Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about Bullying.

'I tried violent resistance, but as the odds were always heavily against me this merely encouraged the ragging.'


How to fight back against condo / strata bullying?

Dear Biblitz,

Hiya,

Replies are contained within e-mail in bold.

Dear Biblitz,

I can't thank you enough for all your help and research. Many of the links you gave me I actually found while researching the guidelines, but it was quite useful to have you explain them to me. I did have some thoughts/questions:

1. Our bylaw states that council should have a minimum of three people. However, in the meeting I was observing, pres Stark Naked said, "If we can't find a third, we'll just have to make do." Is she not being selective, in the bylaws she follows?

Yes, that's a breach of the bylaw and especially galling as you disclosed at that meeting that you were fully prepared to stand for office. Strata corporation should act quickly to elect another member. Why not you?

2. Nowhere in the bylaws does it state that we need to have carpet or special flooring. Indeed pres herself has hardwood AND NO AREA RUGS. I constantly hear her footsteps and a variety of other noises. Nevertheless, when I asked her nicely once to please vacuum later than 6:30-7 Saturday mornings, she told me angrily, "No, you can't dictate the way I live." Similarly, when I once countered her complaint about my noise with the assertion that I, too, hear her walking and making noise," she replied, "Don't turn this on me!" So talking is impossible.

Again, if there is no requirement for carpeting, there is no basis for an inspection to determine whether you have any. Any complaints about noise should be based on a failure to comply with municipal noise bylaws. For example, search Noise Bylaw at the City of Vancouver for definitions of reasonable noise and the hours reasonable noise is allowed.

Similarly, if there's no clearly stated legal premise for entry to your property, entry is illegal. Period. Of course, police cannot assist in preventing threatened entry unless you alert them. Nor could they assist in the return of your key unless you alert them.

Experience involving a harassed senior in a Kits condo tells us there is nothing quite as effective as a visit from cops to chill a stalker, and the constant attention and intimidation by pres sounds very much like stalking (known in Canada as criminal harassment, Criminal Code s. 264). Even if no charge results, pres activity will very likely cool. Most important, even if no charge is laid THIS TIME, cops are glad to assist and will record the event for future reference. If you have neighbors with similar complaints against pres, bring them along when cops interview you (and, probably separately, pres)
.

3. Far from fearful, I feel stressed and bullied. I'm not sure if bringing the police in won't upset the situation more - especially as Stark is in a position to make my life a lot more miserable. All I really want is some PEACE and QUIET from this stress.

Stressed and bullied IS fear! Living in dread of an endless barrage of angry claims few of which seem to be based on any tenable legal premise is a nightmare. Be fearless only in your assertion to cops that you live in dread and feel powerless to control the intimidation, which seems to be escalating. Assume the cops have seen this type of situation before and know how to handle it.

Frankly, the real estate scene in Vancouver has been so fraught with derring-do for so many years, it would not surprise anyone here if pres had dubious speculative motives in trying to force you to sell in a hurry. It's a tactic we saw often in Kitsilano in the '70s when realtor-speculators were making a killing flipping houses. A favorite trick was to fill a house next to a desired property owned by seniors with a group of 'hippies' to intimidate owners in all the ways you can imagine. Quite a few of the fences around homes on West 3rd Avenue, for instance, were erected in response to such campaigns.

You're right that trying to reason with pres is going nowhere. It's time, in our view, to pull out the bigger guns! Again, cops will be pleased to assist.


4. I don't think kicking her off the council is the answer because she made trouble for the last council, too - faxes every day, a flurry of letters, shouting matches, etc. Pres Naked's behavior has played a large part in the decision of four families to move and a fifth is looking for a place presently.

Of course it's the answer! ... Unless you and the majority want the current situation to continue.

5. The recent inspection was to check calking around the bathtubs as mine used to flood. A reasonable enough premise, one would think, yet no qualified inspector arrived - just pres, who told me it's my responsibility to re-calk certain portions she said needed attention. Then she said that earlier in the week, she traced muddy footprints exclusively to my suite, but it couldn't have been me. I was home all day studying. It never seems to let up. ...

All the more reason to use provisions set out in Instruction Guide #4 to vote pres out!

I wanted to send you a copy of our bylaws and rules/regulations, but when I phoned pres today to ask for electronic copies, she gave me a hard time saying that I already have a hard copy. She seemed distrusting of my motives. I said I wanted a copy I could search on computer. "No way," she said, "I'm not going to give you those so you can change them." Huh?

