- VERY CLOSE READING, ALOUD!
- The Portland Hotel Society: Classism Rears Its Ugly Head
- STRATHCONA COMMUNITY KITCHEN'S OPEN HOUSE
- MAPS AND MEMORIES
- Why a new residents' group?
- Hello potential ‘DTES United’ members,
- HEARING VOICES ADVOCATE
- Hello from the Library!
- Speaker Series
- Little to Celebrate
- Pivot/VANDU's Challenge to Street Vending Bylaws
- What Is The World?
- Soul Cut
- My Pleasant Story
- Portland Hotel Hired a Great Doctor
- The Portland Hotel Society
- Don’t Take It For Granted
- Newsletter Finances
(returning) VERY CLOSE READING, ALOUD!
When: Every Saturday from 12:30-2:30p.m
Where: Carnegie Centre's third floor classroom
Facilitator: Steve Wexler
What we are reading: Homer’s Odyssey and Annabel
Lyon’s The Golden Mean.
This group will meet every Saturday to read and discuss two influential texts. Homer’s classic Greek tragedy The Odyssey originates in the 8th century B.C.E. and follows Odysseus’ struggles to return home after the Trojan War and the trials of his son Telemachus in attempting to run his father’s house. The Golden Mean. by Annabel Lyon, examines/re-imagines the relationship between Alexander the Great and his teacher Aristotle. We will alternate between these texts each week. All readings will be supplied on the day of the meeting and read aloud.
[Rolf Auer, natural member of the Downtown Eastside community, community activist & quiet hero, emailed from Ottawa and asked if the Carnegie Newsletter could use an article on the Portland Hotel Society and its recent tribulations.
The Portland Hotel Society:
Classism Rears Its Ugly Head
By Rolf Auer
The Portland Hotel Society—arguably the centerpiece jewel in the golden crown of Downtown Eastside social services providers—recently underwent trial-by-fire.
Its Board of Directors—led by Mark Townsend, Liz Evans, and others—was accused by the Provincial Government, BC Housing and Vancouver Coastal Health of misappropriating funds for non-business related expenses, such as trips overseas, etc. and was forced to resign.
A new, temporary BoD has taken its place. The outstanding question is now, “What will become of the services provided by the PHS? Will these be terminated, and affected DTES residents stranded?”
Supposedly, services shouldn’t be affected. This, according to incoming BoD head Faye Wrightman. (“No plans to change Portland Hotel Services, new interim board chair says,” Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, 25 March 2014) However, subsequent to the mass resignation, Rich Coleman discontinued funding for the PHS laundry, café, and janitorial services.
Fight! Many DTES residents depend on having all the PHS services! Your neighbours, your neighbours’ children, or perhaps even you need these! Don’t let them go under without making so much as a whimper.
Some background: how this ousting of key anti-poverty advocates Townsend, Evans, etc. came about has all the hallmarks of a concerted smear job. Only nine percent of the PHS budget was in question. The perspective applied by the mainstream media—that expenses incurred by Townsend etc were frivolous—is skewed, as the other 91 percent of program spending was robust.
Actually, what apparently attracted the attention of Rich Coleman were (1) a recent, large PHS operating deficit & (2) the practice of certain PHS programs of marking up bulk-purchased goods for sale to the PHS.
The salaries of the upper PHS administration were probably greater than usual because there were no associated benefits such as pension, vacation, etc.
In the PHS audits, the supposed abused expense called “illicit limousine usage” turns out—90 percent of the time—to be routine usage of the PHS Needle Exchange Van. Obviously—to this writer, at least—certain opponents of Harm Reduction were hard at work concocting that smear. Which opponents?
When Tory Minister of Health Rona Ambrose was recently asked to define her party’s “Harm Reduction” policies, she was unable to do so. (“Canada’s health minister fails to explain Ottawa’s policies on harm reduction,” Travis Lupick, Georgia Straight, 25 March 2014) This, despite the fact that Harm Reduction falls within the purview of her ministry.
It’s well-known that the Tories—led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper—are ideologically opposed to Harm Reduction strategies, such as those exemplified by InSite and by the SALOME initiative (Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Mediation Effectiveness—that is, giving free heroin to whomever needs it, which has been amply demonstrated to cut costs in the long run). Hardly surprising, since time and again the Tories have shown that they favour punishment over compassion, even at the cost of saving lives.
