Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Social Housing Building on Station Street Strict about Critters

It will be a happier new year for a longterm resident of the Cobalt Hotel who just got into social housing after about 8 years on waiting lists. He got into the new building on Station Street by Pacific Central station.

The management told him that he won't be allowed to simply move his belongings from the Cobalt, which has bed bugs, cockroaches, and mice. They are going to quarantine any electronics. And they are going to wash any clothes he brings. They have washers and dryers there.

After ten years in the Cobalt, this guy will have the luxury of having his own bathroom.

Management at the new building required that he sign a paper saying they can enter his room at any time.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chaos at the Cobalt

When I saw pastor Barry Morris on the front page of the Province newspaper yesterday, I recognized him. Years back he was a pastor at First United on the Downtown Eastside, until he knocked up one of the church women.

Morris has been in the news this week, along with City Councillor Susan Anton [NPA], calling for an independent inquiry into the death of three men in an East Vancouver flophouse. They say the City had known about the unsafe conditions in that house for some time but wasn't enforcing bylaws. Councillor Andrea Reimer [Vision] has responded by pointing out that the fire is believed to have started from a faulty electrical cord, so it wasn't directly related to the condition of the house. [Update Jan. 15/11: A report by a City inspector prior to the fire has now been released, a report in which concerns were raised about the reliance on electrical cords in the house.]

All flexible cords or extension cords that are being used as a substitute for fixed wiring in the building shall be removed and outlets installed where required.

Based on what we hear from tenants at the Cobalt Hotel, I agree with Morris and Anton that there seems to be lax enforcement of bylaws.

The Cobalt, which has been a slum for years, has been allowed to further deteriorate in recent months. Tenants have often found themselves with no running water in their rooms, no heat (the radiators not working), no hot water for showers, the toilets plugged. One tenant said, "I had to take a cold shower."

The toilets being plugged is the tenants' doing. But the other problems are not. Management does make an effort though. "They try," said one tenant, "They're always working on it." Maybe the City should work out a plan with them and do follow up.

The provincial government sends a wad of money to the Cobalt every month, as many of the tenants are welfare clients. The rents are $425 or $450 if I remember correctly. Can't some of this money go toward serious repairs?

The Cobalt did spray for bed bugs. The City gave a contract to Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users to spray. Tenants wondered about the wisdom of the City hiring people with drug problems to go into people's rooms when they weren't there.

Sometimes, the chaos at the Cobalt is almost funny. A painter was working in the hallway and at the end of his shift, he set a five gallon can of paint in a corner along with his equipment, well out of everybody's way. Somebody picked up the five gallon can and poured it all the way down the carpeted hallway. The next day, the painter was painting the pipes, surrounded by this huge mess of paint.

An Ethel Sighting on Boxing Day

After a year of sitting in her office rubber-stamping barrings of Downtown Eastsiders from Carnegie Centre, Ethel Whitty was spotted on Boxing Day. She was in the Carnegie theatre helping to serve turkey dinner to those still allowed through the door. The dinner was free but you had to have been given a ticket by staff.

It was a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Instead of the brussel sprouts they served for years, they made the switch to mixed vegetables this year and last, carrots and peas this year There was also apple juice. Fruit cake for dessert. And all the coffee you could drink for as long as you were allowed to sit in the theatre, which wasn't long because there were three sittings so there was a new crowd waiting to burst through the doors.

Rudy, a musician, was Santa. The real Santa Claus couldn't be expected to work on Boxing Day, having gone full tilt over Christmas. So Rudy who has a natural long white beard gave out the gifts.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

City Workers Force Low Income Man to Eat Cabbage Rolls Instead of Turkey Dinner on Christmas Day

A Downtown Eastsider who had not had a turkey dinner in several years, didn't want to miss out this year. He had been told by other Downtown Eastsiders that the Christmas dinner at the Salvation Army can be counted on to be good, and the volunteer servers are always eager to ensure people enjoy their dinner. So he headed over there today. But he got there too late; the security guard told him the dinner ended at 1:50 p.m.

Another Downtown Eastsider suggested he head over to the Evelyn Saller Centre cafeteria, "the 44". It's not free though, it's two dollars. He had three dollars and something in his pocket. His father had sent him money this Christmas but he was broke; his money got stolen. He has a mild head injury and seems to often get money stolen from his room, or he gets pick-pocketed, or "rolled" as they say. "I've been feeling jinxed", he said.

He headed over to the 44 where a female security guard in a blue "Security" jacket, young with blonde hair in a pony tail, was warmly greeting people with, "Merry Christmas", at the door. But the Christmas spirit ended at the door (except for Santa who was in the back of the Centre giving out gifts.)

The man waited for his turkey dinner in a long line-up stretching outside the cafeteria, and when he got inside, two City workers were shoving plates of turkey dinner onto the glass counter over the steam trays. People in the line-up would grab a plate as they passed, pushing their tray along. The counter is above eye level unless a person is tall, so some people have to crane their necks to see what's on the plate. Anyway, this guy saw the person in front of him take a plate of turkey so he took the next plate. "All I saw was the brussel sprouts", he said. As soon as he picked up the plate, he realized it wasn't even close to being a turkey dinner. It was cabbage rolls, two of them with tomato sauce, and three or four brussel sprouts on the side. So he went to set it back down on the counter and take a turkey dinner. "Too late," said one of the City servers, "You touched it, you have to eat it."

These servers would have known that the guy they were stickin' with cabbage rolls on Christmas didn't have a second $2 for Christmas dinner. They know their clientele. It's not uncommon for diners to have no money and have a welfare account there; the government prefers to finance meals when possible, rather than hand out cash to people who may have difficulty handling money. This guy doesn't have a welfare account, but he does eat there occasionally and he certainly looks poor. Compare the clientele to the servers who are at roughly the same educational level but make, according to a regular diner who chats with one of the staff, $22 an hour. Double that for Christmas. And their contract allows them to close an hour early on Christmas, 5 p.m., to eat with their families.

So the low income guy with the head injury ate the cabbage rolls. "They were awful," he said. He left quickly, forgetting to pick up his gift from Santa. He was edgy with his friends afterwards.

There were two witnesses to the CUPE members' cabbage-rolling this guy on Christmas. One of them was mistreated by the same two surly servers. She asked if she could have dark meat. One of the servers, an Asian woman, possibly Filipina, reportedly said, "No, we give half and half", but then proceeded to put mostly white meat on the plate, as if to be spiteful. Her co-server, an even more surly older white woman, snarled, "We don't do special orders." The woman told her that she wasn't expecting a special order, that half and half would have been fine, and that they were being pretty mean considering it was Christmas."

Then came a bit of a miracle. The guy who got cabbage-rolled on Christmas walked over to the Dug Out Drop-in centre where they were serving free coffee and pastries, and spotted a guy outside with a big plate of turkey dinner. He asked him where he got it and was told the Chinese Christians were giving them out at Potters Mission over at Hastings at Carroll St. So this guy went over there with a couple of friends and they were each served a heaping plate: turkey and gravy, lots of green salad with chopped red peppers, mashed potatoes, and in the centre of the plate, pieces of oranges, and chopped apples and banana. And a gigantic piece of pumpkin pie.

The Potter workers were able to actually communicate with Downtown Eastsiders. Like when they got questions about whether people could have an extra empty plate to cover their heaping plate of food so that they could take it out, or whether they could have a bag or a container, a female server would explain that they really preferred that people eat their meal there rather than take out. They had lots of chairs to sit in and a live band to listen to.

But the Potter's Mission dinner was not the last served to the cabbage-rolled man. He was told that if he returned to the Dug Out at 7 p.m., they would be serving a Christmas dinner. There was a long line-up along the back of the building, but it was worth it. They served him a heaping plate of food and put tin foil over the plate for anyone who wanted to take it out, as it's a small place and couldn't seat everybody. The volunteer server at the meat tray was asking, "What's you're preference, white meat or dark?" And even after one of the men helping out said they'd now served 100 people, each server continued greeting each person in the line with a warm, "Merry Christmas!"

Two cabbage rolls, and two Christmas dinners. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jenny Kwan Helps Man Unjustly Barred from Carnegie

A Chinese man who has been going to Carnegie for 20 years, says Carnegie Security boss Skip Everall told him, "You have a big mouth." The Chinese man who speaks broken English, responded, "A lot of people around here don't like you." Everall barred him.

The barred man's last name is Kwan, like the MLA, Jenny Kwan.

