Sunday, March 9, 2008

Taxpayer Rip-off at Carnegie Center Continues

Carnegie staff got the big raise CUPE insisted they deserved, but they are still not doing their jobs on a steady basis. Services at Carnegie are too often hit and miss.

Last Friday evening and the Sunday evening before that, Carnegie staff locked Downtown Eastside residents out of the computer room which contains much-in-demand public access computers. That's two four hour shifts, a total of eight hours of computer services, lost. Sunday evenings are the busiest time for the computer room with people preparing to start the new week. This evening the room was open.

There is no excuse for those responsible for keeping the computer room open -- Colleen Gorrie and Sindi, along with Director Ethel Whitty -- to be operating by the seat of their pants. When they lock people out of services, they always have the same excuse: "No volunteer showed up." They have a multi-million dollar budget but they can't function without a volunteer. Why can't Colleen or Ethel sit in the computer room themselves? After all, they're getting a pay cheque to keep those services open. There are surprisingly few services at Carnegie considering the millions that the taxpayer sinks into that place. The third floor has only a computer room and a Learning Center, the latter being co-operated by Capilano College. The second floor has a gym which is generally deserted except for a volleyball game once or twice a week, and a cafeteria which gets a lot of traffic.

Even the cafeteria has a performance problem, although it is still one of the most reliable services in the building. It often has good soups and recently I was told they had a good roast beef dinner. But there have been times in recent weeks when the cupboards have been bare. I went in one evening after the dinner hour and all they had to feed the line up of people was breakfast cereal and a few pastries. No soups. No sandwiches. Then they ran out of cereal!

A friend of mine went into the cafeteria today to buy a muffin for fifty cents but they were out, so she bought a piece of chocolate cake for eighty cents. It was so stale, she couldn't eat it. I tasted it too. Deadly stale.

That is not to say there are not people working tirelessly behind the scenes at Carnegie. The Board of Directors recently arranged a secret meeting for which minutes, if they exist at all, are unavailable. And Board members won't say what the topic of the meeting was. Either the Carnegie Director or Assistant Director would have attended this on camera meeting, as a City representative attends all meetings involving Carnegie Board members.

Speculation is that the meeting was about Rachel Davis, a Board member who was not able to attend, but has irked Carnegie Board members and management by speaking up on behalf of low income Carnegie members who elected her. Davis has been ostracized for speaking up in defense of Bill Simpson when he was banned from this City building, accused of doing what we are doing here, tattletaling to the taxpayer via a blog about services that are paid for but not delivered.

TD Bank in Chinatown Robbed

Last Wednesday evening around 5:30, the TD Canada Trust at the corner of Main & Pender in Chinatown was robbed.

A Downtown Eastside resident heard sirens and went over. There was a sign on the door saying that the bank was closed due to an "Emergency". A guy in a suit standing inside the door was telling customers they could not enter. The Downtown Eastside resident asked, "Was there a robbery?" "Yes", the man in the suit responded, "But we got the guy."

There were two police ghost cars there at the time the Downtown Eastside resident arrived. Police officers were inside.

Is Psychic Sylvia Brown No Longer Welcome on Coast to Coast Radio?

On Saturday night on Coast to Coast, host George Noory (during the segment before host Ian Punit came on) told the audience that psychic Sylvia Brown had not been on the show for awhile and they weren't sure they would have her on again. He said he was put off by a comment he saw her make on the Montel show. He said a woman had asked Brown how a fireman, a relative of hers, had died on 9/11. Brown said he had drowned. The woman said he couldn't have drowned but Brown insisted he had. Noory wasn't more specific than that about what had put him off.

Noory didn't mention the jam Brown had gotten into last year on his own show. I was listening to Brown on Coast to Coast when it happened. It was during a period when, if I remember correctly, there was a great deal of media attention on miners in the U.S. who were buried and rescuers were working to save them. Brown said -- my memory is not 100% on the details here -- that the miners were no longer alive. But a few minutes later news came in that the miners had been found alive. Noory pointed out to Brown that this news contradicted what she had said. She insisted that it was in fact what she had said. So Noory played the audio tape a few times for the audience and told us we could decide for ourselves. Although Brown's words had not been precise on the original tape, it seemed clear to me that she had been wrong.

There may be times when people have psychic moments. But I have never known what to make of Sylvia Brown. Terry Johnson, a bright guy and committed skeptic who lived on the Downtown Eastside who has since died of a heroin overdose, thought Sylvia Brown was a complete fake. I talked to him a few years ago about seeing her on Larry King Live and he said King was "gullible". I have a psychic prediction: Sylvia Brown is finished on Coast to Coast.