How this political party—questionably in power as the result of a legally-designated “fraudulent” federal election—came to symbolize the face of Canadians is beyond the comprehension of this writer. That this happened—without so much as a whimper from Canadians—leaves this writer astonished and astounded. That this party’s deeply-flawed so-called “Fair Elections Act” is about to be foisted off on Canadians and will make hundreds of thousands of Canadians unable to vote leaves this writer wondering what happened to Canadians’ balls. Have Canadians bitten them off and thrown them at their attacker (the Tories), as legend has the beaver doing as a defense?
How much influence do the mainstream media wield over Canadians? How responsible are they for the apathetic and listless indifference demonstrated by Canadians in their political affairs?
To list only one example, consider mainstream broadsheet Toronto newspaper columnist Margaret Wente. Regarding the PHS story, she wrote a column titled, “The fall of the poverty entrepreneurs.” (Globe and Mail, 25 March 2014)
Wente wrote that the PHS is “…entirely dependent on government money.” Incorrect. In 2013, its revenues were more than $35.5 million. Sixty-one percent of that money came from government. (“Portland Hotel Society founding members resign following provincial government ultimatum,” Travis Lupick, Georgia Straight, 19 March 2014)
Wente concludes her column by asking, “What have all these millions that we’ve poured into the Downtown Eastside—and the millions more to come—really bought us…?”
If Wente had read the comments to the previously named article, the very first one would have given her the answer: “In the short but fast paced time I’ve been with the Portland I’ve witnessed more deaths & sicknesses than I will ever be able to recount and remember. I’ve watch [sic] people bleed out from stabbings, get destroyed by cars, beaten to death and overdose and die from hepatitis and aids and cancer even. Paint thinner one time. The reason I’m able after all this time, able and willing to work in this field is directly due to the support of Tom [Laviolette], Kerstine [Stuerzbecher], Liz [Evans], and Mark [Townsend]. Everytime someone didn’t cost the province millions a year in jail and emergency room bills (been many many many a time), and every time someone got out and sober, and every time someone didn’t get raped or killed or hepatitis or aids, is due directly to the actions of these individuals.” [italics, boldface added—R.A.]
However, having fallen prey to the same classist tendencies (for whatever reasons: economic, education, power, etc.) demonstrated ad nauseum by the federal Tories, Wente lacks the common man’s necessary insight, and therefore typically ignores opinions such as the preceding. This lack is standardly mistaken by the professions as a kind of distinction which—by some strange twist of morality—somehow merits public praise and reward. So, resultant high-ranking columnists and journalists perpetuate these classist attitudes, which are similarly standardly accorded undue interest by the public and thus unfortunately are emulated and reflected in everyday life, often showing up as, for example, discrimination, to name only one manifestation.
A friend cut to the chase: “Would such classist critics have helped the poor as Townsend etc. did, and if so, how long would they have lasted? Will the new BoD provide the same level of advocacy that Townsend etc. did?”
CCAP activist Wendy Pedersen has noted that the new BoD is “developer friendly.” If the DTES’s past experience with developers is any indication, this does not bode well for the continuation of services.
STRATHCONA COMMUNITY KITCHEN'S OPEN HOUSE
STRATHCONA COMMUNITY KITCHEN'S OPEN HOUSE
DATE: Wednesday, May 7th 2014
WHERE: Preschool Room, 2nd floor,
Strathcona Community Centre
WHEN Drop-in between 10:30AM - 1 PM
WHO: All are welcome!
To introduce community kitchen opportunities
To provide information and answer your questions about ...
- Farm to Table family out-trips
- Homemade snack program
- The Backpack Community Kitchen
- Volunteer opportunities
To collect your input on the future of Strathcona community kitchens.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
-Taste foods prepared by Strathcona's Community Kitchen participants
-Enter for a chance to win 4 weekly deliveries of Bread, Milk, Eggs & Butter
(when you complete a questionnaire) MAPS AND MEMORIES
Vancouver Moving Theatre in partnership with Jumblies Theatre present
MAPS AND MEMORIES
4th Downtown Eastside Artsfare Institute
A three Day Intensive Course on researching and expressing
community stories through oral history and mapping
Ukrainian Hall, 805 East Pender Street / June 6-8, 2014, 9:30am - 5:00pm
This three day course on community-engaged practice will explore the gathering of personal and ancestral histories and images of landscapes and waterways from False Creek to Burrard Inlet and beyond; and their application in community-engaged art making.
Join Ruth Howard (Jumblies Theatre, Toronto) with Savannah Walling (Vancouver Moving Theatre, Vancouver/Downtown Eastside) on this intensive, experiential journey of learning and art-making. Course activities will blend presentations, discussions, demonstrations, hands-on activities, creative explorations and take-home resources.
