Saturday, February 28, 2009

Collision at Main St. & Georgia Viaduct

There was a two car collision at roughly 5 p.m. today on Main St. at Prior St., just across the street from the entrance to the Georgia Viaduct.  

There appeared to be no serious injuries.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Premier Campbell Accused of Pink Shirt Hypocrisy on Anti-Bullying Day

Photo: Christie Clark (centre)

Premier Gordon Campbell and CKNW talk show host Christie Clark may wish they had left their pink shirts in the closet as their own bullying baggage is dragged out along with the shirts. Campbell has declared Feb. 25 "Anti-Bullying Day" and announced he will support Clark's "Pink Shirt" campaign to oppose bullying campaign by wearing a pink shirt today.

"The pink shirts are a gimmick", according to a press release by Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry [COPP], while the actual record of Campbelll and Clark indicates that bullying tactics are well within their comfort zone.

Both Campbell and Clark, former BC Education Minister, are accused by COPP of having looked the other way when informed in writing that provincial dollars were being used to finance illegal criminal harassment, fraud, and "political psychiatry" tactics to ensure that "Bullying Complaints Go Nowhere." The political psychiatry tactics, in particular, have resulted in an international boycott of diplomas issued by the Vancouver School Board, a fact that Campbell has been keeping under his hat.

But COPP was not the first to sound alarms. As early as the fall of 2002, Reggi Balabanov, outgoing President of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils with whom Clark would have been familiar, mentioned in a Vancouver Sun interview that intimidation tactics were being used against citizens pursuing bullying complaints with school administrators. Balabanov said complainants were finding themselves the focus of police visits to their homes and that this had put a "chill" on the willingness of citizens to pursue complaints.

The boycott was triggered by the case of a Vancouver woman -- she lived on the Downtown Eastside at the time but has since moved -- who COPP claims became the target of political psychiatry by VSB bureaucrats using Coastal Health Authority resources. She became a target almost immediately after informing the VSB in writing that she intended to campaign in an upcoming election about their mishandling of bullying complaints. The VSB-School Liaison would later admit in a taped telephone call that he had emphasized to the VSB that there was "nothing untoward" about this woman's letter, but they nonetheless used it as the sole basis for arranging to have her assessed for "apprehension" to a mental hospital. The nurse, Don Getz, who arrived unannounced at her home to perform the assessment was, incidentally, wearing a pink t-shirt. (For a more extensive account of the political psychiatry tactics employed, click on boycott.)

The bullying worked. The woman was sufficiently terrorized that she did not campaign on the bullying issue in the election.

The provincially-funded political psychiatry that ultimately led to the boycott was brought to the attention of Premier Campbell in a letter addressed to him and hand-delivered to his office. He did not respond.

The full range of evidence of a criminal level of bullying by provincial government staff to aid the VSB in deterring bullying complainants must be investigated if Campbell is committed to the slogan, "Bullying Stops Here." And it must be investigated if the international boycott of diplomas issued by the Vancouver School Board is to be lifted. But as COPP points out, "It's going to take more than putting on a pink shirt."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poor T-4

On Monday at around 3 p.m., I walked by H & R Block Tax Services on Main St. near Carnegie and there was a crowd of people outside.  A woman waiting in the crowd was loudly explaining that H & R Block wasn't taking any more people that day, that they had given out tickets but they had stopped at 165.

That's when I knew that the T-4's had come out.  

"Nobody gets you money faster, instant cash back", blares a sign in the window of H & R Block.  If you take in your T-4 slip, H & R Block will do  your taxes and give you the refund right away, but they skim a little off the top.  

I was surprised that so many people were in need of quick cash.   Welfare day was just last Wednesday. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Homeground Festival: Trial Run for Corralling the Poor during the 2010 Winter Olympics

If you listen to the traffic station on the radio, you would have heard that the section of Dunlevy St. which runs by Oppenheimer Park was blocked to traffic for three days, from Friday to Sunday of this week. That's so the Homeground Winter Festival could be held.

