Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NPA "Breach of Public Trust" School Trustee Switches Allegiances

Non-Partisan Association School Board trustee Eleanor Gregory has revealed that she is abandoning her own party's Mayor Sam Sullivan and supporting Vision mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson.

But is she doing Robertson a favor?

Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry allege that Gregory has a history of breach of public trust in concealing from parents the fact that there is an international boycott of Vancouver School Board diplomas.

The boycott was organized by COPP as a "last resort” after the VSB failed to seriously investigate documented evidence that fraud and human rights abuses had occurred under the NPA-dominated School Board in the lead up to the tightly contested Nov. 2002 election. According to COPP, tactics used by the NPA-dominated School Board included “political psychiatry” that could rival China and resulted in a woman being intimidated into dropping her plans to campaign against the NPA School Board in the election. The well documented tactics were used against the woman after she informed the VSB in writing that she would be campaigning in the election, then just weeks away, about their “duplicity” in the handling of bullying complaints. She had seen an NPA trustee on television assuring the public that bullying complaints were being taken seriously when, in fact, she and others who had independently lodged bullying complaints against a verbally and physically abusive teacher were being ignored, sent intimidating correspondence, and/or generally treated like they were the problem.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blue-Scarf Housing "STANDS" Spread to 13 Vancouver Street Corners as Olympics Loom

Can’t people think of a color other than blue for a scarf? I thought the Blue Scarves were conservatives who meet at the Vancouver Public Library on Thursday evenings to discuss the threat to modernity by Islamo-fascism. But now people on the political Left are wearing blue scarves too, as they stand on Vancouver street corners to demand social housing.

Blue Scarf Housing “STANDS” are the latest action by the Citywide Housing Coalition, a group started by the Carnegie Community Action Project [CCAP] in 2007 to ensure that governments keep promises to make affordable housing a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Every Saturday people wearing blue scarves and holding blue banners meet for an hour between 1 and 2 p.m. on street corners in Vancouver. They are there to demand that City Council protect Vancouver renters from having their homes converted to condos and that federal and provincial governments restore programs that built permanent social housing for low and moderate income people. They also want welfare rates raised and barriers to getting on welfare removed. “We believe that these changes are the primary means of ending homelessness in our city and beyond”, Wendy Pederson, a full time paid CCAP organizer, wrote in the April 1st Carnegie Newsletter.

The STANDS began on Feb. 23 on nine intersections and have now spread to thirteen intersections.

(Photo above: A mini house used as a prop for the STANDS sits outside the door of the CCAP office inside Carnegie Center.)

The idea for STANDS came from the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo whose children were “disappeared” by the military from 1976 to 1983. “They stood every week in a city square wearing white scarves until the generals capitulated”, Pederson wrote. “The scarves became an international symbol for protests against unjust and inhumane governments.”

Street corners with stands so far are:

  • Georgia & Burrard
  • Burrard & West 4th Ave
  • Arbutus & King Edward
  • Edward & Main
  • Main St. & 33rd Avenue
  • Broadway & Commercial
  • Commercial & 1st Ave. (this one may have moved)
  • Heather & 6th Ave.
  • Broadway & McDonald
  • Cordova & Gore
  • Oak & W 49th Ave.
  • Sasamat & West 10th Ave.
  • Burrard & Nelson

If you show up to stand with the social housing advocates on the street corner, you will get a blue scarf handed to you. If you show up to meet with the conservatives at the Vancouver Public Library, you have to bring your own scarf. That points to a fundamental difference in the outlook of the two Blue Scarf groups.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

City Admits Screwing Up on Condo Project for Downtown Eastside

The City of Vancouver admits it screwed up. And today groups fighting gentrification in Vancouver in the lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympics fought back.

The Carnegie Community Action Project and other groups in the Citywide Housing Coaltion held a rally to express outrage that the City had evaded the legally required consultation process for a 7 story condominium development on the Downtown Eastside. Rick Michaels, the Director of Planning delegate for the City of Vancouver, has already apologized for what he calls an “inadvertent shortfall in the notification process for this application,” and an “incomplete notification process”, according to Wendy Pederson (in photo above with red loud speaker), a full time paid organizer with CCAP.