This course is for emerging and professional artists from all forms and traditions; practitioners from related fields (e.g. oral history, community development, etc.); people with some prior or current experience in community-engaged arts; people with past projects or in-process projects involving oral history, interview or mapping research; and
people who can apply what they learn and share it with others through their practice.
Participants will deepen and expand your community arts skills and experience; learn skills to support your own oral history or map-based arts project; meet and network with like-minded creative people; and have lots of fun!
$150. Work trade places are available for those for whom the fee is a barrier.
Snacks and the makings for lunches are provided.
APPLICATION PROCESS - Limited to twenty participants, selected partly based on experience and potential to benefit, with a view to creating a compatible and diverse group, including Downtown Eastside community members. To request an application form, email or phone assistant Artsfare coordinator Kelty McKerracher at email@example.com or 778-886-8871 (messages); or visit www.vancouvermovingtheatre.com and download an application.
You can email your completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail in application form to the address on the application form.
Application deadline: May 5, 2014 (5 pm).
Why a new residents' group?
*Why a new residents' group? It's time again for DTES residents to unite & fight!*
Some of the most powerful peoples' movements in the history of Vancouver have come out of united community actions of low-income Downtown Eastside residents. Time and again on these illegally occupied Coast Salish territories, despite pressures that could have fractured us, our communities have pulled together and stood arm in arm, marching together
against violence against women, with civil disobedience for freedom from imposed overdoses and preventable sickness, and in squats for the social housing we need.
The time has come again to rally together and stand united against displacement: against evictions & government dispersal programs that threaten to scatter the most vulnerable people in our community to more
hostile places. It is time to stand together UNITED for our low-income community: for better homes, our space and future.
The main threat to the low-income DTES community today is displacement by gentrification. Gentrification affects our homes by driving up rents in even the crappiest hotels. Every year hundreds of SRO hotel rooms that house people on welfare and pensions are turned into student housing. Gentrification affects low-income women, by forcing them to stay in abusive relationships to keep off the streets, and Indigenous children by making social housing harder to get into and families harder to reunite. Even those of us who have homes in the community are feeling like we're losing home; powerful people are taking our spaces for their private needs that exclude the existing community.
For a precious couple of years it seemed DTES residents again had an organization (DNC) where we could gather and unite our powerful differences and diversities to work for a better world. But over the past year the DNC board has cancelled all their regular monthly meetings, barred members who disagreed with a new pro-business agenda never voted on by members, and squeezed out the members' elected representative to the City planning process. The 'new' DNC is not a democratic organization. Low-income DTES residents need an organization that represents the needs of low-income Downtown Eastside residents as a whole, beautiful, diverse community. Our community has never left any one behind and we're not about to start.
It is time to decide together how to fight against a growing feeling of powerlessness and save our unique community. That's why we are called a meeting to form a new DTES residents' group. We want to be part of an organization that is membership controlled, with big member meetings every month that can elect and regularly hold the leadership accountable. We want meetings and actions where we make space for every voice to be heard, and every person to matter.
We are calling the DTES low-income community together to form a residents' protest organization to unite and fight and not allow anyone in our community to have their rights and dignity violated. For years our community has demanded 'nothing about us without us' and lately we have found ourselves in powerless consultations. With a group that believes and practices low-income community democracy and self-determination, we will cry out together: 'nothing about us not BY us' as we remake our own community and our own lives together.
By IVAN DRURY
Hello potential ‘DTES United’ members,
On the first Saturday of April, more than 70 DTES residents and a few of their allies packed into the Dodson Hall to call forth a new DTES organization. The voices amassed together sounded loud a call to organize collective actions for justice against gentrification and other displacement pressures bearing down on our community. The old ways, and some of our old
allies, are not working to defend our community against such powerful forces that’re evicting residents jacking up rents, and harassing and breaking up our precious low-income community. As DTES poet Sandy Cameron said: “we need new maps.”
This inaugural meeting assigned some ambitious work for the next month to those volunteers willing to shoulder the tasks. Ad-hoc committee meetings will take on this work each week this month. If you are inspired to fight for the social justice of our low-income community in the DTES and would like to support this committee's work with your ideas and collaboration, please join us at:
DTES United Ad-hoc committee meetings
Every Thursday in April at 5:30pm
Carnegie Centre, 3rd floor
(Dinner will be provided for meeting particpants.. please let us know if you need childcare or other supports in order to attend the meeting)
By next month's general meeting, on the first Saturday of May (the 3rd), the ad hoc volunteer committee will come up with three big proposals:
1) a working constitution to guide a new organization;
2) an interim decision-making, membership and leadership structure that can help us work together until we can develop a more thorough, long-term structure, and;
3) to identify (from this past meeting's brainstorm session) the pillar issue around which we can unite DTES low-income communities in common struggle.
