Sunday, July 06, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Last week, I attended the first board meeting held since the election of a new Carnegie Centre board in June.

I was requested to attend because a dear friend of mine Audrey LaFerriere, a senior living in Strathcona was concerned over the election and how a couple friends of hers, who are now former board members were according to Ms LaFerriere, mistreated.

The first instance of this alleged mistreatment was regarding a homeless man, Bill Simpson, formerly on the board, who by all accounts has gotten under the skin of certain Carnegie staff and board executives. Mr Simpson is outspoken and Carnegie insiders believe that Mr Simpson pens the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog which is often highly critical of Carnegie management and the board. Mr Simpson though denies writing the Enquirer.

In any case there appears to be distrust of Mr Simpson from many longstanding Carnegieites including former President Marg Prevost, editor of Carnegie News Paul R Taylor, and the now-retired movers and shakers of Carnegie, Bob Sarti and Muggs Sigurgeirson. Ms Ethel Whittey who is the paid executive director of Carnegie also by most accounts is in this camp.

Right after Mr Simpson was elected to the Carnegie board, from what I can tell, this put a number of noses out of joint. In a move to silence Mr Simpson someone made the decision to bar Mr Simpson from Carnegie. Ms Whittey in her paid position as Carnegie chief-of-staff brought down the 10-pound sledge hammer on the homeless Mr Simpson.

Since Mr Simpson was barred, he could no longer attend board meetings at Carnegie Centre. Consequently, a few board members including Ms Rachel Davis lobbied to have Mr Simpson participate in board meetings via telephone conferencing. This did not sit well with those responsible for barring Mr Simpson and you guessed it, Ms Davis due to her support of Mr Simpson was next on the chopping block.

Rachel Davis aka Rosetta Stone, is a longtime volunteer at Carnegie. She is a musician, she is caring and she is smart. Really smart. Ms Davis offers many volunteer services to Carnegie and she has befriended many of Carnegie's denizens. Simply put, Rachel is adored and respected by many members at Carnegie.

Ms Davis took up the cause of Mr Simpson and moreover, she held the feet to the fire of those running the Carnegie show. As a Carnegie board member Ms Davis pushed to ensure transparency and accountability at Carnegie. She also has the resources to ensure Carnegie follow proper procedures at the board level.

On a few occasions due to slander by Carnegie news editor, Paul R Taylor, Ms Davis has had to obtain the services of a lawyer who has written to the board expressing his legal opinion and requesting a cease and desist on Mr Taylor. This position did not endear Ms Davis to the Carnegie board and soon Ms Davis became a target.

At the board meeting in June, Ms Davis was under fire and no question there was a movement underfoot to get rid of her.

At this June 5 annual general meeting after which the 15 names of elected board members were announced, Ms Davis was not on the announced list. No surprise here. But shocking was that a proper accounting of the results was not made to the membership. This is in violation of Roberts Rules of Order which stipulate that a teller's report must be presented. This report would include number of votes cast, spoiled ballots and a tally of votes cast for each board nominee.

According to the Carnegie constitution, there also must be a question put to the membership at the AGM whether they wish a recount. This process was not followed even though many members were calling out "recount recount recount".

I spoke with the new Carnegie President, who goes by the unique name Matthew Matthew. Mr Matthew Matthew who is really likable and seems very genuine claims that according to the Carnegie constitution, making the vote known to the membership is not a requirement. He was asked by Oldtown News whether this lends itself to transparency and he referred back to his understanding of the election rules.

The problem with Mr Matthew Matthew's analysis is that there is no such clause in the by-laws of the Carnegie association which he refers to. In all likelihood what Matthew Matthew is referring to is Carnegie's own policy on elections. This policy though is not in the by-laws and therefore does not overrule Robert's Rules.

Ms LaFerriere has been shaking things up at Carnegie since the AGM. She is upset over the alleged mistreatment of Rachel Davis and Mr Simpson and has embarked on a recount campaign.

Ms Laferriere has impressively obtained the signatures of over 100 Carnegie members who are demanding a recount. Just hours before the board meeting last week, Ms LaFerriere presented a letter to the board President asking that the ballots of the AGM not be destroyed as she is and other members are seeking a recount.

At the board meeting last week Mr Matthew Matthew before the meeting commenced announced that Carnegie made a mistake and they should have asked at their AGM whether the members wanted a recount. He went on to say that a special meeting will be held on July 31 putting the question whether the members want a recount. Mr Matthew Matthew also said that 30 members must attend to achieve quorum and that a request for recount must pass by a simple majority.

Ms LaFerriere feels that this meeting will be stacked. Ms LaFerriere also states and I believe correctly that election rules stipulate upon request by members at the AGM for a recount, that a recount must be held. The rules say nothing of members needing to vote on holding a recount.

It is obvious that the board election June 5 wasn't conducted according to proper procedure or even Carnegie's own by-laws. There seems to be far too many questions unanswered which place the democracy of the election in doubt.

It would seem in all fairness and because the election was flawed and does not have the confidence of many members, that the proper course of action now is to hold another board election which adheres to proper procedures.

If Mr Matthew Matthew and his board hold to their current position there might be the perception that they won their board positions due to a rigged election.

I'm not sure Mr Matthew Matthew wants this to be his legacy at Carnegie.

My advice to Mr Matthew Matthew and for the sake of our community is to hold another election which is deemed transparent and fair.

Jamie Lee Hamilton