"The City of Vancouver may have been trying to sneak this proposal past us," Pederson said.

CCAP and the Citywide Housing Coalition, groups fighting loss of housing stock for low income people and pressuring governments to keep their promise to provide social housing as a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics, today held the consultation that they say the City of Vancouver was legally required to hold but didn’t. About 50 community members and housing advocates gathered today at the offices of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users on East Hastings and marched to a vacant lot at 58 West Hastings Street owned by Concord Pacific, Canada’s largest developer. The proposed project is called “Greenwich” and contains 154 market housing units, from two-bedroom to studio units. No social housing or other community amenities are currently proposed to be located on the site.

“This project got a rubber stamp from the city, even though it doesn’t comply with the Downtown Eastside housing plan,” noted Pedersen. “How can the City approve this project without talking to the elected officials that set the plan, or the community that relies on that plan?”

Joyce Rock of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House was equally disappointed in the approval, suggesting it would lead to displacement: “In what other neighbourhood in Vancouver would the City tolerate 32% of residents being at risk of displacement because of new development?” A meeting scheduled for today by the City to approve additional density for the site was cancelled after CCAP wrote to the planning department to express concern about the lack of notification that the project was moving ahead.

Taking a jab at the City’s lack of a consultation process for the Greenwich condo project, protesters jotted down answers to questions such as "What do we need on this site?” on three huge signs at the vacant lot where the proposed project is to be built. In the above photo, Jean Swanson, an organizer with the Carnegie Community Action Project, can be seen getting the process underway.

(In the center of the above photo, Citywide Housing Coalition leader Mel Lehan, wearing the red and black jacket, talks to a protester at the site of the proposed Pacific Concord condo development.)

Pederson reminded protesters at today’s rally that the City has also not given up their plan to build highrise towers on the Downtown Eastside. If they go ahead with that, she told the crowd, “we’re hooped!”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bill's Confectionary Sold

Charles and Faye didn’t tell their long time customers that they were selling Bill’s Confectionary, the corner store at Carroll St. and Powell. That’s because you can lose customers when you sell a business and they didn’t want the “diehard customers” to leave, says a source who knows them personally.

It’s not that customers didn’t know Bill and Faye were leaving. It’s just that Charles told a few long time customers that he and Faye were going on a cruise. “Maybe you won’t want to come back after that cruise,” a customer joked. Charles just laughed.

Charles and Faye, a Chinese-Canadian couple, ran Bill’s confectionary for a couple of decades. Charles’ father, Bill, had run it before him when it was located across the street. The store was on the Downtown Eastside, across from the Gassy Jack statue where Gastown starts. So they had a real mix of customers. They had poor people, some of whom could get credit there and pay up on welfare cheque day. And they had better dressed customers dropping in from the bars, restaurants, and galleries in Gastown, or out walking the tiny designer dogs they lived with in the condos being built as the neighborhood is gentrified.

For a few months now other Chinese people, a couple of women and a man, have been supposedly substituting for Charles and Faye. One long time customer repeated asked if Charles and Faye were coming back. He recalls the Chinese man working the cash register assuring him, ""Yeah, yeah, they're coming back. They're on a cruise."

Lately customers have been getting some straight answers. One of the women working in the store confirmed this weekend that the business has been sold.

What became of Charles and Faye? They took a trip to South America to attend a family wedding. They also bought a house which Charles says he might flip. He is thinking of starting another business. He readily admits that he “misses” running the store.

I wonder how much Charles and Faye got for the store. I knew a guy who worked on security in Glory Foods next door, the one run by Koreans. He says the Korean woman there offered Charles a million dollars for his store and he just laughed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Army and Navy Will Stay Open

There was a rumor on the Downtown Eastside a while back that the Army & Navy store was closing. Not true. We checked with a staff person and she said there are no plans to close the store.

