Wednesday, September 9, 2009

DERA: Following the September 8, 2009 Board meeting

September 29, 2009. DERA called a Board Meeting. If I hadn't checked my email in the afternoon I would have missed the calling. I emailed the secretary who is an elected director after the cancellation of the September 8 2009 Board meeting that if and when a meeting was to happen she is to contact me by telephone, person or email. I told her that I was to verbally or by email personally acknowledge that I was advised of any meetings. This did not happen. I asked for clarification on a number of points and when that happens I will report to the members further.

September 25, 2009. The community kitchen went well this time. I attribute it to me notifying as many tenants as I could. All it takes is a sign of a possible revolt from the members; then staff will become accountable for its behavior. Like I have said, I would propose that no director be elected to the Board unless he has been a resident in one of the towers for at least ten years. That would eliminate new people dropping in from the sky and not wanting to participate in the culture of DERA.

September 18, 2009. I went to the community kitchen at DERA this afternoon and no notices were posted in the residential towers inviting the residents to attend. Either my notices were never posted or staff tore them down.

September 16, 2009. I finally was able to secure another lawyer who is willing to help. After speaking to him I will decide what I should do next. I am hoping he will tell me on how I can legally seek my rights by myself and maybe if the process is not too onerous I will seek out the courts myself. I won't be able to see the lawyer until the week of October 6, 2009.

September 14, 2009. Since there is no requirement in the Societies Act that there be monthly board meetings for DERA, I doubt that any more will be called. They never accomplished much anyways. The Board is only a formality: the process needed for staff to get directors to co-sign cheques for its eleven bank accounts. Now that the signing officers are in place I do not see much need for the Board.

The DERA meeting for September 08, 2009 was cancelled by the president of the board who said she wasn't prepared although she was the one who called the meeting two months ago. I will be reporting on this blog further within the next week.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Invitation to attend 08 September 2009 DERA Board of Directors Meeting

FROM DERA’s MISSION STATEMENT: “To fight the indifference and the corruption which we experience daily or of which we become aware….to co-operate freely and honestly…”

On TUESDAY 08 SEPTEMBER 2009 the Downtown Eastside Residents Association (DERA), a publicly funded advocacy non-profit, will be having a Meeting of Directors at Solheim Place 251 Union Street Vancouver BC 9th floor (Union and Gore) at 6:30 pm. The meeting is open to members. If you are not a member, you can sign up at the meeting, or at DERA's office (12 East Hastings), or contact me and I will sign you up, or you can attend as an interested party.

At my election in April 2009 to become a director I promised to make good DERA's reputation. There is no way I can do this unless everyone in the DTES participates in its mandate and demand absolute transparency. From day three of my election staff and the other directors have mostly ignored me. Under the Societies Act I am responsible alone and jointly with the other directors to make sure that DERA is well-managed. Just because the other directors have turned a blind eye to what is going-on (or do not understand their duties) does not preclude me from my statutory responsibilities under the Act.

The refusal of staff and the President/Secretary/Treasurer to provide me with information is contra to the statutes (rules) as set out under the Societies Act. A director is to have whatever information she wants in order to do her job and in this case I want everything even the paper from the shredder. Although I have asked for information over-and-over again, I have been stonewalled.

DERA is not suppose to be a secret non-profit. DERA is suppose to be a small version of City Hall accountable to its members i.e. the residents of the DTES and staff is subordinate to its elected officials (directors). The executive-director has no power except to do what the directors tell him. And, the president of DERA has no more power than any other director: her position is to oversee meetings and speak to the media.

The criticisms leveled against DERA over the years are very disturbing. Up to my election I just dismissed them as unsubstantiated but I now suspect that most of the allegations are true. How can I legally do my job as a director if I cannot investigate the allegations of corruption and report my findings to the members? DERA does not have 40,000 employees (it only has 15 employees). There is no reason why the directors cannot be hands-on and know in intimate detail what is going on. DERA is a grass roots organization; not a Fortune 500 company. Ignorance is inexcusable at this level.

At the June 2009 Directors Meeting I wanted to post the names and contact numbers of the directors. I was vetoed. The president said that such information was confidential. She was wrong: the names and addresses of directors are public information and each member should have easy access to them. Although I am a director it took me three months to get the full names and contact numbers from her. Something as simple and legal as this and I was told not to do it. This gives you an idea of what I am up against.

I was told it would cost $60,000 to secure my legal rights through the courts. Since I haven’t the money, the only recourse I have is to inform the members and for the members to force DERA to follow the rule-of-law.

My intent isn’t to destroy DERA but rather to ensure that DERA survives. And it won’t unless the governance changes. My intent isn’t to fire anyone but rather to educate the employees and directors (as well as myself) so they do what they are supposed to do and do it with integrity and honesty.

Unfortunately, not only is DERA guilty of not doing what it should do, other non-profits in the DTES operate in a similar fashion. It might be legal but it is not right. Since one of DERA’s mission statements is to expose wrongdoings in the DTES, we might as well start with it.

I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Tuesday.

DERA director, Elected 2009
75 – 12 East Hastings V6A 1N1

P.S. On Friday 28 August 2009 upon arriving at DERA a few minutes before closing time, I was given a memo by staff that I was not to access the DERA office. This was not only an insult; it was a humiliation. This directive was enforced by two young lawyer-advocates who acted like paid goons. What surprised me was that they told me that they knew everything that is going on in DERA; however, as a duly authorized elected director (the boss), I know nothing. The tables are reversed. What next: a baseball bat….

Blog Archive