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Monday, March 5, 2012

Slipp Barely Budges in Ferguson Trial Testimony

“If you're going to make statements, you're going to have to back them up.” That from Rod Gillis to Fred Slipp, who testified John Ferguson's comments were full of defamatory inferences and innuendo against the board.

Slipp testifying comments from Ferguson about three trustees suggested they were creating a paper trail to cover wrong-doing--and that harmed the reputation of the whole board.

In an excited back and forth, Gillis said, “Beckett, Nugent and Totten are three members of the pension board--they might also be three members of the YMCA! Are you capable of answering my question?”

Slipp responding Ferguson's comments carried connotations the councillors were quote, "covering their butts", to which Gillis responded it was only reasonable for employees of the city to do that.

Gillis said the board was dysfunctional because problems first identified in the late 1980s weren't addressed until 2007, sticking the city with a 200 million dollar bill.

Inmate Sentenced For 2nd Degree Murder Of Cult Leader

60-year-old Matthew Gerard MacDonald has been sentenced to 25 years in prison with no possibility for parole for the second degree murder of 63-year-old Roch Thériault.

Thériault died after an altercation with MacDonald at Dorchester Penitentiary on February 26th of last year.  Both were inmates at the prison.

Theriault was infamous for being a cult leader and was serving a life sentence for murdering one of his cult members.

Another Milestone Reached At Point Lepreau

The last major construction activity at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant has been finished with the completion of the 760 lower feeder installations ahead of schedule. 

The installations are likened to completing a complex, three dimensional puzzle that has to be assembled in a defined sequence. 

The next major activity will be loading new fuel into the reactor which is scheduled to begin this month. 

NB Power is reporting the plant is still expected to return to service by the fall of 2012.

Meantime, NB Power is suing its insurers for more than $320 million over delays and mistakes made in the refurbishment and Atomic Energy of Canada has filed a similar claim for roughly $204 million.

Longtime Schoolboard Member Running For Common Council

John McKenzie, a former chair and still a member of the District 8 Education Council, announcing he will be seeking a seat on Common Council in Ward 2 which is the north end. 

MacKenzie wants to see more attention paid to revitalising the North End although he has seen improvement.

MacKenzie also wants to see a focus on attracting small businesses to the core of the city where there are several vacant storefronts. 

Ward 2 is currently represented by the principal at Millidgeville North, Gary Sullvan and Patty Higgins.

Mayor Angered By Criticism About Funding For The "Y"

Mayor Ivan Court is rejecting any criticism about the city not helping out the YM-YWCA with its new building in the north end at Crescent Valley.

Court calls the criticisms voiced last week by Saint John Portland M-L-A Trevor Holder "inappropriate". 

Holder is frustrated by the "Y" being removed from the city's capital budget because of budget cutbacks but Court says the city is helping out the 'Y" by closing off a couple of streets and might also give them three pieces of land they need for their new building, scheduled to open up in 2014. 

The Mayor says Common Council also had to remove upgrades to the convention centre and the proposed field house at E-P-R from the capital budget because there was no funding from either the province or the federal government. 

Court is suggesting Holder's criticism may have more to do with his support of another candidate who's running for Mayor.

Defamation Trial Told A Pension Board Trustee Wants Independent Audit

The defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson is continuing with the cross examination of Pension Board trustee Fred Slipp.
Ferguson's lawyer Rod Gillis questioned Sleep about a letter another pension board trustee, Glen Tait wrote in 2006 calling for an independent audit of the city's pension plan while adding the pension board trustees don't fully comprehend what has happened to the plan. 

Tait went on to say the silence of the Pension Board could be seen an an admission of mismanagement. Gillis also pointed out that criticisms of the pension plan were being made by other people besides Ferguson.
Slipp, under questioning by Gillis, testified the pension board never recommended indexing be removed even though it was told such a step would save the city's pension plan 29 million dollars.

Slipp also agreed with Gillis the number of disability pensions approved in the city was 3 and a half times the national average as well as costing the pension plan 3 million dollars a year and by 2004 contributions going in were less than the benefits being paid out.

Meteorologist Gives the Scoop on Spring Outlook

It's been a weirdly mild winter, and a lot of New Brunswickers are wondering what to expect from the spring outlook.

Meteorologist Gina Wressler has some answers. She tells CHSJ News that New Brunswick gets about 50 centimeters of snow in March, and this year won't be much different. So although we're definitely not out of the woods yet when it comes to snowfall, we are getting there. Wressler says we'll likely see a few more storms between now and May.

She calls spring weather in New Brunswick a "roller coaster" when it comes to temperatures and precipitation, but adds that the general trend is toward warmer temperatures.

RCMP Seize Enough Pot For 300,000 Joints

A 22-year old man and a 25-year-old woman from York Country facing charges after an RCMP sting on their home.

The pair were running a grow op out of their residence containing 600 pot plants. According to RCMP, that's enough to roll 300,000 joints. They also found a  restricted handgun.

They will appear in court at a later date to face related charges. The bust was part of the Marihuana Grow Initiative, the RCMP's national strategy to stamp out grown operations. 

Museum President Says The Institutuion Must Understand Its Purpose

The President of the New Brunswick Museum says people need to understand its purpose, what it does well and how it connects to the Province.
John Irving tells CHSJ News you have to understand what you have in order to appreciate it.

He says the museum is the repository for the story of the province that has already been written but we need to write the story of the province going forward but should do it as informed citizens.

Irving accepted a 3-year term as president of the New Brunswick Museum last month.

Grame Stewart-Robertson Wants to Be Your Next Mayor

Think long term, Saint John--that from mayoral candidate Graeme Stewart Robertson. As an a urban geographer and project manager for ACAP, he says he had the know-how and vision to make much-needed changes with how the city is run.

He tells CHSJ News the mayor's seat requires critical thinking skills and the ability to listen to what the public want--and that's not temporary Band-Aids.

Stewart-Robertson says he's seen the city's much-publicized financial woes as a challenge that he could potentially turn around if elected. As an a urban geographer and project manager for ACAP, he says he had the know-how and vision to make much-needed changes with how the city is run.

Photo Credit: Kelly Lawson

Provincial NDP Says The Environment Is Getting Short Shrift

Provincial NDP leader Dominic Cardy charges the Alward Government is sending out a message the environment isn't important with the recent cabinet shuffle. 

The previous Environment Minister Margaret Ann Blaney is now at Energy and Environment is now part of the Local Government portfolio under cabinet minister Bruce Fitch. 

Cardy tells CHSJ News Fitch will have his hands full trying to reorganise local government which is already delayed. He questions how the Premier will be able to come up with these world class regulations on shale gas exploration if it's being done part time.

Cardy goes on to say he believes the fracking companies will see this as a green light to explore in the province without much restriction or restraint.

Weekend Flooding On East Side

The heavy rain on Saturday caused some flooding problems out east on Rothesay Avenue and Westmorland Road near McAllister Place and Parkway Mall. 

It was slow going for traffic but no streets had to be closed. 

The long range forecast is calling for heavy rain again on Friday.
(Photo Courtesy Of Mark McGraw)