All the more reason to use provisions in IG #4 to vote pres out!

Would you like a copy of the bylaws and rules/regulations? What is the difference between them, anyways?

If you need clarification, take your bylaws and rules/regulations (rules are easier to change than bylaws, basically) to atty to ensure they are all properly executed and in line with the governing statute, the Strata Property Act. Atty might also provide a one- or two-page opinion on any gaps along with a reminder about procedures required by strata council making a complaint against an owner or tenant. You might then have opinion listed on the next mtg agenda as correspondence. You might even call a special mtg to discuss it. Either way you ensure the opinion is recorded along with the reasons for which it was sought. Atty might also write a letter on your behalf to pres to get her to stop hounding you. Of course, a visit from the cops might address the issues more quickly and cost-effectively especially if followed up quickly with a mtg to: (1) remove pres and (2) fill at least one vacancy on council in accordance with your bylaw, which sets the minimum at three.

So, again, call police then request a special strata mtg to remove pres and appoint at least one new council member!


Do you know any good attorneys who could help me out?

About lawyers (the wrong kind of bar, in the view of so many):

We make no secret of our jaundiced view of real estate lawyers in this town. The vast number of Continuing Legal Education courses on property law each year would certainly support this view. (We got no less than 240 hits when searched the terms, 'real property residential' March 26/08). And unbelievably, the local law school STILL hardly touches on condo governance!

Best advice is to find someone nearby via Law Society of B.C. Web site, then call two or three to ask the fee for: (a) vetting (say how many) bylaws and rules for an eight-unit strata to ensure they are properly executed and so on, (b) preparing for your submission to strata corporation a brief opinion on any gaps noted as well as a reminder about the correct procedure for issuing complaints against owners and tenants and, finally, maybe (c) drafting a threatening letter to pres for your signature to make this intimidation campaign go south. Letters from attys are often effective, though nothing compares to an interview by cops with perp.

TeaMan90

Bullying, harassment, stalking, whether it occurs at school, work, home or online, involves an act(s) of violence. Failure to respect social boundaries reminds us most unpleasantly of the purposes for which these things were created long ago. Modern culture too often tramples these crucial rules of the road, in Leo's view.

Essential Pleasures

A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud

Hardcover
Edited by Robert Pinsky

Dickhead

By Michael Ryan

A man who's trying to be a good man
but isn't, because he can't not take
whatever's said to him as judgement.
It causes him, as he puts it, to react.
His face and neck redden and bloat,
a thick blue vein bulges up his forehead
and bisects his bald pate, scaring his children
but provoking hilarity at work
where one guy likes to get his goat
by pasting pro-choice bumper stickers
on his computer screen while he's in the john,
then gathers a group into the next cubicle
to watch when he comes back.
He has talked to his minister and to his wife
about learning how not to react,
to make a joke, and he has tried to make jokes,
but his voice gets tense, they come out flat,
so even his joke becomes a joke at his expense,
another thing to laugh at him about.
He has thought to turn to them and ask,
Why don't you like me? What have I done to you?
But he has been told already all his life:
self-righteous goody two-shoes, a stick up your ass.
They are right. He has never never never gotten along.
He says nothing this time, just peels off the bumper sticker,
crumples it gently, places it gently
by his mousepad to dispose of later properly,
comparing his suffering to Christ's in Gethsemane
spat upon and mocked (his minister's advice),
and tries a smile that twists into a grimace,
which starts the hot blood rising into his face.
This is what they came for, to see Dickhead,
the bulging vein, the skull stoplight red,
and indeed it is remarkable how gorged it gets
as if his torso had become a helium pump,
so, except for him whose eyes are shut tight,
they burst into laughter together exactly at the moment
cruelty turns into astonishment.

(-- pgs. 296-297)

Good-bye to All That

Hardcover
By Robert Graves

Could this be why British children are so unhappy?

See also U.S. sci-fi king Kurt Vonnegut on a painful rebuke by - surprise, surprise - a physical education instructor!

More of the book.

