Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"They Got Away With It"

When I walked past the line up at the Sally Ann soup truck at Main & Cordova (photo above) on Tuesday night, I spotted homeless Bill Simpson and stopped to chat.

Simpson mentioned that he had passed Ethel Whitty on the street on the Downtown Eastside a few days ago and she had said hi to him."It eats me up inside", he said. "What eats you up?", I asked. "The fact that they got away with it."

He was referring of course to the fact that when he was elected to the Carnegie Board of Directors last June, Carnegie management delivered him a letter a couple of weeks later barring him from the building. Ethel Whitty, Carnegie Director who is on the City payroll, told him that he would not even be allowed into the building to attend Board meetings. He stood on the sidewalk for meetings in the sweltering heat last summer. Rachel Davis, a fellow first-time Board member, loaned him a cell phone and tried to persuade the Board to at least let him have input and vote at meetings via cell phone. No go.

Carnegie and the City of Vancouver have now blocked this elected representative from attending Board meetings for almost a year.

Come out to this year's Carnegie Annual General Meeting on June 5th. Buy a membership to Carnegie for $1 by May 21st -- that's today! -- and you too can vote in the not so free election.


Hair Farmer Joe said...

I don't have any background on why he might have been barred from the building, but it seems like something fishy may be going on around there ...

Rachel Davis said...

The interference of the City in our democratic process is truly a shame. It is hard to believe that they are so assured of their ability to run roughshod over the poor they ignored all the media and letters that were sent on this issue. Arrogant in the extreme.
I don't feel as if my time on the board has been entirely wasted though. There were a few good things that came out of the last CCCA Board meeting. Things that made me think, despite Bill still not being allowed in, that on other concerns, the Carnegie might be starting to act with more caution. For instance, the director's report to the board was all about Robert's Rules of order and buying some copies for the Boards use. That would be a big step forward, if Robert's Rules were actually followed. That would stop some of the more egregious abuse, such as board members swearing and shutting down debate of the membership in meetings. The minutes for the previous Board meeting were written, wonderfully, in accordance with Robert's Rules, which made them much more brief, and allowed time in the meeting for actual discussions.That was great.
They also passed a motion to apologize to the membership for not putting proper notice of the last Special General Meeting in the Newsletter. Something they did follow through on, it's in the May 15th issue.

Unfortunately, a very important motion they passed at that meeting has still not been followed up on. I made a motion that the CCCA Board write me a letter explaining to me why they asked me to resign because I was allegedly not showing the "diligence and skill of a reasonably prudent person" and claiming that I have acted dishonestly and without the best interests of the Carnegie in mind.
This document is now 10 days overdue. Last I heard the letter had been written, but then the Executive Officers of the Board forgot to do something further with it, like send it to me.
Seems pretty ironic to me that the Board Executive would hold a Special General Meeting to change the Carnegie's Constitution, allegedly to allow time for the membership of the Carnegie to get to know the "priorities" of the Candidates. Then, they turn around, and withhold what you would think would be vital information about why they find me unsuitable for the position of Director on the CCCA Board.
It makes me wonder if that was the real reason they wanted to change the Constitution, because they certainly seem in no hurry to inform the membership of my priorities.

Dag said...

Chinese Communist flag? It must be from the Maoist Liberation Zone.

Rachel Davis said...

On March 6th, the Carnegie Centre Association Board of Directors sent me a letter asking me to resign. They gave no explanation, except they thought I wasn’t up to snuff somehow. For 3 months I have been trying to learn why they made this decision so I could defend myself. Finally, I made a motion which was passed at the last Board meeting, May 1st, 2008, that the Board write me a letter, telling me their reasoning. I’ve been told the draft was made for it that very night, but then somehow forgotten about. Instead, three weeks later, I was given this document I copy below, which is dated from 2 weeks before I received my letter asking me to resign, strangely enough. As well, it was just put in the minutes on May 22nd, 2008. There is no salutation on this letter, but it does seem to be an actual letter, on Carnegie Centre stationary. I don’t know what the purpose of this letter is, if it was not for me, and also apparently not for the minutes. I’ve asked who it was sent to, but received no reply.
This letter’s reasoning in asking for my resignation is flawed throughout by:
a) a glaring lack of actual evidence
b) The fact that so very little of what they present as my “offenses” are actually against any rules.

Here is the letter, interspersed with my refutation. (All mistakes in the CCCA Board’s grammar, spelling, punctuation and misuse of words are from the original.)

February 22nd, 2008

The Executive of the board is concerned about certain actions and statements of board member Rachel deVlaming. We refer to the following:

Dec 27/7, Jan5/8, by e-mail: letters to Capilano College (various recipients including media) noting (Carnegie Centre) business; accusing a Learning Centre staff member of malicious behaviour; an inferred threat to Capilano College; writing on behalf of the CCCA; etc.

