Thursday, October 4, 2007

Power of Carnegie Newsletter Editor Curbed


There has been a shake-up at the Carnegie newsletter, a left-wing, newsletter that has been published on a shoestring in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside for over 20 years. For 21 years, Paul Taylor (photo above), a Downtown Eastside resident and American ex-patriot in his fifties, has been editing the newsletter. Many Carnegie members at tonight's meeting wanted his power curbed.

The Carnegie newsletter gets read. And it plays a role in keeping the majority of poor people on the Downtwon Eastside, Canada's poorest postal code, leaning to the left. The newsletter (masthead pictured below) accepts submissions from readers, many of whom are on welfare. There are persistent themes in the plain-english Carnegie newsletter: raise welfare rates by 50%, the 2010 Winter Olympics are a curse on the poor and an engine of gentrification, left-wing politicians like Libby Davies (who personally donates money to the newsletter) deserve to be re-elected. The best of the newsletter has been turned into a book, "The Heart of the City".

The Carnegie Board had to decide at tonight's meeting whether to accept a recommendation to set up an Editorial Board to oversee the newsletter and take some of the power out of the hands of Taylor.

A key issue that prompted the campaign to have an Editorial Board set up to oversee the newsletter was “libelous commentary” Taylor acknowledged writing in the newsletter about a homeless man, William Simpson. Simpson was barred from the Carnegie Learning Center after being suspected of contributing to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which has been critical of Carnegie and accused it of being part of a poverty industry which disempowers the poor on the Downtown Eastside. After Simpson fought back by getting himself elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors, Carnegie Executive Director Ethel Whitty delivered him a letter on Vancouver City Hall letterhead barring him from the entire Center. Whitty told him that he was also stripped of his ability to attend Board meetings inside the Center. Members who had voted for Simpson were outraged. Tonight, Board member and aboriginal activist, Stephen Lytton, echoed their feelings when he said, "We can't continue with this Bill Simpson situation as he hasn't been proven guilty or otherwise.” Lytton was told he was off topic. "This is the topic," he responded.

In response to outrage about Simpson’s barring, Taylor wrote a column in the newsletter this summer claiming that Simpson had gotten elected essentially through fraud, lying specifically, and that Simpson had been writing “sadistic” commentary on the blog. Taylor later retracted these and other statements he had published about Simpson, acknowledging in writing that this was “libelous commentary”. Taylor also retracted commentary he had published about another new Board member, Rachel Davis, who had fallen out of favor with the Carnegie establishment after speaking out against the barring of Simpson.

Davis, a thin woman in her late 30’s with blond-brown, shoulder-length hair, has been a prime mover in the effort to have Taylor’s power curbed through the setting up of an Editorial Board. She told the crowd tonight that this is “nothing personal” against Taylor, but simply an effort to have policy respected. She argued that Taylor was using the Carnegie Newsletter as “his own personal, political newsletter.” She echoed criticisms of him that have been commonly heard at Carnegie over the years: people making submissions to the Carnegie newsletter sometimes find them rejected outright, not even looked at, or edited without their consent. “There are policies being violated,” Davis said, “and they are being violated over and over again despite the editor being asked [by the Board] to stop violating them.”

Sophia Friegang, who resigned as a Carnegie Board member last month over the Simpson barring, echoed Davis in saying that "there are certain policy guidelines that have been violated" here," so an oversight body was needed. "Nobody has the right to sole power as the editor for 20 years and it's ridiculous that anybody would have that right for 20 years." Friegang said that Taylor had "done some great work obviously" and that she wasn't suggesting that he no longer be involved in the newsletter. But she did not think the paper would fall apart under an Editorial Board. "Things need to be done by democracy. . . ."

Wilf Reimer, a tall, thin, man with short hair and glasses in his forties who has recently become a member of Carnegie, stated that he had been tagged with an “enemy” label at Carnegie after speaking up against the barring of William Simpson. Reimer claimed that he had received written notification from Taylor that his submission to the newsletter had been rejected “considering the source”. He asked how many people may have had similar experiences "and have just not bothered to contribute anymore because they just can't deal with the power that's there, that's in Paul's hands, and he's supported by Security, and the rest of the Board, and Ethel...." Reimer raised his voice at one point, walked up to Chair Gena Thompson who was flanked by two male Board members, and told them he did not like the way they treated people.

Doug, a tall, thin, forty-something man, with shoulder length brown wavy hair, said he has been a journalist for 30 years. He said he told Taylor that he "would have been fired" if he'd conducted himself as he had. [Taylor is a volunteer editor.] Doug said he had been involved in shaping the recommendation of an Editorial Board, a recommendation that he now heard being misrepresented. "I never talked about a Board that was in on every decision; I talked about a working Board that would meet once a month and help and support the editor ...It is not there to edit; it is there to talk about the direction...." He added, "This man has really brought shame on my profession as a journalist."

