Thursday, July 31, 2008

Election Recount Sham at Carnegie

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.]


Audrey Laferriere 778-329-1250 said...

I suspect now the Board will decide that no recording devices or cameras will be allowed at further meetings and body searches will be required.

Dag said...

If this Stalinist approach to running the Carnegie Center is more than you're willing to quietly tolerate, let me know about it. Go ahead and say something. I'll be listening as I sit at McD. at Main and Terminal Sunday around 2:00 p.m. Maybe no one else will listen to you, but I will.

You can find me by looking for my cap with the American Eagle on the crown.

I'll be waiting to hear from you. I'll listen to your concerns. And then maybe, if you have anything to say, in hearing yourself speak you'll have some idea of what you might like to do about the Stalinist thuggery going down. It's up to you.

Power to the People.

Anonymous said...

Matthew said it was Carnegie "policy" that The Chair get's to choose the tellers, but the fact is that people who are ineligible to vote, like Ethel Whitty, due to conflict of interest, are not eligable to be tellers. It is pure conflict of interest.
Board members can vote, they can be tellers, but Ethel Whitty, who would be in conflict if she voted, cannot be a teller. And nowhere does it say in policy that that the director should be a teller either. That is just Carnegie "tradition", I've been told by Ethel. It looks, and is, unfair.

Dag said...

In a Stalinist regime, the situation we see at Carnegie is just the done thing. If Stalinism is OK with people who frequent the Centre, then there is no problem. For normal people, it is a problme to the nth degree, Staalinism being seen by all as something so horrible no one other than the sickest of psychopaths can entertain it as anything other.

And there's Ethanol, smiling all the way to the bank.

Power to the People!

Audrey Laferriere 778-329-1250 said...

The argument used my Matthew Matthew, the President of Carnegie's Board, in that the vote will not be made public except for the winner, is stupid. Carnegie is not a church group. If those that run cannot face the results of a vote, then they should not run. If I ran and received only two votes I would want to know and if I ran and won I would also like to know by how many votes so I know what my support base is.

Audrey Laferriere 778-329-1250 said...

Also, I do not understand why the tellers would take the votes and run out of the room and count them. All three tellers could be accused of fixing the vote for the greater good of the community.

Dag said...

This sham of a recount is so obviously outrageous it's nearly impossible to believe it occurred this way at all. How is it that people allowed those in power to recount a disputed ballot when the ones in power are under suspicion of cheating?!

"You accuse me of cheating. Well, I just asked myself, and I found out that I'm not."

That's acceptable!?

Anonymous said...

The real problem here is over involvement by the City in the democratic process of the Carnegie Centre. From barring directors from the building, to inserting themselves into the voting process illegally, the City has unfortunately, and with poor, community dividing results,inserted itself in the democratic affairs of the Carnegie Community Centre Association.
As for the refusal to follow the constitution, which supercedes "policy", and give up the tellers report, that just shows how unwilling system is to follow the basic rules of democracy.It is so paternalistic of them to claim to not want to release it in order to spare peoples feelings. How infantilising. I guess they figure the poor are suffering from such a paucity of self esteem they cannot afford democracy emotionally either!

Dag said...

That's far more articulate than my suggestion: "Contempt for the people who go to the Carnegie Centre."

truepeers said...

Neither Andrew nor Dale would have any tolerance for this crap.

I guess there's something to that old adage about never trusting a man with two first names. Doubly so in this case cause it equals gangster morality.

Dag said...

"Gangster Morality." That should transcend the cliches of workingclass naïveté. Romance fascism, and Hollywood movies. It needs a thinker. Hope you're interested in bringing it forth.

reliable sources said...

"Gangster morality". I like that too. It's a perfect description of these people.

Another thing: gangsters don't trust anybody but their own and that attitude came through loud and clear on the tape of the recount meeting. Matthew Matthew told the audience that he was having difficulty picking tellers for the recount because they had to be people who could be trusted not to gossip to other members about the number of votes each candidate had received at the election. The only person from the membership, he was willing to choose was Diane Wood, a Carnegie loyalist for 20 years, a full-patch member in other words. When Wood declined, Matthew could not think of one other person in the membership he could trust enough to act as a teller. Not one. So he chose another Board member.