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. 


Anonymous said...

I just accessed Pathways information web page. It is garbage and as far as I can tell no one uses it. You might want to write about how badly designed this site is as well as the waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Though it's true that John Ferguson gets more than your average amount of DTES gigs, and the highest paid ones repeatedly, he isn't the only one being paid at the "HomeGround" Fest, (the party with a "mandate")
Hastings Express, which sports Rachel Davis, Brian and Murray and Heidi Morgan, are also getting paid, as are the MereKatz, featuring Steve Edwards, who runs the Music Program at Carnegie.
It's true, though, that being former CUPE seems to count for a lot at these things. The only person playing twice, and getting paid twice, presumably, is another former CUPE person, Earle Peach.

Anonymous said...

Ethel Whitty is doing a great job. What do you actually want? Besides being able to use Carnegie resources to trash Carnegie, I mean? You talk like a hurt little boy, just so you know, and not a responsible adult.

reliable sources said...


"Though it's true that John Ferguson gets more than your average amount of DTES gigs, and the highest paid ones repeatedly, he isn't the only one being paid at the "HomeGround" Fest...."

Thanks for that correction.

I made some adjustments to the article based on your feedback.

Anonymous said...

there are other errors in your accusations and such, but they've been corrected in the past and you go on stating them, so what's the point in correcting over and over when you presumably say whatever you want regardless of truths

reliable sources said...


You write,

"there are other errors in your accusations and such, but they've been corrected in the past and you go on stating them, so what's the point in correcting over and over when you presumably say whatever you want regardless of truths"

You lack credibility because you don't provide even one example to substantiate your claim. I am confident that you are unable to substantiate it.

And there has been no "correcting over and over". You're being dishonest.

Bloggers do not "say whatever you want regardless of truths". We have witneses and/or documented evidence to support our stories. That's why Ethel Whitty and the City lawyers who came under pressure from CUPE members to put an end to blogging, couldn't do it. CUPE members along with City management even attempted to intimidate us by lodging a baseless complaint to police. But police determined that the content of the blog was not false so there was nothing that could be done.

....except of course leaving unsubstantiated comments attacking us.

reliable sources said...


You write,
"What do you actually want? Besides being able to use Carnegie resources to trash Carnegie, I mean?"

You couldn't make it more obvious that you are staff or management:

You claim not to know what Downtown Eastsiders "want" -- even though we have repeatedly stated that we want the same democratic rights that other Canadians enjoy. Downtown Eastsiders can point out the obvious over and over again, but it is simply not heard by Ethel Whitty et al.

Rather than considering the issues, you betray the Carnegie staff and management position that Downtown Eastsiders critical of City staff or undemocratic practices at Carnegie should not have access to taxpayer-funded Carnegie "resources". Hence the past witch hunt for bloggers and blog contributors (most of whom rarely use Carnegie resources) by Ethel Whitty and others to have them banned from the building. The goal of course was to prevent taxpayers from finding out what type of abuses their dollars were supporting.

Even buying a membership card becomes difficult if you have dared criticize Carnegie staff. (I should have reported this earlier so I'll report it now.) One Downtown Eastsider who talked to bloggers about an unjust banning later felt harassed by Carnegie receptionist, Kim, when attempting to buy a membership card. Each time the member would ask this well paid receptionist a routine question about purchasing the card, Kim would take a deep breath and demonstrate her exasperation at having to answer such a question. The member felt that Kim was trying to elicit a reaction so that she could call Security boss, Skip Everall, and have the person written up. The member had never had a problem with Kim in the years prior to asking a blogger to expose an unfair barring that Whitty had been unwilling to address internally.

You write,
"Ethel Whitty is doing a great job."
You say this despite a body of well-publicized evidence to the contrary. Whitty has been involved in criminal activity (i.e. faking witnesses for the City Security database), not to mention other activity that a lawyer called "contrary to the rule of law" (denying an elected official access to the building.)

And Whitty has engaged in professional misconduct that should have resulted in a suspension of her license to practice social work (announcing to hundreds of thousands of people via CBC radio that William Simpson was banned from Carnegie because he posed a "Worksafe" issue when she had never, and has not to this day told him that. Simpson was informed in an official letter that he was banned for linking to the blog you're reading now.)

And then there was the allegedly fraudulent WCB claim that Whitty went along with. (That would be the one made by a Carnegie staff person who was allegedly having sex with clients, and wanted some time off to recover when she was exposed. Of course Whitty did not seriously investigate her. Is the fact that Whitty lets her staff get away with anything from fcuking to faking, an example of what you would call, "doing a great job".)

And let's not forget the Guantanamo Bay "security" database in which Downtown Eastsiders are given longterm records as "security" risks because they dared talk back to someone in a position of power.

You accuse bloggers of not acting like "responsible" adults but that would apply more accurately to Whitty and her staff, "just so you know".

Anonymous said...

For your information.

Suggest you go to the Homebound event which is Ethel's baby. It was created for 2010 Olympics and this weekend's farce is a test run. Suggest you take pictures and post them.

Anonymous said...

how confident are you?

wilfr said...

An interesting exchange of opinions about "povertarians" and other DTES issues is taking place over at Francis Bula's blog, initiated by a post including a letter from Wendy Pedersen.