Friday, April 30, 2010

Brenda Prosken: Donating Money to Human Rights Abusers she is supposed to be Supervising

I was at the Vancouver Public Library central branch and there was a gigantic tourquoise banner hanging in the window. You couldn't miss it as you walked in. Brenda Prosken's name was on it along with other top financial donors to the library.

Prosken is giving money to the Vancouver Public Library while allowing VPL abuses to continue at Carnegie, under her supervision. She supervises Carnegie in her role as Deputy General Manager of Community Services; people who complain about Carnegie abuses to City Mgr. Penny Ballem are given Prosken's card. Prosken collects a six figure pay cheque from taxpayers while apparently doing nothing about the fact that the VPL directly participates in or colludes with rampant human rights abuses at Carnegie, allowing people to be barred from VPL computers or from the entire VPL branch inside Carnegie for merely speaking up...or even for getting elected to the Board.

It works like this: Say a staff person on the second or third floor, or in the basement Seniors Lounge at Carnegie doesn't have the communication skills to deal with a member and instead calls security to bully them -- a regular scenario -- the member is likely to be barred from public-access VPL computers throughout the building as punishment. The member may even be barred from the entire Carnegie building -- common if they know their rights and assert them -- punishment which automatically includes being barred from the VPL branch on the first floor.

The barring from the VPL is not always instigated by staff working in areas of Carnegie Centre external to the library though. Some library staff are prone to calling security on members rather than develop communication skills to deal with issues that come up, and the targeted member more often than not gets barred from the library, sometimes from the entire Carnegie Centre.

One thing that can usually be predicted is that the perspective of the accused is not heard, not represented in the Incident Report, and if they want to appeal the barring, it can take up to a month to get a copy of the Incident Report.

How can Prosken properly supervise Carnegie where many of the services are provided by the VPL, when she is a celebrated VPL donors? She's not going to want to displease people who hang her name in their window. In fact, she may have hired some of the VPL staff who prefer bullying over communication. When she first arrived in Vancouver from Winnipeg, she ran the VPL Human Resources Department.

Since Prosken got her new job at City Hall last year, there has been no sign of life from her. At least Carnegie members haven't seen any.

This week I dropped in to use a computer in the Seniors Lounge and all three were out of order. The coffee seller, Devor, told me that they had broken down one after another and nobody had bothered to fix them. There has been a noise issue with those computers in the Lounge, with computer-users complaining that the noise from the television is deafening (the coffee seller who runs the lounge is hearing impaired). Carnegie has never been able to deal with the conflict that arises from the noise and people who make an issue of it have been known to be barred from using those VPL computers. Now the solution seems to be to allow the VPL computers in the Lounge to die.

Maybe it's no coincidence that along with Carnegie, Prosken has also been assigned the job of supervising Mountainview Cemetery.