Thursday, January 27, 2011

After Showing that Lies are Within his Comfort Zone, David McLellan is Appointed Media Spokesperson by City on Carlene Robbins Affair

If Mayor Gregor Robertson wanted the community led to believe that what looks like the firing of Deputy Chief License Inspector Carlene Robbins was not a firing, it would be convenient to assign the task to David McLellan. McLellan has demonstrated that lies are within his comfort zone, lies so persistent that police have been asked to conduct a fraud investigation.

McLellan is the City's General Manager of Community Services, a job in which he oversees Carnegie Centre where he has continued to allow fraudulent "security" reports about critics of City staff to be filed in the City security database, prompting a criminal complaint. He has also allowed Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty to keep her job -- Carnegie members fear her contract has been renewed -- despite the fact that she has repeatedly being caught lying to the media (lies which have been extensively covered on this blog), and she has deceptively used her role as a City bureaucrat to fundraise for the political organization, CCAP, an arm of COPE.

McLellan has apparently learned from his predecessor, Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, who "resigned" (Downtown Eastside residents believe she was fired) after signing a letter linking her to the barring of an elected official from Carnegie based on manufactured evidence, a barring that continues under McLellan. McLellan simply evades communication with victims. Today was the first time victims heard his voice. He was on the radio.

The City has assigned McLellan the task of talking to the media about the sudden departure of Robbins from her job. The timing of the departure has raised questions, as it came after calls for an independent inquiry into the deaths of three men living in an East Van house where bylaw infractions were rampant. In an at times lackadaisical voice tone, McLellan, who is paid a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year, took the line during his CKNW radio interview that the departure of Robbins' was a resignation, not a firing.

If Robbins resigned, what about City staff saying, according to, that Robbins' had been given an ultimatum: quit within a week or be fired. And what about Robbins retaining a lawyer, something that even McLellan admitted that he had heard, according to City Caucus. CKNW radio reported that Robbins had called her departure after 38 years of service, a "constructive dismissal", a phrase that is used when an employer makes an employee's work life so intolerable that she has little choice but to resign. McLellan, though, told CKNW that there had been no changes to Robbins' workplace situation.

It sounded to me from the radio interview -- I just heard a clip -- that McLellan was lying by omission. He said the fire had been caused by a faulty electrical cord, not a bylaw infraction, so there would have been no basis for firing Robbins. McLellan seemed to be concealing the fact that the City inspectors had written a report prior to the fire, a report since made public in which the heavy reliance on electrical cords in the house was identified as a safety hazard. The inspector wanted this risk remedied through the installation of more electrical outlets by the owner of the house. Sounds like a bylaw infraction to me. This safety concern is public knowledge, and surely would have been known to McLellan since he was the media spokesperson on the case.

The inspector's report had apparently not been ignored by Carlene Robbins. She and the Chief Building bureaucrat had been in regular communication with the owner of the flophouse. That's more communication than McLellan has ever had with victims of Carnegie abuses, even though there is evidence linking Carnegie barrings (and sexual exploitation) of clients with deaths.

Why isn't McLellan being fired?

Update: Robbins has since spoken to the Courier newspaper and indicated that she did not leave the City on the best of terms. "What I'm saying is that I am currently in a dispute with the city and I'm trying to resolve it privately."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Jim Sinclair Conceals his own Record of Benefiting from Slave Labour Practices, while Calling for a Review of Khaira Enterprises' Record

Talk about the pot calling the kettle dirty. Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour, this morning asked the BC government to set up an independent review of unfair labour practices experienced by tree planters working for Khaira Enterprises, and to enforce labour standards. Sinclair was responding to the case of workers who say they were treated like "slaves" while working at a tree planting camp near Golden, BC. Sinclair didn't mention the fact that he has personally profited from treating workers like slaves.

Sinclair and the BC Fed have for years ensured that CUPE Local 116, which staffed their executive office exclusively with non-union secretaries, was not held accountable for slave labour conditions endured by these women. CUPE would allegedly run the non-union secretaries into the ground with double and triple workloads, more often than not denying them benefits, and firing them after they spoke up about working conditions. One secretary, Kim, got fired when she spoke up about ongoing verbal abuse by the Vice-President, Paul. Verbal abuse was one of the issues raised in the Khaira case. But Sinclair has never been interested in this abuse, as he continues to accept financing from CUPE Local 116.

Not only has Sinclair ignored complaints about unfair working conditions at CUPE Local 116, he has participated in them. Police records show that Sinclair allowed a written request that he curb abuse of secretaries at CUPE Local 116 to be passed off to police as, "Workplace Harassment". At least one of the secretaries received a call from police on behalf of union brass ordering her to shut up about working conditions.