When Kwan was barred, he recalls, "I was really angry." He called Everall a "bully" and an "asshole" Chinese. He said it in both Mandarin and Cantonese, which got the attention of the Chinese people who sit around in Carnegie.

After being barred for 4 months, it was time to have a Kwan to Kwan talk.

Kwan spoke to Jenny Kwan and told her about the unjust barring. He believes she had a staffer call Carnegie. He went back to Carnegie and was allowed in. He tried to talk to Everall who told him, "I don't want to talk to you."

Barring is going full tilt at Carnegie. Kwan says they have now barred a short, middle-aged, Jewish woman, from a middle-class background. The barred woman had been going to Carnegie for years for the arts programs. A woman who sometimes comes to our blogger meetings knows her, and says she's quite assertive which is probably what got her barred. Kwan says the barred woman doesn't want to go back to Carnegie now that she's been barred. It's common for people who are barred to never go back.

"They bar all the good people," says Kwan.

The names of the hundreds of people who are barred each year remain on the membership list though, as they have paid their $1 membership fee and been issued a membership card. They are included in the stats Carnegie gives to the government to justify funding.

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.

Did Larry Campbell Split from his Wife?

Did former Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell split from his wife, Dr. Enid Edwards? I wondered when I read an interview that I stumbled on today as I googled articles on the Olympic Village going into receivership. In the interview dated Oct. 2010, the reporter mentioned that Campbell had moved into a one bedroom condo he purchased at Olympic Village, from a bachelor suite in Kitsilano.

A bachelor suite? He lived in a house on the west side with his wife when he was mayor. I remember her telling the media that she liked to tend to her flowers in the yard there. She must still be around as she's listed as a pathologist on staff at UBC.

Maybe he got rid of the house.

But he also got rid of any mention of his wife. She's not mentioned on his web bio for his current job as a Senator, and she's not mentioned on the Wikipedia page about his life and accomplishments. No mention of him even being a married man, which is unusual for a political figure as they usually like to project a stable image.

I recall when Campbell originally bought his condo, the media reported that he had bought two, side by side. His and hers?

I'm curious about whether there is yet another person Larry Campbell couldn't get along with.

Apple iphone found in Vancouver

A Downtown Eastside resident walking by the bus stop at Main St. & Terminal about 11 a.m. yesteday found an Apple iphone. The phone apparently belongs to a person named Cascas. Your dad has called 10 times, and Delena too. Laisse has left a message, "Cascas where r you?" We can't answer because the phone is password protected.

There is a photo on the screen. If you are the owner, you would know what is depicted in the photo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Man Banned from City Services Without Evidence

One would think that while the 'Fraud Foursome' -- Mayor Gregor Robertson, Penny Ballem, Ethel Whitty, and Skip Everall -- face a criminal complaint for knowingly allowing the City “Security” database to be chronically used to make fraudulent entries about Downtown Eastside residents, they could resist recidivism. But last week another Downtown Eastsider became the target of security fraud.

"J" was barred from all City services at Carnegie Centre last Friday, including the Vancouver Public Library and Capilano College Learning Centre housed in the building. "J" who unloads trucks on call and depends on Carnegie for food services as he lives in a room where the mice eat his food and even chewed the pocket out of his coat, was sitting with his pal "L" on the outdoor patio of Carnegie having a smoke and a coffee. "It was a cold morning", he told one of our contributors.

John, a Carnegie security guard with a British accent marched onto the balcony and asked J if he had a mickey of alcohol on him. "What makes you think that?", J asked. John didn't give him an answer. As usual, the security guard appeared to be relying on hearsay evidence: somebody thought they saw something and ran to security. This policy of informing on one another is encouraged by City security staff as part of the make-work for CUPE culture at Carnegie.

Witnesses will confirm that John made no attempt to actually determine whether J had a mickey. He didn't ask him if he would mind if he checked his bag. He didn't lean over and sniff his coffee to see if it was spiked. J's breath did not smell of alcohol, according to a witness. Instead of attempting to obtain evidence, John leaped to the next step: sentencing. He banned J from City services at Carnegie Centre. J was not allowed to so much as enter the front door of the building. He told J he could return in one day.

J returned the next day and was stopped by receptionist Dan Feeny, and told that he was not allowed in the building, that he remained barred. That would indicate that a formal security report had been typed into the City Security database where it will remain for a minimum of two years but probably much longer (one woman discovered a false report filed ten years ago being used against her recently); Feeney is one of the receptionists who types the reports into the Security database. Feeney told J that it was against "policy" to allow him to re-enter the building without the approval of head of security Skip Everall.

But Everall was not available to meet with him. Everall is only on premises four days a week and is often difficult to locate.

These barrings are upsetting to people in the neighborhood. A witness dropped by J's room unannounced yesterday, saying, "Are you barred from Carnegie?!" and complaining that Everall was abusing power. "He used to be an orderly at Riverview," the witness told J. The witness said he wished the previous security boss, John Ferguson had remained at Carnegie (If you ask me, Ferguson was not much better. But the rumour that he resigned because he didn’t get along with Ethel Whitty, would suggest he was better.)

J remained barred until yesterday, almost a week. He returned to Carnegie looking for Everall, and was at the front desk when Everall came down the stairs. Everall was preoccupied with something, a meeting he had just been to, and he told J his sentence was up. J was once again allowed to access City services that he had been paying for. Everall was dressed in black when he made this ruling. “Thank you, your honor”, J said. Another security guard overheard him and laughed.

A review of the numbers: Six days without City services. Two years with a report in the City database that he posed a “security” risk at Carnegie. Three employees contributing labour time to this case. Zero evidence.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ashley Machiskinic had a Beer in Regent Pub before Flying Out 5th Floor Window to her Death

When Ashley Machiskinic went flying out the 5th floor window of a room at the Regent Hotel to die in the alley below, a guy who frequents Carnegie Centre was sitting in the Regent Pub having a beer. He is a regular at that pub. Another guy in the Pub said to the Regular, "You know that girl who was just sitting at the bar having a beer? She went upstairs and jumped out the window."

The Regular was nonplussed. She had been sitting near him but he hadn't talked to her.

The Regular didn't wait for Machiskinic's death to become a media event before he came forward with his story. He was talking about this the day after Machiskinic died on Sept. 15.

This past Sunday evening, he was standing by the Salvation Army soup truck having a brocolli and turkey soup when he was asked if he had been to Carnegie on Friday for the Town hall meeting with Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, the meeting about the lax approach of police to women flying out windows on the Downtown Eastside. He said he hadn't known about the meeting. He hadn't known about the earlier demonstration at the Police Station either. He hadn't read the media coverage, as he doesn't read the 'lamestream media'. But he repeated his story to people standing around at the soup truck, his story about the young woman sitting at the bar of the Regent Pub having a beer and another guy in the pub -- Patrick, I believe -- telling him that she had gone upstairs and jumped out the window.

The Regular was asked at the soup line what this woman at the bar had looked like. Young, pretty, native, he said. He said she was sitting at the "long table" at the bar, "where she always sat." He was sitting near her.

He wasn't aware that people in the neighbourhood were disputing the police version of her death as a suicide.

I wonder if police also wrote off as a suicide, the young woman who went out the fouth floor window of the Cobalt Hotel in the summer of 2008. (We reported on it at the time; it has not been forgotten and continues to be occasionally discussed in the neighbourhood.) She was a white woman with reddish hair in a ponytail, possibly in her thirties.

Even though police are disadvantaged by the fact that Cobalt tenants aren't talkative, they would have had access to records that pointed away from suicide. That young woman had been beaten up on the same floor of that hotel a few days before she went out the window to her death. She was lying in the hallway after the beating (which may have even involved a stabbing) and the ambulance was called and the paramedics worked on her. A police report is generally written when there is a violent incident. She made the mistake of returning to her room at the hotel, which raised eyebrows as it was clearly unsafe.

When I read news coverage of the murder of a young woman in Delta, Laura S., I noticed that the crime scene had been secured for weeks, and remains secured, guarded by a cop. I thought of the Cobalt murder where a person who was on the fourth floor during that period said they don't recall a crime scene with yellow tape, at least nothing that obstructed the ability of people on that side of the fourth floor quadrangle to come and go. A neighbour just a few doors from Machiskinic had no idea that a death had occurred until two or three days later when another tenant mentioned it. After the young woman went out the Cobalt window, police didn't think to secure the spot in the hallway near her room where she had been beaten just days earlier. They went door to door the night she died and asked, "Did you hear anything unusual?", but they didn't ask about the earlier beating. If the Cobalt had been an expensive hotel, that entire side of the fourth floor quadrangle would have been behind yellow tape with a cop guarding the crime scene.