These proposals will be brought back to the May meeting, where we hope we can take the next steps of struggle, elect an interim steering committee, and get back in the streets together!
HEARING VOICES ADVOCATE
Do you hear voices? Well, you are not alone. Ron Coleman, a mental health advocate from Scotland, spent 6 years in psychiatric hospitals labelled a chronic schizophrenic. At a talk at Vancouver Public Library on March 27, he said he has recovered.
One of his workers on the Psych Ward offered to take him to a Hearing Voices group in Britain. Through this group he has learned to listen and talk to his voices, and even ask them for advice.
At the talk he mentioned the case of one woman who hadn’t been able to sleep because of her voices. He suggested she ask them to let her rest and she did. The result was that she had the first good night’s sleep she’d had in a long time.
There are two Hearing Voices groups in the Vancouver area, and one more possibly in the works. One is in the Grandview-Woodlands area and the other is in North Vancouver.
Coleman also links abuse and trauma as probable causes of his illness. He was sexually abused by a priest in his teens and then a widower at 18. Rugby was his outlet for his anger until he broke his pelvis during a game. He then ‘lost it’ at work and ended up losing his job.
He went to a psychiatrist and made the mistake of telling him he heard voices and they told him what to do. This led to him being hospitalised.
He is now a leading trainer and well-known teacher in the UK’s Hearing Voices movement. He has been married almost 14 years to his wife Karen Taylor, a psychiatric nurse who works with families and friends of voice-hearers. You can check out their website:
By Phoenix Winter
Hello from the Library!
Thanks to everyone who has added their colourful two cents to our Spring Into Reading poster. Pretty soon we’ll be taking it down, but then look for our next poster celebrating Bird Week in Vancouver – you’ll have a chance to vote for your favourite Vancouver City bird!
Here are a couple of great new books we’ve added that will be on display in the glass cabinet this week:
The Gospel Side of Elvis / by Joe Moscheo
While countless books have been written about the King of Rock and Roll, in The Gospel Side of Elvis, former back-up singer Joe Moscheo covers a unique and rarely explored aspect of Elvis’ musical roots. Moscheo became privy to Elvis’ musical and personal life as a member of The Imperials, a southern gospel quartet who sang backup for Elvis from 1969-1971. Anecdotes and memories unique to the author allow for an incredibly personal look into Elvis’ life and love for gospel music.
Beyond Addiction: How science and kindness help people change
This is a positive, hopeful, helpful--even humorous--guide for helping family members and loved ones overcome addictions. Its authors draw on decades of scientific research and clinical experience, but use easy to understand exercises and examples to create an accessible and valuable resource for all. This book challenges the popular “tough love” approach, instead advocating for embracing and strengthening relation-
ships as a way forward.
Your Carnegie Librarians,
Stephanie (Branch head) and Elizabeth
Join us every 4th Wednesday of the month for stimula-
ting presentations and discussions by guest speakers.
The first talk of the series will be:
Insite and Oversight: safe injection sites,
prescription heroin & federal regulation
with Professor Margot Young
Faculty of Law, UBC
Wednesday, April 23, 7 – 9 PM
Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main Street
Everyone is welcome!
Little to Celebrate
Little to Celebrate
I stand atop the remnants of the Main Street Skytrain station Broadway can now not be seen as earth and structure-destroying machines continue to wreck the city I loved so much but that was over some time ago. Mss Redford of Alberta wants a luxury penthouse where she works… these privileged govt people tripping around the universe… every time I see these people I see their hands in an old woman’s purse nothing to celebrate only when caught do they accept any blame, like a Toiets ‘R’ Us being built beside another Starbucks progress is quickly making short work out of the rest of us our losses shall be the rich people (and I use that word loosely) and their underlings’ gain Is this how it is to be for the rest of time on this planet however much remains, every sad new year we endure more humiliation, rising prices and shame this year you fuck around with buspasses (Tap That!) and our methadone if satan ever gave science his sperm we’d know for sure who you really are and whence you came and 6 skyscrapers for every Skytrain Station out go the poor in go the Gucci purses & poodles and all, this new Vancouver & Fukmond was the real MasterRace plan all along the 2010 circus was up your sleeve as the tale of two atrocities began cleansing the city is just so bloody evil and wrong you never cared about anything but the image and that’s when all of our dominos began to swing & fall, now what we need is more consistency like politicians showing up for work on their feet not in a jet never will everyone be happy but in a lifetime or two the history books will show how close ‘no’ closer we can get, like leaving things alone that aren’t broken that would be good
I do not expect in any lifetime all to be great, so many avoiding alertness that require alertness is this the Twilight Zone or another kind of circus sickness?