The rumor may have originated with the sale of the parking lot used by the Army and Navy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Volunteer of the Year Barred from Carnegie Center

Ada D. returned to Carnegie Community Center yesterday after being barred from this City of Vancouver building for two weeks.

Ada (pictured in bottom right of above photo), a middle-aged woman with long brown hair originally from Newfoundland, was barred when another kitchen volunteer, Dominick, alleged that he had seen her take some sugar home. If she stole sugar once whose to say she wouldn’t be stealing, as the song goes, “sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at supper time.”

Last year Ada got the Carnegie Volunteer of the Year award. Translation: she had put in hundreds of hours of labor in the Carnegie kitchen for 80 cents an hour in food vouchers. She once spent 12 hours in the Carnegie kitchen preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. CUPE members who work in the kitchen and assign work to volunteers would have pocketed well over $200 for those Thanksgiving hours.

Not only is Ada a hard worker, but in a neighborhood where people are often identified by what they don’t do, she is known as a person who does not use street drugs. You won’t see Ada smoking crack. I wonder if she could have worked that into her defense: “I steal but I do not inhale.”

When you are barred from Carnegie, you can’t just walk back into the building when your sentence is up. You have to go to the office of the Security boss, Skip, and act contrite. Skip was the guy who supervised the barring of homeless Bill Simpson from the Carnegie Learning Center, when he was accused of blogging about union members locking the poor out of services funded for them. But the word at Carnegie was that Ada would have no difficulty getting permission to re-enter the building because her name is linked to two magic words: dish washer. Carnegie is always short of dishwashers who will work for 80 cents an hour.

In the months before getting barred, Ada had been getting peeved about the fact that, even though she would do her scheduled dish washing shifts, she would be button-holed by staff to do another shift when she would drop by Carnegie to socialize. Ada didn’t always mind doing another shift of dish washing but, being a Newfoundlander, she was thinking for herself; she thought staff should give volunteers extra vouchers to compensate for grabbing them at the last minute to do a shift that wasn't theirs. She started saying this out loud to other volunteers. A long term Carnegie member commented that if she said that within earshot of CUPE members, it could cause her problems.

You nevah, nevah say the niggahs deserve mo’ whattamellun.

But Ada’s position in relation to Carnegie staff is getting stronger. “She’s getting her DB 2”, one member said under her breath. That means she’ll be getting the Disability welfare rate, a little over $900 a month, putting her on the top rung of the welfare ladder. Not only that, but she just got into subsidized housing. Her emerging relationship to Carnegie staff was best summed up by a Carnegie member who knows her: “She don’t have to suck hole to them anymore.”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Colin Hansen "Rewarding" History of Sexual Harassment at SFU

Colin Hansen is rewarding sexual harassment. That’s how a former SFU student views a visit by BC’s Minister of Economic Development two weeks ago to the Downtown Eastside, to deliver $13.3 million in cheques to the Simon Fraser University Center for the Contemporary Arts. The cheques delivered on March 28th are part of a promise by Premier Gordon Campbell last year to give $49.5-million in special funding to the School for Contemporary Arts on the Downtown Eastside.

When delivering this special funding -- over and above regular funding -- Hansen made no mention of the Center’s special history, twenty years of evading investigation into the alleged operation of a sexual harassment ring of male professors. It is a history that has been festering much like that of native residential schools abuse or pedophile priests festered for decades.

The sexual harassment ring that operated in the Center for the Contemporary Arts involved an element of fraud according to previous reports by the woman who dropped out of the Center for the Contempoary Arts when she lost her ability to concentrate after years of sexual harassment. She has also spoken previously about the persistent lesson taught by Visual Arts professors in the sexual harassment ring -- Jeff Wall, Greg Snider, and David McWilliam -- all of whom had spouses and children, about how to handle a female spouse: deception.

