The membership voted at a Special Meeting at Carnegie Center this evening to hold a recount of the June 5th election results for the Board of Directors. The vote was tight: 16 members voted "No" and 19 voted "Yes".
Even though those who wanted the recount won, they felt they were being denied procedures which would ensure fairness.
Brian B. wanted the Teller's Report from the last election released. The Teller's Report would reveal how many votes each candidate had received. Voting on a recount of the election results, he said, "presupposes that a count has already been published and to my knowledge that has not happened." And it was not going to happen, Board President Matthew Matthew responded: "We don't do a teller's report."
James Arkinstall requested that the recount "be scrutinized by uninvolved people, that means people who were not nominated." Matthew told him he was "out of order".
Ruth, another member who volunteers in the Carnegie Computer Room, took the microphone to say that she too wanted the ballots counted by "uninvolved people". Mathhew told her as well that she was "out of order". "You're not being fair to us", Ruth responded.
Tara, a woman who has in recent months begun to come to the neighbourhood to volunteer in the Carnegie Learning Center, asked Matthew to "read out the specific provision that says ballots cannot be counted by independent individuals."
Matthew responded that according to the Carnegie Voting Procedures he had in front of him, for 21 years the ballots have been "counted in a manner identified by the Chair." They are to be "counted by whoever the chair chooses", he explained.
Another member, a thirty-something man who did not identify himself, told the Board what the membership wanted. "They want a recount but they want it done out in the open. And if you can't figure that out.... What is this? The Bush administration you've got here?"
Matthew said that since the members had yet to vote on whether they wanted a recount, "I haven't identified any manner [of chosing who will count the ballots] 'cause that hasn't come up yet." After members voted for the recount though, Matthew laid down the law. "I'm the one who decides", he announced.
Matthew said there would be three tellers chosen by him to perform the recount, and that he favoured choosing people "from opposing sides". It would later become obvious that he ignored his own advice.
Member James Arkinstall said that Matthew's choice of tellers should be "not the same people who already counted the ballots or it's a breach of the Society's Act." More advice that Matthew ignored. Matthew chose two of the same people to count the ballots this time as had counted them at the election:
Ethel Whitty, Carnegie Director
Rolph Auer, Secretary of the Board
Neither Whitty or Auer were neutral tellers. Both have demonstrated antagonism in the past toward Rachel Davis, a popular Board member whose defeat in the last election prompted calls for a recount.
Actually, there couldn't have been a worse choice for teller than Whitty. She has been implicated in fraud against more than one Carnegie member. She blatantly lied on CBC Radio, claiming that Board member William Simpson had been banned from the Carnegie [and Board meetings held there] because he posed a Work Safe risk. As recently as this month, Whitty has been implicated in the manufacture of witnesses, fraud, and undemocratic processes in the banning of a female Carnegie senior for daring to talk back to a man with a ten year reputation for verbally abusing members. [We hope to get more details of that case so that we can report further on it.]
James Arkinstall insisted that a teller is "supposed to be somebody from amongst us...the audience". He would later add, "If you wanted to prove you were acting in good faith, you wouldn't get the same people to count them [the ballots]."
As a third teller, Matthew's first choice was Board member Stephen Lytton. Lytton declined based on the fact that, "I was one of the elected members". There was loud clapping in support of Lytton's decision.
Brian B.offered a suggestion for choosing the third teller, that "this mysterious third person be from those who didn't get elected." That advice was not taken by Matthew.
Matthew then chose Diane Wood. Wood is not a neutral party. When Rachel Davis and William Simpson began speaking on Co-op radio about undemocratic processes at Carnegie that saw homeless Simpson banned from the Carnegie Center two weeks after being elected to the Board and then libelled in the Carnegie newsletter, Wood was part of attempts to offset such commentary, rather than addressing it directly. Carnegie arranged for Co-op radio to give them their own show on which they were never, of course, criticized. Diane Wood co-ordinated the show. When Matthew selected her as a teller this evening though, she declined.
Matthew's final choice for teller was Craig, a current Board member. Craig was not a neutral party either. Even before being elected, Craig had spoken at a Board meeting against efforts by Rachel Davis to change policies which had left a homeless Board member banned and libeled. Rather than taking a principled stand on the recount and supporting requests that a teller be chosen from members in the audience rather than from Board members who had benefited from the original ballot count and were therefore in a conflict of interest position, Craig stated that the membership must get to a point where they can exercise basic "trust".
The three selected tellers scurried out of the Carnegie Theatre to count the ballots from the last election in secret. Whitty never returned, even though she is paid by the City of Vancouver to sit on the Board and monitor procedures.
Craig did return to announce that the recount had been completed and the original results "confirmed". Even Craig's closing statement, though, hinted at bias against those who had called for a recount: "Hopefully, this will settle this matter and we can go on to some disputes about more substantial things."
It was surprising not that the recount was a sham that reinforced the disrespect the Board and staff seem to hold for the membership, but that a recount was even held. We have the Vancouver police to thank for the recount. As the meeting progressed, word came into the Carnegie theatre that police were confiscating belongings of homeless people in Oppenheimer Park. So Jean Swanson -- who calls herself a homeless advocate but has gained a reputation as an anti-democracy activist due to her history in relation to the banning of a homeless Board member from Carnegie -- and a few others including her husband and a Board member left the meeting before the vote on whether to hold a recount occurred. Had these people stayed, it is possible that the pro-recount forces would not have won. But it was ultimately Swanson and her ilk who won. The anti-democratic tendencies they have nurtured at Carnegie prevailed.
[Thanks to those present who recorded the proceedings for DTES Enquirer bloggers.]