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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Utility Responds To CCNB Criticism

NB Power responding to the Conservation Council's claims  Point Lepreau is 40 times more likely to suffer an earthquake leading to a nuclear accident than previously thought.

The Crown utility says Point Lepreau is safe and the misleading comments by the Conservation council are an attempt to undermine trust in the generating station.

In a release, NB Power refers to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission who state the structures and systems have been designed to safely survive earthquakes.

It goes on to say that Point Lepreau is located in an area of much lower seismic hazard risk than Fukushima.

Weather Prevents Acadia From Coming Back

Maintenance is finished on the Princess of Acadia but because of a rough weather system coming up the Eastern seaboard, the ferry won't be running until next Tuesday.

Edwards Makes The Case For A Line-Painting Truck

Money the taxpayers don't need to spend.....that from Common Councillor Bill Farren on the purchase of a new street line-painting truck approved by common council. Transportation Commissioner Bill Edwards says the 250-thousand dollar vehicle has some much-needed features.

He says the new truck has the capability of heating the paint which means it dries much faster when its put on a street and crews can work in weather that is somewhat damp where they can't today.

Edwards says the large amout of sand and salt we put on the roads acts liker sandpaper and constantly repainting lines with older equipment is costly.

Computers Stolen From City Hall

Security is now a little tighter at city hall, after the theft of several voting computers from Council Chambers.

The equipment was stolen from where Common Council holds its regular Monday night meetings--one of them from the mayor's seat
A source at City Hall telling CHSJ News someone made off with the devices after a meeting last week. Chris Dever, the mayor's executive assistant, tells CHSJ News the stolen equipment did not contain any sensitive information--and besides, the thief left the power cords behind.

Staff have changed the locks and are ensuring the Council Chambers are secure when not in use.

NDP Aiming To Stop Patronage With Government Jobs

The leader of the Provincial NDP introducing two draft bills in hopes of cutting patronage within the government.

In the first bill, Dominic Cardy suggests that once an MLA is defeated or resigns, they can't get a government job appointed by the government for a year. Cardy says that cooling off period would leave positions open for competition. He points to Margaret Ann-Blaney's appointment as CEO for Efficiency New Brunswick as an appointment that could've been stopped.

The second bill relates to NB Liquor, with the aim of removing political influence when appointing a new president and CEO of the crown cooperation. Cardy says the province has a weird history of hiring campaign managers, like the current CEO Daniel Allain and former premier Shawn Graham's campaign manager Dana Glendenning.

Cardy says people should be hired on their merits, not by who they know. He says New Brunswick is far behind many provinces in Canada and places across the world that have rules such as this in place to stop patronage.

Big Box Retailers Could Also Help Fill Vacancies Uptown

Mayor Mel Norton might see Saint John as the "renaissance city"; however, the fact remains that there are still more boarded up storefronts in the uptown than most would like to see. 

Common Councillor Donna Reardon tells CHSJ News despite the effort put into of PlanSJ the focus of retail development is still the sprawl of big-box stores on the East Side.

Reardon proprise Saint John should strike the same sort of deal with big-box retailers as have some European countries, in which have to put a satellite location in the uptown if they want to open up in the mall area.

Foundation Updates Grant Application Process

It will soon be that time of year again..when local charities apply for grants from the Greater Saint John Community Foundation.
Executive Director Clare Northcott tells CHSJ News they made some changes so busy local charities are not spending a lot of time filling out a complicated application for a $3000 grant.

She says they streamlined the application process with two majors categories. The Community Support Grants program offers grants of a maximum of $3000 and the Vital Impact Grants offers support between $3000 and $15,000.

The application deadline for these grants in April 15th.

Northcott says wonderful donors put the Foundation's assets at 9.9 million dollars. She tells us the investment income is used to support grants in our community.   For more info, click here

Salary Increase For Some City Police Members Approved

Police in management and professional positions are getting a cost of living increase after living with a wage freeze for 3 years.

The decision for a 1.25% increase followed by another 1.25% in July getting the final approval by Police Commission after it was decided earlier this year by Common Council. Police Chief Bill Reid says the economic increase is long overdue, and puts the 16 managers in line with other forces in the province.

The increase applies to the Chief and Deputy Chief of Police, staff sergeants, director of HR and finance among others.

Concerns Over Risk Of Severe Nuclear Accident Happening At Lepreau

NB Power is being accused of grossly underestimating the risk posed to the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant by an earthquake.

The charge being made by Chris Rouse of the Conservation Council's Action Group who is using the preliminary results of NB Power's own study released recently to make the case.

Rouse says a new seismic study shows a severe nuclear accident occurring at Point Lepreau is 40 times more likely than previously said and the chance of a severe accident happening with a large release of radiation is four times more likely than believed at the time of licensing. He goes so far as to say the Lepreau reactor is one of the most dangerous in North America.

Rouse warns the next significant earthquake in New Brunswick is expected to be centred in Passamaquoddy Bay with Lepreau nearby.

Fire Next To Community College

There was an electrical fire in an apartment at 906 Grandview Avenue, next to the Community College, causing alot of smoke. 

It's believed the fire started through the careless use of an extension cord.

Pension Plan Still Causing Headaches

Debate continues over compensation for the city's pension trustees.

Union representatives have been digging in their heels on being compensated for lost wages incurred while sitting on the board. Mayor Mel Norton tells CHSJ News the city employees were not seeking compensation; on the contrary, the city is sensitive to every additional dollar being paid out of the beleagured plan.

Norton says trustee will now receive up to $700 daily for the lost wages, which will come out of the pension plan. That figure is considerablt less than the $1,500 requested in the initial document received by counsel.

This snag is the most recent in a series of revisions to the Declaration of Trust, including caps on travel expenses for job-related training.

Police Get The Low Down On Fraud

Prevention and education are the tools used to put a stop to fraud.

Sgt. Tony Hayes giving a presentation to Police Commission on how to identify fraud and what are some common schemes. Popular scenarios that circulate around Saint John include a Microsoft telephone scam saying you're computer is infected, being a mystery shopper but getting "paid" through fraudulent cheques, the Nigerian scam and counterfeit bills. Hayes says the rule of thumb is if it's too good to be true, something must be up.

The biggest victims are seniors. Hayes says they're less internet savvy, and if they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's it makes tracking down the scammer that much harder. He says often seniors will put their trust in care takers, giving them their cards and pin numbers to run errands for them. That can turn ugly, if the senior finds the trustee has misused their account.

Hayes admits there's a slim chance anyone schemed out of their money will ever get it back. A big problem is internet scammers are across many borders, making it tricky to track them down and take direct action.

Hayes says when you learn to drive you study a book and practice. He believes that should be the same with protecting yourself on the internet, where you can google "common frauds" and educate yourself on what's out there.

City Police has 2 full-time investigators that deal directly with scams. There work with an average of 400 cases a year, where priority cases come first but everyone gets dealt with.

Even More Alleged Victims Against Snook

Even more alleged victims are coming forward against former Common Councillor Donnie Snook.

Police Chief Bill Reid says they're investigating anyone coming forward and suspect they'll be doing this investigation for awhile. They're interviewing parents, children and working closely with RCMP to uncover as much as they can. Reid says their main concern is working with the alleged victims and putting the charges together.

Reid couldn't specify how many more people have come forward, but doesn't believe it will push back Snook's bail hearing on March 11. He suspects by then they'll have more cases to push forward.

40-year-old Snook is facing 8 charges in total, relating to child pornography, child exploitation, and sexual interference with a child under 16. Snook was arrested at his home on January 9th and resigned as a Councillor on the 17th.