Sunday, March 9, 2008

Taxpayer Rip-off at Carnegie Center Continues

Carnegie staff got the big raise CUPE insisted they deserved, but they are still not doing their jobs on a steady basis. Services at Carnegie are too often hit and miss.

Last Friday evening and the Sunday evening before that, Carnegie staff locked Downtown Eastside residents out of the computer room which contains much-in-demand public access computers. That's two four hour shifts, a total of eight hours of computer services, lost. Sunday evenings are the busiest time for the computer room with people preparing to start the new week. This evening the room was open.

There is no excuse for those responsible for keeping the computer room open -- Colleen Gorrie and Sindi, along with Director Ethel Whitty -- to be operating by the seat of their pants. When they lock people out of services, they always have the same excuse: "No volunteer showed up." They have a multi-million dollar budget but they can't function without a volunteer. Why can't Colleen or Ethel sit in the computer room themselves? After all, they're getting a pay cheque to keep those services open. There are surprisingly few services at Carnegie considering the millions that the taxpayer sinks into that place. The third floor has only a computer room and a Learning Center, the latter being co-operated by Capilano College. The second floor has a gym which is generally deserted except for a volleyball game once or twice a week, and a cafeteria which gets a lot of traffic.

Even the cafeteria has a performance problem, although it is still one of the most reliable services in the building. It often has good soups and recently I was told they had a good roast beef dinner. But there have been times in recent weeks when the cupboards have been bare. I went in one evening after the dinner hour and all they had to feed the line up of people was breakfast cereal and a few pastries. No soups. No sandwiches. Then they ran out of cereal!

A friend of mine went into the cafeteria today to buy a muffin for fifty cents but they were out, so she bought a piece of chocolate cake for eighty cents. It was so stale, she couldn't eat it. I tasted it too. Deadly stale.

That is not to say there are not people working tirelessly behind the scenes at Carnegie. The Board of Directors recently arranged a secret meeting for which minutes, if they exist at all, are unavailable. And Board members won't say what the topic of the meeting was. Either the Carnegie Director or Assistant Director would have attended this on camera meeting, as a City representative attends all meetings involving Carnegie Board members.

Speculation is that the meeting was about Rachel Davis, a Board member who was not able to attend, but has irked Carnegie Board members and management by speaking up on behalf of low income Carnegie members who elected her. Davis has been ostracized for speaking up in defense of Bill Simpson when he was banned from this City building, accused of doing what we are doing here, tattletaling to the taxpayer via a blog about services that are paid for but not delivered.

1 comment:

reliable sources said...

Thanks to Wilf for passing on the following correction to dag who passed it on to us. It was initially claimed in this post that Rachel Davis had not been invited to the meeting at Carnegie. That was incorrect. Davis knew about the meeting in advance but was unable to attend because it was scheduled for a time when she had to pick up her daughter.