SFU President Michael Stevenson did not show up to accept the $13.3 million cheque from Hansen. Stevenson is well aware of the controversy surrounding his hustling of public dollars for the Center for the Contemporary Arts while concealing it’s alleged history of operating as a site for professors to “harvest” female sex partners. “It’s affecting his reputation, and well it should”, the woman says. “He should resign over the way he’s ducked this issue like it’s a game.” Stevenson sent Warren Gill, Vice President for University Relations, to pick up the cheque from Hansen. “A spin doctor”, the woman calls him.

Hansen presented the cheques from an outdoor podium at a construction site for new Center for the Contemporary Arts studios on Hastings St., directly across the street from the Center’s old visual arts studios (middle building in photo above) where sexual harassment had been rampant for years. But Hansen’s ‘out with the old, in with the new’ hoopla has not caught on with the woman who dropped out due to sexual harassment. “I have trouble even walking by there”, says the woman who lives in the low income Downtown Eastside neighborhood. “As the years go by, it doesn’t get any better. I make a point of not looking at the building.”

At the time he turned over the $13.3 milllion cheque, Hansen encouraged donors to support the Center for the Contemporary Arts' private fund raising campaign. A press release from Hansen’s office praised SFU Chancellor emeritus Milton Wong and businessman Michael Audain for making “leadership” donations. Leadership is not a word the woman would use.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Close But No Cigar

At a meeting at Carnegie Center on Vancouver’s low income Downtown Eastside on Thursday evening, Chair Margaret Prevost told Rachel Davis to “Shut up”. For many members present that about summed up what was behind this Special meeting to change Carnegie’s constitution: silencing Rachel Davis.

Davis and two others elected to the Board, William “Bill” Simpson and Sophia Friegang, had become thorns in the side of the hard line left-wingers on the Board who are in favor of free speech as long as it follows their script.

Simpson was completely off script. He was an outspoken critic of the Downtown Eastside poverty industry in which Carnegie Board members and staff tend to be immersed.

Although more politically aligned with the Carnegie Board than Simpson, Davis and Friegang became targets of overt hostility by the Board when they spoke out against the barring of Simpson from the Carnegie Center and Board meetings just two weeks after he was elected. Friegang argued that the Board was complicit in abuse of “human rights”. Definitely off script. She was ignored. She resigned.

Two down, one to go.

As Davis continued to sit on the Board, she became the target of tactics ranging from verbal abuse to a secretive meeting by Board members to discuss her advocacy on the Bill Simpson matter. She was sent a letter from the Board requesting her resignation. But she wouldn’t take that train to Siberia.

Shortly after Davis refused to resign, the Board called a Special meeting to pass a resolution to change the way Board members got elected. The timing left Carnegie members suspicious. “Why is this in front of us now?”, a man called out from the audience at the meeting.

If the resolution passed, it would do away with guerilla election tactics. Currently any member who hangs out amongst the low income Carnegie Center population can simply turn up on election night, get a pal to nominate them, give a three minute speech, and get elected if they’ve asked enough of their pals in the Center to show up to vote. The long term members of the 15 member Board, who rely on abysmally low election turnouts to re-elect one another year after year, are caught off guard.

Bill Simpson caught them off guard. He had been barred from the Carnegie Learning Center on the 3rd floor for allegedly blogging about Carnegie – that was a few months before he was barred from the entire Carnegie building – but on the day of the June 2007 election, he asked his acquaintances in the Centre, “What are you doing at 5 o’clock? Would you be willing to vote for me?” A troop of Carnegie members trailed him into the election and Holy Brazen Blogger, Batman! Bill Got Elected!

If the new resolution passed, there would be a gap of a month between the nomination of candidates and voting. Never again would the current Board, which has members such as Jeff Sommers who have sat on the Board for decades, be caught completely off guard.

At Thursday evening’s meeting, Board member Peter Fairchild spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that every year on the evening of the election, “A whole bunch of people wander into the room who have never been involved.” The proposed requirement that nominees wait a month before the election, he argued, would “give people time to consider whether they actually want to do it.” He insisted that the Board was not attempting to “restrict” participation.

“Would you close the door and lock it,” Board Chair, Margaret Prevost, sitting beside Fairchild, called out to the door man checking membership cards of people arriving late to vote.

