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."


wilfr said...

I'm not sure what the process is for signing in at a general meeting of the Society, but members should be sure to bring their Carnegie membership cards, since only Society members are entitled to vote. Given the way this board operates, it's likely they will try to exclude any non-supporters of the resolution from voting for whatever reason they can.

wilfr said...

Actually, according to the Society Act, a change in the Bylaws requires a three-quarters majority, of the members present at the vote, in order to pass the resolution.

reliable sources said...

Thanks Wilf for clarifying the fact that to pass the resolution, 3/4 of members who show up at tonight's meeting will have to vote in favor.

The activist I spoke to thought 3/4of the entire membership of Carnegie had to be present -- at least that's what I thought he said -- at the meeting to vote on changes to the constitution. But I'll take your word for it.

Anonymous said...

Our present system of nomination and election in the same meeting encourages positvity in campaigning.
The new system would encourage a divided and negatively afflicted community

If someone wants to Campaign positively, I mean, if someone wants to ENCOURAGE people to vote for them, this proposed change to the constitution will not effect anything. You can come to the meeting before the election meeting get yourself nominated, or nominate yourself, then gather your buds up to vote for you at the election meeting.

It's only the negative campaigning that this change will really make easier, I mean the "DON'T VOTE for so and so" kind of campaigning.
It's hard to arrange a campaign AGAINST someone if you don't know if they are going to be nominated. This way that they wat to change it , to a two step process, will give those negative type of members more time in advance to campaign negatively against people, more time for rumours to spread, more time for the community to be divided.

The way it is run now, with nomiations and elections held in the same meeting, only positive campaigning is encouraged. With a two step process, the ability to do negative campaigning in the Carnegie Centre will be entrenched in our very Constitution, and I think it isn't negativity that should be encouraged.

Right now it's impossible to say" I know that So and So is running for the Board, vote AGAINST them." There's no time for that. This motion will give people who want to do that kind of stuff a real time period in which to do it in. And that would be going down a rocky, nasty road which is presently closed. So why open it? Why say, "yeah, let's make that kind of nastiness a whole lot easier" ?

reliable sources said...


I knew that the proposed changes to the Constitution would bring about negative campaigning but I hadn't thought it through as clearly as you have. Thanks.

Grobianus said...

Sounds like they're trying to stack the deck. How's that for stating the obvious??

wilfr said...

We see now why the rules state that a three-quarters majority of members are required to make a major change to a Society's Constitution and Bylaws - even attempted "deck stacking" didn't get them the vote required - THEY LOST - democratic process ruled the day on this one - self-interested, small-minded thinking got put in it's place. Yahoo! One for our side.

Anonymous said...

Howdy, Rachel here, I would have signed my own name before, but it's gotten a few more hoops and I was in a hurry.
You can thank a Carnegie employee, really, it was my over hearing her telling a member that she was for this idea because it would make " it easier to campaign"......and that twigged me....It's already plenty easy to campaign positively if you have a good message and people trust you, but almost impossible to campaign negatively, because you don't know for sure who you are up against. This motion was going to change all that. Carnegie is really quite enough of a rumour mill as it is. I am very glad this got defeated. But I do think they will try it again. Peter Fairchild made sure I understood it only lost by one vote. Thanks to everyone who came! Come to "make Storeum a shelter meeting" Sunday at 2:00 at Storeum and we'll celebrate!

Anonymous said...

If you support Storeum becoming a homeless shelter, i don't think you could be working for the Fraser Institute.

Dag said...

You mean to write that Rachel isn't the Fraser Institute herelf? What about my new job as capitalist hachet-man for the Global Conspiracy Against Nearly Everyone? What about my uniform and expense account? This is seeming pretty unfair to me.

wilfr said...

I'm curious why I can't find anything about the Make Storyeum a Shelter meeting on Sunday at 2 as Rachel is indicating above. I've seen a meeting at the Carnegie advertised for Monday at 2pm, but that's held by DERA who are trying to organize a united response to the decline of SRO spaces. I would have thought I could have googled something on the net about it. Even Audrey Laferriere's blog has nothing on it. Anyone seen any promotional stuff?

Anonymous said...

I guess it's because Audrey just started in the last few weeks. I know shes been going around to different meetings telling people about it. Last week a CCCA board member joined her, and I guess another will this week. Maybe Bill will join them and it'll be almost like a board meeting for them, like it was on Kevin Annette's Hidden from History show last Monday when Colleen Carroll, Rachel Davis and William Simpson were all on that show together!