Sinclair and the BC Fed ensured that CUPE was an equal opportunity intimidator though. With Sinclair's knowledge, CUPE Local 116 also called the police on a male union member who spoke up about some allegedly creative accounting at the union office. The man, a steamfitter, at one point found a cheque for $1,000 slipped under his door, but he continued to talk to other union members about his concerns. That's when CUPE resorted to political psychiatry of the type used against dissidents in China. They falsely portrayed the steamfitter as crazy and got him fired. The Local 116 Vice-President who portrayed him as crazy was the same official who had been verbally abusing the secretary until he fired her, claiming that she had breached his privacy by discussing the abuse with another CUPE official. Jim Sinclair seems to be fine with destroying a man's life when he questions his union, but he supports a human rights complaint against Khaira Enterprises.

The workers who say they were abused at the tree-planting camp have now been awarded $228,000 in back wages and the employer, Khaira Enterprises of Surrey, has been fined, $3,500 by the BC Employment Standards Branch. Secretaries inside CUPE could only wish for that. One fired secretary, Kim, was required by CUPE President John Geppert to sign a document agreeing to muzzle herself about her firing or he would withhold $5,000 in overtime pay owed to her by CUPE. Another secretary, Ann, had to retain a lawyer to take CUPE to court in the hopes of merely getting a pension she had been promised during her 12 years of service.

A shop steward at CUPE Local 116, Ann S. said, after two secretaries were fired (a third would soon quit due to health problems from overwork), "We don't make very good employers, do we."

Sinclair pointed out today that there is a definite incentive for an employer to resort to unfair labour practices as even when fines are levied, they are low. "That's not a punishment or a deterrent, that's a reward. What it says to the employer is `Fly at it'." That's exactly Sinclair has been saying to CUPE Local 116.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Emergency at Brian Adams' Studio

Two fire trucks showed up at Brian Adams music studio today at about 5:4o p.m. Adams' studio is at Columbia and Powell St, on the same block as the fire station. One truck left soon after arriving; the other stayed for about 20 minutes. Fire trucks can arrive for anything from fire to medical emergencies. I guess whatever happened, even if it cut like a knife, it feels alright.

We'll never know what happened though, as people who work at the high-security studio have a reputation for never mixing with Downtown Eastsiders.

A few years back, Adams was on his rooftop patio when a woman went out onto her 4th floor balcony across the street. Adams saw her and went back inside, slamming the door as he went. She says she hadn't gone out there to watch him. She wasn't a fan of Adams. She was a fan of Enrique Eglesias.

On another occasion, a neighbour saw Adams with a floppy hat pulled down over his ears, dashing out the door of his studio into a waiting Yellow cab. She figured he was determined not to be seen. She looked around and there was nobody on the sidewalks except her. And she's not a fan.

Adams held a Junos party at this studio a year or two ago. I think the Junos should give an award for the Canadian songwriting using the most cliches. Adams wouldn't win though. He would have tough competition from Shania Twain who wants to"wake up every morning to your sweet face."

Thanks to the Downtown Eastsider who sent us the photo.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Carnegie Staff Thumb Noses at Jenny Kwan

What Jenny Kwan did, Carnegie management has undone.

Last November, Jenny Kwan, MLA for Vancouver East, got a call from a Carnegie member, also named Kwan, who had been unjustly barred from the Carnegie for four months. Jenny said she would help him. He believes she had one of her staff call Carnegie, as his barring was lifted and he wasn't required to go through the usual meeting with Security Coordinator Skip Everall. When Kwan attempted to talk to him, Everall said, "I don't want to talk to you."

Anyone who has ever reported Carnegie corruption to the outside world knows that Carnegie staff retaliate. Kwan said he noticed a young security guard glaring at him (he didn't know that the guard is reportedly the son of Everall.) Then Everall got the opening he needed. "I was feeling good it was New Year's day," says Kwan, who explains that he was joking with some old Chinese guys who sit in the Carnegie lobby and made a sex joke. He made the joke in Chinese and they were laughing, and then he translated it into English. Everall instantly gave orders to security guard Ted Chaing to bar Kwan for a month.

Chaing issued the barring. But Kwan has no hard feelings toward Chaing. "He had to do it; that's his boss; he would have been fired." The exact reason Kwan was given for the barring was that Everall considered him "loud" and "corrupt". Carnegie is an adult centre; you don't see kids around there much, so who is going to be corrupted by Kwan?

Kwan's plan to begin going to the Carnegie Learning Centre this month to improve his English literacy, a plan that he had already run by Learning Centre teacher Lucy Alderson, has now been nixed by Everall. One less student in a learning centre that is already clinically dead.

The barring of Kwan would have been rubber-stamped by Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty and Assistant Director Dan Tetrault. All barrings are rubber-stamped by them.

Funny, Everall, Whitty, and Tetrault didn't see the need for such an extreme response last year when a 50 year old male staffer was having sex with a teenage female client.