Would it honestly kill anyone if we left things alone –you’ve got your 12 separate phone numbers per house and cars that have everything except a bathroom or a mouse if it were not for convenience I think most of you would choose a gun to get out of this inconvenient maze of life you had such a zest for
All before talking urinals and self-burying burials I remember waiting for new albums and magazines now that was at least for me fun, now there is no waiting single songs down/uploaded a back issue of Mad or National Lampoon in the mailslot was neatly folded but then the future came and my inner peace exploded now if mhy inner peace should take the place of all skytrains global positioning leaches as catastrophic as you seem to think we had pinball;l machines, music with it so many unfulfilled dreams well everything I think of then I always try to remember the fun,
Do you remember do you care no I guess not as long as you get your share well shame and share alike we could go celebrate another something but nobody agrees on what we truly need, and that ladies and gentlemen is the ending of today’s rant I kind of hope 2 or 3 of these words are in other people’s mouths but there are just way too many that can be but because of ‘issues’ in these days of inconvenience we realise that even the enemy like ourselves we must feed.
By ROBERT McGILLIVRAY
PS: Two animals that truly need to be extinct: The
John Deere & the Finning Catapillar!
Pivot/VANDU's Challenge to Street Vending Bylaws
Goes to Court Next Week
Four members of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) are challenging the City of Vancouver's bylaws that prohibit street vending in
Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Each has received a bylaw ticket and $250 fine for selling their old property such as used running shoes & books on the street. The defendants are represented by Pivot Legal Society and will be arguing that the city's bylaws are unconstitutional since they infringe on the right to security of the person. Vancouver's bylaws prohibit the act of street vending outright, unless a person applies for a permit, which would cost more than $800 and are given primarily to food cart operators.
The case will be heard at Robson Square Provincial Courthouse - 800 Hornby Street, Vancouver, over
3 days - Tuesday April 15 to Thursday April 17, 2014
The defendants are supported in their challenge by the coordinators of the DTES Sunday Street Market which is held each week in Pigeon Park. The plaintiffs will be testifying on the need for low-income vendors in the DTES to sell their goods to obtain income for food and shelter. In its recent draft Local Area Plan for the DTES, approved by Vancouver City Council in March of this year, the city has acknowledged that approximately 50% of Vancouver's lowest income residents participate in what they call "survival" activity such as panhandling, street vending, and binning.
Despite the city working with residents to set up the Sunday market in Pigeon Park, which just celebrated it's 200th market, enforcement by the VPD continues, with statistics obtained through a Freedom of Information in 2013 revealing that between 2008 & 2012, 95% of all street vending enforcement by the police occurs within the boundaries of the DTES.
The defendants will be testifying about their experiences and the reasons why they vend on Tuesday, April 15th, and will be available for comment during court breaks and lunch. The case will be argued by Pivot lawyer Douglas King, who’ll also be available for comment during court breaks. Given the constitutional nature of the argument a decision by the court is not expected to be given at the end of trial, but will likely be made at a later date.
What Is The World?
Planet Earth could do well without humans,
And the beaver could save the land.
Then there’d be no wars and poverty,
Just oceans and endless sand.
There’d be no plastics spilling out
From the guts of dead fish and bird.
But here we remain, in charge of things,
Like dumb stampeding herd.
The beaver knows to channel out
The water from the flood.
And let the land regenerate
From mountain down to mud.
But we are here, and here we’ll stay
Until our time is done.
We have no choice, but follow
The ballot and the gun.
Or not?. The rebel spirit rise
Within a mighty force,
Withdrawing all conditions
From suicidal course.
The streets are there for marching.
The voice of streets, yours and mine.
The paper is for writing
A concise protest sign.
What is the World, if not an e-mail
Short, uneven strands of hair encircled
my drawn face.
Her punishment, her satisfaction.
During moments of self-loathing
I viciously attack my hair,
cutting off any reminder of my femininity.
My focus is on destroying any sign
to punish myself by creating
that which is pitiful to the eye.
I cut my hair exactly as my mother did
Afterwards, the self hate and self anger
are replaced with shame and remorse.
I avoid the mirror like the plague.
I'm feeling better today.