The Homeground festival was billed in flyers as being "for Homeless & Underhoused Downtown Eastside Residents" -- that angle probably appeals to funders -- but the banner hanging at the actual festival billed it as being for "Homeless & DTES Residents".   I talked to a couple of guys who dropped by the festival at about 2:30 this afternoon and they said that there were about 80 people there, including volunteers. But they said more people seemed to be arriving later to pick up free tickets for the Punjabi dinner to be served at 5 p.m.  And the day had gotten off to a rainy start, but the sun was coming out later in the day.     

Photo:  Homeland Festival tents line Dunlevy St. between Cordova and Powell.
I talked to a thin native guy in his late thirties who he said he'd been to the festival on each of the three days and enjoyed it.

I talked to a caucasian Downtown Eastsider later at Carnegie and he said what others at Carnegie had said; he hadn't been aware that the festival was on.  He said he doesn't pay attention to posters.  He had bumped into a friend at Carnegie who suggested they walk over to to the festival to see if there was any free food.  When they got there, only festival volunteers were being allowed into the Food Tent.  So he got himself a coffee in the Music Tent and sat down and read the newspaper.  The coffee was good, he said.  And there was real cream to put in it.

While he was sitting in the tent reading the paper, a couple of stand-up comedians came on stage but he hadn't been interested.  I talked to a woman at Carnegie who said she found the comedians  funny in an "amateurish" sort of way.  She said the female comedian identified herself as "three quarters" native and told some native jokes; the male comedian may have been Metis. She repeated some of their jokes:  

The male comedian talked about the practice at Alcoholics Anonymous of giving you a cake for each year you're sober.  He said he had twice gotten sober for six months.  "I figure that should be good for a couple of cupcakes."

The female comedian said, "I've been working for the government for 15 years.  But after a while you get tired of getting a pay cheque for doing nothing.  A couple of weeks ago, that happened to me."  So she decided to rely on "nepotism" to get another job, but that didn't get her anywhere because none of her relatives have jobs. 

She also asked, "Why are there so many white people? Because they don't have any natural predators."  The loudest laughs reportedly came from white organizers.

Those would be some of the same white people who had a hand in putting together the festival programme with the notice at the bottom: "Homeground honours the traditional Territory of the Coast Salish people where we are gathering."  On the Downtown Eastside, you're supposed to act as if you believe that aboriginal people lived a noble, idyllic, life until the white man ruined it.  If you want to score jobs in the poverty industry, you have to pretend you believe that.  It's serious business.  
Photo:  Steps of Carnegie Center, Sun. Feb. 22/09

The programme for the festival announced that the "HomeGround Production Team" included Ethel Whitty, Director of Carnegie Community Centre, and Dan Tetrault, Assistant Director of Carnegie Community Centre.  

A Downtown Eastside musician said he was mystified as to the purpose of this sudden festival. But what Whitty wasn't telling Downtown Eastsiders in the flyers was that this was a trial run for the Winter Oasis Festival intended to occupy them during the 2010 Olympics.  Whitty did tell the Carnegie Board of Directors about this trial run in a Director's Report last year. The Winter Oasis Festival was also mentioned last year in a staff report to Vancouver City Council, as organizers were seeking a portion of the $1 million civic fund for Olympic Social Sustainability programs. 

Tonight the Hastings Express band will be playing at the Homeground Festival.  That band includes Rachel Davis, a former Carnegie Board member who got on the wrong side of Whitty. Davis began asking questions about why homeless William Simpson was banned from Carnegie Center just two weeks after being elected to the Board of Directors.  Whitty has never addressed this denial of democracy.  But she's a busy woman, organizing for the "Homeless and Underhoused".   

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Downtown Eastside Musicians Frustrated by Retired CUPE Member Hogging Highest Paid Gigs

Photo:  Front steps of Carnegie Center on Sun. Feb. 22/09

Why is John Ferguson's band getting one of the few paid gigs at Homeground, a festival being held this weekend on Dunlevy St. next to Oppenheimer Park on the Downtown Eastside?  The Downtown Eastside is not Ferguson's homeground.   