A person in the Cobalt hotel said they didn't personally know the young woman who died but had seen her around and she seemed to be a nice person, but they believed she was "into smokin' crack and maybe even banging up [injecting]".

I read in the paper that Chief Chu loaned Vancouver police officers to the Delta police to ensure that a maximum effort was made to solve the murder of the young Delta woman.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Carnegie Managers Cashing Pay Cheques for Half a Million Dollars decide the Poor should Pay an Extra 25 Cents for Meals

It is common knowledge that Carnegie Centre managers whose wages collectively top half a million annually, received a 25% raise over 5 years. And now these managers have ordered each poor person to pay an extra 25 cents for a meal at Carnegie Centre. Ethel Whitty who was making well over $100,000 even before the latest raise, has announced to the poor that they will now have to pay $3.25 for meal, rather than $3.00.

And the decision-making powers of the half million dollar management -- Ethel Whitty, Dan Tetrault, Brenda Procten, and David McLellan -- have resulted in major shrinkage of the amount of food on the plates served to the poor. For months now Carnegie members have been asking, "Who shrunk the meals?" The meals have become noticeably smaller as the wages of the half million dollar management have become noticeably larger along with the tax bills of home owners. I recall the amazement in the voice of Dean Obreau a few months ago when he was describing how little food was on the plate he had been served at Carnegie Centre. He died a few weeks later. No word if malnutrition was a contributing factor. RIP.

The Friday night before last, I bought a dinner and I couldn't believe it: there was a scoop of carrot-spinach salad (hardly any spinach) with dressing, and a bowl of beans, almost like a soup. There was a sugary dessert too (although they put less sugar in their desserts than most cafeterias) but I asked to substitute a banana.

The place was deserted. When I grabbed a tray and stood by the steam trays deciding what to order, I was the only one there, where there would have been a line-up in the past. I sat in the dining area, eating and looking around. There was nobody to talk to; many of the people I've known over the years have been barred, never to return. It felt like Stalin's dining table, where historians report it was not uncommon for somebody who had been a regular to suddenly get extinguished under suspicion of not being a party-liner, never to return.

An extra 25 cents per meal is a lot to ask from people who have $150 a month to live on after their rent is paid (some have as little as $50 after their rent is paid; others have several hundred if they are on a disabled welfare rate.) There has been no 25% raise for welfare recipients or for the working poor.

Here's an example of Whitty's management wizardry, why she is, to borrow a phrase recently used by Penny Ballem, "paid the big bucks". Earlier this year, before deciding that the cafeteria couldn't function without the poor forking over an extra 25 cents per meal, Whitty hired two new cafeteria cashiers at union wages. Those jobs were previously performed by volunteers (getting work experience.) The new cashiers, Teo and Brent, are arguably less personable than the volunteers were. Teo has been named in a criminal complaint about activities at Carnegie.

I knew Whitty must be in a financial squeeze when a few months ago I saw the wheels of her propaganda machine turning. A two page colour spread appeared in the Province newspaper promoting the Carnegie cafeteria as the best thing for the poor. (There had previously been a big spread in the Vancouver Sun when the Carnegie street workers/police informants were facing cuts.) It was such puff piece that "Advertisement" should have been printed in small type at the top of the page. The reporter quoted cafeteria co-ordinator Catriona Moore saying there should be more cafeterias of this type in the City. A colour photo of Moore in the kitchen accompanied the story.

Whitty was also interviewed for the piece and couldn't conceal her attitude that Downtown Eastsiders are lepers: "They come, we accept them, we feed them." Here's the truth: "They come, we abuse them, and we are feeding them less and less."

The cafeteria is one of the few services at Carnegie, a Centre with a budget of over $3 million. (The Learning Centre is run separately by Capilano College, and the Carnegie Library is run by the Vancouver Public Library.) Most of the $3 million goes to Whitty and her paypals. How many highly paid City staff does it take to turn on a television in the basement day after day after day? None actually; they've delegated that job to a volunteer.

Time to trim the fat and put the food back on the plates.

Confidentiality Laws Ignored under Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty

It was a test. When a barring at Carnegie occurred in April 2010, a decision was made by the victim not to tell anybody. The goal was to expose the level of disregard for privacy law under Ethel Whitty.

Word spread fast. Within days, all staff in the cafeteria knew and soon the customer base got wind of it.

Five months have gone by. This weekend, the victim of the barring reportedly heard residents of her apartment building, one of whom works at Carnegie, talking about it.

An estimated 200 Carnegie members a year are victims of this reckless disregard for British Columbia's tough privacy laws.

Carnegie staff even attempted to get the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog to print material about female Carnegie members. They wanted women who had been barred or spoken up about undemocratic practices inside Carnegie to be identified -- they sent the DTES Enquirer the names of these women -- and they wanted them publicly labelled "barnyard animals" and "nudie lesbians". City Manager Penny Ballem was aware that this was occuring. So was Councilor Raymond Louie.

Whitty vigorously enforces privacy laws when it comes to staff at Carnegie, but not the clientele. At one point Whitty attempted to pass a motion at a Board meeting to prevent the names of staff from being mentioned at committee meetings where a complaint lodged against them was being discussed. When then Board member Rachel Davis objected, Whitty asked her why staff where "fair game", to which Davis responded that she resented the implication that she was viewing staff as prey to be hunted.

Contrast Whitty's protectiveness of staff with her attitude that a Carnegie member can be told that they are barred by a dumpster diver or some other person on the street who was told by Carnegie staff or who overheard Carnegie staff talking about it. One guy learned while eating dinner at the Evelyn Saller Centre that he was barred from Carnegie. Another guy dropped in to Carnegie to buy a tea and heard Security boss Skip Everall openly conspiring with a coffee shop volunteer to bar a member. "You're barred,", the tea buyer told the member on a Saturday night outside Carnegie. A meeting was held with Whitty about that breach of confidentiality; two years have passed and Everall has not been held accountable and Whitty has yet to even respond to the complaint.

The privacy of Carnegie staff is so fiercely protected that if a member lays a complaint with a security guard about physical aggression by a staff person -- there is plenty of staff aggression; ask the skateboarder who got thrown onto the marble floor by 3 security guards for bending the rules by using a pull-cart to return his library books -- they will be scolded by Security boss Skip Everall for doing so. Everall considers reporting staff to a security guard to be a breach of staff privacy. Complaints about staff must must be directed to Assistant Manager Dan Tetrault, Everall has asserted, and if a member feels at physical risk by a staff person, they are expected to wait until Tetrault docks his yacht and returns to work on his next scheduled shift. Security guards at Carnegie offer class-selective security, just as privacy laws are applied in a class-selective manner at Carnegie.

Whitty can't have it both ways. Carnegie is classified as a social service provider rather than a community centre, possibly as a means of maximizing funding, getting grants, etc. But most people use Carnegie as a community centre, dropping in to get a bite to eat in the cafeteria, use the Music program, check out books or use computers in the library. There are no social services being provided. But there is a social service mentality encouraged by Whitty and the staff; Whitty pushed to hire a security boss from a mental hospital, which revealed how she wanted people treated. The social service agency classification though would require that Whitty and her staff be particularly vigilant in ensuring that personal information about members is handled in a manner consistent with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. She ignores the Act.

Whitty has a license to practice as a social worker. Time it was revoked.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mayor Robertson has begun to "question how worthwhile democracy is"

The Province newspaper began today's editorial by calling Mayor Gregor Robertson, Gregor "Robinson". But after that stumble, they quoted Robertson admitting on his trip to China that he finds democracy frustrating:

"You can be critical of lots of regimes around the world and you can question how worthwhile democracy is in a lot of countries right now which frankly are ignoring the biggest crisis in the history of our species with climate."

Robertson commended the Chinese government for taking "dramatic action" on the environment", unlike "Western governments right now, democratically elected, because they're afraid."

This is not the first time Robertson has revealed that the messiness of democracy does not appeal to him. Earlier this year, we heard him dismiss citizens turning out to a City Council meeting to provide input as "hacks". And we are still waiting for him to lift the barring of democratically-elected Board member William Simpson from Carnegie Centre. Simpson has served a three year sentence. What does the Mayor feel would be an adequate sentence for daring to get elected? And we're still waiting for the Mayor to fire Ethel Whitty for abusing civil liberties and then covering her tracks with misinformation.

Mayor Robertson is afraid.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

An Ellen Sighting

I spotted City Counselor Ellen Woodsworth looking snazzy this afternoon in her black and white knit jacket and black pants, with her galpal, as I darted into Carnegie.