Perhaps I'll lay these scissors down
Angharad GilesMy Pleasant Story
My Pleasant Story
I went to St Paul’s hospital on Feb 10. I had pneumonia and was very ill. The nurses gave me oxygen and antibiotics through a tube going into my neck. I couldn’t even keep food down for the first 6 days.
When that was better I went for walks every day; better to move than lay in bed all day.
The nurses and doctors were very nice. They gave me meds for back pain too. I’ve been in twice with pneumonia and twice this little Chinese man was there and he brought me treats. “For you, “he says. “Free, no charge!” That was so nice.. I would have paid but it made him happy too.
I was released in the first week of March and, again, they paid for a taqxi to take me home. Pastor Barry came to visit me and it was all a pleasant stay.
Marlene WuttuneePortland Hotel Hired a Great Doctor
Portland Hotel Hired a Great Doctor
A few weeks ago you couldn't miss the Portland Hotel Society's problems. A tear stained Jenny Kwan, who's the M.L.A. for the Downtown Eastside admitted on t.v. that she took journeys that totalled $35,000. Then Kwan paid the money back and took a leave of absence from politics. Portland Hotel Society executives Mark Townsend and Liz Evans were ousted from their jobs. All the PHS directors and management resigned as media reports hurled one complaint after another at them.
"They've wasted tens of thousands of your tax payer dollars," said one media story in effect. "They've been making unearned money on the backs of the poorest of the poor."
Yet one man was thankfully left out of the story and that was Doctor Gabor Mate, the short, intense man who worked at the Portland Hotel for many years. Doctor Mate is now close to 70 years old. He served as the staff physician at the hotel, taking care of, and helping many substance abusers. He helped them, treated them, and listened to their complaints and woes. And from all accounts he did a great job.
He also wrote a fine book about his time at the Portland Hotel called 'In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts.' This is the fourth book that Mate has written. I've read one of his other books and both works are very good.
"Gabor is an exceptional person," says Glinda who met Mate at Kitsilano High school over 50 years ago. Glinda was also a classmate of Gabor's brother John, who is an environmental activist and a talented musician.
Mate and his family fled Hungary in 1956 after the Hungarian uprising. Mate is Jewish and his mother's parents died in the Nazi death camps. His aunt vanished too in the midst of the Nazi occupation. His father was was sent to Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp but survived. "After what my family's been through," John Mate told me in 1993, "being an N.D.P. candidate is no pressure at all." (I volunteered in John Mate's campaign when he ran for the N.D.P. in Vancouver-South in 1993).
Gabor Mate is an expert on stress, addiction treatment,childhood development and developmental psychology. The Portland Hotel directors made a great choice when they chose him as the hotel's resident doctor.
Not all people admire Dr. Mate all the time. Many Vancouver Jews were angry in the late 1960's when Mate criticized Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. Mate before this had been an active Zionist. Health Canada threatened Mate with arrest when he praised the use of the Amazonian plant medicine ayahuesca. Mate claims that this medicine can help some substance abusers. I haven't heard anything about this controversy lately, which is good.
Last, no one has ever accused Dr. Mate of misusing taxpayers' dollars. "Gabor would never do this," says Glinda. "He is just a very honest person." In any case the Portland Hotel Society did many good things that you won't read or hear about in the media. And one of those things was hiri
By Dave JaffeThe Portland Hotel Society
The Portland Hotel Society
Everybody’s mind made up? It’s been panned as an open & shut case involving “millions of dollars” and extravagant or gross or obscene expenditures of Your Money and the spending practices are criminal, deserving of jail time or just hanging the buzzards… If you believe all the media.
Oh I know about the “official audit” that apparently got posted online. I’ve also been part of groups registered under the Society Act and have been to a lot of Annual General Meetings. At such AGMs an auditor gets up in front with the financial statements and goes over everything in general, answers questions and gives advice on achieving & maintaining fiscal health in the present And future. The most relevant point here is that s/he will explain how any sum was arrived at, since the numbers are only totals spent under a particular line item or category. “Maintenance” is all expenses for painting, fixing, replacement parts, etc; “Transport” can include gas, purchases of vehicles, repairs, insurance, and all usage. Okay, you’re not stupid, but if a sum seems way out of line you can just ask, the auditor will check her or his notes and make it as plain as you want. 99 times out of 100 there is nothing more to be said.