"Out of order!", Michael Read, the Secretary, called out. These were "personal attacks" on Taylor said Read, who had been the first at the meeting to announce that he supported the establishment of an Editorial Board.

But there were members at tonight's meeting who opposed setting up an Editorial Board to share power with Taylor, believing that it could ultimately kill the newsletter. John Dunnings, a Carnegie Security guard and CUPE member, said he thought this "bureaucratic mechanism" would ultimately "strangle the paper." He pointed out that the Gathering Place, a downtown community center where Carnegie security guards also work, has an Editorial Board and has managed to publish only two newsletters in 2 years.

Lisa, a Downtown Eastside resident, said of the Carnegie Newsletter, "We can not afford to lose it." She went on to say,"There are many developers and politicians who would love to see the end of the Carnegie newsletter because it has proven to be such an effective tool for spreading the word about what is really happening in the Downtown Eastside." Then she let the critics have it: "Based on what I have seen and heard, there is a small group of people who are in a big snit over something Paul Taylor reported in the Carnegie newsletter. This group has decided to actively seek revenge by launching a personal attack against Paul." She left out one thing: she is Paul's wife.

Tom, a retired man with grey hair and a 40 yr. background in the union movement, volunteers collating, stapling, and delivering the newsletter. He noted that at a recent work bee only two people showed up and one was Taylor. "To think that you're going to have something like an editorial board that's going to oversee and do the job of getting this thing out, this news letter out, is just not going to happen." Tom said that with a 40-yr. history in the union movement, he had seen all this before. "[T]he game plan here is not people's bruised sensibilities not being addressed properly, it's, I can tell by the verbiage that's being used in this meeting, it's being couched in pious platitudes about democracy and all this other stuff, fair play; what is being played out here is to try and destroy the Carnegie newsletter so that it will never be published again."

Delaney, a thin, middle-aged poet with neck-length, light brown, curly hair, emphasized that she was “suspicious” of the efforts to have an Editorial Committee curb Taylor’s power. “Somebody wants the Carnegie newsletter shut down”, was what she suspected. Delaney admitted having “huge fights” with Taylor when he altered material she submitted but gave him credit for the fact that every two weeks, "the newsletter comes out." The Carnegie Newsletter gets read on the Downtown Eastside, Delaney said, because it is the only publication worth reading. "There's no news in the Sun, there's no news in the Province, there's no news in the Georgia Straight or the West Ender."

After hearing roughly ten passionate speakers and some yelling, the Board voted to accept the recommendation to have an Editorial Committee oversee the publication of the Carnegie newsletter.

Taylor was not present for the verdict but his wife, Lisa, was. She cried.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

In our community a grotesque miscarriage of justice has happened. We have had two men accused of the same violation of the Carnegie Centre Rules and Guidelines treated in vastly different ways.
In the first man’s case, that of William Simpson, there was a meeting of the Education committee, and his case was discussed with out his knowledge or input. Staff then went to security, and after a short meeting with this man, alone, he was barred from the learning centre. To this day has never been able to appeal that decision.
He stood accused of writing a blog about Patrons and staff that was accused of being libelous. And he was barred without having any recourse.

In the case if the second man, Paul Taylor, there were 3 publishing committee meetings, each one with the subject of the meeting present with any supporters he wished. There has been no appeal to security, and no strictures to his activities
He was completely confirmed to have written in the Carnegie Newsletter itself about patrons in a way that was confirmed to be libelous.
What is the difference between these two men that would cause the Carnegie to treat them in such different ways?
The man who stood accused of writing a blog that was anonymous was William Simpson, a homeless man , it’s true, whereas the man who was signing his name to things in the Newsletter was Paul Taylor, the editor of the Carnegie Newsletter for 20 years. But there was a bigger difference.
The Editor of the Carnegie Newsletter was writing libelously about members, but the man who was barred was accused of writing about members and staff.

That all seems heavy handed enough right there. Having one set of rules for the homeless Bill Everyman, user of the learning centre, the guy who’s accused of writing a blog, and another set of rules for the long entrenched and enfranchised editor of the Carnegie Newsletter.
It seems unfair to have different consequences for writings on staff and writings on members, but it gets worse when you realize that the libelous articles the editor put in the Newsletter were about the man who had been barred, and his supporters! These articles accused him of winning a place on the board of Directors fraudulently, and his supporters of placing plants in the audience at meetings amongst other things.

