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Monday, March 26, 2012

Belyea Calls Ferguson's Facts "Out to Lunch"

Completely out to lunch and completely wrong—that was Constable Andrew Belyea's testimony about John Ferguson's claim disability tacked 5.9 million dollars onto the pension plan.

Defence lawyer Rod Gillis argued  Belyea didn't even look at  a slide-show Ferguson presented in council, which he says  explained the figure. Belyea responded, “I didn't need to bother--all the numbers he was starting with were wrong in the first place.”

Belyea called Ferguson's information, “non-factual facts,” saying Ferguson should have asked about disability pensions during a presentation by Kevin Estabrooks--rather than lashing out a few months later with bogus information. But the court saw a video that indicated the mayor prohibited questions after that presentation.

Common Council Tonight

Fuel Load Underway At Lepreau

Employees at Point Lepreau began loading the first of more than 4500 new fuel bundles back into the reactor on Saturday.
Kathleen Duguay of NB Power tells CHSJ News this is an important milestone in the refurbishment.

She says it's a very complex task because the workers need to ensure it's the fuel bundle has been inspected and it's the going in the right sequence inside the reactor.

Each fuel bundle is about the size of fire log and weighs about 22 kilograms.
The reactor is due to be restarted this fall.

Local NDP'er Says Mulcair Will Be Able To Take On The Bullies

The NDP candidate for Saint John in the last federal election, Rob Moir isn't saying whether he supported the new NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Having said that, Rob Moir tells CHSJ News Mulcair is the type of scrappy personality who'll be able to duke it out with the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party's attack machine.

Moir says the worry that Mulcair will change the policy direction of the NDP is unfounded because the leader has to pay attention to what the party members want.

Moir believes the Harper Government is vulnerable on the bread and butter economic issues of how families are getting by these days and the environment.

Ferguson Defamation Trial Coverage Continues

Marigolds On Main Looking To Honour Those Who Give Back

Marigolds on Main is all about children and learning.

That's why organiser Barry Ogden tells CHSJ News two people who help children in the city will be honoured with the Marigold award.

He says the names of deserving nominees can be passed on to him at Saint John High.

They also have another couple of projects on the go......To get more trees planted in the city and have more families growing their own food in community gardens which would be healthier and less expensive.

Protestors Mourn Cuts to Public Services

A mock funeral was recently held in King Square--for public services in the city of Saint John. Over a hundred citizens attended to protest cuts to the bus services, which have eliminated some routes people need to get to work.

Community activist Tammy Calvin tells CHSJ News it takes her upwards of an hour to take transit from her home to the grocery store out East. She says there's no shopping in the North End, and she finds herself waiting around for ages at Place 400. The trip, she says, can take more than an hour altogether.

Calvin says there's going to be ongoing actions to protest the cuts--and people should be angry, because these are essential services.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Working To Shorten Waitlist

Big Brothers Big Sisters in Saint John reaching the half way point in their goal to get 100 men signed up as big brothers in one year.
Public Relations Officer Deanna Gamble says it's an effort to reduce the 88 names of boys on their waiting list.

Gamble tells CHSJ News for those who want to become a Big Brother the process includes an interview so their caseworkers can get to know who you are.

She says the interview looks at your interests and behaviour and it also includes a background check and a vulnerable sector check to protect yourself and to protect their children.

53 big brothers have been matched with little brothers so far but, Gamble says their waiting list is still growing for boys and girls.
For more info, click here

Pension Board Accused Of Not Answering Questions About City's Pension Plan

The lawyer for former Common Councillor John Ferguson is accusing the Pension Board of not being transparent and not having a good communications policy despite its claims to the contrary.

Rod Gillis points out questions from Ferguson about the city's pension plan raised in 2006 were never answered. Pension Board lawyer Hugh Wright testified he reviewed those questions in 2009 and told the jury they were not inappropriate.

Despite that, he maintains the extended meaning or understanding of what Ferguson was saying is defamatory.

The jury has been told of a letter Ivan Court wrote in 2007 when he was a Common Councillor before becoming Mayor the following year. In the letter, Court warns proceeding with the lawsuit against Ferguson would set a dangerous precedent and questions what would be gained.

Common Councillor and former Pension Board trustee, Chris Titus also wrote a letter saying questions were being raised about the city's pension plan with good intentions but without a full understanding of the facts.

Another Telephone Scam Making The Rounds

St Martins residents are the latest to be hit by yet another telephone scam - this one claiming to represent N-B Power and it deals with a change in billing procedures.
One resident who received the call tells us it came from a California area code.
N-B Power spokesperson Melissa Morton tells CHSJ News it's part of the ongoing telephone scams with callers claiming to represent the utility.
She says if you receive one of these calls - don't give any information and contact your local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or click here.

Aids Saint John Says Sex Ed Key To Reducing HIV/AIDS

Aids Saint John plans to use a large portion of the 223 thousand dollars it received last week from the federal government to get the word out to young people about unsafe behaviour.

Aids Saint John Executive Director Julie Dingwell believes that is key to reducing the number of new cases along with sex education arguing its a myth to say if you teach sex education to young people, it encourages them to engage in sexual activity sooner.

Dingwell also sees a connection between HIV/AIDS and the outbreak of syphillis in the province along with the fact the chlamydia rates in New Brunswick are among the highest in the country.

Taxpayers Federation Calling For Spending Cuts In Budget

The provincial budget will be unveiled tomorrow and the consensus appears to be there will be major cuts in spending.

At least that's the hope of Kevin Lacey, the Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, who tells CHSJ News the provincial government has been on a spending binge over the last five years. Yet, Lacey argues we have not seen the same improvement in services.

Lacey adds raising taxes would be a bad thing right now considering the fragile state of the provincial economy.

The Premier reportedly has ruled out a hike in the gas tax.

Water Restrictions In Red Head

If you live in Red Head, your water pressure could be dropping because of work that's starting on the well located along Seaward Crescent. 

This is part of the next phase to improve the water supply in Red Head and mandatory water restrictions will be in effect starting at 9 this morning lasting for up to two weeks
The Seaward Crescent well will be taken offline leaving only the Ocean Drive well in operation. That's why there could be less water pressure during periods of high consumption.

City Pension Plan's Future Coming Up At Common Council Tonight

The city's financially beleaguered pension plan comes up at Common Council tonight as testimony resumes this morning at the defamation trial of former Common Councillor John Ferguson. 

Councillor Patty Higgins will be calling on City Manager Pat Woods, who is a member of the Pension Board, to come up with a report on the transition of the city's pension plan from defined benefits to an R-R-S-P model. 

Testimony at the trial last week revealed the Pension Board considered a switch to defined contributions from defined benefits in 2006 but such a recommendation was never made to Common Council. 

Witnesses still to be hear from are said to include Mayor Ivan Court, City Solicitor John Nugent and Finance Commissioner Greg Yeomans.