Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just Desserts at the Downtown Community Court

Usually when a Downtown Eastsider walks into a courthouse, they expect to be served something other than jumbo chocolate chip cookies. But that's what they got this afternoon at the opening lunch of the new Community Court on Gore St. near Cordova, beside the Sunrise Market.

The Community Court, which began operating earlier this month and is modeled on one in New York City, will offer a quick, "integrated" response to people nabbed for petty crime in downtown Vancouver. There will be a welfare worker, a housing worker, a forensic psychiatrist, to name a few, in the court house to connect people pleading guilty with services that might help them. The idea is that helping people with some of their underlying problems such as being broke, addicted, homeless, might diminish their temptation to break into your car and mine. Sentences will often involve community service such as cleaning alleys or working in kitchens.

Today, sheriffs standing at the front door of the Community Court were calling out to people walking by on Gore St., "Come on in! Have a burger!" Inside the building, a corridor led past the closed door of a court room and on to an outdoor court yard. Some Downtown Eastsiders recognized it as the courtyard of the old pre-trail jail. Today, it was the site of a lunch catered by the Bread Garden: hamburgers with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles, etc., hot dogs, potato salad, caesar salad with large croutons, bags of potato chips, cans of pop and bottles of water. For dessert, there were assorted fresh jumbo-size chocolate chip cookies with huge chunks of chocolate in them. There were other varieties of jumbo cookies too, like chocolate with almond slivers sprinkled on top.

The guy in the off-white suit and green shirt just left of center in the above photo is a judge in the Community Court. A guy walked up to him and said, "You look sober, you must be the judge." The judge laughed and said, "It's early in the day."

Photo above: Guests mingle in the outdoor court yard where the lunch was held inside the Community Court building.

Photo above: A sheriff in dress uniform stands at the back of the food line up in the outdoor courtyard.

Here a sheriff chats with people lined up for food. Early on, the crowd was made up largely of people who worked in the neighbourhood, with just a smattering of the low income population. But word soon got out that there was a free lunch at the community court -- somebody yelled it out at Main & Hastings -- and a crowd of poor people showed up. The food quickly ran out as they had catered for just 300.

Another Two Million Dollars from Michael Audain Can't Paper Over his Devaluing of Women

Condo developer and philanthropist Michael Audain, ducking criticism for giving the Audain Lifetime Achievement Award to Jeff Wall who allegedly operated a sexual harassment ring while head of the Simon Fraser University Visual Arts Department, has given more money to a cause he has named after ....himself.

Audain has slapped down $2 million for The Audain Emerging Artists Aquisition Fund at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Fund will allow the Art Gallery to purchase art works from British Columbia artists, 35 years old and under, considered promising.

Who would be considered promising? Young artists who spread their legs for Jeff Wall or his underling professors Greg Snider, or David McWilliam, and zipped their lips? To a survivor of advanced sexual harassment by both Wall and Snider at SFU, this is no joke: "I doubt Audain could afford to see an artist as promising if she's been talking about what went on at SFU. He and Wall are friends."

The survivor sees Kathleen Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, as part of the problem too. As long as Audain is throwing money at the VAG, Bartels seems willing to allow boys to be boys. Bartels allowed Audain, Chairman of the Vancouver Art Gallery Foundation, to hold a party on VAG premises to present Wall with his Lifetime Achievement Award while he remained uninvestigated for the sexual harassment ring he allegedly operated. Just two weeks ago, Bartels told the Globe & Mail, “If we only had five more Michael Audains, we'd be in a more significant place.”

"All I've asked for is an investigation", says a survivor, adding that it's difficult to get one when Audain and Bartels are essentially covering for Wall. Never once has Audain called for an investigation in the sexual harassment environment at the SFU Centre for the Contemporary Arts under Wall. [Audain also donated money to a Gallery to be named after himself at the soon-to-be-opened SFU Centre for the Contemporary Arts which has been accused of attempting to bury their sexual harassment history in the foundation, like the mafia buried the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa.] Bartels is certainly not in the dark about the allegations against Wall. A survivor briefed her assistant after she took the job as Director of the VAG.

Bottom line: All the money Audain throws at the new Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund can't paper over his devaluing of young women.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


September 24th is Raise-A-Reader Day.

This reader was snapped today on the 6th floor of the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch on Robson St.