Downtown Eastside musicians who live and hang out on the Downtown Eastside would have loved to get tonight's two hour paid gig at Homeground. The Homeground winter festival is a trial run for next year's Oasis Festival in which Downtown Eastsiders will be kept occupied at Oppenheimer Park for the duration of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Taxpayers fund these festivals -- which some Downtown Eastside residents say are a grab by povertarians for a chunk of the City's $1 million Olympic Sustainability fund -- under the guise that they are an effort by Downtown Eastsiders to work with one another to enhance their lives.  

Not only does John Ferguson not live or hang out on the Downtown Eastside, his record in relation to Downtown Eastside residents has been far from life enhancing.  His alleged record includes stripping Downtown Eastside residents of their civil rights and dignity.  For years Ferguson worked as Carnegie Security boss -- he was a CUPE member -- enforcing a "security" system which involved routinely banning people from City facilities without due process. Ferguson is now retired from that job and enjoying a good pension ....topped up with paid gigs that Downtown Eastside musicians living hand to mouth would love to get.      

While Ferguson is getting a paid gig, several long time Downtown Eastsiders in the Carnegie Music program say they have been invited to play at the Homeground festival -- as volunteers. They doubt they will even get the food vouchers worth 80 cents an hour that Carnegie generally gives volunteers.  

The miffed musicians acknowledge that Ferguson does have some Downtown Eastsiders in his band.  But they say these musicians tend to be the favoured few, people who get to "play all the time."  One such musician played in both the recent Shadows Project and the Condemned Opera, as well as playing with Ferguson at Homeground.  (Another Downtown Eastsider in Ferguson's band, Brian, is exempt from criticism as he's still "new", say musicians, so he doesn't have a history of playing more than his fair share.)  

The problem with staff or former Carnegie staff/CUPE members such as Ferguson coming to the Downtown Eastside and essentially taking food out of the mouths of neighborhood musicians is not new.  Two other Carnegie staff persons, Peggy and Sue, have been accused in the past of turning the Music Program into a "staff perk".  Peggy, a musician, was a Carnegie Street worker and on-again-off-again girlfriend of Carnegie security guard Ken Tenake.  [She now runs the Music program at the Health Contact Center next door, although she has been off work for awhile due to a car accident.)  Sue, also a musician, worked for the Carnegie Street Program and eventually got into a relationship with musician Mark Oakley, who eventually got a job running the Carnegie Music Program. This band, which at times included Carnegie security guard John"Trey" Williams as drummer, became known as the "staff band" by neighborhood musicians.

The staff band "monopolized the Music Program", says a musician. "This went on for three years!"  None of these staff musicians live on the Downtown Eastside.  John Williams lives way the hell out in Chiliwack! (although he's reputed to be one of Carnegie's better security guards, less prone to power-tripping than some.)  

Who is supervising the Carnegie Music Program to ensure that taxpayer funding for Downtown Eastsiders reaches Downtown Eastsiders?  Rika Uto is supposed to be supervising. According to one musician though, "Rika doesn't want to offend anyone".  But by not doing anything [about the problem], you offend people".  

Uto is supposed to be supervised by Dan Tetrault, the Assistant Director of Carnegie, but she's his girlfriend, according to musicians.  So he's hardly in a position to say, "Buck up little pony, you've got a job to do."  

Did I mention that retired CUPE member John Ferguson showed up to support Tetrault and Uto, and another supervisor of musicians, Colleen Gorrie, on the picket line during the last CUPE strike.  But of course, that wouldn't explain why Ferguson was given the next two highly coveted New Years Eve dances in a row -- reportedly $750 each -- as well as the last Christmas volunteer dance, and now of course the Homeground festival.  

