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University Donation Flak - PUC President Will Comment Once Review Is Done

Craig Huckerby for local2 sault ste. marie
September 12th, 2012 at 11:19am | Last Updated at 11:21am


L to R: Brian Curran, P.Eng, Chair, Algoma University Essential Elements Campaign; Larry Guerriero, Chair, PUC Inc.; Ella Jean Richter, Chair, PUC Distribution Inc.; and Dr. Rick Myers, President, Algoma U.
Credit: Algoma University

File Photo - December 2011

City council will hear back from the legal department concerning two letters penned by concerned citizens in regards to a $100,000 donation made by the PUC to Algoma University.

One of the letters sent to Mayor and council and also published on LOCAL2.ca by resident, Tom Brason argues that the donation was from monies collect by the PUC from Sault homeowners. SSM PUC president Brian Curran sits on the board of directors of the Algoma University's Essential Elements Campaign. That campaign is charged with fundraising activities for Algoma U.

Brian Curran, President and CEO of the SSM PUC says that isn't the case at all.

"I think some people think that we take the money from the rates we charge to homeowners, but the money came from other revenues. Curran explained to LOCAL2.ca that other revenue streams help generate income such as the sale of the PUC telecom which generated "great profits for us"

The underlining theme of the letters submitted and currently under review from the city legal department claim Curran was in a conflict of interest and should resign as a result.

Curran told LOCAL2.ca Wednesday morning that right now he's waiting for the review before making additional comments.

Brason in his letter writes, "Besides the likelihood of a conflict of interest there was also a flagrant disregard for monies collected thru’ monthly PUC bills ‘which provide customers a very detailed summary of where every cent is to go’ and why. "

The SSM PUC has made numerous donations to organizations in the past including Sault College, Sault Area Hospital and to golf tournaments in the past. Curran acknowledges the concern from some people surrounding an apparent conflict of interest.

Brason is calling for an all out public inquiry into the matter.

City legal will report back to council in the future to determine if there is grounds for a conflict of interest allegation. Brason also cites that the situation is similar in principal to a current conflict of interest charge against Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford.

Brason said in his letter, "Regardless of how Mayor Ford fares, the situation with the Sault Ste Marie PUC on the other hand has all the appearances of being much more deliberate"

Brason replied back to LOCAL2.ca shortly after publishing his letter with "three PUC board members were involved with Algoma University. I'm wondering if these heavy weights were the reason council didn't react last Dec as they should have and if it was them that motivated council to give a million in donations to the Algoma and Sault College."

Brason continued, "Yep, there certainly seem to be some divided loyalties here. Brian Curran is both the PUC President/CEO and Chair of the Essential Elements fundraising committee, Bruno Barban is both a PUC Inc. Board Member and the Director of University Services at Algoma University, and J. Douglas Lawson is both a PUC Inc. Board Member and a reitred former President of Algoma University College".

In December of 2011, it was announced that the PUC Distribution Inc. Donated $100,000 to the Algoma University Biosciences technology centre .

It is not known when the review will be brought back to council.


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