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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Accusations and Grandstanding Lead To Soured Friendship

Altered friendships and loss of public trust--that's what the Former Finance Commissioner says happened after John Ferguson openly challenged goings-on at city hall.

Andrew Beckett saying he was personally effected by Ferguson's public questions. He says he was stopped and questioned by members of the public, and that his relationships with family and friends suffered.

Beckett telling the court the repeated questions were frustrating because Ferguson's information was incorrect.

Beckett also said Ferguson was trying to use his notoriety to go for the mayor's job in the May 2008 election, and that once he lost, Ferguson stopped making a public fuss about the issue.

The cross-examination if Beckett begins tomorrow.

Changing Temps Lead To Pothole Increase

No doubt you've been swerving to avoid a pothole or two on the way to and from work recently.
The City of Saint John's Municipal Operations department receiving many calls since the beginning of the month with a lack of snow on the road and the freeze/thaw cycle breaking up the asphalt.
Deputy Commissioner Kevin Rice tells CHSJ News says when crews are not clearing snow, they are surveying the city examining the roads and keeping up with potholes.

He says their mandate is too fill the potholes with cold mix which is a temporary fix until the hot asphalt plant opens in the spring.
Rice says the cold fix is a very sticky material and as vehicles especially transports drive over the pothole, the material sticks to the tires and gets pulled out of the hole a little bit at a time.   He says they have situations where they have go back and refill a pothole that was repaired a day or a week earlier.

To report a pothole, call  658-4455 or click here

Body Identified As Missing Fredericton Woman

A woman's body found on the banks of the St. John River has been identified.
Fredericton police says its Elizabeth Ruth Fellows who was reported missing nearly a month ago.

The 41-year-old was last seen January 25th near the Devon Plaza on the north side of the city.
A person walking near the Devon Plaza on Sunday discovered the body near the river.

A warming tent was put up near the scene and the body was removed last night.
An autopsy will be held to determine how Fellows died.

Innovatia Gets Federal Dollars To Market Emerging Software

Local tech company Innovatia getting big money from the federal government in order to help develop and sell an emerging software product for oil and gas companies.

The company receiving 376-thousand dollars and Innovatia General Manager Blair Morgan says the money will help the company develop, market, and sell the product.

The software speeds up the creation of technical instructions.

Irving Oil currently uses the product.

Finance Minister Told To Increase Taxes On Rich In The Province

Now that Finance Minister Blaine Higgs has finished up his pre-budget consultations, the time has come for number crunching.

Jason Edwards of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives tells CHSJ News the tax cuts implemented in 2008 by the previous Liberal Government should be done away with because they didn't do anything for the provincial economy.

Edwards has co-authored a report calling for changes that include the tax rate on those people earning more than 150 thousand dollars a year in the province rising to 21 per cent and more than 17 per cent for those New Brunswickers earning over 116 thousand dollars annually.
He estimates government revenues could increase by more than 260 million dollars a year and that extra money could be used where it's really need in public services such as health and education.

Elections NB Is Looking For Candidates

Did you ever consider taking a stab at municipal politics?
Your chance is coming up with municipal elections to be held across the province on May 14th.

Chief Electoral Officer Michael Quinn tells CHSJ News because of a lack of media attention the people thinking about running municipally find out too late.

He says they have found in talking to people after elections that if they had known sooner that it was happening they would have thrown their name in the hat. 

In an effort to create awareness of the May 14th vote, Quinn is touring the province speaking to different groups on how the process works and why it's important to run.

Quinn tells the municipal level is where you can have the most impact politically because its where the issues really impact people in their daily lives.  

For more info, click here

Ferguson's Accusations Are Refuted At Defamation Trial

The defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson has been told no key information about the early retirement programme was withheld from Common Council.
Former Finance Commissioner Andrew Beckett told the court there was alot of frustration at the Pension Board about Ferguson's accusations and he wasn't aware of any Pension Board trustee playing politics. 

The jury was shown a video of then City Manager Terry Totten calling Ferguson's numbers and conclusions incorrect. 

Totten tells Common Council the early retirefment programme saved the city over 5 million dollars and he was unaware of any claim for disability being approved without proper medical documentation or because someone didn't get along with their supervisor.

City Unveils Energy Dashboard

A 42-inch monitor now up in the Shops of City Hall displays real time monthly and yearly energy use and savings at the Saint John Transit building.

Some of the data shown on the big screen includes CO2 production, money saved in energy costs and the leaders in water savings.

Energy Manager Samir Yammine tells CHSJ News it's important to tell the public how investing in green buildings pays off and he predicts $320,000 in savings by the end of the year.

He adds similar dashboards will be rolled out in other buildings including Peel Plaza.

February Holiday Ruled Out

Don't look for a February holiday happening in our province anytime soon.

Family Day is a holiday in four other provinces including Alberta and Ontario but the Premier says another holiday wouldn't be good for small businesses many of which are on shaky ground and facing economic challenges such as an increase in the minimum wage which is due to take effect in September.
The Premier goes on to say the state of the economy is just too fragile right now and we already have a number of holidays throughout the year.

Jury Watches Common Council Blast John Ferguson

The jury in the John Ferguson defamation trial watching more excerpts from Common Council meetings.

They watched the night where Ferguson presented his report to council about perceived issues and misconduct by the pension board, specifically regarding employees receiving permanent disability benefits without a valid reason.

But other councillors not happy with the report -- both Councillor Christ Titus and Deputy Mayor Michelle Hooten calling the report smoke and mirrors with no concrete evidence.

Titus says he was offended that as a pension trustee, Ferguson is making allegations that the board would be rubber-stamping benefits without proper justification.

Former City Finance Commissioner Andrew Beckett remains on the stand and will continue his testimony today.