Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Profile picture of animal shelter director giving the finger raises questions

Kate Meghji, executive director at the Lawrence Humane Society, holds one of the shelter's dogs up for adoption in this March 2015 file photo.

Kate Meghji, executive director at the Lawrence Humane Society, holds one of the shelter's dogs up for adoption in this March 2015 file photo.

August 29, 2017


An anonymous letter sent to city leaders is raising questions about the propriety of personal social media posts of people who are in public fundraising positions.

The letter expressed concern about Lawrence Humane Society Executive Director Kate Meghji’s recent Facebook profile picture, in which she is raising her middle finger to the camera. The letter questions the judgment behind the post, noting the city's funding to the Humane Society and the ongoing campaign to raise public donations to build a new $7.5 million animal shelter.

Meghji, who has since changed the profile picture, said she is sorry if anyone was offended by the image of her middle finger.

Kate Meghji

Kate Meghji

“I think that I could have shown better judgment in having that as my profile picture,” Meghji said. “It was a picture my brother took of me at a family event, and I of course apologize if I offended anybody by it.”

The profile picture was on Meghji’s personal Facebook page, but profile pictures are public regardless of privacy settings. The Humane Society is a not-for-profit organization, but receives annual financial support from the city, which is required by state law to ensure stray animals are impounded.

The city plans to provide a $2.5 million grant and a $2.5 million loan toward construction of the new animal shelter. The Humane Society is ultimately responsible for $5 million of the cost and has been raising donations publicly since April.

Meghji, who has been at her post since 2014, said she thinks her personal life is separate from her public and professional life.

“I think it’s important to look at the quality of work that we do here at the Humane Society and all of the positive impacts that we’ve made in the last few years,” Meghji said.

City leaders took a similar view. Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard said the city received the letter, but she thinks matters like these are best handled between an employer and employee. She said the Humane Society is an important vendor.

“I think the important thing to know is that the city does receive quality services from the Humane Society and we don’t have any indication that that service level will be affected in any way,” Stoddard said. “We understand that the capital campaign is underway and going well at this point, and we hope that that goes to completion.”

Mayor Leslie Soden did not immediately return phone calls from the Journal-World regarding the topic. In addition to City Hall, the mayor and the Journal-World, the letter indicated that it was sent to the Humane Society board of directors. But board chair Katy Ibsen said they had not received the letter. Ibsen said they are aware of the situation and addressed it internally. She said they don’t condone the action but continue to have full confidence in Meghji.

“It clearly presents a social media item that we needed to address internally,” Ibsen said. “It doesn’t change our confidence in Kate or her ability to do her job effectively. We’ve done a lot of good in the community and I think the fact that it was a personal page brings up, in general, some questions of what is occurring here.”


Rick Masters 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Operation Busy-Body Poopy-Pants Letter Writing is now in full effect. Stay tuned for more Earth-shattering news regarding public outcry for an Olive Garden.

John Davies 5 months, 3 weeks ago

If you can live a life that is entirely devoid of the desire to flip someone off; you must be eligible for sainthood! Getting it on camera isn't difficult after that!

Bob Summers 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank goodness the Executive Director is not a White male. Or, ED of Council of Conservative Citizens.

Otherwise ED would be drawn and quartered with ANTIFA in the wings ready to strike.

Rick Masters 5 months, 3 weeks ago

You're such an alarmist. You know it would only be Double Secret Probation.

Brett McCabe 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Another imaginary armageddon avoided. Thanks goodness.

Nicole Van Velzen 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The Journal World chooses to write an article based on a letter of complaint from someone too cowardly to identify him/herself about one of our most thoughtful and competent community non-profit leaders? I find THAT to be much more offensive than any photo on Facebook, personally. Is this really what our "news" is about?

I respect, care about and admire Kate Meghji. And the fact that she is bold enough to express some raw and honest emotion on her personal social media platforms gives me more faith that she has the boldness to make the tough decisions and do what is right for the voiceless in our community. As an enthusiastic admirer of both animals and Lawrence, I trust her judgment wholeheartedly.

Bob Forer 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Well put.

The shelter is very well run.

Jenn Edens 5 months, 3 weeks ago

So everyone you interviewed either saw no problem with a personal account and work OR said it was an internal situation between employee/employer and you STILL ran this foolish piece?? Someone who couldn't even say their name was offended??? Sounds like a personal attack to me. Kinda of like this article. I wonder what your staff's fb pages look like?