When it comes to the Carnegie guidelines, it seems that there can be an amazing amount of leeway if you are attacking the people staff are against in print. And absolutely no leeway if it’s staff.

wilfr said...

Thanks RS for reporting on the meeting and this story. I look forward to the revised version.

I'll just clarify and add a bit to the part you wrote about my contribution to the meeting. I'm glad to have this opportunity here to speak again, hopefully a little more coherently and with less emotion. I've got a lot of work to do on my communication skills, as anyone who's seen me in action knows. However, that doesn't detract, I think, from the fact that I do have a valid and pertinant opinion to express.

Likely there are many others who may be in the same boat and choose not to speak up at all. I would encourage anyone in that group to use this forum or William's on the Free Citizen's Forum to have your say - anonymously if needed - but say something. It doesn't have to be a rant, just respectful personal truth.

First with regard to "security and Ethel", I was referring to the the submission at the meeting by the security guard, John I think his name was, in support of Paul Taylor. This plus one other personal experience with security as well as others I've heard about have led me to believe that Security tends to favour those in power at the Carnegie. I could be wrong, but this is the way it seems to me.

Regarding Ethel Whitty, I was singling her out because, in spite of the fact that she has been good about responding to my questions about "Billgate", I've never been satisfied with the answers. Like Anonymous said in the first post, there is disparity in the treatment of these two different Carnegie members. William is falsely accused of misconduct (being "the blogger"), it's allowed to continue to be construed as true and he gets barred. Paul actually commits and then admits to misconduct and yet there is nothing said by the city about that. So, that's why I mentioned Security and Ethel Whitty.

After Paul Taylor wrote his article about William and Rachel, I submitted a handwritten response under the Association's office door. I said I was speaking as a William Simpson supporter and said in no uncertain terms that it was wrong what he did and he should account for his actions. I copied the letter to Libby Davies and others. I may have posted it here in response to one of your other articles. I think my letter was what set the tone for my stormy "relationship" with Paul Taylor.

My next two submissions were via email with attached documents. To both of these, I received the following from Paul Taylor, "Considering the source, the attachment has not been opened due to an expectation of a virus." and a label below indicating my message was "SPAM".

I've never received an explanation for this. I asked Ethel Whitty to look into it, but she has a hands-off relationship with the Newsletter and declined. I put it on the agenda at the last Publications meeting, but there was no time. I intend to ask about it at the next meeting on October 10.

I'd have to say that the words, "considering the source", make it sound personal and I don't think that would be right conduct by an editor, but I'll wait until I get some official explanation. It's interesting to note that I have sent the same kind of attachment in a submission to the Security Coordinator, but received no reply concerning SPAM or potential viruses from him.

My first email submission was a response to Paul's apology and retraction. The second one was an attempt to contribute something postive to the newsletter. Stephen Truscott had been in the news at the time and I had heard an item on CBC radio about a poem written by Pierre Berton. The poem was credited with being instrumental in the changing of Canada's capitol punishment law. I copied the poem entitled Requiem For A Fourteen Year Old along with the blurb about it's affect and thought it would be a good and timely addition to the newsletter content.

I think that one of the main points I would have made at the meeting in support of the motion for the "development of an editorial board", had I been more in control of my thoughts, would have been about oversight. Where is the oversight on submissions to the editor, if there's only one person? What if I'm too shy, withdrawn or scared to say something if my submission is rejected or ignored? Who's to say that it is not a personal decision rather than a proper editorial one by the one person in control?

I think my two rejected submissions provide good evidence that it is possible to abuse the role of editor if there is no oversight such as a board to review all potential content.

I have something to say about being targeted as an enemy, but I'll leave it at that for now.

reliable sources said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for outlining the double standard at Carnegie: penalties for criticizing staff are much tougher than penalties for libeling a member.

The double standard is also protecting Carnegie Director, Ethel Whitty. Whitty has repeatedly slandered Bill Simpson and the DTES Enquirer bloggers at public meetings. She has repeatedly presented Bill Simpson and the DTES Enquirer bloggers as a bad type of people producing and disseminating "defamation". BUT SHE HAS NEVER PROVIDED EVEN ONE EXAMPLE to support her statements -- because she knows none exist.

Whitty also allowed a letter signed by her boss Jacquie Forbes-Roberts to be handed out at public meetings libeling Bill Simpson and the DTES Enquirer bloggers as terrible people who make up smear. Again, no examples were given. Everything on the blog can be supported with witnesses. Whitty has helped whip up such an environment of hostility toward blog contributors, that these Carnegie members fear coming forward.

Despite slandering members, Whitty has suffered no penalties whatsoever.

