It is not the first time, Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty has grabbed the latest installment of her $104,000 pay cheque and taken off out the door, leaving Carnegie members stranded without key services. She did it during the coldest day of the winter in 2006. And she is doing it during this hot weekend.
It is the Canada Day weekend. Whitty disappeared a day earlier than most people -- her receptionist Lil initially thought she was out at a meeting on Friday but eventually figured out she had taken an early long weekend. And an extended long weekend too, as she won't be back for over a week.
The person who was asking Lil for Whitty's whereabouts was a senior who had been barred by Whitty and her Security Co-ordinator, Skip Everall, from the Seniors Center. Her crime? She had dared to talk back to a notorious abuser, Devor, in the Seniors Center where she regularly drops in to use the computer. Literally hundreds of men and women at Carnegie have lodged complaints, formally or informally, (one by punching him in the nose) about Devor, who sells coffee in the basement and rides rough shot over members. But complaints seem to make no difference to Ethel Whitty.
Whitty and Everall gave the abuser a special treat this time. They allowed Devor to be the one to announce the punishment for the woman who dared stand up to him. That punishment was that she would be barred from the Seniors Center for a minimum of four days. And that she would have to meet with Skip the following Wednesday to see if she would be allowed back in. There is no appeal process at Carnegie; a targeted individual must serve their sentence before they can appeal or, in many cases, even learn what exactly they have been accused of. The woman brought this lack of due process to the attention of Ethel Whitty who reportedly responded by shrugging her shoulders. (Appealing at Carnegie essentially means that your sentence won't be extended even further if you act sufficiently deferential to Skip and make this metrosexual feel like a man's man for a moment.) Everall and Whitty avoided notifying security guards that the woman was barred from the Seniors Center so that they could in turn notify the woman when she walked into the building; she repeatedly walked in and out of the building and was never told.
According to her friends, it's as though Whitty and Everall "set her up" to unwittingly walk into the Seniors Center and be kicked out again by Devor. She was "lucky" though, as Devor didn't see her and instead loudly announced to a close friend of hers that she was barred. This was a shocking breach of confidentiality legislation by City staff; Devor is a volunteer who is not on the City payroll and receives food vouchers. And it is a breach of confidentiality legislation that Whitty is showing signs of intending to cover up. She avoided speaking to the key witness who could confirm this breach of confidentiality.
The woman who was barred did meet with Everall after she had served her sentence. She demonstrated for Everall, as she had earlier done for security guard Richard, how Devor had repeatedly shoved his arms and hands within inches of her body to force her out the door of the Seniors Center. (Her boyfriend has repeatedly emphasized to us that Security guard Richard had no part in the illicit barring but simply gave her protection as she later walked into the basement of the Carnegie where the Seniors Center is located.)
Everall was not the right man to complain to about physical aggression though, as he had allowed his security guard, Ted Chaing, to act a little rough too. Chaing had shoved the glass door of Everall's office in her face as she walked into the office after being led to believe that Everall intended to meet with her about her barring (about the sentence she had arleady served). Everall had decided that he wanted her to wait outside for a moment before he met with her, but it had apparently not occurred to either of these security men to tell her that verbally.
Everall acknowledged to this woman that he recognized that she was at risk from Devor. He said he wanted to "caution" her that it wouldn't be in her best interests to go down to the basement (where the Seniors Center as well as other facilities such as washrooms and a weight lifting room are located) while Devor was there. But neither he or Whitty, whom the woman also told of Devor's behaviour, have done anything to ensure safety in the building.
It has now been 14 days that this woman has been denied access to the Vancouver Public Library computers in the Seniors Center. She told Whitty, according to her boyfriend, that she needed access to computers in the Seniors Center because the computer room on the third floor was crawling with bed bugs. (A complaint will be lodged about Whitty to the Health Dept. next week by several people fed up with the bugs she has left behind when she took off on vacation. Some say they're scabbies, some say fleas, some say bed bugs.) But the woman was so desperate for a computer one evening recently that she decided to check out the third floor computer room to see if there were any available.
When she looked in the window of the computer room which she found locked, she was yelled at and chased off the floor by a "nutty Nicaraguan". A male witness coming up the stairs saw this and asked, "What's going on?". The woman said, "I'm getting out of here. I don't want to talk to him." She knew Everall would bar her if she talked back. This Nicaraguan, who has a bullet hole in one eye, previously crossed the floor of the computer room and lunged at her with his hands going for her neck because he claimed she was too slow in closing down the windows on her computer when her time was up. (Usually computer users are given a five minute warning but she says he didn't give her one.) Both male and female members of Carnegie have complained about the craziness of this Nicaraguan. Learning Center staff won't allow him to volunteer there any longer. But he has been given the green light by Everall and Whitty -- after getting disappeared for a couple of weeks -- to return to take shifts in the 3rd floor computer room.
This woman, who needs computer access, has been left stranded by Whitty who allows her barring to go on and on and on and on. Whitty had stated two weeks ago that she would be speaking to a key witness (who favored the woman's version of events) but coveniently never got around to it. The witness said Whitty chatted to him about his music but never questioned him about anything related to the woman. The woman had asked Whitty to suspend Everall for misconduct (and from what her boyfriend said yesterday, she has no intention of dropping that request).
So now Ms. Whitty is on vacation, enjoying a few lazy days in the sun. Lazy days for which she is well rehearsed.
Whitty's victim -- victim is the right word here -- is stranded without computer because Whitty and Everall have stripped her (and other Carnegie members) of civil liberties that are one of the many things about Canada to be celebrated on Canada Day.