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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Chosen For The Rothesay Read

If you're a bookworm, you'll be happy to know that the book for the 4th annual Rothesay Read has been chosen.

Event Chair Mary Ann Gallagher tells CHSJ News the book will be "The Book of (Even More) Awesome" by Canadian author Neil Pasricha.

She says the book reminds you about great feelings you can get from life's smallest and most trivial things -- like bubble wrap and bakery air.

Students and staff at Rothesay High School as well as community groups will be reading the novel.

The event comes to an end on May 11th with a visit from the author.

Morrison Says Ferguson Was Engaging in A Whisper Campaign

City solicitor John Nugent testifying at the John Ferguson defamation trial while he became numb to Ferguson's comments after a point, they were still provoking and offensive.Pension board lawyer Barry Morrison asked Nugent whether he believed Ferguson was engaging in a whisper campaign. Nugent says he was certainly trying to raise the value of his own stock in the public eye.

The jury saw a video of the July 17, 2006 council meeting in which Ferguson made many of his accusations. In that meeting, Nugent advisted council is had to seek a full disclosure of any proofthat would support Ferguson's comments. Other councillors disparaged the presentation as a waste of time, and nothing but smoke and mirrors.

Nugent told the court he found Ferguson's comments disturbing.

Convervation Council Gives A Thumbs Down To New Forest Plan

Daivd Coon of the Conservation Council not happy with the province's new forest management plan.

The new management plan will reduce the area of conservation forest from 30.5% to 28% of the overall forest

Coon tells CHSJ News the new trees planted after a clear-cutting operation aren't the same habitat as a natural forest.

He says the plan ultimately chips away at protection measures for water and wildlife.

North End Common Councillor Running Again

The Principal of Millidgeville North and former head of One Change, Gary Sullivan will be seeking re-election in Ward 2.

Sullivan tells CHSJ News he wants to see pension reform that insulates the taxpayer from having to cough up big bucks to keep the plan afloat. He's asking what transitioning to a defined contributions plan would entail.
Sullivan says Common Council has done alot when you consider it's spending more money than ever on the roads, which are high up among the concerns of Saint Johnners according to surveys, Harbour Cleanup is being finished up and a new municipal plan, cobbled together by Plan SJ, will chart development over the next generation.

Another Candidate Comes Forward For Municipal Election

A long time uptown resident and volunteer is entering the fray of municipal politics -- Donna Reardon will be running for a seat on council to represent Ward 3.

She tells CHSJ News while one of her election planks is making sure infrastructure and services are in place to attract families to live in the city centre, she will address the needs of her entire ward.

She says some of her priorities will be clean water and roads.

Reardon currently sits on the board of directors for Uptown Saint John and chairs the finance committee at St. John the Baptist Church.

Ferguson Defamation Trial Coverage

City Solicitor Says Former Common Councillor Left Impression "Pension Board Was Up To No Good"

City Solicitor John Nugent has testified it was more the impression left by former Common Councillor John Ferguson, than what he specifically said, that cast the Pension Board in a bad light.

Nugent told the defamation trial, Saint John's pension problems were not comparable to San Diego's where there were lawsuits and a fraud investigation. Nugent says it was like day and night. Nugent told the court the reference made by Ferguson to San Diego in a public presentation to Common Council left the impression the Pension Board was up to no good.

When asked about Ferguson's reference to a desperate gambler, Nugent testified he thought that referred to the city's early retirement programme which transferred costs on to the pension plan.

Nugent told the jury Ferguson did not provide any information he claimed to have about the pension plan from professional people but left it hanging thereby leaving the impression of misdeeds and misconduct.

Ward 4 Candidate Reveals Some Key Election Planks

Safe drinking water, better roads, and continued harbour clean-up---those are some of the city's top priorities according to Scott Waddell. He's running to represent Ward 4 in the upcoming election and says he'd give current council a C or a D for its performance.

Waddell tells CHSJ News there's a sense of discontent in Saint John with our elected representatives, especially in light of the high-profile John Ferguson trial.  He says people don't have the trust in politics that they once had.

Other goals Waddell outlines in his platform include supporting development (including PlanSJ) and pushing for more recreation facilities.

East Side Councillor Not Running Again

Common Councillor Bruce Court will not be running in the spring election in Ward 4.
Court tells CHSJ News he won't be re-offering due to issues with his health. He may soon be undergoing a back operation.

We earlier reported Ward 2 Councillor Gary Sullivan has decided not to seek re-election but that turns out not to be the case. 

Sullivan tells CHSJ News he will be running again May 14th.

Energy Saved During Earth Hour

Those people who participated in Earth Hour 2012 over the weekend in the province saved enough energy to power approximately 15,000 homes. 

NB Power is reporting that's the equivalent to turning off more than 2.1 million 13 watt compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Warning About Moose In Valley

Drivers in the area of Gondola Point Road and Sherwood Park being warned by Rothesay Regional Police to be on the lookout for a moose. 

Police received a report around 10:45 last night about a moose running about and causing a bit of havoc. It was nowhere to be seen when police arrived. 

They were told it's large but not fully grown. Police say if a moose gets scared and starts running amok, it can cause serious damage.

Pension Board Alarmed By What Finance Minister Said

The city's Pension Board responding to comments attributed to Provincial Finance Minister Blaine Higgs about its investment strategy being double or nothing with a reference to spending time in a casino. 

The Board is asking for a meeting with Higgs to clarify the role of the trustees when investments were made saying they took the advice of qualified professional investment advisors and were in compliance with the provincial Pension Benefits Act. 

One of those investments, as revealed at the defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson, was Nortel when went down the tubes.

The city is trying to get approval from the province for changes to the pension plan.

City Will Pay Up Despite Last Week's Vote

Turns out the city will be making good on an $800,000 pension payment--the one council voted against making last week. Councillors Patty Higgins and Bill Farren had voted nay to protest what they see as the chronic mismanagement of the pension plan. But legal counsel Melanie Thompkins advised the motion to pay passed anyway, because it had a simple majority. Normally a two-thirds majority is required.

Mayor Ivan Court said the payment isn't going to come out all at once, but rather be planned into the budget over a period of years.

Councillor Bill Farren had voted with Councillor Patty Higgins against making the payment. He said plenty of motions have been defeated because they didn't have a 2-thirds majority--and if these are actually the rules, they should be revisited. Higgins appeared outraged by motion, saying the city has done nothing concrete to deal with the city's pension woes.

Flooded Hospital Still Closed

As the village of Perth Andover battles major post-flood clean-up, there's no word yet on when the hospital will re-open. Fortunately, there's been no significant oil damage to the building--which means it will likely be made safe again.

Dionne tells CHSJ News people have had to make alternate arrangements while the hospital building gets assessed, heading to Tobique Medical Centre, Waterville, Grand Falls, and elsewhere.

Several school in Perth Andover also remain closed--and the high school won't re-open again until the next school year.