May 21 2013 02:02PM
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford should address allegations of crack cocaine use head on, says prominent conservative financier Conrad Black.
“As one of my friends said, he’s like the embarrassing guest at a family Christmas party,” said Black in an interview with the Star Tuesday. “We don’t need an embarrassing mayor and he need not be an embarrassing mayor.”
The former newspaper mogul most famously spent three years in U.S. federal prison for fraud and obstruction of justice charges before being released in May of 2012.
His advice for the mayor is to confront his accusers.
“I certainly would if I were being accused of being a cocaine user,” says Black. “I wouldn’t pretend the issue wasn’t out there.”
Black says Ford isn’t “making it easy on himself” but he could still be a “successful” mayor.
“This is pretty undignified stuff. All we have are allegations and until we have hard evidence we have to take the mayor’s word that this is not true.”
Still, the former newspaper publisher says he likely wouldn’t resort to chequebook journalism if he still headed up Hollinger International, which owned marquee titles such as the National Post, The Daily Telegraph and the Chicago Sun-Times.
U.S. website Gawker is trying to raise $200,000 through crowd-funding to purchase the video of the mayor allegedly smoking crack. The Star declined to pay the “six figures” demanded for the video.
“A newspaper does lower itself when it does that,” Black says.
Ford has so far remained silent after the Toronto Star and Gawker separately reported that they had viewed unverified cellphone footage that appears to show the mayor smoking crack.
On Friday, Ford briefly slammed the Star and called the allegations “ridiculous,” but he has not elaborated since.
Rob Ford wasn’t the only controversy that the controversial Black opined on in a wide-ranging interview to promote his new book on American history, Flight of the Eagle.
On the federal front, Black says he sees no immediate issue with Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, handing a $90,000 cheque to Sen. Mike Duffy to help pay back expenses.
Wright quit his post on Sunday over the uproar over senate expenses.
“Here was someone making a gift or a loan to a friend that has no connection to public policy. It was a generous act. And having been at times under some financial pressure myself, I can appreciate that and I was grateful to those who I could rely on,” said Black. “It’s not a bribe. It’s not hush money. It’s just a friendly gesture.”
However, Black said some kind of investigation is needed to ensure that nothing illegal was committed in the highest office.
“If it is the case that the PMO’s office was engaged in strategizing, or some counsel in the office had advised or was aware that Mike Duffy was not revealing the source of his money, then I would say it takes on a different colour,” said Black.
May 21 2013 01:45PM
City council has crushed Mayor Rob Ford’s pitch for 10,000 good-paying jobs by decisively voting against a major downtown casino.
After a morning of debate Tuesday, council voted 40-4 in opposition to any new gaming sites in the city. The four in favour of gaming expansion were Ford and Councillors Giorgio Mammoliti, Vince Crisanti and Norm Kelly.
The vote came after city manager Joe Pennachetti released new figures showing the city would be paid a $40 million fee for hosting a downtown casino.
It’s far short of the minimum $100 million the city wanted under a revenue-sharing proposal with the province that Ford called a “pretty good deal.”
Ford attacked Wynne for what he called a change of attitude at Queen’s Park.
“It seems no deal is good enough for this premier,” the mayor said. “The fact is she simply doesn’t want a casino, at least not in Toronto.”
At Queen’s Park, Wynne brushed off Ford’s criticism.
“I don’t think this is a personal debate between me and any other politician in the province,” Wynne said. “I think this is about a principle, which is municipalities should be able to make this decision.”
Anti-casino forces who have fought a casino for the past year were delighted with the vote.
MORE FROM THESTAR.COM
Ford speaks on casino, but not video at council
Conrad Black discusses allegations against Rob Ford
May 21 2013 12:55PM
Premier Kathleen Wynne is concerned the “distraction” swirling around Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is “a problem.”
Responding to media questions about a video that apparently shows Ford smoking crack cocaine, Wynne said she was worried about the effect the allegations are having on city council business.
“It’s concerning to me if there are issues — whether they’re personal issues — that get in the way of a . . . municipal government being able to do its business and being able to work in the best interests the city,” the premier said Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
While careful not to utter aloud the words “Ford” or “crack,” Wynne made it clear what she was talking about.
“When there is a distraction of a personal nature or a distraction that takes the council and the leadership away from . . . serving the interests of the city and getting the business of the city done then that’s a problem,” she said.
“And so my hope is that they will be dealt with on a personal level and at a council level as quickly as possible.”
Wynne, who represents the Toronto riding of Don Valley West, stressed she is premier of all Ontario.
