Wednesday, November 17, 2010

City Staff at Carnegie Go on Name Calling Rampage

As the City of Vancouver hikes residential taxes and community centre fees, we are reminded of the "services" being funded.

A City staff person at Carnegie Centre left a series of comments at this blog last week in response to our latest post, "Man Banned from City Services without Evidence." It is obvious that the comment was written by a staff person as they referred to "J", a barred man discussed in the post, by using his legal name, the name in the Carnegie security database, not the name patrons at Carnegie use for him. The commenter also appeared to have familiarity with the barring, which few people knew about as "J" had left Carnegie immediately after being told he was barred. Bloggers did not initially publish the comment because the staff person had breached confidentiality legislation by naming a banned patron.

Following is the comment, with the barred man's name edited out. Note the presumption of guilt despite the fact that City staff lacked evidence to bar this man from City services at Carnegie:

"[His] simple 4 day barring from Carnegie is totally acceptable and understandable. Carnegie is a "clean and sober" community centre where patrons, including women, children, seniors and handicapped persons, can be quite upset by displays of public drunkenness and consumption. As well, there are many patrons who struggle with sobriety and can have adverse responses to such behavior. If [he] is in such dire need of Carnegie resources, he needs to be prepared to abide by some simple rules that were created with ALL in mind - not just to preclude [his] poor behavior. Shame on you [Name] - and the writer of this post - for trying to make it sound like he was poorly treated."

Note also the fact that this staff person portrays people who speak up about barrings as the problem, not City of Vancouver staff who are denying taxpayers access to services without grounds.

When we failed to publish this comment, the Carnegie staff person escalated the smear tactics, which staff routinely do, and falsely suggested the barred man was gay and attracted to the Security Supervisor, which would be Skip Everall. Again the staff person used the barred man's legal name which we have edited out.

"Rumor has it that [Name] has a "thing": for the Security Supervisor and British accents! "

When we didn't publish that smear, the Carnegie staff person left yet another comment:

"If the BLOG had any sense of commitment to the DTES, it would print my post below which I have submitted numerous times. But you obviously do not care about the 1000's of patrons of Carnegie as a whole." The commenter ignores the fact that easily a 1,000 people have been barred from Carnegie since it opened, and then does what abusers typically do, minimize the abuse. "You only care about the fuck ups who - "fuck up" - the enjoyment of the Centre for all - namely...."

Here the commenter discloses first and last names of people who have been barred and/or spoken up about the unfair barring process. Again, it was obvious that the comment was coming from a staff person as they named a person whose barring case is known only to Carnegie staff, and one blogger. Confidentiality legislation was not only disregarded by the staff person in disclosing names, but insults were then attached to those names, "Rich Bitch", "Boozy", "Madder than a Hatter"....

And of course a staff comment wouldn't be complete without libeling William Simpson, the man who has been banned from setting foot in Carnegie Centre since he exercised his democratic right to get elected to the Carnegie Board. The commenter falsely claimed that Simpson had lied about the fact that he was homeless. 'Bill "I'm homeless? but have residence in a nice coop".' Bill did not lie. He was sleeping in Crab Park for months.

In closing, the commenter again portrayed people who speak up as being the real problem, not City staff inflicting an epidemic of barrings on Downtown Eastside residents attempting to use City services. "You are all in need of a metaphorical kick in the ass."

Ad hominem attacks are always quicker and easier than supporting claims with evidence. And evidence has never been City staff's strong point.


vancouver mark said...

I find your repeated anecdotes about what are effectively human rights abuses in our civic facility disturbing, and would like to know why this isn't investigated by the Tyee or the bloody Province. Are there reasonably credible sources who are willing to publicly corroborate your stories? No offense to you or your little blog, but why aren't their voices being heard by the bigger mainstream souces ??

Anonymous said...

The first comment that you have now printed didn't really sound that bad.

Anonymous said...

Carnegie is not the only non profit that is abusing it's members.... a very sad situation too many poverty pimps living on the backs of the poor and the homeless.
Shame Shame Shame....