So while Tetrault supervises Uto and Gorrie while they divert Downtown Eastside music funding to former or current CUPE members, who is supervising Tetrault? Ethel Whitty, who has a record of deferring to CUPE members, even when they are involved in unprofessional criminal conduct toward Downtown Eastside residents.  Whitty has openly stated, "I have to support my staff."   What CUPE members want, CUPE members get.  And that includes retired CUPE members. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gastown Building Changes Colours

I guess there's light being projected onto this  building in Gastown.  Sometimes when I walk past it at night, it changes colours.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

States Re-asserting Sovereignty

This is exciting....  I was listening to it last night on Coast to Coast radio.  States in the U.S. are re-asserting their sovereignty.  And it's not just a few states.  So far eight states have done so, but the total is expected to soon be 28.  The almost trillion dollar stimulus package was a major trigger for this rebellion. 

The fact that New Hampshire is re-asserting sovereignty is considered a big deal, since it was one of the 13 founding colonies of the U.S.  

Dr. Jerome Corsi -- I read his book 'Obamanation' last summer --  was on Coast to Coast last night along with others, including a legislator from New Hampshire, discussing the emerging state rebellion. They were explaining that when the states created the federal government, it was supposed to have limited powers. But it has been grossly overstepping those powers.  It takes money from states and then gives it back with strings attached.   

One thing that states are rebelling against is "unfunded mandates".  The Feds tell state governments that they are not allowed to turn anybody away from their hospital emergency wards, but don't give them funding for the droves of peope who show up.  This is a major burden for states with huge numbers of illegal immigrants. 

States are also sending a message to the federal government about gun confiscation.  Several southern states like Mississippi and Misouri have passed legislation that they will not confiscate guns from residents. Montana too has passed such legislation.  And the thing about this type of legislation is that it is strongly worded.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tensions Up During Countdown to Welfare Day

Today people at Carnegie were chatting about the fighting in the computer room at Pathways Employment Center across the street.  Two men had gotten into a fight, one threatening to punch the other out, the second threatening to see him outside and kick his ass, the first retorting that he would see him outside and kill him.  These two men began lunging at one another but the computer technician, Glen, who got less excited than he does when he catches somebody sipping coffee at a computer, stood between them.  Another unemployed guy backed him up.  

"Where's the security guard?," a guy trying to concentrate at a computer asked. 

Then a woman who had been asking computer users if they had a crack pipe she could borrow, told one of the men involved in the fight that he seemed angry today. He instantly responded by kicking a chair at her.  The woman, who is mentally slow -- it was her who had initially gotten the first man angry; he had told her earlier, "This is not a drug center!" -- kicked the chair back. He kicked it back yet again, and she kicked it back at him.  This was all happening, according to sources, while the computer room was packed.  Everybody involved in the threats and kicking was told to leave by the female security guard -- except the angry guy who had started it all.    

"Why was there so much fighting?", I asked.  "It's two days 'til cheque day," a guy who witnessed the fighting said, smiling.  He went on to explain that people get edgy in the last days before welfare cheque day.  

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Residential Tax Increase of 11% Predicted by City Manager: Is Penny Wise or Pound Foolish?

Penny Ballem, Vancouver City manager, sent an email to all staff late Friday afternoon announcing that there was now a freeze on hiring for all staff positions.

Ballem explained that City revenues over the past several months have been far lower than predicted due to a decline in development.  If this situation continues, according to Ballem, taxpayers will be hit with at least an 11 % property tax increase.  At least.  

Ballem was instructed by Council a couple of weeks ago -- when residential taxpayers were bracing for a mere 6-8% increase -- to look closely at all City departments and agencies and cut the fat. 

Vision Councilor Raymond Louie expressed concern last week, according to 24 Hr. newspaper, that the residential tax increase could result in less support amongst taxpayers for services. 