I did not accuse a Learning Centre staff of malicious behavior. Likewise I did not infer a threat to Capilano College, (nor did I imply one, if that’s what they mean.) You’ll notice that my emails are not quoted to provide evidence for this claim. The board wrote to Capilano College to apologize for my writing to them, they did not mention either of these things that they are accusing me of. If I really had written those things, that would be a certainly be a gross oversight on their part.

Feb 13/8, at Education/Library Cte meeting: after having said she would bring copies of the emails she sent to Capilano College to this meeting, she refused.

Yes, I changed my mind. I did not want to facilitate an apology to Capilano College because I did not feel I had done anything wrong to them or their employee. No one had told me I could not give my status as a board member when I wrote someone, without allegedly implying that I represented the whole board. (Though I did apologize to the board for my lack of knowledge, but, honestly, they should have been the ones to tell me this rule before hand!) I did, however, give both Ethel Whitty and Lucy Alderson permission to give my letters to the board if they wished. (I had sent copies of this letter to both of them at the same time) At the meeting, however, Lucy said she didn’t have my email on her computer anymore, because she had “forwarded it all”.

Her behaviour at this meeting is seen to be obstructive to the good relationship of the CCCA with the Learning Ctr/Capilano College.

Once again, where is the proof? How was I obstructive? Because I didn’t give them the letter I wrote to Capilano College? In that case, it follows that Lucy Alderson was also obstructive to the good relationship between the Learning Centre and Capilano College. Or perhaps she felt it wasn’t necessary, as she did express her feeling at the meeting that the relationship had not been harmed. The minutes of this meeting describe an ongoing, negative discussion of me (speaking to persons, not issues) after I had to leave to get my kids from school, but there is no mention of how specifically I was an obstructionist, except in my having to leave early because the posted meeting time was wrong.

Has since sent correspondance of CCCA Board members to the media.

And where is the evidence of this? And what about Jeff Sommers telling me at the Board orientation that Board emails could be sent to “Anyone in the world” What about the others on the Board sending things on to non-board members? That has been done repeatedly. Am I to conclude that it’s only media that is to be not allowed to know CCCA Board business?

Ongoingly infers negative intentions to the motives of staff, CCCA Board members, and CCC volunteers, breaking with rules of procedure (which is to speak to issues, not of persons)

Again, where is the proof of this? How do they know what I infer? Perhaps they mean the word “imply”, but again, where is the proof? I know of many times when I have been accused of negative intentions in writing, including this very document, the minutes of the above Library/Education Committee meeting, and the Newsletter to name a few place’s, but I would like to see where and what and who I am being accused of maligning here. Not just these general and unproven statements.

Jan 17/8, by e-mail: charges editor of CCCA newsletter of libel.
Feb 8/8, at Publications Cte meeting: R deVlaming says “I take it back”, but no apology made. Accuses editor of newsletter of with-holding volunteer tickets for submissions, suggesting [fraud?]

(Brackets and question mark are in the original. If a word is so dubious that it needs a question mark and brackets, then it has no place in a legal document) What I actually asked the editor was “you get over 4,000 tickets a year* to hand out, where do they all go?” I never mentioned fraud. So the reality is that this is a fraudulent accusation of an accusation of fraud! I found it upsetting at the time that a board member called it an accusation of fraud, but I never expected that outrageous interpretation of my simple question to be carried further, I will point out that this alleged “accusation” of mine is not in the minutes of that meeting (I asked the question of the editor because I’d submitted numerous times to the newsletter without ever being told that I could get tickets for it. It turned out other board members at that meeting had the same experience) It’s my job as a CCCA director to ask questions like this, I should not have to suffer these kinds of accusations, let alone being asked to resign, for asking a question about how volunteer tickets are distributed.
*The actual number is approx. 6,000

Feb 6/8, by mail: letter from the Law Dept of CoV, informing the CCCA that R deVlaming e-mailed a Carnegie staff member regarding confidential matters outside of her powers as a CCCA Board member, and without the authority of the CCCA.

Yes, I wrote an email to an employee, one I felt I had a personal relationship with. The subject may have been outside my “powers as a Board member”, but then, I didn’t say I was a board member, and I wasn’t writing to her as one. The City Law Dept. let me know that I was not allowed to “take off my board hat” when writing to their employees on “sensitive” employment issues. They wrote a letter to the CCCA Board and suggested that they should better educate their new board members of the rules. That sounds excellent to me. They did not instruct the Board to ask me to resign, neither did they state or imply that there should be any actions taken at all, except better education of Board members.

To be clear, the Executives’ opinion is not based on R deVlaming’s cause(s),
but by statements made and actions taken.

What is this supposed to mean? What “cause(s)” could they be talking about that their “opinion” of me is not based on?

We believe that the above clearly demonstrates that R deVlaming has not:

a) acted honestly and in good faith and in the best interests of the CCCA, and
b) exercised the care diligence and skill of a reasonably prudent person, in exercising the powers and performing the functions as a director.

After much consideration, the Executive Cte requests that Rachel deVlaming tender her resignation as a CCCA Board member.

Margaret Prevost,
President, CCCA