The sums parroted again and again about the Portland Hotel Society are for items chosen to enrage readers and listeners. What’s not said is that the figures were the sum of 3 years worth of expenditures; that the annual budget for all operations – managing the Woodwards housing, the Portland Hotel itself, the new building on Cordova, Insite, Onsite, the Drug Users Resource Centre on Cordova (including the clinic there) and many programs both inside and outside these places – is about $35 million. This has to cover all staff, supplies, maintenance, general & special services often available nowhere else and, lo & behold, the administration of same.
Now if that was all everything could be tied up in a bow and not even bothered about. But a funny thing is that most if not all of this stuff, including housing the hard-to-house, accommodating addictions and treatment, being attuned to mental health needs, even rescuing lives has been fought for. The fight to get housing for both current and ex-psychiatric patients, for people both active & inactive in their addictions or not in any ‘category’ but poor, marginalised or needing help has been going on for decades, but organisation and effort can get success.
A big deal has been made about trips to other countries, about hotels, limos and vacations on the taxpayer’s dime. These, for Mark Townsend, Liz Evans, Kerstine and sometimes Brian, were to international conferences on Addiction, Harm Reduction, and what’s being or been tried in different countries. Sad but such events happen in places other than the Downtown Eastside. Expenses include airfare (and travel agents get the best prices they can but have to accommodate schedules), travel to and from airports and within cities (in virtually every city in Europe taxis are officially called & billed as limousines) getting a bunk at some hostel is not always possible so hotels are kind of necessary (and during conferences with up to 10,000 participants prices rise as availability goes down), per diems include all food & beverages, books, even clothing, and so on. Point is little is free and walking everywhere while not eating and sleeping in the local park is just not on.
Every conference has an entry fee. Mark & Liz never paid these, which in one case was $1200… At 2 week-long events Liz was required to teach everyday with no compensation and having to provide everything the “class” needed in terms of materials. And again the totals ranted about in the media were over 3 years. …just to get some perspective.
In the decade-long fight to get Insite, to get anything to stop the hundreds of overdose deaths a year, a large event was set up in Toronto to coincide with the Federal Health Minister’s visit there. Preparation involved putting up 140,000 posters about harm reduction and the medical nature of a safe-injection site. To get this done the “Transport” line item had to include the subway fares for hundreds of people putting them up; Printing, likely under Administration, included the posters and all the stuff to affix them, as well as food for the posterers. And this was only a small part of expenses incurred that businesses certainly wouldn’t donate. The fight for Insite had to involve time and expertise for the courtroom as the federal government tried to get this stopped by a Judge’s order. Lawyers cost, suits cost, doctors cost… and you cannot budget that money under operating the Portland Hotel.
This is the reason behind the vilification of the management of PHS. Mark, Liz, Kerstine and Brian had to utilise whatever they could to carry on the fights for everything most of us take for granted. It was not a matter of taking money out of maintenance to pay for political efforts to get the necessary changes in the Canadian Criminal Code; it was never a matter of duping or misreporting on the use of government funds, but the outrage from the government came because the very people they were almost forced to fund were still calling for more and embarrassing the hell out of them. Subtlety is a strong point for the PHS and various provincial government departments had to collude to figure out how to shut PHS (its Board of Directors and senior management) out.
There are SIX government departments involved in the vicious attacks. The title for each, to account for manpower, resources used, media plants etc. is “Reputation Enhancement” and this kind of operation includes every dirty trick in the book. Spin doctors meet over making financial matters sound and be presented as sleazy and disgusting as possible; personal attacks are always tempered with laws like slander & libel but leading the public by the nose is their speciality, warping legitimate stuff into revolting practices is also part & parcel of the whole plan. This stuff is used all the time for political opponents, during elections etc. but is particularly noxious when focused on groups and people who have virtually no resources on the same scale with which to answer such spurious charges.
An example is when the govt investigators came to take over the management operations and had to ask where to go. The PHS has no formal office or place for an agency center – the blip about Mark & Liz getting rent money for their basement is because their home was HQ for the PHS, and it was unwieldy to use the kitchen table or the living room or one or more bedrooms for business stuff. Everything got put in the basement so they could live in their home And not have to keep kids out of drawers. A tad more – when one of the financial people was being shown how the payroll was done, he commented that “this has to be done in a week?” Kerstine said no, that part has to be done in a day. So the investigation team just hired another accountant, while the reality of doing the PHS books and financial controls was all on the plate of one person (who had no coverage even when out of the country visiting family).
These four people have gotten good at challenging the government and societal status quo, refusing to shut up and accept the judgements coming down all the time about their work, the clients and residents, their personal issues with mental health and addictions and more. They had to be stopped and in such a way that the public will bar its teeth every time such a non-profit society is extolled as management for any project. This is essential since such management is called for in all new social housing And in all the hotels purchased over the last 5-7 years by the Province.
