Thursday, January 10, 2008

Candidates Endorsed by Author of "Poor Bashing" Win Seats on Carnegie Center Board of Directors

The Left got organized to get trusted comrades elected to two vacant positions on the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Center this evening. That’s the same Board that homeless Bill Simpson was elected to in June 2007, only to be banished two weeks later to the sidewalk by the City of Vancouver, denied access to Board meetings as punishment for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Jean Swanson, author of "Poor-Bashing: The Politics of Exclusion" and an organizer with the Carnegie Center Action Project [CCAP] to end homelessness, sent an email about the election to volunteers on the CCAP mailing list. Swanson, an American ex-pat who spoke to a UN representative about the issue of homelessness in Vancouver but apparently found no time to speak up about the "exclusion" of homeless Bill Simpson from the Center from which she organizes, gave recipients of her email not so subtle hints about who to vote for:

”Hey CCAP folks. A Carnegie board election is coming up, for 2 people, and our very own CCAPer, Rolf Auer, the famous letter to the editor and article writer, is running.”

Rolf Auer wrote in "The Long Haul", the now defunct newspaper published by End Legislated Poverty, a Vancouver organization Swanson helped found, and he knows her well. He continues to write letters to the editor of the Carnegie Newsletter, cookie-cutter left-wing letters. It’s doubtful that Auer can be counted on to protect the right of Bill Simpson and other Carnegie members to freedom of expression. Last summer, the Carnegie Newsletter published a letter of support Auer had written for Paul Taylor after a campaign was launched by Carnegie members to curb Taylor's power as editor of the Newsletter when he admitted libeling Bill Simpson. Taylor had written a column claiming that Simpson had written blog material that was “sadistic” and had relied on fraud to get elected to the Board -- the libel was written after Simpson supporters began agitating about his barring from Carnegie for freedom of expression.

Swanson continued in her e-mail:

“Sandra Pronteau is also running. She is active in Raise the Rates and is going to be part of the Poverty Olympics on Feb. 3.”

Pronteau is part of the group of activists Swanson is involved with, activists who have been publicly agitating for higher welfare rates.

At tonight's meeting, Pronteau, an aboriginal woman with long dark hair, in her thirties, with four children, said she wanted to see the "ongoing trafficking" of drugs outside the building addressed. She closed by saying, "Poverty is another issue that I totally support, and homelessness."

Auer, a tall, bald, middle aged caucasion, was nominated by Paul Taylor. In his brief election speech, Auer said he had been an "anti-poverty activist" for over 10 years. He expressed concern about gentrification on the Downtown Eastside: "I want to see the neighborhood saved and do everything in my power to see that that happens."

Neither Auer or Pronteau mentioned the elephant on the table: the barring of duly elected Board member Bill Simpson from the Carnegie building for daring to operate a website which "features links" to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which has criticized Carnegie.

Both Auer and Pronteau were elected to the Board.

See related article, "CBC Interviews Bill Simpson", at: