Wednesday, January 2, 2008

CBC Radio Interviews Bill Simpson, the Banned Member of the Carnegie Board of Directors

Residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside were all ears this morning when CBC Radio 'Early Edition' host, Stephen Quinn, began asking questions about a denial of democracy and free speech at the Carnegie Community Center. Quinn interviewed
William "Bill" Simpson, a homeless man who was banned from the Carnegie Center in June 2007, two weeks after being elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors. The written reason given to Simpson for the banning was that he operates a website which "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog. The DTES Enquirer blog reports on frequent closure of services that Carnegie management and staff are funded to provide to the poor, as well as on the frequent banning of people without due process.

When asked why he was banned from Carnegie, Simpson said, "...I'm banned because I'm one of the voices that wants to hold management accountable and I think accountability is something they don't want to face." Simpson went on to explain that he wanted more accountability for abuse at Carnegie, including "management abuse or staff abuse." Complaining at Carnegie, he said, tends to get members nowhere.

Simpson said that a "solution" found by a blogger to the issue of accountability on the part of management and staff was to act "as a reporter on events going on at the Carnegie." He added, "I applauded the blogger's work...and I stood up for the blogger, and they didn't like that very much."

Carnegie Director, Ethel Whitty, who hand-delivered Simpson the letter banning him from the Center -- a letter signed by her boss at City Hall, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts -- was invited to be interviewed by CBC this morning but declined.

"They do have a history of coming down pretty hard on whistleblowers at the Carnegie," said Rachel Davis, a Carnegie Board member who was interviewed this morning along with Simpson.

Davis said the banning of Simpson was an "entirely politically motivated act." It had nothing to do with protecting the membership, she said, who ended up “frightened” that they too could be banned, or "barred" to use the official Carnegie term. "This barring was entirely about protecting the psychological and political comfort of City staff; they didn’t like being held accountable for their actions and they were willing to do anything to stop it, including barring a duly elected board member."

When asked by Quinn to elaborate on the abuse that Carnegie members suffer, Davis said, "People are being barred for no more reason than they make someone feel uncomfortable." "Management", Simpson interjected.

Because Simpson had been informed in the June letter that he was banned from Carnegie while an investigation into his conduct was ongoing, Davis has attempted to determine the status of this investigation: "I've inquired about this investigation recently and been told that it's really none of my business."

Davis went on to say that many letters had been written to City officials "all the way up to the Mayor" about the banning of Simpson, with no satisfactory response.

Wilf, a Carnegie member, has made an audio of the interview available at:


Cerebus said...

I have just listened to the interview and it seemed like a good job by both Rachel and Bill. I would liked to have heard and explanation from Ethel or City Hall but I think we all knew that they wouldn't show up as they don't feel as if they need explaining. This is below them to deal fairly with the huddled masses, the great unwashed as is the case with most of the staff. What needs to be done is a culling of the herd, getting rid of all of the deadwood that sloths around the building working hard at looking hardworking. Can't fool all the people all the time though. If my case had been brought up I would imagine disbelief from the host as it still puzzles me why my appearance there creates an unsafe work atmosphere. Puzzling is all I can think.

Dag said...

We need some commentary about the details of the interview itself. I can't access it myself, and I'm dead curious to know the details. How did it come across? What kind of interviewer did this? Is the interview likely to have an impact good or bad on the listening pubic? Is there a follow up planned yet?

Let us know the gist of the story so we can get a sense of what transpired. How long was the interview? What questions would you have asked were you the interviewer? What might you have said had you been interviewed? What questions do you think the public will be left with? Is there a way you can answer those questions for the public and get them to the public? Off the top of my head, which is obviously flat....

Anonymous said...


wilfr said...

I was just notified by the CBC producer Shiral Tobin that there will be a follow up interview with Ethel Whitty, the Carnegie's City Director this morning. CBC's The Early Edition with Stephen Quinn at 7:40 am. That's 690 on the AM dial or get the Vancouver streaming audio at I'll try to record and post it again on NowPublic. Don't miss it!

wilfr said...

Check out Ethel's response at NowPublic. She is now saying that William was barred because of a complaint filed by an employee to BC Worksafe. It's my understanding that this was thoroughly checked out and found to be false. There is someone who has more knowledge about this and will no doubt comment further, so I'll wait for that before saying any more.

Dag said...