Beth Pine 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I cannot imagine why time was taken away from finding real news to write and print this.

It is reflection of the laziness of the journalism that is so prevalent in our culture. Had any time or devotion to a newsworthy story been given, perhaps you would have come across the story of a team of people from the Lawrence Humane Society traveling to Texas to help with flood relief and save the lives of the pets in the area. Instead, you run a story about a personal Facebook photo and then try to create a scandal around that. How pathetic.

The animal shelter is very well run and well maintained under the guidance and direction of Kate Meghji. Due to her efforts, hundreds of animals find the care they need and locate loving homes.

The Lawrence Journal World should be ashamed. I am certainly ashamed for it.

Nicole Van Velzen 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I'd especially like to read a timely news story about the collaboration the Lawrence Humane Society is working with to unburden a devastated area by taking in homeless animals. I mean, I saw it on Facebook. It probably wouldn't even take much work to pull it together. Seems right up the LJWorld's alley.

Megan Green Stuke 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm sure the journal world has better things

Francis Hunt 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Seriously? An "anonymous" letter with a picture from the director's "personal" Facebook page? One, this shouldn't have even made the paper. Two, whoever "anonymous" is needs to get a life. I'm not sure what's worse, the fact that someone felt it necessary to send a letter to the paper, the city and whoever else or the fact the Journal World that it was newsworthy. Keep up the great work Kate.

Megan Green Stuke 5 months, 3 weeks ago

To report on than this silliness. Perhaps we should know more about our humane society's work in rescuing dogs from Texas. Or, Kate's ethical and steadfast work in raising much needed money toward a safer and larger shelter.

Mike Riner 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Isn't this trying to create a story where none exists? Slow news day, eh LJW?

David Holroyd 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The Journal World is desperate for gossip...the paper is a cheap version of National Inquirer..just recently there was a story about a "sex shop" like they couldn't have had a Headline that read Zoning Issue with retail business on 23rd! the picture would have spoken a thousand words.

Where is the story of the roof at the Mausouleum....Where is the REAL story on the ponds at Venture the city mucking around out there..and now there is a problem?

Where is the story on Menards...John Menard sure took Lawrence for a ride...

Where is the story on Fritzel now bulldozing more of the golf course...MORE APARTMENTS?

Michael Bennett 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said. I'd love to learn more about how the Fritzels got that whole project approved by the city commission in the first place....

Tracy Bedell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I dunno... she represents the organization and the city. I think she needs to be reminded of that fact. I am not supportive of her actions and I hope she chooses a more appropriate way to express her feelings. Like it or not, she is the face of the Humane Society and her picture was not appropriate on any level.

Francis Hunt 5 months, 3 weeks ago

What happened to a sense of humor? Whoever "anonymous" is was trolling her personal Facebook page and that is who I find offensive and inappropriate. If you don't like what is on someone's PERSONAL Facebook page then don't look at it. Pretty simple. The fact that everyone has become so sensitive is absurd and what's even more absurd is we have a newspaper who lives for this kind of trash. The Journal World is generating traffic to their site all at the expense of a person who is serving our community all while "anonymous" is a happy little troll. This is a non-story which none of us should know anything about so let's put blame where it is due; great work Chad, Rochelle and crew, you should be proud.

Beth Pine 5 months, 3 weeks ago

That is one opinion and you are in the minority. AND I would say with all certainty she doesn't need to "be reminded of the fact." She is reminded everyday she walks into work. Furthermore, her work product and the organization's increased success is a reflection of her work for the organization and the city.
This is more an issue of The Lawrence Journal World stepping away from valuable and newsworthy information to create a story just for the scandalous aspect. If this is the kind of news you appreciate, The National Inquirer is available at any drug store. Actually, I don't know that for sure. I don't read it.

Brett McCabe 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Minorities aren't necessarily wrong. Just saying.

It was a stupid thing to do. She admitted it. Quit making excuses.

Kevin Elliott 5 months, 3 weeks ago

You are allowed your point of view and I am allowed mine. Mine is your point of view is silly and absurd and if the city or the shelter wasted one second on such puritanical petty idiocy they would be foolish.

Jana Dawson 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Check out page 8. I doubt something this insignificant could be construed as a "bona fide occupational requirement," so there likely is no legal action that an employer could take.