Crossed my mind that Woodsworth may have taken time out from her schedule to work on the damage control strategy being used by Ethel Whitty and Skip Everall as they continue their undemocratic barring policy at Carnegie. It's a strategy that no doubt needs to be tweaked now that they've been exposed as far away as China for allegedly manufacturing evidence to justify banning political critics from City services at Carnegie.

It's a fraud scandal that has been weighing like an iron rice bowl on Mayor Robertson's head as he tries to pass himself off in China as an upstanding business broker.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marilyn WhiskeyJack's Murderer Could be Back on Downtown Eastside Streets Soon

Terry Allan Herman had 67 previous convictions before he murdered Marily WhiskeyJack at Main Rooms at 117 Main St. (next to the old UBC Learning Exchange) on Sept. 14, 2007. Herman, 38, was found guilty of manslaughter in June, 2010 at his trial for WhiskeyJack's death.

Herman, a big man with short dark hair and glasses, represented himself today at his sentencing hearing in New Westminster Supreme Court. "I have nothing to say," he told the judge.

Herman and WhiskeyJack, 42, had lived together briefly at Main Rooms when they had a fight and he stabbed her in the back of the leg three times. He cut a major artery, then took off, leaving her calling out for help. It took just minutes for her to bleed to death.

You may see this guy on the streets of the Downtown Eastside soon. Crown prosecutor Joanna Medjuck recommended a ten year sentence, minus 68 months credit for time served.

Seventeen of his previous offences were violent.

Members of WhiskeyJack’s family -- she had five children -- including her son and mother came to the sentencing hearing. Her oldest son Jerry told the court that his mother's death had been hard on the family, plunging it into grief.

Herman will be sentenced on Sept. 21.

I used to see the name WhiskeyJack on the list of people who had mail waiting for them at the front desk of Carnegie Centre.

Last May, as the trial was about to begin, Marilyn WhiskeyJack's son, Jerry, sent us a post recalling the day he learned of his mother's death:

Dear Judge,

It has been a very hard couple years. Our family is trying to deal with this tragedy. I remember when the phone call came in, it felt like a movie. I was in my room watching tv. when the phone rang, I knew something was wrong, the whole house was silent, You could hear a pin drop, My grandmother let out a scream, that gave me goosebumps, my throat swelled up as I ran upstairs. She fell into the couch, clutching the phone. I picked it up to hear and officer telling me that " my mother had passed away". Marilyn Whiskeyjack was a mother of 5 children. I as the oldest had to tell all my siblings, that our mother had been taken away from us. We never lived with her, cause of her addiction, but we all had close contact with her. At our awake, in native tradition, we sit with the body for three days before. Remembering her. The looks on all my brothers and sisters faces, was excruciating. We baried her, in the cemetary. I still remember when I shovelled dirt onto her coffin, I felt empty. This tragedy has been very painful on our whole family. Marilyn was not a rich person. She was not even an important person in most peoples eyes. But she was very Important to us. I never want anyone to feel the way our family feels. We lost someone, that had alot of years ahead of her. She didn't die, from a freak accident, she was taken away from us by someones hands. Someone that didnt know that she had children. Today, Marilyn would of been a grandmother of two babys. One was born two weeks ago, the other was born a month ago. I leave it in your hands, I know that you will find it in you to come out with the right decision. Our family doesn't want this to happen to another family.

Thank you,
Jerry WhiskeyJack (son)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

VPD Assault 65 yr. old Woman Over Eight Cent Tomato

Years ago, a native guy told me, "People think the police are goody goody but they're not, you know." After living for years on the Downtown Eastside, I do know. I have seen enough to know that the police are abusive with Downtown Eastsiders. Here's a message we got from Audrey Laferriere, a Downtown Eastsider who ran in the last civic election and got a lot of votes for an independent:

"You might want to write up about what happened to me on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. But first phone Sunrise-Soya to confirm. I was beat up by the security guard for Sunrise and the VPD for alledgedly stealing a eight cent tomato. I might have just forgotten what happened if it wasn't for the fact that I am still in pain from the use of excessive force by the authorities. After the police harmed me, charged me for theft, then after they searched me they found the receipt for eight cents. I am an old woman (65) and I do not appreciate being treated like a rag doll being flung in a backroom against a mountain of produce boxes over a eight cent tomato. And the worse part was no one apologized after the incident."

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.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Vancouver Library Eliminates Public Computers for Seniors at Carnegie

A million dollars worth of City management staff put their heads together and decided that the popular public computers in the Carnegie Seniors Lounge that had been going full tilt 13 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the past 15 years, were best eliminated.

Those computers were one of the most in-demand services in the Centre. People would sign up and sit and wait for half an hour or more for their turn. Ever notice the crowd on the front steps of Carnegie in the morning when you drive by on your way to work? They're not all buying drugs; some are waiting for a security guard to swing the doors open at 9 a.m., so they can rush past him and dash downstairs to the basement Seniors Lounge and get onto a computer, ahead of the next guy. People use those computers to check email and to look for jobs on sites such as Craig's list.

But those computers had become a source of embarrassment to the million dollars worth of City Hall and Carnegie management staff, from Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty to City Manager Penny Ballem, who have been exposed for allowing security to block access to them as punishment for free speech. This harassment of people who speak up has been previously documented on this blog so I won't go over it again. But the VPL librarian, Beth Davies, and her supervisors in the VPL administration have colluded with this withholding of library services -- often it involves blocking access to the entire VPL branch at Carnegie for months or years -- and this removal of VPL computers looks like an extension of that collusion.

Now that the internet-surfing poor will have little reason to show up at the Lounge, the poor who operate more within the comfort zone of CUPE and City management will have the lounge to themselves. You can find them sitting in there any afternoon staring at the big tv, filling in the gaps between welfare cheques and staff pay cheques. Movies made available in this City government Lounge generally fall into the range of cowboys, gangsters, and that new federal government category, "busty hookers."

Now that VPL computer access in the Lounge has been eliminated in favor of allowing big screen TV access to predominate, it's important that the savings be passed on to taxpayers. The computers and the steady stream of people who came to the Centre to use them were under the supervision of Seniors Co-ordinator, Marlene Trick (formerly exposed for supervising the City's now defunct "Teddy Bear Picnics" for full grown functional adults.)

The computer program in the Seniors Lounge was also a rich source of make-work projects for Security guards who would be called to infantalize computer users who stood up to the belligerant coffee-seller, a ritual which involved security guards writing "incident reports" and executing barrings as punishments, and holding follow-up meetings. All of this will be gone now, meaning that less labour hours will be needed for the co-ordinator to co-ordinate and security guards to punish.

The cramped computer room by the bathroom at the back of the third floor at Carnegie remains open. In fact the computers in there have been replaced with new ones. But Seniors have to compete with other age groups to get onto a computer there, increasing the number of people on the waiting list. People sitting in the waiting area for their name be called to get onto a computer can sometimes get frustrated and ask the monitor questions like, "How much longer do you think I'll have to wait?," and some monitors -- not all -- get annoyed at the ongoing pressure and if a disagreement ensues, security may be called.

This tension can be expected to increase with the elimination of Seniors' computers by the million dollar management, which of course includes CUPE's Dan Tetrault who is Assistant Manager at Carnegie and, like BP CEO Tony Hayward, has a yacht which can be helpful for clearing the head of the problems of the "small people".

Monday, June 14, 2010

Blogger Assaulted by CUPE Representative

When a CUPE representative abuses a blogger, does anybody see? The above video of a CUPE representative roughing up a pro-Israel blogger last month for using a video camera at a rally, was posted on YouTube. But the public generally doesn't see video footage of abuse tactics employed by CUPE members against people who don't share their political views.

Certainly the public doesn't see CUPE abuses of people at Carnegie Centre who dare speak to bloggers who criticize CUPE, people who are almost without exception too poor to afford lawyers. These people can get roughed up physically by CUPE "security" at Carnegie, but more often they are simply targeted for permanent removal from this taxpayer funded Centre.

I was reminded of what is not being seen when Pivot Legal Society announced they had been granted a hearing at the BC Human Rights Tribunal on May 31, 2010 about "removals" of poor people from public spaces. Pivot's complaint was not about Carnegie. It was about removals by the Downtown Ambassadors who work for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association. The Ambassadors earn lower salaries than CUPE members -- a welfare recipient who takes a security guard course can sometimes get a job strutting around in an Ambassador uniform -- who guide tourists and ask the poor and downtrodden or addicted to stop sitting in doorways, on sidewalks, or on benches, to leave and not return.

