One of the reasons cited for the tensions, Bradford said, was an alleged shortfall in the society's budget, which led to reduced staff salaries.
Barbara Miske, past president of the society's board, offered her perspective of the group's current financial situation.
Miske told the crowd about the humane society auxiliary's previous fund-raising campaigns, which included the bi-annual rummage sales. However, in recent years, the sales had become so big, while the quality of the donated items declined, "so we decided to coast for a while."
Now, Miske said, it was time to step up the fund-raising again.
"More fund-raisers are better than cutting services," Dr. Mark Meyers said.
When queried by one audience member, Miske explained that the "informal" elections of the past made it easy for anyone to get on the board of directors.
Jean Oliver, an employee of Dr. Meyers and a board member for the Time Out Shelter, then explained "how elections ought to be run.
"This can no longer be run as a mom-and-pop business," Oliver said. "You have by-laws that you have to follow. The board is supposed to be holding regular monthly meetings -- when was the last time you were informed of a meeting?
"This board is terribly in default."
Helen Young, Allison's mother, said she even called one of the board members to find out when and where the meetings were.
"I was told basically, 'no thank you,'" she said.
As for allegations by the board of the shelter's unsanitary conditions, Young came to Bradford's defense.
"I covered for them this summer when they took one of their very rare vacations," she said. "I can personally vouch for how clean that shelter is."
After further discussion of the board's recent actions, another member of the audience tried to bring the meeting back into focus: "We should get to the reason we're all here ... to elect a new board and get the Bradfords back at the shelter."
A five-member committee was appointed to approach the board about holding a membership meeting. Depending on the board's response, the meeting has been tentatively set for 5:15 p.m., March 1. The location has not been determined.