The controversy over the barring from Carnegie Center of a homeless man involved in the blogospere refuses to go away. 

Sophie Friegang resigned from the Carnegie Center Board of Directors at the last monthly Board meeting on Sept. 6th over the barring.  Simpson was barred from Carnegie in June, shortly after he was elected to the Carnegie Board. He has not been allowed into the building to attend Board meetings.

The reason given for the barring in a City of Vancouver letter delivered to Simpson was that his website “features links” to the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog. The blog has published criticisms of Carnegie staff.

Friegang had asked the Board in July to hold a review of the barring of Bill Simpson. The majority of the Board voted against a review. Carnegie President Margaret Prevost took the position at the time that the barring was “a City decision” and therefore not a Board matter. But the prevalent conversation amongst the membership of Carnegie is that a Board member could not have been denied access to Board meetings inside the building without the complicity of the Board. Indeed, Vice President Gena Thompson acknowledged in a comment on the the Now Public internet news site that she had been involved in the decision to bar Simpson.

Friegang stated at the July Carnegie Board meeting that she believed a “serious mistake” had been made in the barring of Simpson. She said she had “poured over” the blog and found it contained nothing that she thought  that would warrant barring him. “I believe in human rights,” she told the Board.

At a July Community Relations meeting at Carnegie, Friegang asked Carnegie Manager, Ethel Whitty, if it bothered her that a man may have been wrongfully barred. Whitty did not respond.

Friegang did not attend September’s Board meeting. Another Board member, Peter Fairchild, read her letter of resignation.

The barring of a homeless man has become an embarrassment to the Carnegie Center which presents itself as a “progressive” organization committed to improving the quality of life for the poor and the homeless on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The barring without due process is expected to haunt the Carnegie Community Center Association Project which has arranged for their representative, Jean Swanson, to speak to a United Nations representative in Vancouver about the homeless. The United Nations representative has scheduled a visit to Vancouver to assess whether Canada is meeting its international obligations in regard to homelessness.

The barring of Bill Simpson has been covered extensively on the Downtown Eastside Enquirer blog.

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