Who's he reading? Karl Popper, who wrote that Plato was the first fascist.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Former Premier Glen Clark's Teenage Daughter, Layne, Lands Newspaper Column

The last time I saw Layne Clark, it was years ago on the evening news. Her father NDP Premier Glen Clark was in the middle of a scandal so a Vancouver news crew went to the airport to meet him. Layne was just a kid and when she saw her father get off the plane, she ran into his arms.
I remember the reporter saying her name was "Layne"; the name stuck in my mind because I thought it was unusual but I liked it.

Well, Layne has grown up faster than a fast ferry. She's just started her first year at Simon Fraser University. I noticed yesterday that she's started writing a Monday column for 24 Hours newspaper called "Campus Life".

This week, Layne wrote about her battle with procrastination. "...I still like to come home and, instead of researching for that essay thesis due next week, I'm more interested in, say, going to McDonalds to eat with my friends before sitting down and watching the newest episode of So You Think You Can Dance."

Layne is no doubt benefiting from her father's connections. When Glen Clark stepped down as Premier, billionaire businessman Jimmy Pattison hired him. When the Pattison Group and Sun Media started 24 Hours as a joint venture, Clark had the job of managing it. Pattison sold his share of the Vancouver edition in 2007.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Puppet Board Members Not Showing Up for Meetings

Remember the puppet Board that Jean Swanson and Paul Taylor installed at Carnegie in June, as a strategy for ensuring that pro-democracy incumbent Rachel Davis would not get elected? At the Sept. 4th Board meeting at Carnegie, President Matthew Matthew announced that this new Board couldn’t get things done because too few of them were showing up at Committee meetings to get a quorum. The front page of both the August and September Board meeting hand-outs shows just how lax the new Board is:

September Board Meeting

Program Committee Report – No Report

Community Relations Report – No Report

Oppenheimer Park Committee Report – No Report

Seniors’ Support Group Report – No Report

Volunteer Committee Report – No Report

Education/Library Committee Report – No Report

Publications Committee Report – No Report

Finance Committee Report – No Report

Just two Committee Reports were available to members at the September Board meeting: the Program Committee Report, and Community Relations Committee Report.

August Board meeting

Program Committee Report – No Report

Community Relations Committee Report – No Report

Oppenheimer Park Committee Report – No Report

Seniors’ Support Group Report – No Report

Volunteer Committee Report – No Report

Education/Library Committee Report – No Report

Publications Committee Report – No Report

At the August Board meeting, only the Finance Committee had a report for members .

Not only Committee meetings but the monthly Board meetings have not proven to be magnets for the puppet Board. One onlooker reported that “quite a few of them” were no shows at the September 4th meeting.

At the September Board meeting, President Matthew asked for feedback on what to do about too few Board members showing up for committee meetings. He was described as "patient" by a witness. There was some discussion, with Board member Stephen Lytton stating that Board members had an obligation to the membership to make an effort to show up at committee meetings.

At one point during the discussion, the contentious issue of Roberts Rules surfaced. Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty noted that Matthew Matthew, in his role as Chair, was allowed to vote at meetings when a tie vote needed to be broken. As she spoke, Matthew Matthew offered to check a point in Roberts Rules. He put his hand on his copy of Roberts Rules and was about to open it when Whitty interjected, “No. No.” That elicited laughter from Board and audience members.

The laughter stemmed from the fact that it was well known that when Rachel Davis was on the Board, she wanted Roberts Rules followed. Wilf Reimer and other members also insisted that Roberts Rules be followed so that people could speak at meetings without being cut off. Jeff Sommers, a Board member at the time, did not agree. “Do you need a rule to piss?”, Sommers asked at two separate meetings. Finally, after a meeting in which Paul Taylor responded to a question by Rachel Davis with "Shut Up!" and to Wilf Reimer with, "Up your ass!", the City of Vancouver sent three copies of Roberts Rules to Carnegie. You can bet that Whitty, who is the City’s representative on the Board, has not mentioned to her bosses at the City that she is discouraging the Chair from opening that book.

Now that there aren't quorums at committee meetings, it seems that the committee process is simply being skipped. Despite the fact that there was “No Report” from the Volunteer Committee for August and September, a major decision to prohibit tipping of kitchen volunteers has been made. On Sept. 5th, I noticed a sign on the cash register in the cafeteria stating something to the effect, “Tipping of concession workers is prohibited. Management” The tip jar had been removed. “That’s why there’s no volunteer today,” a staff person said, referring to the fact that the cashier was working alone with no helper to dish up food and keep the line-up of hungry customers moving fast. The kitchen volunteers are dirt poor, usually getting welfare, and count on tips. But Whitty, who gets $104,000 salary -- and presumably she was included in the huge raise City managers got a few months back -- has stated openly to members that she does not believe volunteers should get tips.