Rachel Davis spoke against the resolution. The current system “encourages positivity” in campaigning, she said. “It’s only negative campaigning that this will make easier. . .It will give a time period in which to do it in, a whole month.”

Jeff Sommers spoke in favor of the resolution. He’s the Board member who last year spoke against the request by Davis and Friegang for a review of the barring of Simpson, arguing that everybody who felt they had been unfairly barred would want their cases reviewed. “If you want to talk about shutting down democracy,” Sommers said on Thursday evening, “it’s not letting people campaign. . . .We’re one of the few community centers that doesn’t allow campaigning.” But as Carnegie member Wilf Reimer has pointed out to members in the past, Carnegie is not funded as a community center; it is funded and supervised by the City’s Social Services Group.

Karl MacDonald said he could see both sides of the debate but his concern was this: “It could end up as a smear campaign against people who for one reason or another are not accepted…It could end up like Pink Floyd ‘Up Against the Wall’.”

Jean Swanson, an activist with the Carnegie Community Action Project who has been outspoken about the treatment of Vancouver’s homeless but has seemingly lost her tongue when it comes to the treatment of homeless Bill Simpson, spoke in favor of the resolution. “Listening to Karl made me think if we voted yes, we could have an All Candidates Meeting where people would get a chance to say what they’re all about and answer questions.”

Joan Morelli, an anti-poverty activist and 35-year resident of the Downtown Eastside opposed the resolution. “I think that this Board should do it’s best to be inclusive of everybody in the neighborhood. Making it easier for people to participate should be the rule. Now they’re told they have to come twice.”

A man with a grey beard who volunteers as a tutor in the Carnegie Learning Center, said, “If people want to run for the Board, they should be willing to come to two meetings.”

Board member Gena Thompson was concerned that members were accusing the Board of “taking their voice” with this resolution. “Frankly, I’m starting to get angry.”
But Peter Fairchild saw the glass half full: “I’ve never seen so many people in the room for a meeting.”

“Yes you have Peter!", yelled former Board member Michael Read from the audience. "When William Simpson packed the meeting!”

Apparently picking up on the distrust in the room, Fairchild and Whitty counted the ballots in front of the membership. Each ballot was held up for the membership – those with stellar eye sight — to see.

Despite the many people who spoke passionately against the resolution though, the majority of the 52 people who cast ballots voted in favor of it. But the resolution failed to pass. That’s because the bar is high for a change to the constitution; seventy-five per cent of voters must vote in favor.

When the result was announced, Jeff Sommers immediately piped up, “There’s enough support here that we can do it next time.”
“Who said you had the floor?”, called out Wilf Reimer who, along with Davis, had insisted throughout the meeting that Roberts Rules of Order be followed to curb people speaking out of turn and interjecting abusive comments. Sommers would eventually snipe, “Do you have to have a rule to take a piss?”

Davis says Fairchild later made a point of telling her that the resolution had failed to pass by just one vote.

(photo of Rachel Davis taken by Wilf Reimer)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Meeting the Carnegie Board Doesn't Want You to Attend

Did you know that the Carnegie Board is planning to change the constitution on Thursday night? Bet you didn’t. There is not one poster up at Carnegie about this important meeting.

The Board will be attempting to change the Constitution to allow them to run elections differently. Why? Presumably so that they have a chance to prevent dissident Board members such as Rachel Davis and William Simpson from getting elected again.

These two Board members have embarrassed Carnegie. After being stonewalled by the Carnegie Board and City staff, they went on radio to talk about how Carnegie management, with the complicity of the Board, barred homeless Simpson from the entire building just after he was elected to the Board. Davis has also publicly questioned the fact that Carnegie Newsletter editor Paul Taylor has been publishing libelous tirades against Simpson.

The Board and Taylor have tried various tactics to push Davis out. [Simpson, remember, is not allowed in the door.]

First came verbal abuse. At a February 9th Publication Meeting at Carnegie, Davis asked a polite question and was told by Taylor, “Shut up!” He responded to a question from her ally Wilf Reimer with “Up you ass!”

