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)