The failure to get quorums at meetings is no doubt working out nicely for Whitty. She likes meetings to be short. At an important election recount meeting this summer, despite members being clearly upset, Whitty sneaked out early. She just disappeared. Poof!! Like 'I Dream of Jeannie'. Members also recall a Community Relations meeting last year when Whitty had to answer for the undemocratic barring of elected Board member William Simpson from Board meetings. Whitty was upset that she had been inconvenienced. "I can't do" long meetings, she insisted twice.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rachel Davis Boycotts her Long Term Volunteer Position at Carnegie to Protest Ongoing "abuse of power" by City Management and Carnegie Board

Rachel Davis, a former Carnegie Board member and long time volunteer in the Carnegie Music Program, has tried everything from hiring a lawyer to giving radio interviews to get "abuse of power" by City management and the Board of Directors at Carnegie Centre to stop. It hasn't stopped. So she announced yesterday that she is boycotting her volunteer position until changes are made.

Davis outlined her reasons for boycotting her volunteer position in the following email sent to Carnegie management including Executive Director Ethel Whitty and Vancouver City Manager Judy Rogers; City Council including Mayor Sam Sullivan and Councillor Peter Ladner; Carnegie supervisory staff; Carnegie Board members including Secretary Rolph Auer, and media:

This is to inform you that I am boycotting my long-held position as a Volunteer Music Leader for the Carnegie Community Centre due to the following reasons:

1) Carnegie's City Staff employees failure to follow proper procedure in matters of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy requests by Carnegie members. The Carnegie has been investigated for this before, and found wanting, but still the rules of FIPPA are not being complied with.

2) Carnegie's City Staff employees, namely the Executive Director, acting as tellers in the election of Carnegie board members, in contravention of the Carnegie constitution, and in obvious conflict of interest.

3) The failure of the Carnegie Community Centre Association Board of Directors to comply with the Carnegie constitution, and produce a teller's report at CCCA Board elections.

These last two failures in procedure have resulted in a call for a recount of Board of Director Election results due to the CCCA membership's mistrust of the proceedings. The recount was done in exactly the same manner as the first time, unfortunately, only further disregarding the membership's obvious desire for accountability, and thereby deepening the mistrust.

It is extremely distressing to me to feel I have to take this measure. I am a community volunteer, I have contributed to Carnegie since it's opening, and have always considered it a beacon of light in a dark place; but I having tried to remedy these problems with due process at Carnegie through many other means, and I find myself unable to continue to be officially involved in a volunteer program that contributes to a City-run establishment that systematically breaks the rule of law, land, and it's own constitution.

I have written emails, talked to the President of the Board of Directors and the Executive Director, held meetings, called the City, hired lawyers, filed FIPPA complaints, given radio interviews to CBC Radio One, and Co-op Radio, written articles, had articles written in the Sun and other publications, and many other members have also done many of these things as well, in an effort to resolve the situation of rampant disregard for the law of the CCCA Constitution and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Our earnest attempts at communicating our need for basic human rights are met with platitudes such as "We've always done it this way", and the abuse of power goes on. These abuses are many and varied, and well documented at Downtown Eastside Enquirer ,but I bring forward these three specific examples because they are so egregious, and so directly connected with the City of Vancouver, therefore, I am hoping, they are easily resolved.

If City employees begin complying with the rules of FIPPA, and stop putting themselves in conflict of interest by being tellers in Board elections, and if the elections tellers report is made a part of the proceedings at Board elections as it should be, I would be overjoyed to take up my volunteer position again. I have always have taken pride and enjoyed making a contribution to the lives of the CCCA membership, but I sadly must boycott my volunteer services in an yet another, but not final, effort to end the abuses the CCCA membership and I have tried so hard to resolve in a myriad of other ways.


Rachel Davis
Senior Member of the CCCA

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ken Gets Cancer

Vancouver School Board trustee Ken Denike, who has been accused of being complacent about the VSB's alleged practice of Soviet-style political psychiatry, has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Denike says the cancer was caught early and he will start radiation and chemotherapy this week. He still intends to run for School Board in the November election.

Denike has been a trustee as an international boycott of Vancouver School Board Diplomas organized by Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry has gained ground. The boycott was organized as an "absolute last resort" by COPP when Denike and fellow trustees allegedly showed no interest in curbing the well-documented use of Soviet-style political psychiatry by VSB staff to deter complaints. Denike in fact was on School Board -- he has served two terms -- when an alleged cover-up of a political psychiatry case was orchestrated.