Too much of what the tax payer is funding are 'disservices', projects that disempower people:  like CUPE members writing security reports about non-violent people at Carnegie, then passing them on to clerical staff paid twenty-something dollars an hour to type them in to the City's "Security" database, and then arranging follow-up meetings between Security boss Skip Everall, Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty and Assistant Director Dan Tetrault -- meetings which sometimes include the targeted individual, sometimes not -- and those meetings breed further follow up meetings.  Multiply this by hundreds of people a year. And then add on the hours staff spend discussing who is suspected of blogging about these security abuses, and then add on the hours it takes to constantly brief staff -- even the librarian in the VPL "reading room" that doesn't need a librarian -- about who is suspected of squealing to Joe taxpayer via blogs.  And factor in that much of this "security" work is overseen by Skip Everall, a man who shows up to work wearing Bermuda shorts through cold snaps and snow falls.  Do you feel secure?

These and other make-work projects for CUPE members at Carnegie continue while the soup bowls in the cafeteria are no longer filled to anywhere near the brim.  And people buying dinners keep asking, "Who shrunk the portions?" 
None of this is likely to change. CUPE brought Vision to power and Vision brought Penny Bellam to power, and they, like Mulroney, know that, 'You dance with the lady what brung ya'.  

So the tax increase will be 11%.  At least.

Remember Carnegie's Living Dead in the Women's Memorial March

Since the annual Women's Memorial march to remember missing or murdered women on the Downtown Eastside began today with opening ceremonies inside Carnegie Center, it would be fitting to use it to remember the living dead in Carnegie Center too.  

They are women whose liberties and reputations have been killed off by Big Brother Skip Everall or Big Mother Ethel Whitty at Carnegie Center because they dared speak up about human rights or due process.  They are the women on whose necks the guillotine slammed down.   
These women are noticeably missing from Carnegie events.  Driven out.   

Just hours before the Valentine's Day Women's Memorial march began, a male musician from Carnegie was talking about how a female musician who had spoken up about human rights violations at Carnegie, tried walking into the music jam next door at the Health Contact Center. A staffperson who has worked both at Carnegie and the Health Contact Center arranged for her to be ushered out.  No singing, no music, for her.   Banished to the world of the living dead.  

As today's march proceeded down Main St. and then over to Oppenheimer Park, I remembered the women who have spoken up.  And I remembered their attackers, Skip Everall, Ethel Whitty and other povertarians.  They will strike again.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Starbucks: Internet Gouging and Free Oatmeal

This week, residents of the Downtown Eastside and Gastown found cardboard coupons in their mailboxes from Starbucks.  Starbucks is inviting residents to drop in and try their new "Perfect Oatmeal" with nuts and berries --  free.  I read the fine print: they don't require that you buy one of their not-recession-proof coffees.  

I took the coupon in this morning.

Like I said, there's no catch.  A young woman server with auburn hair asked me if I would like berries or nuts or brown sugar, or all three on my oatmeal. I went for everything but the brown sugar.  She went to the back counter to fix it, as I gazed at the sandwiches displayed at the front counter.  A turkey and cheddar sandwich was $5.95, a ham and brie sandwich was $6.25.  They looked tasty but for for me, for a sandwich, "Six bucks sucks."  

The server handed me the quick-fix oatmeal in a round container with a lid that looked like a small ice cream container.  "Let it steam for a couple of minutes," she advised.  On top of the lid, she had piled a plastic spoon wrapped in plastic, and two clear plastic bags.  One of the bags contained nuts: "Almonds, walnuts, pecans".  The other contained berries:  "Dried cranberries (cranberries, sugar, sunflower oil), raisins [contain sulfites], dried blueberries (blueberries, sugar, sunflower oil), dried cherries (cherries, sugar, sunflower oil)."  Berries, especially blueberries, are big with the anti-aging crowd these days because they are loaded with anti-oxidants. Walnuts are big too.  [And lets not forget Edgar Casey who said that a couple of almonds a day can keep cancer away.] 

What surprised me was how generous the portions of nuts and berries were.  

"Shouldn't there be milk with oatmeal?," I wondered.  That's the way my mother always made it. But I didn't ask because I figured the server knew what she was doing.  Besides, I hadn't yet looked under the lid.

The oatmeal tasted good.  Hot enough too.   After I finished though, I was reading the side of the "Perfect Oatmeal" container which made the claim of "a satisfyng sprinkle of nuts, fruits, brown sugar and your choice of milk."  Milk!!  It would have been more perfect with a little milk.