In this way no protest or public/civil disobedience needs to be even worried about, since only newly-minted and approved “non-profit housing societies” will be in charge anywhere.
Finally, for this piece, are the salaries of the four people in question. Early on they were advised by Jim Green and others to pay themselves what they would make if they were doing the same work in the private sector. They did not go that high. Also much of the costs for stuff that could not be justified under PHS contracts was paid for out of their salaries, as well as in lieu of benefits money that most union contracts guarantee. This alone is unheard of in the private sector, where corporate expense accounts and perks cover everything. The advice had this reasoning behind it: If you earn ¼ or 1/3rd of what government executives or corporate flunkies get, you’ll get no respect. You’ll get treated as high-minded half-wits, working for peanuts with no social status at all. If you have toys like their toys, if you have expenses like their expenses, you’ll at least not be dismissed outright. There is truth in this, but it’s also a bit self-serving. The hardest hit in all this appears to be Jenny Kwan. There is no rationale for her, no defense or reasoning, given the professional hatchet-job done on PHS. It’s like when the NDP formed government in the 90’s and there were obligatory anti-NDP stories in all media every day for 10 years. The media “just happened” to be on hand to film the police search of Glenn Clark’s home, There is nothing, however truthful or factual, that could vindicate him or can now for Jenny. The public’s collective mind, with quotes and ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews, was convinced of the nastiness of it all by being brought only the most extreme reactions. The peril of being a politician is that almost anything can be spun and warped to make one look like Hitler’s right hand.
For this alone, shame on Clark and her corporate minions/bosses. The fallout of the hatchet job done on the senior management & board of directors of the Portland Hotel Society will be found stinking up the public face of many non-profit societies in time to come, and that was one of the goals undoubtedly sought in the coordinated attack. Even the lies and misinformation spread by the Gastown Gazette and Roland Clarke of the Downtown Neighbourhood clique sully the reputations of many hard-working people. Don’t be fooled or taken in by these low people. Pray for rain to dim the blinding light of government-spun exposure. Let’s have honesty.
By PAULR TAYLOR
Don’t Take It For Granted
We all live like we got loads of time
brother believe me you don’t
‘fore you know it’s half-time
‘fore you’re even ready game’s over
all that ‘bucket list’ shit, man
you ain’t got time, never did, fool
so don’t put off for manyana
what you know damn well it won’t wait
give it up my man
before it’s too late
I no longer wake up
knowing I'll make it to
day’s end, can’t pretend
no denyin’ I'm dyin’
so my friend, this close to the end
ain’t got time to pretend
to my sons and daughters
this love I send
this much I carry for you
always care for you
right to the end.
Near the end of 2013 an appeal went to many people who have helped with money in the last few years. The 2014 for-sure funds for continuing the Carnegie Newsletter were looking awful low.
As a result over 25 people came through and just over $2800 helped erase a purported $900 deficit that was looming on the horizon for the end of 2013.
The CCC Association had its budget workshop in February and for the paper this year costs are expected to be $13,000. The Gaming Commission has given the okay to put $4000 of the total the Assoc. received for 2014 towards this “community writing program”; the CCAP pays for its monthly newsletter insert and the amount to be raised is about $5000.
The Help in the Downtown Eastside free resource guide, very useful to long-time residents, visitors, agencies and transients alike, is the Newsletter’s little sister publication. Its history has been to come out twice a year, except that since 2008 it’s been harder & harder to find funding. I’ve raised money for this separately from the Newsletter ever since 1991 when the first edition was in English only and 1000 copies were made. Unfortunately the last edition was #46 APRIL 2013, and this is the longest period between updates since inception. Production run is now 11,000 English, 1,000 French and 1,000 Spanish at a cost of $2,500.
This update is to let all contributors know where we stand right now. Ellen Woodsworth had the brilliant idea of holding a Pete Seeger celebration and making it a fundraiser for the Carnegie Newsletter. Earle Peach and the Solidarity Notes Choir agreed, but then the choir had a vote and chose to make it a fundraiser for the No Pipeline resistance. I guess they thought that was more popular/important…
The hope right now is to hold a fundraising event in mid-June for the Carnegie Newsletter, with a fervent hope that funding for Help in the Downtown Eastside will have been secured and spent by then. If anyone has ideas or an inside track on someone or group with $2500 they can’t wait to give to a worthwhile cause, keep these publications in mind.
PaulR Taylor, volunteer editor.