Here's where the double standard gets wild. Whitty is sittin' pretty in her 6 figure job while a former Carnegie member is alleging that he has been barred from the Carnegie for life. He was barred this year EVEN THOUGH HE HASN'T SET FOOT IN THE CARNEGIE SINCE 2005!

Guess what he is accused of?
Criticizing a Carnegie staff person via the DTES Enquirer blog. He lives on the Downtown Eastside and knows staff at Carnegie and apparently learned of his barring through the grapevine. Carnegie has not confirmed that this man is barred, though, and he has never taken the test of trying to walk into the building past security. He doesn't want anything to do with the place.

reliable sources said...

Wilf,

I think most Carnegie members would agree with you that security tends to favour those in power at Carnegie.

I like your term "Billgate". It's been getting some laughs. One guy added to it: "Impeach Ethel".

Anonymous said...

What Paul and his supporters need to realize, and I think if they did they might feel better, is that it was Paul's own actions that caused this to come about. He could have stopped violating the publishing guidelines at any point and he would not have to be contending with an editorial board. It was because he chose to break the rules in not just one issue, but issue after issue, that this happened.
Another thing that he and they could take in, and again, it might make them feel better, is the fact that it was not a viscious group with something against him who voted for an editorial board. Not a group who've had "Rachel talking to them for a few hours" as he put it in his letter to the board. Board members Dora Saunders and Mike Read have never had a conversation with Rachel Davis in their lives, they simply understood, on their own, that Paul was repeatedly breaking the Carnegie guidelines.

wilfr said...

Right on Anonymous. If the silliness would have ended after the "apology" for the libelous article about William and Rachel, then no editorial board discussion and no need for all the outrage.

However, I for one am glad it continued, since now there is going to be discussion, and hopefully out of that will come a fair-minded editorial board with oversight so that actions and articles like the ones we've seen recently will not be allowed.

wilfr said...

After I finished writing my last post, I turned on Pandora Radio on the internet, and the last station I had created was Leon Redbone. The title of his first song grabbed me right off, and led me to a whimsical thought.

The new editorial board is established with agreement, swiftness and total lack of hostility. So well do things go that all the good will and clear thinking has led to William's "unbarring". Paul Taylor stays on and continues to contribute working happily and willingly with Rachel and other editorial board members. So generous is Paul in his new roll that he offers to write an article in the first new issue completely exonerating William Simpson, and announcing the big party to be held in Bill's honour (first dance goes to Ethel).

The title of Paul's article and the cover headline is the title of the song I heard by Leon Redbone,

"Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)"

:-) :-) :-)

dag said...

Nice to read a whimsical piece in the current rancorous environment at the Carnegie Centre. Reasoned voices and clear-thinking people do attend, to the relief of all concerned, one would suspect. Or so one would assume.

However, we cannot assume that such sweet reason is actually the logical course to come. If the past practice is guide to the future, one might reasonably expect a deluge of emotional blackmail and devious manipulation from powers that now be. Beginning with a sullen and sneering apology followed by copious tears from another, and conspiracy theories, the usual delusional from yet a third, and the bullying from the Chair of those who wished to pursue a reasoned course bodes ill for genuine ireny in the future under the current and even revised system.

After 21 years of Taylor at the helm of the Carnegie Newsletter, one might reasonably suggest the man find a job elsewhere, allowing new ideas and more competent editorship to emerge through the Stalinist fog now swirling about the office. Perhaps it is time for a revolution in terms of the Carnegie Centre itself, time to change the entire system, one that is obviously not conducive to harmony and activism in a positive sense. Entrenched and dictatorial policy-makers do not make for a healthy community resource. At 21 years, it is time for someone else to take up the position of editor of the Newsletter, tears be damned.

Give Taylor his due, give him a farewell party, give him a handshake and a couple of meal tickets, and give him his last good-bye. There is no Natural Law that demands the man be allowed to live out his life as editor of the Carnegie Newsletter. Graciously thank the man and get rid of him.

In the ridding of the Carnegie Newsletter the readers themselves will take a positive step in regaining their personal independence from the professional povertarians who have ground down the people to a state of mental and emotional mush. Assertion of private rights and personal responsibilities might just push some worthy person to real heights of journalism hitherto unknown to any. And to all, the simple fact of removing the lump of Taylorism from the path of personal progress is a positive act.

Get rid of the man. Someone is denied the editorship of the Newsletter only due to Taylor's seeming endless tenure. He is not Stalin. Ask him to move along in life and take his experience to new and greater levels-- elsewhere.

Rise, ye mighty Carnegie People, and do for yourselves.