While the oatmeal was free, Starbucks was gouging for internet access.  When I asked the servers if they had internet access, a different server told me they charge $7 an hour for internet access and $50 for the day.  But if you have a Starbucks card, she explained, you can access the internet for 2 hours and the only cost deducted from your card is for your food and beverage.  

A friend told me that he went to Starbucks in Tinseltown last year and was also told that the internet would cost him $7 an hour.  He was annoyed and recalled saying to the server, "So for a coffee and an hour on the internet, it'll cost me ten bucks."  The male server responded, "Yes," as if it was nothing. [That explains why Waves coffee shops are so popular.  You can get a coffee or tea for roughly $2 and use the internet for free, for hours.  Waves recently opened a store on the Downtown Eastside, and is preparing to open a second just two blocks from the first.) 

I turned on my computer on at Starbucks to make some notes and a notice popped up on my screen announcing that I was connected to the internet.  So I ended up with free internet on top of free oatmeal.    

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Coming Unhinged

Photo:  Inside the men's washroom at McDonald's at Main & Terminal last night, the door had come off.   My guess is that there had been a fight.

This afternoon the door was lying flat on the floor.

There are often pools of urine on the floor in that washroom.

But that Mcdonald's still has the hottest coffee in town.

Homeless Shelter Attracting Pot Smokers to McDonald's Across the Street

Photo:  The new homeless shelter is the white building in the background.

When you change one thing, you may affect things around it.  

A regular customer at McDonalds at Main & Terminal says there are more "bums" standing around outside now that the new homeless shelter has opened across the street.  They congregate in front of McDonalds a little after 7 p.m., and hang out until shortly before 8 p.m. when the shelter opens.  The customer sometimes ducks outside himself to have a quick cigarette, so he knows who's who out there.

"Are they the ones smoking pot?," I asked.  "Yeah", the customer said.  On two evenings out of the last three, I walked through a cloud of strong pot smoke when going in the front entrance at McDonalds to buy a take-out coffee.  

When Mayor Robertson and his HEAT team turned the empty warehouse across the street from McDonalds into a homeless shelter, they probably thought that because the building was in an industrial area and situated well back from Main St., it wouldn't affect people in the neighborhood.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pigeon Park Savings: What's your Number?

Pigeon Park Savings, part of VanCity, has been sending letters to Downtown Eastsiders with dormant accounts, reminding them that they are being charged an annual fee of $20 per year for such accounts.  

They instruct people to: "Please call us to review your options...."

But when you look for a phone number on the letter, there isn't one.  

Monday, February 9, 2009

On the Downtown Eastside, this is a Burlgar

The door to the White House is on the right of the photo.  But Obama was trying to go through the window.  And bloggers aren't letting him live it down. 

(Photo sent by dag of

Save on Meats Closing

Save on Meats, the cheap meat store at 43 W Hastings on the Downtown Eastside, will be closing on March 14, 2009.  

I was in there this morning buying some shaved Black Forest ham and I asked the clerk why they were closing.  "The owner's retiring," she said.  That would presumably be the owner who was pushing for curbs on thieves via an '8 strikes your out' law.  Or was it 12 strikes?  I just remember it was some ridiculous number of strikes.  

The owner is 77 years old, which serves as a reminder that meat laced with nitrates doesn't kill everbody.  He's operated Save on Meats since 1957.

A friend once described Save on Meats as the meat version of Sunrise market, where things are brought there to sell when they're no longer totally fresh but are still ok.  But he shopped there a lot and was wondering this afternoon if any other store would open "to replace it".

I heard that a person who used to work there said that on welfare day, they would bring out all the old meat to get rid of it.  But another friend said "That's how all businesses work."

Don't get me wrong, I never got sick on meat I bought at Save on Meats.  I'll miss it.  

Tea without a Pee

You would think that a place serving as much liquid as Waves coffee shop would have a washroom. I am with a couple of friends in Waves coffee shop at Hastings & Richards this evening, and there are no washrooms.  None.  