“It’s my responsibility as premier, as head of the provincial government, to work with municipal governments and whatever particular issues a particular mayor or particular councillor is dealing with they will need to deal with those in the best way possible,” she said.
“It is up to me to deal with the issues that arise in the most responsible way possible and I will do that.”
May 21 2013 10:28AM
Bryan Colangelo is now officially off the clock as Toronto's chief basketball decision-maker. But he'll be sticking around - at least for the time being.
May 21 2013 10:12AM
In his first extensive public statement since reports of a video emerged showing him allegedly smoking crack cocaine, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford ignored the controversy and spoke only about the city’s casino issue.
The mayor rose from his seat in council Tuesday morning to attack Premier Kathleen Wynne over the fact the city would only get about $40 million a year for hosting a large downtown casino.
Many councillors wanted to see at least $100 million a year.
“Hosting a casino that does little for Toronto’s finances and simply makes the provincial government richer is not in the best interests of Toronto,” Ford told council.
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Rob Ford crack scandal: Star editor's unanswered questions
Councillors urge mayor to address drug video allegations
Mayor's defender breaks silence on crack scandal
Rob Ford scandal: Star reporters tell their side of story
The mayor said it would be fair if the province split the revenue with the city, he said.
“I think that’s a pretty good deal. However, it seems no deal is good enough for this premier. The fact is she simply doesn’t want a casino, at least not in Toronto.”
Recognizing council support wasn’t there for a downtown casino, Ford tabled a motion to advise Wynne and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that council opposes a downtown gambling emporium.
Instead, Ford wants the province to focus on expanding gambling at Woodbine racetrack, which now has 3,000 slot machines. The city says it could take 1,500 more slots and 150 gaming tables.
Council will vote on the motions later today.
If people were hoping Ford would address the latest scandal to plague him, they were disappointed.
There were reports in the morning that Ford would make himself available but as of noon it hadn’t happened.
Earlier, Ford ignored a crush of reporters waiting outside his city hall office on the chance he might comment on the alleged video.
Ford’s silence over the long weekend did not quiet the controversy after the Toronto Star and the U.S.-based website Gawker.com reported staff had separately viewed cellphone footage which they said appears to show Ford smoking crack.
On Friday, Ford slammed the Toronto Star report as a smear job and called it “ridiculous” but has said nothing more about the allegations.
May 21 2013 09:55AM
TORONTO - Veteran NHL goaltender Martin Brodeur is joining "Hockey Night in Canada" as a guest analyst.
CBC says he will make his debut during Wednesday's Game 4 of the Ottawa-Pittsburgh Eastern Conference semifinal.
Trevor Pilling, CBC's ...
May 21 2013 09:44AM
Bryan Colangelo is still president of the Toronto Raptors, but he's no longer the club's general manager.
May 21 2013 09:20AM
From Damien Cox’s Spin on Sports blog:
It seemed unlikely that Bell and Rogers, once they announced their joint takeover of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment more than 18 months, would passively stand by and watch the giant corporation run itself.
But then, nobody was quite sure how, precisely, it would unfold, or whether the two companies would stymie one another with competing visions, particularly after their acquisition of 75 per cent of MLSE was formally approved in August.
Well, it may have taken a while for the unfolding to begin, but it has turned into a tidal wave.
On New Year’s Day, 2013, a corporate snapshot would have seen Tom Anselmi as Chief Operating Officer without a suit above him, Brian Burke as president and general manager of the NHL Maple Leafs and Bryan Colangelo as president and general manager of the NBA Raptors.
In just over five months, all that has been swept away.
Oh, Anselmi’s still there, and apparently Colangelo will be too once his peculiar firing/reassignment is officially made clear today. Theoretically, Burke also still works for the team in some capacity.
But the power structure and the personalities behind it all have changed.
Anselmi has been superseded by Tim Leiweke, the flashy new MLSE president and CEO. How that relationship will spill out over time is unclear.
Burke, of course, was dismissed on Jan. 9 before Leiweke was hired, bad luck for Burke possibly given that he and Leiweke hold each other in high regard. Dave Nonis, much more low-key in his approach, has been running the hockey department.
Colangelo, kicked upstairs, won’t get a chance to show Leiweke what he can do with the basketball team, which seems neither fair nor unfair, really. Colangelo had a good kick at the can and came up well short.
With that, Leiweke will now move on to the hiring of a new basketball boss, and presumably sometime this week or next will turn his attention to the hockey operation.
It will be fascinating to see what he thinks of that.
