Tuesday, June 22, 2010

For 57 Days City Hall has Avoided Giving Barred Carnegie Member Reason "in writing"

A witness who has spoken up about the use of the City of Vancouver "security" database at Carnegie to make fraudulent entries about critics, has found herself barred from Carnegie Centre for 57 days now, with no end in sight. She is not allowed to enter the building, not even the Vancouver Public Library branch there. She was notified of the barring on April 25, 2010 and immediately asked to be given the reason "in writing". Her request was instantly refused by the security guard who informed her that she was "barred", a guard who identified himself as "Ty" only after she asked his name.

There is evidence that the ban was pre-meditated and politically-motivated. From the beginning of the process of being informed that she was barred, the fact that she had been one of the Carnegie members who made complaints to Penny Ballem was referred to by Ty as the "problem." [If I obtain a copy of the statement she submitted to police, I will quote Ty's alleged comments more completely.] A few minutes later, when Ballem's name came up again, Ty reportedly claimed he didn't know who she was. Toward the end of the barring, after he had followed the woman to the bathroom, Ty revealed that the barring was a result of pressure from Penny Ballem and Gregor Robertson to clear her out of the building. "I guess, they don't want witnesses around", says the barred woman.

Police have been made aware of everything from verbal abuse to assault experienced by this woman since coming forward as a witness to fraud and other abuses involving the City's "security" database at Carnegie. A male Carnegie member recalls eating dinner with this woman at Carnegie in the spring, when a volunteer took her photograph, using a flash, without her permission -- she would later be told that the photo had been taken on instructions from Tio, a City staff cashier on duty, a fact she says Tio did not deny when she asked him about it -- and then stood yelling insults at her at the top of his lungs, grabbing the attention of the crowd of diners in the cafeteria. "Why isn't security doing anything!" the witness demanded to know. A security guard stood beside the yelling man, just inches away.

She was also at Carnegie having dinner -- she had just finished -- on the evening in April when Ty told her she was now barred from the entire building and refused her request to "put it in writing". At a later point, she asked that he at least allow her to read the "Incident Report" so that she could counter false statements. He refused. He told her that he did not need input from her. She told him she wished to sit down and write her own incident report about what she was experiencing, but he refused, ordering her out of the building. Such biased practices -- including outright fraud -- had been previously brought to the attention of Penny Ballem, once during a meeting in January at City Hall. The Mayor was also made aware of these practices.

Shortly after being barred, the barred woman mailed a request to City Hall and requested, under the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act, a copy of the incident report and a copy of entries made in the City's electronic "security" database. She then telephoned the Freedom of Information office twice to see if they had received it. She spoke to a male assistant to manager Paul Hancock. The assistant told her on April 29th that he had finally received her letter. She explained that she needed a copy of the incident report quickly so that she could appeal the barring; she asked him to keep in mind that for every day that passed without this Incident Report, she was denied access to City Services in her neighbourhood, such as the public library at Carnegie. She told him that there should be no reason for extensive delay in getting the incident report to her, as it was easily retrievable from the Incident Report binder which sits on the front reception desk at Carnegie for all staff to review. The assistant reviewed her request letter and said it seemed straight forward to him and he didn't anticipate it taking long. He said he would "send it out" that day.

Shortly after speaking to the assistant, the banned woman received a letter dated April 30th from Paul Hancock, Manager, Corporate Information & Privacy, City Clerk's Office. Hancock wrote:

"This will acknowledge receipt of your request dated April 26, 2010. . . for a copy of an incident report written about you by Ty, a security person at Carnegie Centre at approximately 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 25, 2010."

"Under the Act, we have thirty (30) business days to respond to freedom of information requests. The City received your request on April 29, 2010 so we are required to respond by June 11. 2010 at the latest."

I ran into her on Sunday, June 20th, at Sunrise market and she said she had not received it. Even if the City had mailed the Incident Report on the last possible day, June 11th, she would have had it last week as Vancouver has over night delivery.

Hancock ended his April 30th letter to her with,

"We understand that this is an urgent matter for you so we will do our best to expedite this request for you."

That was 52 days ago, as of Sunday.