Customers are going out to the back alley to pee.  

Washrooms are a chronic problem at this particular Waves.  Either the men's or the women's is usually out of order.  They have lightweight toilets that appear to have been designed for private homes not for a busy restaurant.  The Waves on Main St. near Hastings has restaurant calibre washrooms.  

If it weren't for the washroom problem, this would be a good internet cafe.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Uncomfortable Question: Why are People Shooting Up at Carnegie Instead of the Safe Fixing Site on the same Block

Operation Pheonix, the media project focusing on the Downtown Eastside, promised to ask "uncomfortable questions" of Downtown Eastside povertarians.  We're still waiting.

I have an uncomfortable question. During the cold spell recently, Carnegie members were finding it difficult to get access to a washroom in the late evening. The washrooms -- particularly the women's washrooms, I've been told by 3 women -- were being used as shooting galleries.  Three women told me that the first floor washroom at Carnegie had a steady flow of women going in to shoot up at night.  If a straight woman was using the washroom, a junkie would too often be outside the door pestering her to "hurry up" or asking, "How long are you going to be?"  People waiting for washrooms -- including those who support the safe injection site -- were commenting about those shooting up, "Why don't they use the safe fixing site."  It's on the same block. 

The fact that people are choosing not to use the safe fixing site was reinforced by a comment dag from covenantzone.blogspot left at the Downtown Eastside Enquirer today. 

"I asked the fellow picking up discarded needles and other fixings on the streets how business was yesterday. He told me it was good, that he'd gotten by then over 150 needles...."

Out of the Fire, Onto the Front Page

In the above DTES Enquirer photo, a Vancouver fireman helps a woman stand upright yesterday as she speaks to an ambulance attendant.  She had just been brought down the smoky fire escape of the Washington Hotel, housing for the addicted or troubled, as firemen doused a serious fire.  Firemen must have found her in the building because she was brought down at least half an hour after the fire started; that was after the flames visible in one of the hotel windows had been doused by firemen.  The woman got into the ambulance.

This morning she was on the front page of the Province.  

The Province ran a dramatic photo, obviously taken with a zoom lens, of her looking scared as a fireman helped her down the fire escape.  (You can see her crouched on the right side of the photo.)

She was also the focus of the lead photograph on both the Sun and the Province websites.

Hi mom.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Major Fire in Washington Hotel Fills Streets with Spectators on Downtown Eastside

Yesterday a Downtown Eastsider was eating lunch at the Carnegie Center at Main & Hastings when it became obvious there was an emergency nearby.  "I heard siren after siren after siren." The Downtown Eastsider rushed outside and saw fire fighters at the Washington Hotel next to the Balmoral Hotel near Main & Hastings. The air was filled with smoke.  

People poured out of Carnegie Center and the nearby hotels and povertarian organizations and lined the sidewalks near Main & Hastings, to watch the fire fighters.  A crowd also stood on Cordova St. watching the fire from the rear of the Washington.  Flames and smoke were visible in a room with a window facing Cordova St. 

The Downtown Eastsider took a few photos and emailed them to us.  


The photo above was taken on Hastings St.  The Washington Hotel is the one with the ladder leaning against it. 

Update:  It has since been revealed that the Washington Hotel fire left 100 people homeless. City Emergency Social Services arrived to help Washington tenants find emergency shelter.

Main & National

Photo taken Wed., Feb. 4/09 at roughly 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Province Dupes Readers with Ethel Whitty "Interview"

Carnegie Centre executive director  Ethel Whitty.

This is an example of why the mainstream media is going bankrupt.  Media outlets involved in "Operation Pheonix" promised to ask "uncomfortable questions" of those running things on the Downtown Eastside. Instead they have published what amounts to a press release from Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty, with no mention of the fact that she has been accused of everything from slander to fraud. 