From my first moment at Charterhouse I suffered an oppression of spirit that I hesitate to recall in its full intensity. Something like being in that chilly cellar at Laufzorn among the potatoes, but a potato out of a different sack from the rest. The school consisted of about six hundred boys, whose chief interests were games and romantic friendships. Everyone despised school-work; the scholars were not concentrated in a single dormitory house as at Winchester or Eton, but divided among ten, and known as 'pros'. Unless good at games, and able to pretend that they hated work even more than the non-scholars, and ready whenever called on to help these with their work, they always had a bad time. I happened to be a scholar who really liked work, and the apathy of the class-rooms surprised and disappointed me. My first term, I was left alone more or less, it being a rule that new boys should be neither encouraged nor baited. The other boys seldom addressed me except to send me on errands, or coldly point out breaches of school convention.

In my second term the trouble began. A number of things naturally made for my unpopularity. Besides being a scholar and not outstandingly good at games, I was always short of pocket-money. Since I could not conform to the social custom of treating my contemporaries to tuck at the school shop, I could not accept their treating. My clothes, though conforming outwardly to the school pattern, were ready-made and not of the best-quality cloth that all the other boys wore. Even so, I had not been taught how to make the best of them. Neither my mother nor my father had any regard for the niceties of dress, and my elder brothers were abroad by this time. Nearly all the other boys in my house, except for five scholars, were the sons of businessmen: a class of whose interests and prejudices I knew nothing, having hitherto met only boys of the professional class. Also, I talked too much for their liking. A further disability was that I remained as prudishly innocent as my mother had planned I should. I knew nothing about simple sex, let alone the many refinements of sex constantly referred to in school conversation, to which I reacted with horror. I wanted to run away.

The most unfortunate disability of all was that my name appeared on the school list as 'R. von R. Graves'. ... Businessmen's sons, at this time, used to discuss hotly the threat, and even the necessity, of a trade war with the Reich. 'German' meant 'dirty German'. It meant: 'cheap, shoddy goods competing with our sterling industries.' It also meant military menace, Prussianism, useless philosophy, tedious scholarship, loving music and sabre-rattling. ... Considerable anti-Jewish feeling worsened the situation: someone started the rumour that I was not only a German but a German Jew.

Of course, I always claimed to be Irish, but an Irish boy who had been in the house about a year and a half longer than myself resented this claim. He went out of his way to hurt me, not only by physical acts of spite, like throwing ink over my school-books, hiding my games-clothes, attacking me suddenly from behind corners, pouring water over my bed at night, but by continually forcing his bawdy humour on my prudishness, and inviting everybody to laugh at my disgust. He also built up a humorous legend of my hypocrisy and concealed depravity. I came near a nervous breakdown. School ethics prevented me from informing the housemaster of my troubles. The house-monitors, though supposed to keep order and preserve the moral tone of the house, never interfered in any case of bullying among the juniors. I tried violent resistance, but as the odds were always heavily against me this merely encouraged the ragging. Complete passive resistance would probably have been wiser. I got accustomed to bawdy-talk only during my last two years at the school, and had been a soldier for some little time before I got hardened and could reply in king to insults. (-- pgs. 33-35)

Boy

Tales of Childhood

Paperback
By Roald Dahl

I spent two long years as a Fag at Repton, which meant I was the servant of the studyholder in whose study I had my little desk. If the studyholder happened to be a House Boazer, so much the worse for me because Boazers were a dangerous breed. During my second term, I was unfortunate enough to be put into the study of the Head of the House, a supercilious and obnoxious seventeen-year-old called Carleton. Carleton always looked at you right down the length of his nose, and even if you were as tall as him, which I happened to be, he would tilt his head back and still manage to look down the length of his nose. Carleton had three Fags in his study and all of us were terrified of him, especially on Sunday mornings, because Sunday was study-cleaning time. ... We scrubbed the floor and washed the windows and polished the grate and dusted the ledges and wiped the picture-frames and carefully tidied away all the hockey-sticks and cricket-bats and umbrellas. ... The rules and rituals of fagging at Repton were so complicated that I could fill a whole book with them. A House Boazer, for example, could make any Fag in the House do his bidding. He could stand anywhere he wanted to in the building, in the corridor, in the changing-room, in the yard, and yell 'Fa-a-ag!' at the top of his voice and every Fag in the place would have to drop what he was doing and run flat out to the source of the noise. There was always a mad stampede when the call of 'Fa-a-ag!' echoed through the House because the last boy to arrive would invariably be chosen for whatever menial or unpleasant task the Boazer had in mind. ... the Boazer wished to use the lavatory but that he wanted the seat warmed for him before he sat down. ... I wiped the frost off the seat with my handkerchief, then I lowered my trousers and sat down. I was there a full fifteen minutes in the freezing cold before Wilberforce arrived on the scene. ... I got off the lavatory seat and pulled up my trousers. Wilberforce lowered his own trousers and sat down. 'Very good,' he said. 'Very good indeed.' He was like a winetaster sampling an old claret. 'I shall put you on my list,' he added. ... (From Fagging, pgs. 154-159)