Bharbara said...

There is a bit of information that is not in your published comments regarding the situation at Carnegie Centre.
The incident that had Bill Simpson barred from the Carnegie Learning Centre involved one other person. I walked into the learning centre one day and as I had heard that Bill Simpson was the blogger I was stressed the minute I saw him in the room. I was one of the people commented on in the blog that Bill has been identified as writing and there was a comment made by Bill earlier that had made me believe he was in fact the blogger. I ignored the fact he was there until Bill began to sneer and discuss me with the friend he was sitting beside (who happened to be the Carnegie Learning Centre computer volunteer)When I heard Bill mention my name I told him if he had something to say about me he should have the guts to say it to my face. I felt unsafe because I was being harassed by two men in the Learning Centre, I spoke out about it and Bills friend tried to evict me from the Learning Centre for it. The computer volunteer came over and told me I was barred from the room and had to leave. I said he had to call Carnegie Security. I took a minute to think about what to do and then I left the learning centre so I would not affect those other people in the room. Bill Simpson and I both wound up being barred from the learning centre for the day. I left and went to diffuse and discuss what had just occurred. As I have been a volunteer at Carnegie since June of 1983 I went to the logical place, the volunteer office. The volunteer staff work very hard formulating and overseeing the many volunteer shifts every week. Their organizational work together with the hours of volunteer work done by the volunteers have kept the programs in Carnegie available for the poorest of the poor in the Downtown Eastside Community. I have never seen many of the people commenting here doing any constructive volunteer work to assist the poor in this community.
One more comment on this particular incident. I was a member of the Carnegie Board four times since becoming a volunteer in 1983. As the Learning Centre was being created I was one of the people on the Board of Directors that oversaw the growth of the Carnegie Learning Centre from it's beginning.
During one of the four times I was a member of the Carnegie Board of Directors I experienced a time when there were a group of Carnegie Board members trying to destroy Carnegie Centre and they almost succeeded. In that case the membership voted against the entire Board of
Directors and then voted in the members who were working in the best interests of the community and not the best interest of the wealthy. This was when the Carnegie Newsletter first began. To the best of my memory I seem to remember there were only three people who put in for the job of the second Editor of the Carnegie Newsletter. There was Frank, Paul and myself. Paul became the editor and although I have had many nasty run-ins with Paul he has the best interests of this community at heart. Even when ill Paul is prepared to work very hard, for no pay to do his very large part, ensuring there is a way for people to know exactly what is happening in their community.
One more comment here. It is addressed in this article that Rachel Davis aka Rosetta Stone has been attempting to attack many Carnegie staff for many years. I can't help but wonder Rachel/Rosetta would prefer to see this Community Centre closed down. Her actions over the years would imply this.
The homeowner and the homeless man both on the same side for one reason and one reason only.
TO DESTROY THE ONLY COMMUNITY CENTRE DESIGNED FOR THE POOR.
Sometimes we have to overlook our hatreds towards each other and act in the best interest of the most vulnerable.

rachel davis said...

Dear Bharb,
We have been friends for 18 years, and I was sad when you wouldn’t tell me what was bothering you and hung up on me months ago. I didn’t realize that the source of your anger was that you thought I was trying to destroy the Carnegie Centre.
You sure caused me pain with this one. Especially coming from one with whom I have worked to try to make the Carnegie a better place. I have been going to the Carnegie since it opened, since I was 16, and I love it very much. For you to make up some far fetched motives for my actions, like I’m trying to “destroy the Carnegie” is nothing more than a vague and mean spirited personal attack, exactly the kind of thing that you felt you were a victim of when you were written obout.
You say: “it is addressed in this article” that I have tried to “attack many staff for many years”. Please don’t make things up. I know of no such article. I know you have written emails to this effect before, and sent them out to many people including Ethel Whitty and Rika Uto, but I don’t know of any articles, and I have never made any “attacks on staff”

Contrary to your comment here, and your previous emails, I have always cared deeply and have been committed to the well being of the Carnegie Centre.
I used to run the music program at Carnegie, and the Gathering Place, and I have always believed in the empowerment of people as a basic principle. The nurturing of their talents and aspirations should be one of the goals of the Carnegie Centre. There is a tremendous amount of funding that is secured in the name of the people of the DTES, that money should be used to further what the actual people really need, and transparency and inclusiveness should be the hallmarks of the Carnegie’s actions. All too often people downtown are treated like mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed…. waste. And there is a lot of fear about speaking out against things they don’t agree with. That fear is something I want to see fly out the window, and personally, I feel like I’m trying to pry the window open so it can. When people can clearly see what is going on and are included in it, they have the tendency to flourish. Having these ideals is not the same as “attacking staff”, and all the staff at Carnegie know that when they interact with me they are assured that I will not raise my voice or become offensive or nasty, and you have no evidence to the contrary.