These "removals" by Ambassadors from public spaces no doubt do constitute Charter violations, but the Ambassadors will have to work to catch up to CUPE members who have been performing these "removals" for thirty years at Carnegie Centre. CUPE members at Carnegie keep a gigantic black binder documenting such "removals", on the front reception desk, like a trophy. A victim's account of a removal -- they call them "barrings" at Carnegie -- is not considered a necessary addition to the binder. When Pivot was asked to help put a stop to these abuses, after CUPE "security" executed the removal of an elected official who happened to be poor and homeless and didn't happen to share their politics, a female Pivot lawyer refused to challenge Carnegie, saying, "But they're our friends."

The Downtown Ambassadors are not Pivot's friends....because they are not CUPE's friends. The Downtown Ambassadors are infringing on CUPEs turf. The job description of the Ambassadors, according to the website of the DVBIA, is to complete "daily incident reports on issues attended to". That's what CUPE members at Carnegie do -- not only Carnegie "security" staff but Carnegie street workers too, some of whom have been caught working with police to deter criticism of CUPE members. If anybody is going to be restricting the civil liberties of the poor, or kicking the arses of bums, let it be somebody paying CUPE union dues, or CUPE will fight it like it's contracting out.

Former Pivot Executive Director, David Eby, was criticized last year in the comment section of Jamie Lee Hamilton's blog, Oldtown, for ignoring rampant civil liberties abuses at Carnegie. Eby responded that Pivot could not tackle all of the problems in the Downtown Eastside. He's right. But Carnegie Centre is considered "the livingroom" of the Downtown Eastside, a pivotal institution. Pivot has to really work not to see the human rights abuses going on there.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Guy at Carnegie was Right about Cleaning Up the Oil Spill

Last night Richard Hoagland, a former science reporter for Walter Cronkite, was on Coast to Coast explaining that the BP oil spill can be cleaned up using oil-eating microbes. It's a process called bio-remediation. It works, he said. It was done 20 years ago in Texas.

Hoagland asked listeners to e-mail the White House recommending that they try this.

I actually first learned that microbes could clean up an oil spill from a guy at Carnegie last month.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hamburger Helper

Have you heard the one about the guy who got barred from Carnegie Centre for the crime of free speech in the theater program?

A woman eating with us on Sunday night at Carnegie said she had run into a guy at Tim Hortons who she used to see at Carnegie a lot. I recognized his name, but I won't use it. She asked him why he didn't come to Carnegie much any more. He said he couldn't stand the dirty politics, that it was run like "a kingdom" for staff. And he said he had been barred a couple of years ago for speaking up.

He was barred when he spoke up about the fact that Jay Hamburger, who was paid to spend a few hours a week working on lefty theater productions with the poor, was charging people $20 to enter their theater script in a contest. The winner got money. The guy who was barred took the position that marginalized people shouldn't be asked to fork over $20. Carnegie is after all richly funded to provide programs to low income people.

I won't know until I get a chance to interview the guy whether Hamburger, who was not a regular well-paid employee but was paid $12 an hour in grant money, arranged for him to be barred. My guess is that Hamburger did not explicitly say,"Bar this man!" There is no need to. Staff know that security guards will apply the one size fits all solution -- "You're barred!" -- to poor people who aren't pushovers.

Barrings generally work this way: a low income Carnegie member raises a concern with a staff person and is brushed off; they exhibit perseverence, a trait considered healthy in the population at large but not in the Carnegie low income population; the staff person doesn't want to have to do the work of communicating so they raise their voice slightly to announce, "I'm calling security." The task of communicating is then off loaded to a security guard who often has little education and even less communication skills, and can be counted on to do what's quick and easy.

Barring has become a staff convenience.

CBC: Biased Coverage of Israel

Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers

Today, as I listened to CBC Radio coverage of deaths on an aid ship to Gaza boarded by Israelis, I got the impression that Israeli soldiers were senseless murderers whom the world needed to keep in check. I knew there must be a lot not being said. So I looked to see what truepeers at Covenant Zone blog had to say and found the above video.

Coast to Coast radio had fair and balanced coverage of this incident this evening. Host George Noory, who is of Lebanese-Christian heritage, asked a good question: Since Turkey knew that Israel was allowing aids ships to Gaza (after first checking them for weapons), and this ship left from Turkey, why didn't Turkey tell the Israelis that this was an aid ship? It's as if they wanted this incident to happen.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"We're fuckin' closed!": Courtesy of a Carnegie Cafeteria Cashier

Message from Dan Tetrault of the City of Vancouver: a man can abuse a woman at Carnegie and it's not a problem.

The attitude of Carnegie management is that we won't talk about abuse, we'll keep it quiet, keep it in the "family" -- successive Carnegie managements have actually referred to Carnegie members they are regularly stripping of human rights as "family".

A couple of months ago, I asked a Carnegie member if anything had come of her complaint about verbal abuse by a Carnegie cashier. "Nothing," she said. Unless something has been done since I last talked to her, the one year anniversary of the City stalling on that complaint is just around the corner.

The incident with the cashier occurred at the beginning of a long weekend last year. The Carnegie member walked into the cafeteria, the door was open; it wasn't closing time, but she had no way of knowing that staff were closing so that they could presumably sneak out early. A relatively new cashier, Brent, marched up to her and barked, "We're fuckin' closed!"

Since abuse by staff was becoming a recurring problem, she reported the incident to a security guard and asked that he ensure it not happen again. The security guard was new on the job and he was considering writing up an Incident Report. He opened up the black binder on the front desk where Incident Reports are filed, when Head of Security Skip Everall, came along and intervened.

Everall held the huge black security binder in the air -- it's attached to the front desk with a chain -- and slammed it shut by the ear of the female member. (She has become accustomed to physical aggression from Everall. Last summer, she walked by his office where he was on the phone and he got up and slammed the plate glass door closed.) Later, as she talked to Everall at his offfice, he scolded her for making a complaint to a security guard about Brent. "You shouldn't be talking to security about him!", he told her. She responded that if a man walks up to her and curses in her face, she had every right to talk to a security guard.

Everall told her that a complaint about staff must not be mentioned to a security guard, that it could only be heard by a bureaucrat, Dan Tetrault. Tetrault, the Asst. Director on the third floor, has a reputation for covering for fellow CUPE members. He after all stood on picket lines with them during the last strike. It's a situation of gross conflict of interest. I have never known one complainant who got a satisfactory result.

Further, to talk to Tetrault about a complaint, a complainant might have to wait days for him to come to work, especially if the abuse occurs on a weekend -- Carnegie is open 7 days a week -- or, in this case, at the beginning of a long weekend.

The female Carnegie member put her complaint in writing, got Everall to initial her copy, and got a verbal promise that he would pass it on to Tetrault. She was fair in the complaint, saying that this was the first time he had been rude to her. (She believes he was motivated by the fact that she had raised concerns about another staff person's conduct. It is common for CUPE members at Carnegie to mistreat people who have complained about one of their fellow CUPE members.)

Tetrault has never responded to that complaint. It disappeared into thin air. The anniversary of it's disappearance is coming up.

Tetrault's suppression of that complaint about verbal abuse by Brent, must be contrasted with his past conduct. Tetrault previously demonstrated that he supports the use of the draconian tactic of "barring" as a means of teaching a woman the lesson that raising her voice to an abusive man to tell him that she is tired of his abuse -- she talked back to Devor, the coffee seller, "Coffee Nazi", in the Seniors Lounge who yells at hundreds of people a year -- is not an acceptable response, even if he is yelling at her at the top of his lungs.

By not dealing with the abuse complaint, Tetrault sent the wrong message to Brent. Brent has been rude to her every time she has attempted to use the cafeteria since. City Manager Penny Ballem was told about Brent's conduct and the fact that it was part of a pattern of retaliation (which has more recently included assault) to deter members from raising concerns about staff. Ballem did nothing, except pass the buck to Brenda Procten who in turn did nothing.

Total bill: half a million dollars in salaries for these people.

Engulfed in Golf

I watched the Gulf oil spill out of the corner of my eye for the first few weeks, avoiding looking directly at so much harm being done. Then last week, with the spill going on and on and on, I started to look at some of the coverage.

I watched a YouTube video of Bobby Jindal talking about how the federal government wasn't giving Louisiana nearly enough boom to protect their coastline. And Jindal was waiting week after week for the Feds to give permission to build islands to protect the coast. I thought of all the money sunk into Iraq every day and Obama this month promising a billion to the Mexican President, yet the people of Louisiana seemed to be being shortchanged.