Also, on page 9: The meaning of “narrowly tailored” under the NLRA, however, remains unsettled. To date, the NLRB has deemed all of the following social media policy provisions unlawful:  prohibiting employee statements that “damage the company, defame any individual or damage any person’s reputation”;37  prohibiting employees from making “disparaging or defamatory comments about [employer], its employees, officers, directors, vendors, customers, partners, affiliates, or ... their products/services”;38  prohibiting “disrespectful” conduct and language that might injure the “image or reputation” of the employer;39  prohibiting employees from posting pictures depicting the employer in any way, including a picture of the employee in a company uniform or the corporate logo;40  prohibiting employees from making disparaging comments about the company or the employee’s supervisors, co-workers, or competitors;41  prohibiting employees’ use of language or action that is “inappropriate,” of a general offensive nature, rude or discourteous to a client or co-worker;42

A very competent young professional made a very (very) minor error in judgment. Don't see how this rises to the level of being newsworthy.

Beth Pine 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It doesn't. Again, The Lawrence Journal World should be ashamed.

Bill McGovern 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Who cares? The Humane Society has flourished under her direction, I am happy for her hard work and contributions/leadership as director.

Erika Dvorske 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I hope the comments are considered by the LJW staff before they put this paper to print. Let's cover the news, please.

I'm grateful to Kate for being the amazing leader that she is and working on behalf of animals and human beings in our community.

Tom Thomson 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Yet another ridiculous article written by the LJW. No wonder the paper is nicknamed the "Lawrence Urinal World". This is probably the least important thing one could write about. If somebody is that offended, they better stop reading the news, listening to music or watching TV, for fear of getting offended.

Of all the things important in this world, let alone this city, you find time to post this rubbish. It's clear Kate and her staff do a great job helping the poor animals without a home.

Paul Youk 5 months, 3 weeks ago


This is complete nonsense. LJW should be embarrassed by this article.

Paul Youk 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Correction: Whoever assigned this story to the reporter is an embarrassment.

Cait McKnelly 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I've had this sort of problem with the LJW off and on for years; (non) stories that were sensationalized and other important stories completely ignored. Blame it on the paper being owned by a Rupert Murdoch wannabe.

Mark Jakubauskas 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Non-issue. Tempest in a teapot. Move along, nothing to see here.

C'mon Journal-World, there's better and more important things to write stories about!

Phillip Chappuie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Anonymous letters go to the anonymous file. The trash. But hey, some with no snap or crackle in their life got an opportunity to make some important political statement about leftist. Not a subject goes by unnoticed.

Steve King 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Good grief. I've seen much worse in prime time tv. Chill out people.

Scott Burkhart 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The world has lost its freaking mind along with its sense of humor!! First of all, nobody likes a tattle tale. Secondly, we have a system of jurist prudence in our country that allows an accused to face their accuser. I would file the letter of "offense" in the garbage where it belongs and drop the whole thing. CAN WE STOP BEING OFFENDED BY EVERY DARN THING THAT COMES DOWN THE PIPE!?

Darrell Lea 5 months, 3 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Rae Hudspeth 5 months, 3 weeks ago

We stand with Kate, and add our own middle digits up to the pearl-clutcher!

MerriAnnie Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I haven't read all the comments, but I will say that I'm fine with her having a personal life separate from her work. I am retired but my personal life was always separate from my work life. I guess if accountants can do that, then anybody else should be able to do that. She's not a politician, who seem unable to have personal lives outside of their jobs because they're elected partly on the basis of their personal lives. That's because they have a lot of impact on the rest of us.

She said she's sorry. I say drop it.

Anybody on these boards who has never ever not once in all their lives said a really bad word or raised their finger to someone - raise your hand... or your finger..

I'm a mom and grandmom and wife of 50 years and my husband is a leader in a church, but I will tell you about the time I flipped someone off. I'm not proud of it, but so be it. It's done.

I was on a trip and was on a steep and curvy mountain. I had my almost grown nephew and others in the car with me. Their lives were important to me.

Someone who obviously knew the road well came up behind me speeding. Right on my bumper and was unable to pass me. Stayed right on my bumper until I made a turn.

So I lowered my window and put my hand above the car where my relatives couldn't see it and I flipped the driver off. But my nephew knew what I was doing and after the rest of the family was not there he told me and he laughed. I said, "Do as I say, not as I do."

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