Nonis has several years left on his contract, but that would be unlikely to hold up Leiweke if, like Colangelo, Nonis doesn’t measure up in his eyes.
Leiweke wasn’t brought in on big ticket amidst the sound of a brass band playing to work with people he didn’t hire if he doesn’t like the way they do their job.
Nonis is in a somewhat more envious position than was Colangelo. He just took over, and the team made the post-season in a campaign shortened to 48 games by a lockout only to lose Game 7 to the Boston Bruins in rather shocking style.
The Leafs are closer to the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup than they were a year ago.
But they are not close.
Nonis has a vision, and that’s to develop a young team that grows together. He’s unlikely to start trading young assets and futures for immediate help, although he might trade young assets and futures for other young assets. For example, he might trade Toronto’s first round pick (No. 21) if some other team has a 19- or 20-year-old former first round pick they want to move.
Or maybe he might move 22-year-old Jake Gardiner, a marvel in the post-season, if he can get into the top 10 selections of this year’s draft.
Nothing’s off the table. People need to understand that, and given the way young teams develop, they also need to understand that while the Leafs very nearly upset the Bruins, there’s a decent chance Toronto won’t be as successful next season as it was this season.
Leiweke may or may not share that outlook. He and Nonis, you should know, barely know one another, and haven’t spent recent weeks having beers on patios and trading war stories.
“It will be my GM, and I will have his back,” said Leiweke today of the next Raptors GM, and presumably, he’ll want to feel exactly the same way about the individual running the Leafs.
Leiweke made it clear when he was hired he was just going to stay out of the way until the Leafs completed their season, and he has, which apparently gave him oodles of time to handle the basketball situation just about as awkwardly as it could have been handled. This notion that Colangelo will stay on in some other capacity is just as absurd as was the announcement on the day Burke was fired that he would stay on as a consultant. The phrase “You’re fired!” seems to never really mean that with MLSE.
But the basketball bloodletting is just about done and the Leaf season is over. There are already big decisions pending. Nonis is aware, given the fate of Colangelo, that nothing is guaranteed and he will have to sell Leiweke on his vision, one that MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum didn’t enthusiastically embrace when he was looking for a new Leaf GM way back in 2008 and Nonis was interviewed.
Nonis hasn’t changed his philosophy. But everything has changed at MLSE.
May 21 2013 08:06AM
It’s a deal.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath announced Tuesday her party will support the budget of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minority Liberals, averting a June election.
“It’s not everything we wanted. It’s not everything people have told us they need,” Horwath told reporters at Queen’s Park.
“But we’re proud to deliver results that will make people’s lives better and government more accountable,” she said, noting NDP MPPs will vote for the Liberal spending plan.
“We’re happy about that.”
A cornerstone achievement is a new Financial Accountability Office, modelled on the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer.
As disclosed last week by the Star, the premier refused to agree to Horwath’s call to boost the Ombudsman of Ontario’s power to encompass.
Instead, Wynne will introduce vague new “accountability measures across the health-care system.”
Horwath’s request the Liberals rethink carpool lane tool to bankroll public transit also fell on deaf ears.
Despite securing just one out of three of her post-budget conditions, the New Democratic leader was mindful she won concessions in Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s May 2 budget.
Sousa’s fiscal blueprint contained numerous NDP-influenced policies such as a 15 per cent cut to auto insurance, new funding for youth jobs and improved home care health services.
“We worked hard to deliver results,” said Horwath.
“We could have pulled the plug.”
Her announcement was a welcome birthday present for Wynne, who turned 60 on Tuesday. Speaking at the Bloomberg Canada Economic Summit in downtown Toronto, Wynne called Horwath’s announcement “excellent news.”
“I really believe we don't need an election right now,” she said.
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has said all along he could not back the budget because the Liberals have lost any authority to govern due to the $585 million gas-plant debacle.
Should the budget have not passed, the minority Liberals would have been toppled, triggering an election costing $92 million and coming 20 months after the Oct. 6, 2011 provincial vote.
With a file from Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew
May 21 2013 07:09AM
Jersey Fouls is our ongoing exploration of the rules and etiquette for proper hockey jersey creation and exhibition. If you spot what you think may be a foul in your arena, email a photo to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in future installment.
Via reader Jenni comes this bro-tastic bro-dacious Jersey Bro, bro:
Seen at a Charlotte Checkers game, this guy was REALLY proud of his "BROVECHKIN" jersey, and asked me to take a picture of him (and the Nutcracker) with his own camera as well.
I can assure you, the Checkers were NOT playing the AHL affiliate of the Capitals... so that too, is a foul, in my opinion!
