Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whitty gets Elderly Man Barred from Carnegie after he gives her "Hitler Salute"

David Wong, a Chinese-Canadian man in his eighties who works his ass off as a bus boy in the Carnegie Cafeteria for eighty cents an hour in food vouchers, was barred from this City building for two days.

That was after he gave Director Ethel Whitty the "Hitler salute".

Presumably an Incident Report was entered into the City of Vancouver-Carnegie "Security"database or big black binder. Security Incident Reports are written up on Downtown Eastsiders guilty of assorted forms of freedom of expression in relation to Whitty, her security boss Skip Everall, or other staff. But often what is written in the binder is City staff's self-serving version of the event.

When I think of David Wong, the phrase "elder abuse" crosses my mind. A few weeks ago, Wong got into an argument with a woman in the Carnegie cafeteria and when she walked past him afterwards, she shoved him out of her way and he went flying. He flipped backwards in the air, landed on his ass and banged his head on the floor. He made such a thump that security staff from the first floor came running up to the second floor. The woman who had shoved him was barred. Wong emerged from the incident unharmed. Amazing, since just a few months ago he was in the hospital as his health was poor.

David Wong is not always easy to get along with, to be honest. He's not violent but sometimes he gets overzealous about taking people's dishes off their table, and if somebody says, "Hey, I haven't finished eating yet", he can get upset and give them a loud calling down. But he can also be charming, especially to some of the women. Because his English is poor, it's difficult to know whether he's senile. Lots of people like him though. And of course CUPE likes him because he slaves away for crumbs and keeps the cafeteria running smoothly.

David Wong will no doubt survive into the new year to be barred yet again. And the Whitty-Everall barring projects that fill up their big black binder will survive well financed now that the City is imposing an increase in the head tax ...excuse me, property tax.

Carnegie Claws Back WiFi from Poor

The poor accessing wifi at Carnegie Centre have been cut off.

It used to be that low income people at Carnegie would sit and wait an hour for their turn on a public-access desktop computer to surf the net, until they got hold of laptops and began accessing wifi. Over the past year and a half low income people with lap tops have gotten into the habit of sitting in the big empty room on the third floor of Carnegie in the evenings and surfing the net. Wifi was available there, outside the offices of Carnegie management and the Learning Centre. And it was available in the Carnegie cafeteria on the second floor too, outside the office of CCAP, a project funded by VanCity and run by anti-poverty czar Jean Swanson to lobby for housing for the poor.

Carnegie has put an end to this access. Wifi has been secured so that it cannot be accessed by the poor, only by union members and Carnegie and management.

There is wifi access in the small branch of the Vancouver Public Library on the first floor of Carnegie, but it is painfully slow. Yesterday, six people were huddled around one plug-in at the back of the library, all finding the wifi access too slow.

The rumour is that wifi access was terminated for legal reasons. But the raison d'etre of CCAP and Carnegie is supposed to be to help the poor.

Carnegie has a history of hostility toward the poor eager for internet access. Just look at where they situated the Computer Room. Despite a huge empty space with tables and chairs on the third floor (referred to as the gallery), the computer room which is the service attracting poor people to the third floor in the evenings, is a miniature room tucked in the back beside the washrooms. This was planned, when renovations were occurring years ago. You can literally hear people using the toilet when you're in the computer room. It is such a narrow room that when people walk to the computer they've signed up for, it is impossible to avoid bumping the chairs of other people sitting at computers. This leads to conflict. And the guards get called and people get written up on the "Security" database for causing trouble.

Wifi access for the poor at the UBC Learning Exchange two blocks from Carnegie is, I'm told by two people who use it, also from CCAP. The people who use the Learning Exchange are the same people who use Carnegie. (The Learning Exchange operates weekdays until 5 p.m., unlike Carnegie which is open until 11 p.m. seven days a week.) Doubtful that CCAP will turf the poor off wifi at UBC though; I would bet that CCAP is given money by UBC in exchange for that access. The poverty industry is of course all about money.