Clinging to the Wreckage

Paperback
By John Mortimer

Future experience was to show me that my early distrust of sport was well founded. I was told of a public school where the lascivious butler used to change into games clothes and crouch behind a bush from which he would leap during the muddy confusion of a 'scrum down' and covertly join in the game for the purpose of fondling the boys in an intimate manner. Sport, as I have discovered, fosters international hoistility and leads the audience, no doubt from boredom, to grievous bodily harm while watching. The fact that audiences at the National Theatre rarely break bottles over one another's heads, and that opera fans seldom knee one another in the groin during the long intervals at Covent Garden convinces me that the theatre is safer than sport. In my case the masters at my prep school agreed to the extent of sending me to the local repertory theatre with a bar of Fry's Mint Chocolate. In this way I saw most of the plays of Bernard Shaw, which must have been better than playing cricket. (-- pgs. 32-33) ...

The sight of a woman at my public school was almost as rare as a Cockney accent in class; and if we spotted one it was, as often as not, a fierce and elderly matron. We were waited on at table by footmen in blue tailed coats and settled down for the night by a butler called 'George.' Our homosexuality was therefore dictated by necessity rather than choice. We were like a generation of diners condemned to cold cuts because the steak and kidneys was 'off.' ...

... There were the 'one yearers' who had to keep all their buttons done up, 'two yearers' who could undo one jacket button, 'three yearers' who could undo two and 'four yearers' who could wear fancy waistcoats and put their hands in their pockets. 'Five yearers' were said to be allowed to grow moustaches or even marray a wife if such a thing were available. If 'four yearers' mixed with 'one yearers' the worst was suspected and very often turned out to be true.

I cannot say I found Harrow brutal or my time particularly unhappy, but life there never approached the Elizabethan splendours and miseries of my prep school. Harrow's great advantage was that we had rooms of our own, although in the first year these had to be shared with one other boy, and these did provide a sort of oasis of privacy. Each room had a coal fire and a wooden bed which let down from the wall on which various political slogans were burned in poker-work, such as 'Death to the Boers' and 'No Home Rule for Ireland.' You could bring your own furniture and set out your own books on the shelves and enjoy some of the privileges of a long-term, good conduct prisoner (it's rightly said that the great advantage of an English public school education is that no subsequent form of captivity can hold any particular terror for you. A friend who was put to work on the Burma railway once told me that he was greeted, on arrival, by a fellow prisoner-of-war who said, 'Cheer up. It's not half as bad as Marlborough'). (-- pgs. 47-48)


According to A Review of Section 264 (Criminal Harassment) of the Criminal Code of Canada, Richard Gill, Alderson-Gill & Associates Consulting Inc., Joan Brockman, Datalex Socio-legal Research and Consulting Ltd., October 1996:

... Criminal harassment can take place at work, for reasons unrelated to the above categories. Such harassment may be perpetrated by co-workers (motivated perhaps by jealousy, or racist or sexist attitudes), by clients (unhappy with services or expected benefits), or by those who are protesting the type of work carried out by the worker (anti-abortionists, etc.). Criminal harassment may also occur between bickering neighbours. Where technology goes, stalkers will follow. More recently, the question of criminal harassment by e-mail has been raised. (footnotes omitted)

What is criminal harassment?

Criminal harassment is an offence in the Criminal Code. It is harassing behaviour that includes stalking. The behaviour must give you good reason to fear for your personal safety and it must have no legitimate purpose. Generally, the behaviour must happen not just once but repeatedly. However, where the behaviour is overtly threatening, a single incident may be considered criminal harassment. It is not an excuse for the person to claim that he or she did not intend to frighten you. ... (From Canada's Family Violence Initiative accessed online Nov. 5/09)

When harassment becomes a hate crime:

Additional Hate Provisions

The courts may define the motivations of hate, bias or prejudice as aggravating factors when sentencing an offender for other offences, such as assault, damage to property, threatening, or harassment. The result is usually a more severe punishment section 718.2(a)(i). (From Media Awareness Network).

More about civil remedies, including monetary damages, for bullying/harassment.