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.