"Can Obama be this politically stupid?", I thought. Am I missing something? Why isn't he doing more. He could be bringing in boom from all over the continent, even British Columbia if need be. He doesn't seem to sense the urgency of the situation.

I imagined if Sarah Palin were President, she'd go down there with her fisherman husband and the two them would be living on a houseboat until this thing was fixed. She'd be mixing with the family of the killed workers and she'd be talking to them like those deaths meant something. Obama doesn't do that; he's coming across like a detached preppy kid who was raised, as Mordecai Richler once said of his own sons, "with too much privilege".

It will be a decade before I'll eat any seafood from that Gulf region. I was listening to Coast to Coast a few nights ago and Howard Bloom was interviewd -- he comments on science and space exploration issues -- about the oil dispersant being used by BP in this spill. He said that dispersant was so toxic that after the Exon-Valdez spill, Alaska announced they would never use it there again. In fact, Bloom said, it was banned in the U.S. by the FDA. The ban was lifted on May 2 of this year. I felt exasperated that hundreds of thousands of gallons of that poison were being dumped in the water by BP. And maybe it wasn't even necessary.

It sounded to me like the dispersant was partly a political ploy. Bloom said that all it succeeded in doing was ensuring that the oil wasn't visible, that it didn't surface. The result, he said, was a massive accumulation of oil under water. I wonder if it would be better to let it surface and then suck it up. But Obama doesn't have the tankers there to do the job, unlike the Saudis who used an American company, WOW Environmental Solutions, to suck up oil spills with tankers and super tankers.

I was talking to a guy at Carnegie last night about the machines that actor Kevin Costner helped finance the development of, machines that can clean up oil spills by using centrifuge to separate the oil and water, spewing out water that's 97% clean on one side and oil that can be salvaged on the other side. The guy at Carnegie has worked for an environmental clean-up company and he knew about that process, but he didn't seem worried about the effect of the oil spill on the coastline.

He said that was not a pristine coastline to begin with, that environmentalists have been complaining about agricultural run-off from Mississippi poisoning it. He also told me that in Alaska, they found that the areas that did best after the spill were those that had not been cleaned up, areas where the bacteria had been allowed to work on the oil. I don't know what to think.

Today I saw a video of a fisherman out on the water. He dipped a bucket into the water and showed the greasy thickness of it. He was talking about the fish banging up against his boat, out of their heads jumping and lurching trying to get enough air to survive.

I was relieved today to see a YouTube video of James Carville, a spin-doctor under Clinton, forgetting about spin and speaking the truth about Obama's utter "political stupidity". Carville grew up in Louisiana, in a place named Carville after his grandfather, and demanded that Obama get "down here" and get on top of this thing.

I thought of comments a former preppy buddy of Obama's made last year. This guy had gone to an expensive private school with Obama in Hawaii. He knew him as "Barry" and had lost touch with him, but recognized him when he turned up as a presidential candidate. He mentioned Obama's lack of work ethic. He said he and Obama would go surfing everyday after school and hadn't done much homework. He said they had done the work assigned to them, but just enough to get by.

You can still see that "just enough" trait in Obama. During his brief experience in government before running for President, he had a record of simply showing up and voting, "Present" on serious issues that he should have done some homework on. And now, as the biggest environmental calamity in U.S. history unfolds, Obama doesn't even show up much; he showed up yesterday after Carville made such a fuss on television that he had to put in an appearance. Obama's preference isn't surfing now though. He was photographed golfing.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Entire TD Bank Window Lies on Sidewalk

Look at the amount of glass on the sidewalk. On Sunday, May 23 at 12:30 a.m., a couple of Vancouver Police officers were standing outside the TD bank on Main St. at Pender, and more officers were walking around inside, surveying the damage.

Thanks to Terry for sending us the photo.

The real story here is that the two officers didn't interfere with the photographer. Under Chief Jim Chu, the VPD have regularly harassed and too often phyically assaulted photographers. A woman using her cell phone to photograph police taking a man down outside the No. 5 Orange earlier this year is suing the City of Vancouver, alleging that Vancouver Police officers tackled her and broke her nose.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

If you're Poor, Eat Molasses

Seems everybody and his dog on the Downtown Eastside has a diagnosis of Bi-Polar Disorder. I don't. But because I've known so many people with this diagnosis, I was fascinated by an interview with Dr. John Gray on Coast to Coast a few days ago. Gray believes he has a cure for Bi-Polar; then he caught himself and said he's not allowed to actually call it a "cure".

Gray believes bi-polar is caused by our high carbohydrate diets which require a lot of lithium to process, leaving us lithium depleted. Lithium is, of course, prescribed for people with bi-polar but in doses which Gray says are toxic. Gray has had good results giving lithium supplements to both adults and children with bi-polar symptoms. He says the best supplement to take is Lithium Oratol, but it is only available in the U.S.; it's not approved in Canada. Lithium is available in common foods though: eggs, potatoes, lemons, seaweed. Drinking a lot of coffee can drain lithium from the body too.

Carbs. Coffee. That sounds like the diet of many Downtown Eastsiders, especially people who eat at the free joints. In fact, povertarians such as UBC Learning Exchange management use the bottomless cup of free coffee as bait to get people into their facility, and get their sign-in numbers up to maximize funding. Learning Exchange Director Margo Fryer, health-conscious vegan that she is, gives the lumpen proletarians a bucket of powdered coffee creamer loaded with refined sugars and worse, that you can bet she would never allow to cross her own lips.
Last night, I ran into a friend coming from the Salvation Army soup truck and he had a load of carbs in his hands: buns and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. At the Carnegie cafeteria, the co-ordinator Catriona does a good job of keeping refined sugar to a minimum, but the food there isn't free.

Dr. Gray was also talking during the radio interview about super foods like Goji berries and Maca. I like Maca, which is a root eaten by the Inca in Peru for centuries; I put it in shakes. Gray was saying that he takes a Korean herb which has kept his testosterone levels the same at age 58 as they were at 30, when he first had them tested.

If you're "very poor", said Gray, and can't afford super foods, just take a teaspoon of Blackstrap molasses after every meal, even two teaspoons. He said molasses will give you many of the minerals you need. (I would check with a doctor first, if you're diabetic, because molasses could spike your blood sugar.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rush Hour Traffic Stopped to Protest Closure of Health Contact Centre

At rush hour on Monday, traffic was stopped at Main & Hastings by people protesting the closure of the nearby Health Contact Centre. There was another planned for Tuesday afternoon outside the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. Protesters were chanting, "Save the Contact Centre, the Contact Centre Saves Lives."

Those povertarian jobs are union which is why the BCGEU yellow flags were there.

I was only at the Health Contact Centre a couple of times, when it first opened. I remember they had a gigantic board on the wall listing the programs they offered. One was knitting classes. I remember they also had free peppermint tea, that you could help yourself to.
I went there because a friend and his pals used to sit in there in the evening and use their laptops and he asked me to help him fix his laptop. So we went in there and sat in an empty room, one that musicians usually used. We were in there no more than 5 minutes and a woman who worked there came by and yelled at us to get out of that room. She was a real bull, just another abusive povertarian with zero communication skills.

There may have been some good going on in the Health Contact Centre; I didn't see it. I knew a guy who seemed to enjoy playing music in there at night after he left Carnegie.

There was definitely a nanny state function to the place. I saw that when I talked to an acquaintance who lived in a room on the Downtown Eastside with his wife. He used to be a fisherman and lived up Vancouver Island in a town that he said "went ghost". He and his wife started doing crack and had their last kid taken away, a kid they had named "Chance", as they considered him their last chance. They were hustlers and quite high functioning when it came to earning extra cash to top up their welfare. Anyway, he told me that his wife had told him to drop by the Health Contact Centre and get some sanitary napkins 'cause they were giving them out free, and why buy them if you can score them for free. So he went over there and came back with eight. Eight from the nanny state.

Now people have to walk all the way over to Oppenheimer Park to load up on free sanitary napkins. I guess that's what Coastal Health meant when they said services were being duplicated.