It looks like Ethel Whitty waited till there was no one left in the studio to contradict her before she sneaked in to do her stuff to
Simpson when she talked. That requires some follow up on CBC and elsewhere. What is the reaction? Will she get away with it? Why is she getting the last word?She had her chance to meet and discuss it with Simpson and turned the case down then. Now she spreads her side of the story without any contradiction. It looks to me like a case of Whitty making in essential that there be more debate, a rebuttal in public to her charges.

Either Simpson was banned for legitimate cause and by right procedure or he wasn't. Which is it? Whitty has sneaked in and done her seeming smear. That seems to me to be good cause for a law suit. Now it's completely public. Now Simpson is branded in public as a public menace. If one in Whitty's position does that to a person it requires some legal action.

But first it requires more media attention.

wilfr said...


Try to listen to the Talkback segment on The Early Edition tomorrow for Rachel's commentary on Ethel's interview. It's excellant. I doubt that Ethel's will be the last word. Maybe Rachel will post what she said in writing here.

Rachel Davis said...

Good idea Wilf, here it is:

I listened to Ethel Whitty this morning on your show and I noticed that she had two different explanations for why William Simpson was barred. First she said it was a worksafe issue that she can’t comment on, then she said that he simply violated the Carnegie guidelines. Since William Simpson sleeps in the park because he’s homeless and has no phone, I thought I would call in and rebut both of her explanations.

You can tell that William Simpson did not simply violate any Carnegie Guidelines by the fact that he was not barred by Carnegie Security. I have never heard of anyone being barred from Carnegie by City Hall before, it’s always simply Carnegie Security that deals with infractions of their code, that’s what they are there for.

And as for her other, contradictory, explanation that it is a WorkSafe issue. She’s said this before, but she’s also denied saying it, both in person and in writing, so I called Gordon Harkness at WorkSafe to find out the real story some time ago.

Mr.Harkness told me that there has been no assessment by WorkSafe of William Simpson whatsoever, so that really concerns me, because
I think people are aware that WorkSafe only deals with cases of violence or extreme verbal abuse, and nothing like that has happened. So for her to use the Worksafe name in an attempt to legitimize this barring is really just a heartless blackening of William’s reputation and that makes me really sad, because if they will do this to him, a democratically elected board member, what would they do to your average member who disagrees with their policy? I find it frightening. And I know other members do too. I stand by my statement: The Barring of William Simpson was a political act against a whistleblower perpetrated by the city.

Dag said...

One would guess that Ethanol is burbling with laughter over this latest piece of absurd theatre on her part: she's sneaked into the CBC studio when no one was there to point out her misrepresentations, and she is now resting on her accomplishments, likely satisfied that the job is done and well-done for good. So now is the time to take up the struggle and make it happen for Simpson and all those others who are at the mercy of the povertarian clique in charge of Carnegie and its clone institutions.

This is a game of strategy, like most other games worth playing for big stakes, and one must play by rules, which Ethanol is doing. The game now rests with those who seek justice and fairness though it impedes the lifestyles of the rich and powerful. There must be an accounting if the people who need such places run well by professionals are to live without fear and misery on the mean streets in the snow like Simpson and too many others must do to make a life of further ease for Ethanol and the $100K Club.

It's pretty straightforward. Some people have it easy, and they want to keep it that way. Simpson and others live in the cold with no food of their own to eat. It ain't right. But it's more than understandable that Ethanol and those like her in the poverty business who make fabulous amounts of money don't care at all about that; they want their cake and their gravy too. Normal and natural. Now they have to fight a bit to keep it coming.

Fight back. If you don't fight you'll be trampled and worse. It's all anyone can expect from people who make so much and stand to lose so much that they will fight. They aren't fools, these povertarians, and they know how to play games because they are game-playing people. Take them on, struggle, and win. Lives are at stake.

You must win.

VancouverIAM Team said...

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Dag said...

Grrr. I never get picked up for my fabulous efforts. What about social justice? What about my masterpiece: "Left Dhimmi Dystopia and the Pegagogy of Feral Orthopraxy"? Jeeez!

So, if not that, let's consider meeting at McD. around noon to discuss Simpson and the other celebrity in the world of Canadian bloggers, the equally notorious Mark Steyn. The cases, as you might be pleased to know, are directly linked.

rachel davis said...

Here's an interesting article on CNN related to the William Simpson case, or "BillGate" that you might want to check out. It's about anonymous blogging friends of a jailed blogger standing up for him. Significantly, I think, this story comes to us from Saudi Arabia.