Your opinion is correct. This is a Russian nesting doll of Fouls.
(Also, it speaks to the power of the Foul that we didn’t even notice the albino cousin of Cookie Puss holding a bag of peanuts next to him.)
We were curious if “Brovechkin” was an actual thing, and not just Mike Green’s daily greeting to his captain. We discovered it has an Urban Dictionary entry:
“a bro who has dirty swag.”
That bro should probably find a Laundromat.
Anyhoo, there’s also “Brovechkin” gear available on sites like Bros Like These Shirts , in case you absolutely have the need to call attention to what a wide bro-cabulary you have. Vomit.
(Coming Up: A George Parros mustache Foul; a hideous Tampa sweater; Toronto Maple Leafs Tribute jersey; Detroit Red Wings hate Frankenjersey; another Caps Foul; Revisionist Sweaters; and a rather crude ‘69’ jersey.)
May 21 2013 06:00AM
With more than 70,000 households languishing for years on Toronto’s affordable housing wait list and few public dollars available for new construction, the city is turning to its burgeoning condo market for help.
Half a dozen condominium developers have inked deals with the city and non-profit housing providers to offer low-income families and individuals affordable rental and ownership units in their buildings.
Proposed amendments to Toronto’s Official Plan to be debated by city council next month are designed to encourage more developers to play ball.
The changes come in the wake of a http://housingopensdoors.ca/index.php?lang=en&ref=Partner trying to put affordable housing back on the political agenda, as low-income families and individuals struggle to pay rent in the shadow of hundreds of pricey downtown condominium towers.
“It’s not a solution to the housing crisis,” says Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina.)
“But in the absence of a real national or provincial housing program, we’re going to have to find a thousand other small inventions to try and see what works and what can be done.
“If one day Ottawa or Queen’s Park decide to get engaged, we’ll be ready to roll out these policies and models and deliver the housing we need.”
Some condo buyers may balk at investing in a building that includes units for low-income people for fear it will depress property values.
But Alan Vihant, senior vice-president of development for Great Gulf Homes, says he has had no pushback from purchasers at the company’s Charlie condo near King St. W. and Spadina Ave., which opened last fall.
Great Gulf offered the city four affordable rental units in the 36-storey building, along with other public benefits, in exchange for added height and density.
“At the end of the day, a lot of condos that are purchased are rented out,” Vihant says.
The affordable units are really no different, he argues, as they are scattered throughout the building and have the same doors, finishes and square footage as the rest of the units.
“As a strategy for affordable housing, I think it is actually much better to distribute a few units in every building as opposed to collecting 200 units of affordable housing and putting them all in one building,” he adds.
Encouraging affordable rental and ownership units in condominium developments will prevent downtown Toronto from becoming a “vertical suburb,” says Vaughan.
“We need a mix — from the person who works at the corner store in the base of the condominium to the person who cleans the office across the street,” he says. “They all deserve the opportunity to walk to work just like everybody else in the neighbourhood.”
Artscape led the way in 2007 in response to the loss of affordable live-work space for cash-strapped artists in the rapidly gentrifying West Queen West area.
It partnered with developer Urbancorp and community group Active 18 to include affordable ownership and rental units for artists in a traditional condominium complex.
Artscape Triangle Lofts, which opened in 2011 and occupies the first three floors of the 18-storey Westside Gallery Lofts condominium development near Queen St. W. and Dovercourt, was a pioneer, notes Sean Gadon, the city’s manager of housing development.
Gadon helped the project secure city benefits, such as property tax and development charge exemptions for those units, which are part of traditional affordable housing deals. It allowed Artscape to offer 48 below-market ownership units and 20 affordable apartments as well as gallery and café space for the artists. To keep costs down, the artists don’t share Westside’s pool or other amenities and use a separate entrance and lobby.
Actor Jane Luk still can’t believe she scooped an affordable apartment at Triangle Lofts.
A tenant since the building opened, Luk pays about $790 a month for her 600-square-foot apartment on the third floor — considerably less than the $1,009 monthly average for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto. The city defines rents as “affordable” if they are at least 20 per cent lower than the average for a given unit.
Luk had been living on friends’ sofas due to money woes before she moved in.
“I honestly thought I would have to move into my parents’ basement,” said the 40-something full-time actor, writer, producer and improviser.
“I just feel so relieved that I got in,” she says outside the condo’s brightly painted lobby over the clamour of construction crews working on condo towers to the east and north of her building. “It’s the only way I could live in the city and be where my work is.”