At the same meeting, Colleen, a Board member, asked Davis an irrational question, "Do you work for the Fraser Institute?" It is obvious that Davis has nothing to do with the Fraser Institute,but for leftists at Carnegie it is the ultimate insult to associate somebody with this conservative think tank.

Then came a secretive meeting. Davis tells it like this: "[T]he board held a private meeting about me I was not allowed to know about. They all got together after a board meeting, and after they'd expelled the membership, and I'd already left, they talked about my efforts to resolve the situation where a fellow Board member of the Carnegie [Bill Simpson] is presently barred for having on his own website linked to another one that they feel is unfair to Carnegie….[T]hey voted that I be asked to resign immediately.”

Davis attempted to read minutes from the meeting but was told by Carnegie Director, Ethel Whitty, that none had been kept. This is “against the Carnegie Constitution”, Davis says. Whitty, a City staff person, would have known this as City staff – often her – take minutes at all Carnegie meetings.

Then came a letter. The Board sent a letter to Davis asking her to resign her seat, telling her essentially that she wasn’t Board material. She declined.

Now comes a kick at the Constitution. Board members want to change the constitution apparently to give themselves time to prevent people like Davis and Simpson from getting elected. If the proposed resolution passes, the tradition of making Carnegie elections accessible to the poor and poorly educated, people who don't carry appointment books, many of whom got Simpson and Davis elected, will be eroded.

As it stands now, if you happen to be at Carnegie shootin’ the breeze with friends in the cafeteria or having a smoke on the outdoor patio, you might hear, “There’s an election tonight.” You can just drop in for a free coffee and participate. Somebody might nominate you. You might nominate somebody like Simpson and you and your pals might stick around for a few minutes to vote for him. That casualness will be lost if the Board gets there way on Thursday evening.

Here’s what Rachel Davis had to say in an email about the proposed changes to the constitution:

"[T]here will a General Meeting of the membership, where everyone is allowed to vote, and what we will all be voting on is a change to the Carnegie Constitution that would radically alter the way our Board is elected. The way it's always been, is that members are nominated to the board and then voted on at one meeting. What they are proposing is that this be changed to a two step process, where members are nominated at the board meeting before the Election Meeting. We already have such low attendance at the meeting where we elect our Board Directors, that when the Board is a voting block of 15, and the membership at the meeting is a diverse group of voters, numbering 20 or so, the board can vote itself in over and over again. And they do.

"This change the board desires, to a two step process, will even further water down the voting power of the membership if the membership wishes to elect someone new to the Board. They will now have to take the time out of their lives to show up to twice as many meetings, but the board will, of course, have to be at those meetings anyway. I consider this change to the election rules of the Carnegie Centre Constitution to be clearly prejudicial to the membership's electoral powers, and not in the best interests of the Carnegie. I feel we should be removing barriers from the full and even handed participation of our membership in the running of Carnegie, not making it even harder for them to be involved.

"You Can Vote On This, Thursday, April 3rd, 5: 30 PM, In The Theatre at Carnegie"

An anti-poverty activist who doesn't want to be named as he is allied with activists at Carnegie, has weighed in on why there are no posters up for Thursday's meeting. "I've seen this all before; they bring in all their own people to vote and make sure the other side doesn't have a chance to bring their's."

Lawyer Accuses City GM of "Dictatorial" Conduct "Contrary to the Rule of Law"

It may be true that you can’t fight City Hall. But if you hire a lawyer you might at least break through stonewalling by Vancouver City Hall Community Services General Manager, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, and her in-house lawyer David Hill, both of whom have been thumbing their noses at the rule of law.

Carnegie Board member Rachel Davis forked over her own money to retain Vancouver lawyer Gregory Bruce to review the City’s treatment of a homeless man, William “Bill” Simpson (photo above). Bruce didn’t say anything in his letter to City Hall that Carnegie members haven’t been saying for months, but sometimes saying it on law firm stationery makes all the difference.