A victim of VSB political psychiatry and related fraud, says she has seen no sign whatsoever of concern on Denike's part about such illegal practices by VSB staff. Denike never once spoke to her about her experience. Although she had been in touch with the VSB previously about her case, she specifically wrote to Denike in his role as Chair of the VSB in 2007," she says. When asked if she had received a response, she shook her head and said, "I'm still waiting."

When I asked, this alleged victim of VSB political psychiatry about his cancer, she responded, "I wish him a full recovery". But she added that she hopes he comes out of it with more sensitivity to people whose wellbeing has been jeopardized by the political psychiatry openly practiced by the Vancouver School Board.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Dr. Laura "extremely disappointed" in Sarah Palin Pick but will Still Vote for McCain

After John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential candidate and claimed to have known in advance that her 17-year old daughter Bristol was pregnant, I was having coffee with a Downtown Eastside friend and said, “What would Dr. Laura think?”. What Dr. Laura thinks matters, as the millions of daily listeners to this conservative talk show host’s radio show are the voters McCain is attempting to attract with Palin.

I knew the Palin pick would leave Dr. Laura Schlessinger in a dilemma. On one hand, Dr. Laura would share ‘Sarah barracuda’s’ absolutist anti-choice position on abortion. On the other hand, Dr. Laura would disapprove of Governor Palin holding down a job outside the home while she had a pre-school child. And Dr. Laura would disapprove of the fact that Palin’s 17-year old daughter, Bristol Palin, is pregnant.

Last night I got my first hint of Dr. Laura’s disapproval. I had turned on CFUN radio to wait for Coast to Coast to come on. Dr. Laura was talking to a caller who had said she had come home early and found her daughter’s boyfriend in the closet. The woman didn’t want to alienate her daughter who had previously run away but had now graduated high school and started College. Dr. Laura suggested the woman invite the boyfriend over for dinner, tell him that she hoped he had a genuine interest in the wellbeing of her daughter and was not simply interested in having “access to her genitals.” Dr. Laura said that the mother’s best bet was to “lay it all out” to the boyfriend, that it was either that “or he could get hugs from presidential candidates”.

Hugs from Presidential candidates? That was obviously a dig at McCain. I had seen a photo in the Vancouver Sun of McCain giving the pregnant teenager, Bristol Palin, a hug. Her 18 yr. old boyfriend, Levi Johnston, was standing with them and he, according to the article, got “a firm handshake” from McCain.

That prompted me to go to Dr. Laura’s website to see what was up. Dr. Laura is “extremely disappointed” in the Palin pick because, just as I expected, she considers her a poor role model. “Children and young adults look to those who are visible and successful as a road map of what is acceptable behavior and emulate those actions over the morals and values their parents and churches have taught and tried to reinforce. for juggling an infant and a job and have a pregnant teenager to boot.” See what I mean by Dr. Laura having the audience that Palin is positioned to reach: “morals and values their …churches have taught”.

Dr. Laura, who promotes devotion to family, God, and country, managed to work all three into a criticism of the pictures taken of the Palin family during campaign photo-ops. These photos have “haunted” Dr. Laura, particularly the one with the pregnant teenage daughter holding the Sarah Palin’s infant. “When Mom and Dad both work full-time (no matter how many folks get involved with the children), it becomes a somewhat chaotic situation. Certainly, if a child becomes ill and is rushed to the hospital, and you’re on the hotline with both Israel and Iran as nuclear tempers are flaring, where’s your attention going to be? Where should your attention be? Well, once you put your hand on the Bible and make that oath, your attention has to be with the government of the United States of America.”

Dr. Laura asked the sort of question that Rudy Guiliani, during his convention speech, insisted should not be asked of Palin as such questions would never be asked of a man. Dr. Laura’s question: “But really, what kind of role model is a woman whose fifth child was recently born with a serious issue, Down Syndrome, and then goes back to the job of Governor within days of the birth?” While Palin did go back to work as Governor of Alaska three days after the birth, the Financial Post provided a slightly more balanced picture when interviewing Palin on August 14th and noting that she had a playpen for the baby beside her desk. Her seven year old, while the reporter was present, was also in the office and the two older daughters were in and out.

Dr. Laura abhors the fact that in her role as governor, Palin supported day care. In April of 2008, Palin proclaimed: “Family Child Care Week” and wrote: “These professionals are positive role models for the children they care for and the communities they serve.” Dr. Laura believes that “hired help” is a poor substitute for the role modelling of a parent.

