Monday, March 15, 2010

One Small Step for Skip Everall, One Giant Step for Carnegie Membership

It's the same old story. I hear it so many times.

A photographer complained last week to Carnegie Security boss Skip Everall about the threats being directed at him when he attempts to use Vancouver Public Library computers at Carnegie Centre. The photographer said a native woman -- he said her name -- who is sometimes on duty as computer monitor is abusing her access to publicly funded Carnegie "security" guards. If an issue comes up with a computer user (sometimes issues have to be worked out such as whose turn it is on the waiting list) that actually requires communication, she skips the communication, and tells the person, "I'm calling security." End of discussion. If the person doesn't become passive, she carries through with the threat.

Last week, this monitor threatened to call security on this photographer when a disagreement arose. She didn't actually carry through with the threat on that occasion, but she has previously, so he lodged a verbal complaint with Carnegie Security Co-ordinator, Skip Everall.

The photographer did not know that he was not the first person to lodge a complaint about the use of the threat at Carnegie to "call Security" as a substitute for communicating with Downtown Eastsiders. This substitution was previously brought to the attention of City Manager Penny Ballem in writing in 2009 and during a meeting in January 2010. The photographer used a term that others have used though, to describe this substitution: "bullying".

The photographer was not unhappy with Everall's response. Everall told him that this particular computer monitor had been doing that often.

This is a step forward. Everall was essentially admitting that the right to call security is being abused at Carnegie, at least in this case. Mind you, this computer monitor is a volunteer; it is unlikely that Everall would make such an admission in cases where the threat was being uttered by staff, his fellow CUPE members -- and there are many such cases.

Everall's admission is nonetheless a step in the right direction in a City of Vancouver community centre where threats to call security have become the default method of dealing with low income people who know their rights and expect them to be respected.

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