I know that in his articles in the Newsletter, mine is the only board member’s name that Paul Taylor has associated with the motion that passed to create an editorial board, but with your long history as a board member you will remember that it does takes more than one to pass a motion. For some reason, you and others continue to ignore this detail. Many others on the board besides myself voted for the formation of an Editorial board. It was not a certain section of the board acting as a secret cabal for the ultimate destruction off the Carnegie Centre. It was some bewildered people trying to figure out how to stop the editor from continuing to break his promises to follow the Carnegie Publishing Guideline (which states that you can’t use the Newsletter against any groups or individuals) His writings since then have been extremely inaccurate, and, in my opinion, designed to inflame anger against a board who would remind him of the rules. He has reported on this issue as if it were a plot led by people who want to take over and “Shut Down the Newsletter”, as one of his articles was inaccurately titled, instead of a board decision to create an editorial board in an attempt to enforce our Publishing guidelines and create a sense of fairness around the issues of publishing submissions and editing. So many people have given up trying to submit because Paul is rude to them, or edits them excessively or publishes something they never submitted, or simply refuses to publish their article with no reply or explanation. Not every one is as strong as you, Bharb, and can have a “nasty run-in” with Paul, as you say, and feel safe about submitting again. There are many people who feel much more vulnerable about it. They are members of our community too, and not a just small segment of it, and as a board we are bound to protect the interests of the whole community.

I want you to stop writing in this mean way about me. It is not true, and does no good for us all.
Thank you
Rachel Davis

reliable sources said...

Bharbara,

You've got it all wrong. The incident involving you was never given as a reason in either of the long term barrings of Bill Simpson: in June 2007 from the entire Carnegie building or in Jan. 2007 from the Carnegie Learning Center.

In June 2007, two weeks after homeless Bill Simpson was elected to the Board of Directors of Carnegie Center, he was barred from the entire building and not allowed to even enter for Board meetings. Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty delivered him a letter stating that the reason was that he had a website that "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog (which had been critical of Carnegie.)

A few months earlier in Jan. 2007, Bill Simpson had been barred from the Learning Centre on the top floor of Carnegie (but not from the entire building). He was told by Lucy Alderson that he was barred for blogging on the DTES Enquirer (which had criticized Alderson, who gets a good union pay cheque, for locking the doors of the Learning Center in mid-day; her excuse was that a volunteer receptionist hadn't shown up.) Alderson made no mention of any incident with you, Bharbara, when barring Simpson.

An incident with you had occurred in Oct. or Nov. 2006, although apparently not the way you tell it. You were the offender in that case, according to witnesses, not Bill Simpson. That incident resulted in both you and Simpson being barred for one afternoon from the Carnegie Learning Center. Witnesses said AT THE TIME that you had approached Simpson at the elevator near the Learning Center and yelled at him, calling him a coward etc. for blogging (about the fact that Carnegie told the media they had put on a play by the homeless, when in fact there was only one homeless man in the play.) Simpson told you that you were just angry as you had been "caught with your pants down." You then followed Simpson into the Learning Centre and continued yelling at him. Chad, the Learning Center tutor, told you to stop. He also told Simpson not to respond to you and, Chad says, Simpson complied and went back to his computer. You continued taking shots at Simpson and Chad told you that he was going to have to ask you to leave if you didn't stop. You continued. You were then barred but Chad was amazed when staff Betsy Alkenbrach and Colleen Gorrie, neither of whom had witnessed the entire altercation, barred Simpson along with you. Chad expressed concern to Director Ethel Whitty, telling her that it was not Simpson who was causing the trouble and there was not basis for barring him. Whitty, who had not witnessed the events, refused to reverse the barring. Chad felt he was not listened to. "Maybe it's because I'm a man," he said at the time. Chad has since resigned, and this unfair barring played a major role.

Nobody claimed at the time that you felt "unsafe". You were NOT being harassed by two men. Neither Chad or Bill Simpson did anything that day to make you feel unsafe, according to witnesses. Neither of these men has any history of violence at Carnegie -- and even a feminist who goes to the Carnegie Learning Center says they do not intimidate people.

Your comments about Rachel Davis are also inaccurate. You claim that she has been trying to "attack" Carnegie staff for many years but there is no evidence of that. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. Rachel was paid to run the music program at Carnegie one night a week; Carnegie staff tend not to give paid work to people who they see as antagonists.
[Actually, the staff at Carnegie, with the exception of the kitchen staff, deserve to be "attacked" verbally. They consistently violate civil liberties of low income people, despite all of their talk in the media about sticking up for the rights of the poor.

