Carnegie Centre

Holy brazen blogger, Batman! Bill got elected!

William “Bill” Simpson, a homeless man in Vancouver who was barred from the Carnegie Learning Centre for allegedly blogging, won a seat on the Board of Directors at Carnegie Centre last Thursday evening.

Carnegie is a community Centre operated by City of Vancouver management staff with input from a Board of Directors elected from the membership of the Centre. Carnegie doubles as a left wing organizing base in the Downtown Eastside neighborhood. It publishes the left wing Carnegie Newsletter, in which editor Paul Taylor has admitted in writing that he censors submissions not ideologically compatible with his views. When a blog, The Downtown Eastside Enquirer, deviated from the party line, it drew fire from Carnegie staff, Board members, and the Newsletter.

Simpson opened his candidate’s speech at the June 7th Annual General Meeting with, “I am not the blogger.” The crowd laughed.

But laughs don’t get you elected. Votes do. So Simpson brought a contingent of Carnegie members with him to the meeting. In the days before the election, Simpson, a tall, blue-eyed man in his mid fifties with wavy, light brown graying hair which he wears in a short ponytail, says, “I talked to people and asked them if they’d be willing to come to the AGM and support me.”

Simpson says he actually does not blog on the Downtown Eastside Enquirer, but adds, “If I did, I would be proud of it.” These are words Simpson first spoke late last year to Bob Sarti, a Board member who waved his finger at Simpson in the corridor outside the Learning Centre and yelled, “Tattle tale Queen of the Carnegie! Tattle tale Queen of the Carnegie!” The stress of publishing power in the hands of the masses appeared to be taking its toll on Sarti, a retired Vancouver Sun reporter who was organizing the Anarchist Surrealist Jamboree which took over the Carnegie Centre in Janaury 2007. After decades of left wing activism, Sarti and fellow Carnegie Board member Margaret “Muggs” Siguirgson retired to Hornby Island, famous for Dr. Hornby marijuana plant fertilizer.

But Sarti got in a parting shot at alleged blogger Simpson before leaving at the end of January 2007. He voted along with other Board members to bar Simpson. In January, Simpson was met at the door of the Carnegie Learning Centre by teacher Lucy Alderson and escorted to the office of “Skip”, the Head of Security for Carnegie. There Simpson was informed that he was barred from the Carnegie Learning Centre for blogging on the DTES Enquirer blog. In the previous Dec. 15, 2006 edition of the Carnegie Newsletter — a newsletter subsidized by the City of Vancouver which provides free office space, etc. — Sarti had been credited with being the “unsung hero” who outed the “blog bozo.”

The Downtown Eastside Enquirer gives a voice to political dissidents inside Carnegie and on the Downtown Eastside, people who deviate from the party line of the left wing establishment in the neighbourhood. Alderson, along with Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty, Education and Arts Co-ordinator Rika Uto, and others had been given low marks on the blog for too frequently locking students out of the Learning Centre or evacuating students in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday — always with the excuse that a volunteer (usually somebody with a known drinking problem) hadn’t shown up.

For a short time, the blog tracked closures of the Learning Centre and Computer Room on the 3rd floor of the Carnegie Centre, facilities which would close while up to $500,000 worth of staff sat just meters away in the executive offices of the community centre. On the coldest night of the year when Vancouver’s underclass flocked to Carnegie to keep warm by passing the time watching television or using the internet, Whitty allowed them to be locked out of the Computer Room near her office. She took off out the front door of the Centre.

This new accountability-by-blogger has met a hostile reception at Carnegie. Just a couple of weeks ago, long term Board member Jeff Sommers accused Simpson of writing for “that stalker rag” and refused to talk to him. Sommers was re-elected to the Board along with Simpson on Thursday evening.

Although Simpson has become a symbol of blogger repression at the Carnegie Centre, he has not been the only one targeted. Simpson was barred during what has been termed a ‘witch hunt’ for bloggers in 2006-07.

To read the rest of this original article or a background article “Homeless Man Barred for Blogging”, and to see full election results, go to Downtown Eastside Enquirer.
— D([“mb”,”\u003cspan class\u003dsg\>\u003cbr clear\u003d\”all\”\>\u003cbr\>– \u003cbr\>Yalla, Dag\n\u003c/span\>”,0] ); D([“ce”]); //–>

Be Sociable, Share!