I got the impression the Contact Centre had shrunk when I looked in the door more recently, but I didn't pay much attention. I did notice Mark Townsend, who along with his wife is co-director of the Portland Hotel Society [PHS] which runs the Downtown Eastside poverty industry like a company town, quoted in the newspaper as saying that the Contact Centre was the size of a "postage stamp". He said it was too small to be a longterm drop-in centre, so he supported the closure. What he didn't mention was that the funding for the Contact Centre is being transferred to the LifeSkills Centre. Guess who runs the LifeSkills centre? Mark Townsend and the PHS.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Marilyn WhiskeyJack's Son Recalls the Day he Learned his Mother had been Murdered

Marilyn WhiskeyJack was murdered at Main Rooms in the Downtown Eastside in Sept. 2007. Her son Jerry WhiskeyJack sent the following message to us recalling the day he learned of his mother's death and his hope that justice will be done.

Dear Judge,

It has been a very hard couple years. Our family is trying to deal with this tragedy. I remember when the phone call came in, it felt like a movie. I was in my room watching tv. when the phone rang, I knew something was wrong, the whole house was silent, You could hear a pin drop, My grandmother let out a scream, that gave me goosebumps, my throat swelled up as I ran upstairs. She fell into the couch, clutching the phone. I picked it up to hear and officer telling me that " my mother had passed away". Marilyn Whiskeyjack was a mother of 5 children. I as the oldest had to tell all my siblings, that our mother had been taken away from us. We never lived with her, cause of her addiction, but we all had close contact with her. At our awake, in native tradition, we sit with the body for three days before. Remembering her. The looks on all my brothers and sisters faces, was excruciating. We baried her, in the cemetary. I still remember when I shovelled dirt onto her coffin, I felt empty. This tragedy has been very painful on our whole family. Marilyn was not a rich person. She was not even an important person in most peoples eyes. But she was very Important to us. I never want anyone to feel the way our family feels. We lost someone, that had alot of years ahead of her. She didn't die, from a freak accident, she was taken away from us by someones hands. Someone that didnt know that she had children. Today, Marilyn would of been a grandmother of two babys. One was born two weeks ago, the other was born a month ago. I leave it in your hands, I know that you will find it in you to come out with the right decision. Our family doesn't want this to happen to another family.

Thank you,
Jerry WhiskeyJack (son)

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.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

UBC Learning Exchange Cleans Up

Photo: George, who the Learning Exchange forces to stand outside on the sidewalk.

Computer aid or Molly maid?

Have you ever read one of the media interviews granted by UBC Learning Exchange Director Margo Fryer, assuring funders and taxpayers that the Exchange is helping Downtown Eatsiders. In a Globe & Mail interview, Fryer said she learned so much from "troubled" people and that there is really little difference between the homeless and the rest of us, other than a bed. Well, there is only one troubled person who goes to the Learning Exchange and that is homeless George Cartier with his shopping cart. They make him stand out front on the sidewalk. Priceless.

But other Downtown Eastsiders are spending more time out front on the sidewalk too. They have been locked out every Monday since March 8th, under the pretense that Co-ordinator Dionne Pilan had to write two grant applications. Those grant apps are taking a looooooong time.

But after Pilan spends a day without Downtown Eastsiders, it must be tempting to take another. She put a poster on the door, "Closed Tues. April 20 for Spring Cleaning". That meant staff were getting essentially a four day weekend, time when they didn't have to work with the clientele they are funded to work with.

When Pilan and Fryer decided to lock Downtown Eastsiders out last Tuesday, they didn't choose just any Tuesday. They chose the busiest day of the month, the Tuesday before welfare cheque Wednesday, when it is common for people to be broke and eager to occupy themselves working on computers. The Learning Exchange opened again on Welfare Wednesday, the slowest day of the month, the day when most people have shopping to get done and errands to run.

UBC has 17 staff persons working for the Learning Exchange, many of them fundraising. Because every day, the Learning Exchange is cleaning up.


In February, I was walking out of Nester's Market in the Woodwards building and saw a fire across the street. It was apparently a simulated fire in the Simon Fraser University art studio
New SFU studios will be opening in the Woodwards building.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Get a Cash Advance on Your Welfare Cheque

A woman on the Downtown Eastside -- actually she is a "trans" something or other, a man dressed as a woman -- told me that at Pigeon Park Savings people can get a cash advance on their welfare cheque. On the Tuesday before welfare Wednesday, you can get a $20 advance. But you have to be an established customer in good standing, she said.

Another Downtown Eastsider who lives at the Cobalt Hotel has since confirmed the existance of the $20 cash advance. He said his friend gets it every month.

Pigeon Park Savings is operated by VanCity at Hastings and Columbia on the Downtown Eastside. I guess they know their customer base and they're meeting their needs.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kim Kerr's Defense: BC Housing Didn't Give DERA Enough Money

The Statement of Defence was filed on Thursday in the BC Housing v. DERA Housing case. Thanks to a reader who sent us this update:

"Cameron Ward (lawyer) is pleading if Kim Kerr was corrupt (that is, not doing what he should ) then it was because BC Housing did not give him enough money to do his job so he had to cook the books. The DTES housing providers are going to love this as all they do is complain about lack of funding and Kim is going to become their champion. Commit fraud and become the poster child of the DTES."

Human Rights Trial Wrap-Up: When is a Comic Not a Comic?

Photo: Painting behind chair in which adjudicator Murray Geiger-Adams sat at BC Human Rights Tribunal while hearing lesbian's complaint against comic

When is a comic not a comic? When he takes insults about "dykes" and "c*nts" off stage, when he twice marches over to the table of two lesbians in the audience, when he later grabs the sunglasses off the head of one of the lesbians after insulting her at the bar, when he hollers at the lesbians outside as they leave the restaurant, prompting one of their heterosexual female companions to holler back, "Hate speech is not free speech." That was the position taken by Devyn Cousineau, lawyer for one of the lesbians, Lorna Pardy, at the BC Human Rights Tribunal during closing arguments on Friday, April 9th.

Comic Guy Earle says he was a comic that night at Zesty’s restaurant as he hurled insults – he admits to the insults and to grabbing and breaking the sunglasses — at the lesbians. Earle’s lawyer, James Millar, said during a media scrum after he walked out of the Tribunal on the first day, that Earle’s right to freedom of expression as a performer is protected under Canada’s Charter of Rights & Freedoms. Millar was clearly exasperated with the Tribunal: "They are saying essentially that artistic expression should follow the same rules as somebody slingin’ hamburgers at Mcdonalds or some other outfit. Or that the same rules that apply to waiters apply to artists in British Columbia."

Cousineau constantly attempted to demonstrate during closing arguments that Earle’s remarks to the lesbians were not artistic expression. "The attacks were not part of a comedy routine", she said, as she began outlining what she considered the "most salient parts of the facts" of the case.

The Facts as Argued by the Lawyer for Lesbian Lorna Pardy

Pardy and the women sitting with her at Zesty’s that night were, "singled out on the basis of their sex and sexual orientation" and subjected to a "brutal and hateful" attack by Guy Earle at Zesty’s restaurant on May 22, 2007.

Pardy had worked that night until 6:30 p.m. as a meteorological technician at the Vancouver airport and then joined her friends on the patio at Zesty’s restaurant on Commercial Dr. She had "no intention of seeing a comedy show."

The patio closed at 11 p.m. and the women were asked by a waitress to move inside the restaurant. When they got a table inside and were speaking to a waitress, Brandy. As the conversation went "back and forth", a second waitress joined in. There was testimony, Cousineau said, that the "women were laughing and talking."

Around this time, "Ms. Broomsgrove leaned over and kissed Ms. Pardy on the cheek."

"The reliable evidence is that the women were not ‘making out’ as some of the witnesses have suggested." Cousineau noted that "a third party" at the table, Carlin Sandor, testified that Pardy and Broomsgrove were not making out at her table, and that she would "feel quite uncomfortable with such behaviour." This evidence that Pardy and Broomsgrove were not making out is important as making out has been "pointed to by respondents as a justification" for Earle’s attack.

The kiss "appears to have drawn Mr. Earle’s attention to the women’s sexual orientation which then became the focus."

Earle then made a number of comments to the audience:

"Don’t mind the inconsiderate dyke table."

"Don’t you have a strap-on dildo that you can take your girl home and fuck her in the ass with tonight?"

"Are you on the rag? Is that why you’re such a fucking cunt?"

He continued to call the women "dykes" and "cunts" from the stage.

"No one was laughing", Cousineau said at this point. "The comedy act had stopped."

"You ruined it for everyone, you stupid dykes, you stupid c*nts." The audience was booing Mr. Earle. Ms. Pardy was booing. Nobody from Ms. Pardy’s table was shooting insults back.

"Earle heads off the stage", Cousineau says.

He heads towards Pardy’s table, with his "eyes locked on her". She felt "threatened" and "splashed" water on him as he approached.