The low income people at Carnegie voted for Rachel Davis as a Board member so they obviously must think highly of her.

Rachel Davis, Sophie Friegang, and Stephon Lytton, have been the only Board members who had the courage to speak up when Bill Simpson was barred from the building without justification. Being associated with a blog that contains content which, as Sophia pointed out, is just "free speech", does not justify being barred.

Why don't you criticize Board member Jeff Sommers who NEVER speaks up when civil liberties are violated. When Rachel Davis moved to hold a review of the barring of a homeless man without justification, Sommers voted against it.

dag said...

Who is Jeff Sommers, and why is he in a position to effectively attack a homeless man?

Bharbara said...

I stand by every word I said in my statements above.
My reason for addressing these issues is evident at the end of my statement.
By the way, in my life I have been homeless in warm and in freezing weather. I have broken a window in a door to get into a stairwell so I would not freeze mid-winter. I have slept in parked cars, in boxes in behind shopping plaza's and in people garages in mid winter. I have begged and borrowed to survive. I have also raised a family in poverty and I know that this gives me an understanding of the issues of homelessness and poverty and I do have the right to express this understanding either in an Opera or any other method I choose. Saying I have no right to sing in an opera about homelessness and poverty because I am not now homeless and that I should accept the mean spirited comments made about me by the blogger because the individual has a right to free speech is ridiculous.
About the Carnegie Learning Centre incident. I am not talking about the disgusting conversation with Bill by the elevator I am talking about the incident in the Learning Centre. Those two guys had a lot of fun harassing me because I spoke out to Bill earlier. Chad trying to bar me from the Learning Centre after he and Bill had fun ridiculing and discussing me in a nasty way did not work the way they meant it to. Bill got barred from the Learning Centre too and has done nothing but whine about it since.
About Friendships as mentioned above by Rosetta/Rachel. Not every acquaintance I have had in my life is a friend of mine. Rachel/Rosetta you have never been my friend just so we understand each other. I know a lot of people and you are just one of those, and one I might add, I wish I did not know. Remember that when we are in the same room from now on.
I know that there are many ways of addressing issues that do not destroy or involve harrassing the people who work in Carnegie both as volunteers and as staff. Having people fired or closing the place down because we don't like someone or what they do is not in the best interests of the members of Carnegie Centre. Just realize the funding for this Centre comes from the City and harassing City Staff in this way is no way to strengthen our position.

wilfr said...

I don't know you, Bharbara, but I do know Rachel and I'm happy to say that she is a friend. I and plenty of other Carnegie members are grateful and honoured to be considered as her friends, and we would all agree that your capitalized declaration that she is out to "DESTROY" the Carnegie is preposterous, inflamatory, defamatory and patently false.

I mean really, the newsletter was never in danger of being shut down and the Carnegie even less so. Where is the threat coming from - one lone board member doing her best to present a voice of reason to the majority who wants to, and will, have their way?

What's all the fuss to warrant big headlines about impending doom? Why the high-flown emotional rhetoric, accusations and yes, hatred.

The meeting where Jeff Sommers put his motion was a pathetic example of procedure given the length of time these meetings have been going on, but so what, really. PAUL'S PALS HAD THE PLAN DOWN PAT ( I like that if I do say so myself - how's that for a headline, RS? Oh, if only I were the editor of the Carnegie Newsletter! ;-). They were ready with the motion, ready with the numbers for the vote and done deal. So, why not just let the rest of us rant, hold the vote and be done with it. They were going to get their own way anyway.

You and the others who support Paul and hate William have everything you need in your favour. You have the Newsletter, still do. You have the majority of the board, you have the working volunteer contingent for the solid vote and support and I don't see any opposition for you from the city or security. The system is on your side. Why make a big stink? Just go through the motions, vote for what you want and continue on your merry way. Why put all that energy and hatred into villifying Rachel Davis and grinding down Sophia Freigang? William's not enough for you all? (Others watching here, I know there are many stories besides William and Rachel, but they're the only ones I've been involved in and feel free to speak on. Others should chime in if there's something to say.)

You talk about overlooking hatred, Bharbara. Do you mean that Rachel should overlook the hatred implied in this comment of yours?

"I know a lot of people and you are just one of those, and one I might add, I wish I did not know. Remember that when we are in the same room from now on."

Or do you maybe think those speaking against William and Rachel ought to do a little self- examination and see what hatred they can overlook, or better still let go of?