Yesterday, Carnegie member Wilf Reimer drew Whitty's interview with the Province newspaper to the attention of the DTES Enquirer.  It's actually not an interview at all.  There is no reporter named in the byline, just "STAFF REPORTER".  There is a formal, 'canned', quality to Whitty's responses which makes it virtually certain that she obtained the questions in advance and was allowed to produce written responses.  A press release.   Perhaps Whitty can no longer risk agreeing to a face-to-face interview where uncomfortable questions could actually be asked.  

In Whitty's press release, she used the buzzword "dignity" when discussing the homeless. Province readers were taken for suckers with this.  

Here's the real story:  Whitty's idea of "dignity" for homeless William Simpson was to deliver him a letter barring him from Carnegie Center after he got elected to the Board last year.  As Simpson stood on the sidewalk outside Carnegie during Board meetings, Whitty wouldn't even allow this elected official the dignity of having input via a cell phone that had been loaned to him.  Then Whitty appeared on CBC to slander this homeless man, but wouldn't appear along with him to allow him the dignity of being able to respond to her accusations.  

In the CBC interview, Whitty attempted to strip this homeless man of his dignity and reputation by announcing that he had been barred from Carnegie for posing a "WorkSafe" risk.  That was the first Simpson had heard of any WorkSafe risk.  No WorkSafe risk was mentioned in the letter Whitty had personally delivered to him, a letter in which he was informed that he was officially barred from Carnegie for operating a website which "features links" to the DTES Enquirer blog. (The blog had reported that Whitty was taking educational and computer funding, while the poor were too often finding the doors to these services locked.) Whitty has never to this day provided Simpson with evidence that he posed a WorkSaferisk, but that didn't stop her from breaching confidentiality by telling the world via CBC.  So much for "dignity".  

Whitty's willingness to falsely present Carnegie members as a risk is not restricted to homeless people.  Any garden variety poor person can become a target.  Like the woman who challenged the fact that she had been barred from a Carnegie facility and a slanderous report written on her for the City Security database, without her version of events being sought.  After challenging the barring, the woman alleges that "15 witnesses" were manufactured against her and entered into the City Security database.  Whitty has not been able to name even one of these witenesses.   

Allegations of fraud against Whitty extend to funding as well.  Whitty has been repeatedly accused of obtaining funding on the condition that it will be used to hire Downtown Eastside residents.  Truth is, it has been used to hire people as far away as Vancouver Island.  The person hired from Vancouver Island was even paid $500 in travel expenses, according to former Carnegie Board member Rachel Davis.

Whitty has a Masters in Social Work.  But the breaches of confidentiality in the CBC interview alone should be enough to get her license to practice social work suspended.  And the Province newspaper should stop passing her off to their readers as a credible commentator on the poor and homeless.     

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Scottish Bagpipes a Hit at Chinese New Year Parade

Umbrellas lined Pender St. today as spectators watched the Chinese New Year parade inVancouver's Chinatown.

A few of the dragons in the parade wore plastic to keep the rain off their heads.

I thought I heard bagpipes. "Scottish bagpipes for Chinese New Year?"  But I knew that in multi-culti, multi-grant Canada, anything was possible.  

There were other cultures represented in the parade too, from Vietnamese to Haida.

I was looking at the CKNW mascot and then I said, "Hey, that's Christie Clark."  I listen to her talk show sometimes.  
The guy in the cap in the above photo was a 'rain on the parade' type of photographer.  The parade was an event made for photographers and there were many bending the rules by going into the street to get a closer shot.  Eventually a parade crowd-control Chinese woman came around with a loud speaker and started moving photographers back toward the yellow line by the sidewalk.  So a bunch of photographers were backing up all at once and the guy with the cap decides to squat on the street and change his camera's memory card.  Then he got angry at another photographer, saying that her umbrella could have poked his eye out. She was carrying a closed umbrella by her side and it didn't have a pointed tip.  That's the first time I've seen a photographer get nasty to another while covering a news event; I've always been amazed at how cordial photographers at these events are toward one another.       

I recognized these musicians, The Carnival Band.  They played at the bandstand next to Science World last November at the party finishing off 'Bike to Work Week'.