If you wish to contact me off line feel free, I would very much like to have a conversation with you. I'm assuming you can link to my e-mail? If not post and we can work something out.

Anonymous said...

You should check out this article:

reliable sources said...

"would like to know why this isn't investigated by the Tyee or the bloody Province."

The Vancouver Sun looked into this issue. Miro Cernetig wrote a column about the barring of William Simpson. If I remember correctly, it was published on Christmas Eve 2008. Cernetig interviewed Simpson and a Sun photographer took his photo at Main & Hastings.

A small paper called the Republic of East Vancouver -- I think that was the name -- also ran a story 3 or 4 years ago. Bob Sarti, who I believe was on the Carnegie Board at time, responded with a letter to the editor portraying people complaining about barrings as a tiny minority of the one million people who go through the doors of Carnegie each year. Sarti's letter was misleading in that there are not a million 'unique' visitors to Carnegie a year. The same crowd of regulars cycles through the door of Carnegie almost 365 days a year, and most of them have either been barred themselves or know somebody who has. [Incidentally, it's largely the same crowd that shows up at other agencies on the DTES, such as the UBC Learnig Exchange, Pathways, etc. It's a crowd that poverty organizations compete for; hence incentives like free coffee offered by some places.

CBC Radio also covered the barring situation and the lack of due process. They interviewed Simpson and Carnegie Board member Rachel Davis, who were willing to discuss the situation on the radio alongside Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty. But Whitty declined the CBC's invitation to join the group interview.

Whitty later made arrangements to be interviewed alone by CBC Radio, when Simpson and Davis wouldn't be around to contradict her. Whitty breached confidentiality legislation by providing the radio audience with a new, improved reason for barring Simpson, a reason that had not been mentioned in the official barring letter Whitty had personally delivered to him. Whitty told the radio audience that Simpson had been barred because he posed a WorkSafe risk; then she hid behind confidentiality laws and refused to give details. To this day, Simpson has never been notified that he was barred over a WorkSafe issue. Whitty should have been fired for that performance.

Co-op Radio covered the barring situation too. Kevin Annett had a show on Co-op in which he gave considerable coverage to the issue and interviewed Simpson more than once. If I remember correctly, Annett also talked to Board member Rachel Davis. (I believe some of those interviews are available on Annett apparently took some criticism from others at Co-op who did not want a left leaning organization like Carnegie criticized. Carnegie quickly arranged to have their own weekly show on Co-op Radio, a show hosted by people that Carnegie management could trust to present them as the best thing for the poor.

reliable sources said...


Thanks for the link to the National Post article. I'm going to read it.

Anonymous said...

@ reliable sources
when you say "crowd poverty organizations compete for", is that in regard to funding? Are there known situations of staff assaulting clients...documented.

reliable sources said...


"when you say "crowd poverty organizations compete for", is that in regard to funding?"

Yes. Some povertarian organizations like UBC Learning Exchange or Pathways have sign-in sheets. They take those sign-in sheets seriously and they remind people to sign in. Carnegie has a membership card system, but they have a sign-in sheet for the Learning Centre. You will see many of the same people in all of these places.

One reason there is a glut of turkey dinners on the DTES at Christmas is that organizations state on their funding applications that they provide a turkey dinner at Christmas. Funders like that. The same core crowd of people shows up at multiple turkey dinners.

"Are there known situations of staff assaulting clients...documented."

Yes. One was reported to police in May 2010. A written statement was submitted.

Some assaults at Carnegie have been reported on this blog. Like the case of the guy who was taking his books back to the Carnegie library and a security guard told him he couldn't enter the building with the little cart he was carrying his books on. When he verbally protested, he was thrown to the ground and had three security guards on him. He was stressed about it even a few days later. Although he rarely went to Carnegie, he was able to describe the guards who jumped him, race, age, etc. He had been told also that he was barred from Carnegie. He is not interested in finding out if the barring will ever be lifted. He's never going back.