It is on the abortion issue that Dr. Laura sees herself and the Palins on the same page: “I am positively moved that neither Sarah nor her daughter were willing to terminate the lives of their unborn children.”

I was surprised though to see no acknowledgment of the fact that Palin’s 20 yr old son, Track Palin, will deploy to Iraq on September 11th. On her show, Dr. Laura praises U.S. soldiers with the same passion as she vilifies pro-choicers.

In the end, Dr. Laura’s criticisms may not cost the McCain-Palin ticket many votes from her loyal radio listeners. They, like Dr. Laura, have nowhere else to go. Dr. Laura writes, “I will still vote for Senator McCain, because I am very concerned about having a fundamental leftist, especially one who is a marvelous orator, as President.”

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

City Management at Carnegie Accused of Fraudulently Manufacturing 15 Witnesses

It's not the first time City of Vancouver management at Carnegie Center have been accused of faking witnesses to support barrings and it probably won't be the last.

City of Vancouver staff are accused of faking witnesses in the barring of a woman from the Seniors Center on June 18, 2008. Carnegie Security boss, Skip Everall, barred the woman after Devor, a notoriously abusive coffee seller, asked him to. The woman says Devor had yelled at her and swung his arms at her to push her out the door, resulting in her raising her voice and telling him that she had been taking his abuse for ten years and she was "fed up" with it.

Everall barred the woman based on Devor's version of events; he never spoke to the woman even though he saw her twice that day and she remained in the building. When a staff person allowed the woman a peak at the Incident Report that Everall had written to justify the barring -- Everall and Whitty refused to show it to her -- she noticed that he had claimed that there were "witnesses". During her appeal meeting for the barring on June 23, she told Everall that she didn't believe witnesses existed. Certainly Everall could not support the existence of such witnesses. "When I asked him for their names, he told me, 'The only witness that counts is Devor'". She also asked him what these witnesses had said. He couldn't identify anything, not even generally, what they had said.

When neither Everall or his boss Ethel Whitty would give the woman a copy of the Incident Report, she exercised her right on June 18th to request one through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The City has 30 days to respond to such a request. It has now been 2 1/2 months and the woman has not received a response. But a photocopy of the Incident Report was leaked to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog and shown to the woman. She was outraged at what she believed to be retroactive evidence tampering.

Everall was now claiming that Devor's version, albeit a cryptic version, of events entered in the Incident Report had been “corroborated by 15 patrons in the lounge at that time.” The woman says there were nowhere near 15 people in the Seniors Lounge that day. “You won’t find 15 people in the Seniors’ [Lounge] on any Saturday afternoon when the sun’s shining,” says the woman who Everall identified in his report as a “regular in the seniors lounge”. “I went down there that day to use the computer ‘cause I knew the place would be deserted. I got a computer right away; usually there’s a waiting list.”

Not only did Everall and Whitty come up with 15 mysterious unnamed witnesses, they avoided questioning another witness who came forward in this case, one with a name and a face. This witness was a regular Carnegie volunteer who could contradict Everall’s claim that there were 15 witnesses in the Seniors that afternoon. The volunteer regularly goes down to the Seniors Lounge to buy green tea and was there when Devor and Everall were discussing barring this woman. “I tried not to listen,” he said, “I didn’t want them to think I was eavesdropping.” A few minutes later, Devor announced to the volunteer that the woman had been barred. The volunteer passed the message on to the woman later that day, which prompted her to approach Richard, a Security guard, to ask if this was true.

The volunteer/witness estimates there were “four or five” people in the Seniors Lounge that day. He did not see Everall speak to anyone other than Devor. Both Whitty and Everall were given the full name of this witness just after the incident while memories remained fresh, a fact that is confirmed by taped conversations. Whitty stated clearly on tape that she would talk to this witness. The volunteer says Whitty did subsequently bump into him at Carnegie but asked him only “about my music”, not about what he had seen in the Seniors. Since the incident, the volunteer/witness has dropped into Carnegie every day and says Whitty and Everall regularly say hello to him but never ask him what he saw – or didn’t see — in the Seniors Lounge that day.

City Manager Judy Rogers has for years known that staff at Carnegie are subjecting members to fraud and human rights abuses. It is unseemly for a woman with a history of condoning such practices to have been chosen to welcome the world as a member of the 2010 Olympics Organizing Team. Time for Premier Campbell to remove -- let's say "bar" -- her.