Friday, June 6, 2008

Carnegie Election Kills Free Speech

Photo by Wilf Reimer. Carnegie members line up outside the theatre where the election was held.

Just one person running in last night’s election for Board of Directors at the Carnegie Centre had taken a stand against totalitarian tactics being used against Centre members. Tactics like launching a witch hunt for bloggers. Or banning homeless man, William Simpson, from Carnegie Board meetings just two weeks after he was elected to the Board of Directors, accusing him of operating a website which linked to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog. These tactics weren’t acceptable to Rachel Davis. Last night they got rid of her.

By they I mean the Carnegie establishment, people like Jean Swanson who claims to advocate for the homeless in her paid work with the Carnegie Action Project. And Paul Taylor who edits the Carnegie newsletter and used it to libel the homeless man, claiming he had gotten himself elected through fraud.

One Carnegie member sitting in the meeting said, “Jean Swanson told me to show up; she said I’m going to be nominated. She has a plan but I don’t know what it is.”

She did have a plan. There is little doubt of that.

Unlike most Annual General meetings at Carnegie, this one was packed. Stacked would be a better word. One long term Carnegie member said, “Half the people there, I either didn’t recognize or I hadn’t seen for a long, long time.” A number of candidates nominated said they had a history of work with End Legislated Poverty, the almost defunct organization Jean Swanson founded and operated for years.

Presumably Swanson used the e-mail list she has access to as an employee at Carnegie to contact comrades to remind them not only to show up at the election but of who to vote for. She did that during the last by-election to get her protégé Rolph Auer, formerly a writer for the End Legislated Poverty newspaper, elected. Auer did not disappoint. Like Swanson, he did nothing to get the homeless Board member reinstated. Swanson nominated Auer again last night.

Did I mention that Paul Taylor elected his most loyal comrade, Lisa David? He didn’t mention to voters that she was his wife.

In a handout at the election, banned Board member Simpson was listed as “absent without notice.” That brought to mind the weekly dinners Stalin held where people who were present last week suddenly weren’t present this week, and were never present there or anywhere else again.

"Unity" was the theme pushed at last night’s Annual General meeting; the word was splashed across the cover of a handout. Their idea of unity is to disappear dissidents. They had done it with William Simpson and they would now do it with Rachel Davis. Davis had been on the radio talking about the importance of allowing a duly elected Carnegie Board member in the door. Last night they would push her out the door.

Davis would have been easily elected if it had been up to regular users of the Centre, rather than the swarm of unfamiliar faces. One member, Audrey L., (above photo) pinned handwritten signs, "A Vote for Rachel is a Vote for Transparency". Jim A. said he too had come out to vote for Rachel Davis. But while there, he said, he would also vote for Colleen Carroll because he likes the conspiracy theory documentaries she shows at Carnegie. (Carroll even concocted a conspiracy theory about Davis; asking her at a committee meeting, "Do you work for the Fraser Institute?")

Twenty-three people were nominated and 20 people ran for the Board. Fifteen were elected:

James Pau
Adrienne McCullum
Stephen Lytton
Lisa David
Greg Hathaway
Norma Jean Baptiste
Margaret Prevost
Gena Thompson
Harold Asham
Colleen Carroll
Mathew Mathew
Sandra Pronteau
Joe Leblanc
Paul Campbell

"It was a coup d'etat for Jean Swanson," one member said over coffee after the election.

On free speech, there is nobody left to speak up.