"Why do you have to be such a f*cking c*nt?", he asked.

"She was afraid; she was smaller than him….Ms. Sandor also testified that she felt uncomfortable with Mr. Earle angrily marching toward her."

Some of the witnesses — Cousineau said she was anticipating what Earle would say here — testified that Mr. Earle wasn’t threatening. The "only person" who could say whether he was threatening, Cousineau argued, "is Pardy herself". "The other male comedians were not reliable sources as to the level of fear she was experiencing."

Mr. Earle got back on stage and again began insulting the women:

"Thanks for ruining the evening you f*cking dykes"…or "c*nts."

"You want to be a man; that’s why you’re such an @sshole."

"That table of b!tches threw water in my face."

Then to Broomsgrove, "You’re a fat and ugly dyke and no man will f*ck you."

Then he said to Pardy, "Stick a d*ck in her mouth."

Cousineau noted, "These were not part of a comedy routine and nobody testified that they were."

Earle didn’t end it there, but continued "calling them dykes and c*nts", Cousineau said.

"Ms. Pardy felt shocked and embarrassed….felt like she’d been assaulted."

"A few minutes later, again feeling threatened, she threw water at Mr. Earle, saying, ‘I told you not to come near our table.’"

"Her hands are sweating….She’s amazed no one in the restaurant would intervene."

Earle is "not on stage now."

Before Pardy, Broomsgrove, and Sandor left the restaurant, Pardy had to go to the washroom. "As she passed Mr. Earle, he called her a ‘f*cking dyke’"…. In the washroom, "She cried….She felt afraid at that point for her physical safety." When she left the washroom, "She walked past the bar", where Earle said, "You had to ruin the show, you f*cking dyke, you f*cking bitch’." …. "He broke her sunglasses….She couldn’t hear anything over the ringing in her ears."


As the women left the restaurant, "Mr. Earle was still talking to them…..Ms. Sandor said to Mr. Earle, ‘Hate speech isn’t free speech’….Mr. Earle told Zoey Bloomsgrove to fuck off. He began to follow them up the street but it appeared his friends tried to calm him down, so he didn’t."

At the end of Cousineau’s outline of what she presented as the fact of that night, Cousineau moved into her legal arguments and reiterated her position that Earle was not acting as a comic whose right to freedom of expression was guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: "My understanding is Mr. Earle says he was a comedian and this type of expression is subject to an enhanced protection under the Charter….But we have no evidence to support the argument that all or any of the expression in this case was creative expression as part of his comedy routine." She went on to say that "the abuse in this case was physical as well as verbal" and therefore not deserving of a "separate status from other harassment cases that the Tribunal hears ….where a landlord harasses his tenant in the way that we’ve heard in this case."

Non-Lawyer Sam Ismail Responds for the Defense, Accusing Lesbian of being motivated by "hatred".

One of the criticisms of the Human Rights Tribunal is that it stacks the deck by funding a lawyer for the accuser but not for the accused. Salam Ismail, who along with Earle is accused of discrimination based on "sex and sexual orientation", despite the fact that all witnesses except Pardy corroborate his claim that he was not in the restaurant when the abuse occurred, is represented by his brother, Sam Ismail, a lay person. Salam sat calmly beside Sam as Sam made little attempt to conceal his outrage, responding with a shocked expression when Cousineau stated during closing arguments that $10,000 in damages would be an appropriate award for Pardy. Sam looked at Pardy at one point and accused her of being motivated by "some kind of hatred, to destroy somebody, him and his business." "This was a huge burden on Salam for years", he added.

Sam acknowledged that without a law degree, he was no match for Cousineau, saying, "We are here to find facts; it’s not about who is smarter or who can twist an interpretation of the law."

Sam Ismail asked for an extension for submitting his written arguments and was granted one by adjudicator Murray Geiger-Adams, who previously said he has plenty of experience dealing with defendents who appear at the Tribunal without lawyers.
Sam Ismail did make few comments in response to Cousineau’s oral arguments.

Sam Ismail objected to the characterization of Pardy as an assault victim when in fact she had thrown water at Earle on two occasions that evening prior to him grabbing her sunglasses. "You say she was assaulted and she was insulted as well," Sam said. "How can that claim really be put forward by a professional person, when he was assaulted?"

“I’m not looking to defend Mr. Earle; they were both wrong”, said Sam Ismail. He added that if Salam Ismail had been in the restaurant at the time, he probably would have kicked both of them out.

Sam Ismail, speaking in broken English, also objected to an emphasis during Cousineau’s closing statement on the fact that Salam Ismail failed to create consequences for Earle after the attack. As Sam put it, "Salam wouldn’t go after the one who assaulted [Earle]. I don’t think Salam was obliged to go after that."

Sam Ismail further took exception to Cousineau’s presentation of Earle as an employee of Zesty’s in his role as MC of the ‘open mic’ comedy show the night in May 2007 when he insulted the lesbians, a status that would make Zesty’s owner Salam Ismail liable for Earle’s behaviour. Referring to the fact that the comics were given a $50 beer tab for pitchers of beer in exchange for showing up, Sam Ismail argued in slightly broken English, "Then I guess all the other comedians were employees as well, because that pitchers of beer was distributed among them." He pointed out that Earle and the other comics could not be seen as employees as their relationship with Zesty’s was so casual that Salam could not rely on them to show up, "You don’t know who your employees are if you don’t know who’s coming, who’s going, who’s going to MC the show and who’s not." He added, "It makes it very difficult for a business man to run a business when there is not a clear definition of what an employee is." He pointed out that if a definition of employee had been provided in advance, we "would not have to be here". With that comment Sam Ismail was on the same page as a real lawyer in this case, James Millar who was representing Guy Earle.

Millar had earlier attempted to put a stop to this Tribunal by going to the BC Supreme Court. The Court had in turn asked the Tribunal not to proceed with the hearing before reconsidering a few legal questions, ‘Was Earle a service-provider at Zesty’s?’, and ‘Could the service-provision section of the Human Rights Code be used to circumvent the Charter of Rights & Freedoms which guaranteed the right to freedom of expression?’ The Tribunal ignored the Supreme Court and proceeded with the Tribunal, saying they would answer the questions after the hearing. That’s the reason Millar walked out and Earle stayed at home in Ontario. "I’ve practised for 30 years and never been in a situation quite like this," Millar told the Tribunal on that first day. "You can’t put these people through it for three years and not even make a decision concerning your own jurisdiction. … It’s an abuse of process." Millar has once again headed back to the Supreme Court, asking that they find the Tribunal in "contempt".

That was one c-word Cousineau avoided mentioning in her closing statement. But she stated that it "should be common ground that the Tribunal doesn’t have jurisdiction to consider the Charter." This Tribunal cannot do the analysis, she argued, as to whether Mr. Earle’s behaviour under Section 8 of the Human Rights Code is a reasonable limit on the Charter right to freedom of expression.

It simply cannot be the case that all a respondent has to do, she argued, "is raise the Charter and the Tribunal is instantly deprived of jurisdiction". Everyone has access to the Supreme Court, she added. "Mr. Earle could go to the Court and ask that Section 8 of the [Human Rights] Code be declared unconstitutional, but merely citing the Charter cannot in and of itself deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction.""

If Ms. Pardy wins", Cousineau continued, "then that’s the point at which he would argue to the Court that Section 8 [of the Human Rights Code] is unconstitutional."MacLeans magazine had intended to make just that argument should they have lost when the BC Human Rights Tribunal held a hearing into their publishing of the article, "The Future Belongs to Islam" by Mark Steyn. Cousineau referred to that case in fact: "The Tribunal considered Charter jurisprudence which involved the Macleans article and in that case they did take into account Charter jurisprudence regarding free speech and allowed it to influence their analysis of this case." Steyn tells it more bluntly:

"Under BC’s shitty "human rights" code, Maclean’s and I were, as a point of law, guilty. So we dared them to convict. And, like all bullies when someone stands up to them, the gutless pussies wimped out. I understand Guy Earle doesn’t have as deep pockets, but he needs a support network that will make the political price too high for Commissar [Heather] MacNaughton."

The price would be too high, argued Cousineau, if Earle were allowed to walk away from Pardy’s complaint, as it would "empty the Code of it’s power".

Geiger-Adams asked Sam Ismail to consider when preparing his written arguments, "whether Mr. Earle, independent of Mr. Ismail and independent of Zesty’s, was providing a service to the public." Perhaps Geiger-Adams is trying to lower the price for Salam Ismail.