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.