Broken News

Don’t read the news much? We’ll keep you in the loop here every Wednesday morning by summarizing three local news stories that broke in the last week.

 1.) St. John’s snowclearing cuts ain’t too funny, just ask local comedian Matt Wright Whose Car Paid for Our City’s Poor Judgment.

As of this weekend, St. John’s city council sheared its snowclearing staff down from 180 to 50.  City officials, instead of agreeing with the people of the city that they made a dumb call, are now scrambling to say Monday’s storm was “worse than expected.” A funny statement given it’s precisely what local meteorologists claimed was coming. There’s even more snow coming this week, and of that, they’re saying, “The probability is that that’s going to be a mix of snow and rain which won’t be a long-lasting storm as far as snowclearing goes.” Actually, I believe the weather station is calling for a “Weather BOMB.” There worst one of the winter. Anyway, here’s the kicker: despite the forecasted storm and its fallout on our streets, the city insisted the remaining crew of fifty could handle it — which sounds like something presumptuous only a politician who has never worked on a snow clearing crew would say. (The snowclearing crew and their union would beg to differ.) As a result of their braindead judgment, the entire city is out here enraged, trying our best not to run over pedestrians and crash into each other. It’s not going so well. The photo below is of a garbage truck that lost control on our unkempt streets and smashed into comedian Matt Wright’s legendary Toyota Corolla. I get it, sometimes budgets get busted and cuts have to happen, but, that would never happen if our government was smart enough to do some basic projections on what snowclearing would cost in a city that’s seen, what, two hundred and something winters? My God, there’s kids in high school who could better plan for a winter of snow clearing. (Calculate the average of what snowclearing cost in the last five years: set that aside before winter starts; add a cushion of ten grand.) You an read Matt Wright’s recap of the event by clicking here.


Photo by Matt Wright. “We have another storm coming this week. What’s your plan, City? Right now it looks like the original plan was to lay off employees in charge of snow clearing and force your remaining employees to do their jobs in unsafe conditions. You need a new plan. You owe me a car. I need a ride to hockey on Friday.”

2.) The Provincial Government Would Like Us Using Less Energy, But Would Not Like to Help Us Do So.

Our government’s been telling us since The Christmas 2013 Blackouts, “Please, conserve energy, use less electricity!” Clearly, the blackouts prove that we’re not generating enough electricity to meet the province’s demand for electricity. Our wise leaders’ solution? Hey, use less, or endure rolling blackouts! “Conserve, conserve, conserve!” But how, and what is the government doing on their end to help us do so? There is TakeChargeNL, which basically offers savings on things like insulation, programmable thermostats, and offers like “Save $350 when you upgrade to fancy EnergyStar windows,” but that’s hardly a solution because many people rent their homes, so they can’t re-insulate or slap new windows in. Many homeowners simply can’t find the time or money to do so. And should our energy crisis really be on us to fund a solution for? (That’s a question, not a statement.) We are basically being told to simply not use heat, not watch TV. According to the CBC, “The only provincial government program that still exists is the Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP), which is designed for low-income homeowners — those who make up to $32,500 annually. REEP mostly focuses on seniors and widowers, who get $3,000 on the island (or $4,000 for residents in Labrador) to help with energy-efficiency retrofits in their homes.” And here’s the kicker: while asking us to use less energy, they’re slashing funding to help us do so: in the 2013 budget, the province cut its REEP program in half, resulting in only 500 homes (instead of 1000) receiving this grant. The solution, it seems, isn’t which funds to cut or how to make our homes more energy efficient (though that is a wise and noble endeavour) but rather: find us a clean and renewable new source of energy to meet our rising energy demand. The government claims it cut funding to REEP because our province “spends more per capita on each individual in this province for health care than any other province in Canada, so our priorities are a little different, our challenges are a little different than in Nova Scotia.” Here’s a thought, make Newfoundlanders healthier, with an education campaign or incentives that will get Newfoundlanders off unhealthy food and smokes. Maybe this: everyone whose blood tests clean for nicotine and oxy on the first of January, April, July, and October wins a fifty dollar bill, I dunno, but should a population much smaller than most provinces REALLY have a higher health bill? Absolutely not. The solution to high healthcare costs isn’t slashing funding from other programs, it’s fixing an obvious bleed in our bank.

3.) This Week in Local Prison Riots.

Last August, a fellah up at Her Majesty’s started what was called a “small riot” but big enough that the RNC had to be called in. “Several specialized resources” were called in to bring the situation under control, which took about five hours to tone down. Here’s what happened: the by’es got loaded on jailhouse liquor, tore a door off a shower stall, and used it like a battering ram … not to bust out of jail, but to “smash through a window to get at another inmate.” They also managed to flood the unit and take control of a cell block. When the RNC showed up, they were threatening to kill inmates and guards. What did they want in exchange for not killing their hostage? TWO SMOKES! No joke. And they were given those cigarettes. Almost $100,000 in property damage ensued, three people were carted off to hospital, and it all came to an end. As of this week, for his role in it all, one Julian Squires was dealt an eighteen month sentence for “hostage taking and the destruction of prison property.” No mention of “demanding of a few smokes” in the sentencing.  His cohorts in kidnapping, Adam Hayden and Justin Wiseman, are facing the more serious charge of kidnapping. No sentences have been doled out to them yet. But, like, these people added years to their sentence in exchange for two smokes. Two cigarettes in for three people.