Bruce sent a letter to Hill dated March 11, 2008 about the Simpson matter. “As you likely know, Mr. Simpson was advised he was barred from the [Carnegie Community] Centre in a letter dated 21 June 2007 from Ms. Jacquie Forbes-Roberts. . . . .”

Forbes-Roberts notified Simpson in her letter that he was barred “indefinitely” from the Carnegie Community Centre for operating a website which “features links” to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which criticizes Carnegie. Yet City staff failed to come up with even one example of libelous content on the blog when asked by Simpson to do so. The Downtown Eastside Enquirer is confident that none exists.

Bruce wrote: “The barring of Mr. Simpson from the Centre raises issues of due process, free speech, and compliance with the policy of the Centre. . . .” Free speech is a phrase with a history of falling on deaf ears of City staff. Carnegie Board member Sophie Friegang resigned last summer after the Carnegie Board and management refused to remedy the barring of Simpson; she stated at a public meeting that she had “poured over” the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog and was convinced that its content was well within the boundaries of “free speech”.

In his letter, Bruce went on to express in legalese what Downtown Eastsiders had known instinctively, that the City is acting as though they are above the law. “The letter from Ms. Forbes-Roberts found Mr. Simpson guilty of association with a blog entitled downtowneastsideenquirer.blogspot.com via links with blogspot.com. . . . Guilt by association is no basis for barring someone from a public facility and is an offensive concept with a long history of disrepute. Guilt by association is also contrary to the rule of law.”

Bruce pointed out later in his letter what Downtown Eastsiders have repeatedly pointed out, that Forbes-Roberts and the City-appointed Director of Carnegie Center, Ethel Whitty, can’t get their stories straight about why Simpson was barred. Bruce pointed out that the “factual basis” for the barring of Simpson is not only “in dispute” but “differs from that put forward recently by Ms. Whitty.” He was apparently referring to an interview Whitty gave on CBC Radio during which she contradicted her boss Forbes-Roberts on the barring of Bill Simpson. Only one reason has been given to Simpson in writing though for the barring, that he operates a website which “features links” to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog.

In hammering away at the fact that a barring from a City building should be accompanied by an ability to appeal, Bruce went where many Carnegie members and at least one lawyer have gone before, over the past decade. “[T]he letter provides no avenue for appeal, no timeline for further investigations and determinations, and makes no effort to remedy, mediate or clarify the situation. . . . Barring a person from the Centre is an extreme action and should not be taken lightly or without providing the barred person with an opportunity to be heard and to appeal.”

Bruce essentially called Forbes-Roberts a dictator. “The letter from Ms. Forbes-Roberts seems dictatorial and was issued without any warning….” Bruce’s view of Forbes-Roberts is not unlike that of Friegang who stated at a Board meeting last summer that Forbes-Roberts seemed to be giving orders from “on high”.

Bruce never got around to using the phrase “police state” which Downtown Eastsiders have taken to using to describe the conduct of City management and staff at Carnegie Centre, but he refers to the brazen lack of tolerance for dissent that has prompted the use of this phrase. “The Centre serves and is part of the complex, diverse and politicized community in the Downtown Eastside. There will be dissenting voices and critical comments within this community. This should be expected and tolerated. . . .Barring should not be used as a vehicle for shunning those whom have rights and equal entitlement to the services offered at the Centre.”

At the close of his letter, Bruce attempted to end months of stonewalling by the City on the issue of the barring of Bill Simpson: “Ms. Davis requests that you assist in clarifying this issue. To date, Mr. Simpson awaits a follow up letter from Ms. Forbes-Roberts and has not received a reply to his letter sent to her in February 2008.”

Will the several hundred dollars Davis spent on Bruce result in straight answers from City staff who have spent thousands of public dollars on ass-covering and stonewalling in regards to the barring of a homeless man? I wouldn’t put money on it.

Read about other dictatorial conduct at the City in the form of "political psychiatry" to allegedly deter election campaigning about the bad faith handling of bullying complaints by the NPA School Board