Most people who are grabbed or jumped do nothing except tell other patrons about it. The only option they have is to lodge a police complaint. Skip Everall, Security Co-ordinator at Carnegie, stated recently that patrons are not allowed to make a report to City security guards at Carnegie if they are abused by staff. His position is that such complaints have to go to Asst. Mgr. Dan Tetrault, who is a CUPE member like all the other staff. A complaint of verbal abuse and physical aggression was submitted to Tetrault last year and he has yet to respond. Tetrault has a reputation for not taking complaints seriously, a reputation that goes back years.

A woman who came to our blogger meeting last night saw your comment and told us that Mike, a former Carnegie security guard, was fired for assaulting too many patrons.

Anonymous said...

So assaults are taken seriously then?
The post above says that a security guard named Mike was fired for doing so.

Which is it?

They beat people and get away with it, or don't get away with it?

reliable sources said...

"They beat people and get away with it, or don't get away with it?"

I have never known a case in which a complaint by a patron was taken seriously by Carnegie staff. In every case I know anything about, staff and management circled the wagons. Even if a complaint is put in writing, a patron can't assume they will get a response. A patron generally has to do the follow-up on their own case, repeatedly going upstairs to the offices of Dan Tetrault or Ethel Whitty to try to find out what's going on with their complaint. Many people have angry stories about how they were brushed off by Tetrault. Carnegie staff do generally get away with abuse.

I was surprised to hear that Mike had been (allegedly) fired. I liked him. I don't know if there were any complaints lodged by patrons against him. I was told that he had been given a couple of warnings but continued to lose his temper and get physical, so he was fired. That could have been an issue between him and Skip Everall.

Everall was dealing with some negative publicity at that time, about gratuitous physical aggression. There was the case, reported by bloggers, of the guy going to the library and being thrown to the ground; the description provided by bloggers of the white male guard involved could have fit Mike or Skip Everall. But somebody left a comment on the blog saying it was Skip, not Mike. Everall has a reputation for being hard on guards he feels have not circled the wagons.

Everall was hard on another guard after he thought (mistakenly) that the guard had allowed a patron to read a security report she wanted to appeal, instead of making her wait weeks or months to get it through Freedom of Information, which is the usual obstructionist tactic. That guard didn't last much longer but I don't know the official reason given for his departure. But a few months later, the same patron was talking to a guard as she stood by the big black binder which holds the security reports at the front desk, and Everall walked up and picked up the binder, held it in the air and slammed it closed, by her ear.

It's not uncommon for guards to get fired at Carnegie. There have been firings in the past for drug use. The higher-ups in the Centre never get fired though. (Even having sex with clients is tolerated in the supervisory class.)

Rachel Davis said...

Yeah, occasionally one of the larger media notices the injustices down here, but mostly we get things like the Provinces "Operation Phoenix" which was just one big year long pat on the back to all the "Stake Holders" in the DTES. There was only one article that was at all critical, or even balanced, in all that year, and that was by a Native Chief who wrote it for himself. What was his great quote? Something like, "It's like a big expensive factory with no product" ? Something like that.
I was amazed at the lack of critical journalism for an entire year....When our problems are noticed, it seems it's just not for long enough, I thought the CBC interview, if not the Sun column would help, but, when they circle the wagons, it can take more than one arrow to getting through to make a difference............apparently

reliable sources said...

Rachel Davis,

"lack of critical journalism"

You're right. Recently the Province has been promoting Marlene George (formerly Marlene Trick) as an activist attempting to protect Downtown Eastside women from abuse. They ignore the fact that she's the supervisor of one of the most abusive areas of Carnegie Centre, the basement, where she allows chronic abuse. In fact, she looks the other way while Skip Everall issues barrings to people who attempt to speak up and maintain self-esteem in the face of this abuse.

If Marlene George cares so much abuse of women, let her start where she has some real power to clean it up. The time she is spending speaking to newspaper reporters, could be spent ensuring that outstanding complaints about abuse in her area of Carnegie are taken seriously.