You or any others are welcome to attack me, I've had a taste already from some very worthy attackers at the Carnegie, but I'll take my due. Actually, I'll probably agree with you on some things. I do try to work on me old self, but I can use as much help as I can get, and as many have witnessed, it's a long hard road I'm walkin'. ( if you say that with a bit of an Irish lilt, it comes across a lot better.)

By the way, RS and Rachel, I think you both did great jobs of replying to Bharbara's comment.

Bharbara said...

So much for freedom of speech.

wilfr said...

Message for William supporters.

Check out the Ideaboard on William's website for something to think about.

http://timetender.ca/enquirer/index.php?board=8.0

Anonymous said...

if rachel does not know that she is offensive to many people, then noone should listen to anything she has to say because she is clearly lacking self-awareness, sad, but true. she is one of the most offensive people i've ever encountered

rachel davis said...

Wow, these comments are getting so personal. Now we are down to how people smell!
No need to be sad any longer, anonymous, I actually am aware of how offensive I am to some people, and that is why I have changed my brand of deoderant to
"Right-Action Guard"

reliable sources said...

anonymous,

When you wish to criticize a Carnegie Board member or anybody else on this site, please be specific about what exactly you find offensive. Give a few details of what they said or did. That way your assessment of their actions can be evaluated by others. We can't allow the DTES Enquirer to be used for gratuitous personal attacks and in future, THEY WILL BE DELETED.

I will counter your criticism of Rachel by pointing out that at the dance at Carnegie last night where she was performing -- she's a singer and musician -- the lead singer introduced her as "one of our more popular Board members."

The focus on whether or not Rachel Davis is a nice person is a secondary issue though. You don't have to be nice to be courageous. Davis showed courage in speaking up when a homeless man, William Simpson, was barred indefinitely from Carnegie Center for nothing more than legitimate free speech. She asked for a review. There is a tape of that meeting and she was polite in asking for the review.

And you know what? Jeff Sommers spoke against the review, claiming that everybody who had been barred would want their case reviewed. In other words, all of those other people whose civil liberties have been violated will be coming forward. Did I mention that Jeff Sommers is a convicted bank robber? Why is a convicted bank robber making decisions about a City facility that gets 2 million plus in funding a year? Jeff was a Board member when there was a conviction of another Board member in the 1980s for embezzlement. Sommers was not charged during that incident but people still talk about how they feel he never adequately answered their questions about where the money the seniors had saved -- $3,000, I believe -- had disappeared to. Come on Jeff, answer the questions and clear it up. Be nice.

wilfr said...

I like that Rachel, "Right Action Guard". Perfect.

Hey anonymous. It's really easy to make those kind of comments anonymously. Who are you?

Actually though, your post is a good example for me to remember how easy it is to be like that. It's not that I don't have those kinds of thoughts about some people, and I always feel bad when I catch myself speaking them (and I've done it a lot), but thanks for the reminder that cheap shots have no place here or other forums.

RS has a good point about backing up your words for evaluation by others. Also, the issue that Rachel and others are speaking to is about the same kind of thing - going beyond what's acceptable in Paul expressing his own opinions in the Newsletter.

At least here you have an opportunity to rebut - not so the newsletter - my submissions have been rejected as SPAM without explanation. Maybe Bharbara could elaborate on her comment about "free speech"?

That's some bit of information about Carnegie Board member Jeff Sommers, RS. Is that a matter of public record somewhere?

reliable sources said...

Wilf,

I assume a bank robbery conviction would be on public record. The source told me that Sommers did time behind bars. The source is an old timer on the Downtown Eastside who knew Sommers and Taylor and all of that crowd. The source was very involved in Carnegie for at least 15 years and used to help out with the newsletter. The source gave me this information some time ago as we chatted over tea, long before the blog was set up.

The person who was convicted of embezzlement while on the Carnegie Board may be named in the future. But I want to find the public record first. Hint: he's one of Rachel's critics. But the word is that he actually "took the fall" for other people. There are loyalties showing up currently at Carnegie that may be explained by some of this history.

One person who is a good source of oral history about the Downtown Eastside is Michael Whitehead. He was President of the Senior's Lounge and was involved in Carnegie for a couple of decades. He was not my sources on the Jeff Sommers comments but he could probably tell you if he thinks they are accurate. Bill Simpson could tell you where he lives.

I felt that the sources were good enough to print the information but if Jeff Sommers feels it's not accurate, I will delete it UNTIL we have the chance to track down the public records.

Again, Sommers was not charged in the Carnegie embezzlement scandal. But that period around 1986 is interesting as it was, I believe, the point at which the City took more power at Carnegie Center. Before then the Center was much more run by the local people.