Although Luk says Artscape units with their exposed ceiling pipes and concrete walls, floors and pillars are “pretty bare bones,” the security of an affordable home and the support of fellow artists nearby allows her to focus her energies on her art.
Since Artscape, Gadon has worked with developers and non-profits to secure another dozen apartments and two dozen ownership units for low-income people. The strategy is beginning to offer the possibility of mixed neighbourhoods in Toronto’s growing vertical city.
But the numbers are still small. By comparison, about 285 affordable apartments in rental buildings are under construction or in the planning pipeline.
Councillors Vaughan, Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) and Ana Bailao (Ward 18, Davenport) who chairs the city’s affordable housing committee, have been champions on the political side.
Together, they have been using Section 37 of the city’s Official Plan — which allows municipalities to grant developers increased height and density in return for public benefits such as public art, parks and daycares — to squeeze affordable units into highrise condominium towers.
Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat says it is time to make these “one-off” deals explicitly part of the city’s affordable housing tool-box.
Proposed changes would add affordable rental units in condominiums owned and operated by non-profit housing providers and affordable home ownership, built by non-profit charities, to the list of eligible Section 37 benefits.
“It sends a very clear message that this is something that is desired,” Keesmaat says. “So instead of stumbling through this on a case-by-case basis and essentially securing affordable housing simply by will and might, we instead have some more clarity on how it might work when we are going to do it.”
Across the province, Richmond Hill is the only other municipality believed to be using condominium development to add desperately needed housing for low-income people. It recently secured seven affordable rental units in three condo developments.
In Toronto, developer Great Gulf began negotiations in 2008 with the city to donate four condos to the Kehilla Affordable Housing Program.
The non-profit housing provider serving the Jewish community was the first to forge a deal with a developer to acquire condo units, for the nominal cost of $10 each.
Rents — ranging from just under $700 for two bachelor units, to between $700 and $900 for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments — cover condo fees, maintenance and administration costs.
“Will it be repeated? I would hope so,” said Kehilla’s executive director, Nancy Singer.
But she worries the city is jumping on this concept 10 years too late.
“If we had done this when 100,000 (condo) units were being built and if 1 per cent were developed like this, we would have had thousands of units of truly affordable housing at no cost to anybody,” she says.
“But you can’t look backwards, you look forward. The opportunity is still there.”
Other affordable housing in condominiums since 2011
The Bisha Hotel and Residences, 56 Blue Jays Way
Lifetime Developments includes a floor of rent-controlled apartments for hotel workers in its 41-storey hotel-condo project under construction on the old Second City site. It will include five three-bedroom units for families and two studio apartments for singles. Expected occupancy: 2016
Pace, 155 Dundas St. E., at Sherbourne St.
Artscape is working with developer Great Gulf to include 13 below-market ownership units and one rental apartment for artists in the 46-storey tower. Expected occupancy: 2015
Ten York, at Harbour St.
The 62-storey tower being developed by Tridel will include 12 affordable units managed as co-ops by the Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto. Expected occupancy: 2016
210 Simcoe St., north of Queen St.
Diamond Corp.’s 25-storey building near the Ontario College of Art includes four affordable ownership and one affordable rental unit owned and managed by Artscape for artists. Expected occupancy: Summer 2015
159 Wellesley St. E., at Sherbourne St.
Habitat for Humanity is working with Diamond Corp. to secure eight below-market ownership units for families in the 35-storey building. Expected occupancy: to be determined
May 21 2013 05:00AM
There will be an elephant in the council chambers of City Hall on Tuesday — the scandal over a video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack.
After a long weekend of uncharacteristic silence, the mayor is due to appear for a special meeting on the fate of Toronto’s casino plans. It's his first public appearance since calling the Star report on the video that also appeared to show Ford making a homophobic reference “ridiculous.”
Ford will not be obliged to address the video at Tuesday’s meeting, but some councillors are calling for him to clear the air.
· To end the uncertainty, The Star should buy Ford video: DiManno
· Mayor’s brother breaks uncharacteristic silence
· Time for mayor to step down: Editorial
· Forty-two remarkable moments from Ford’s career
“I’m urging the mayor to make an unequivocal statement about the allegations and present his side,” said Councillor James Pasternak. “It is creating uncertainty in the leadership of the city. It is creating political instability, and the longer the questions keep coming, I think the more damaging it becomes.”
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday, a Ford loyalist, said Monday evening that although the meeting has only one item on the agenda, the mayor will ultimately have to broach the issue. “I think he’s going to have to say more than he has, but he’ll have to decide for himself.”
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Left-leaning Councillor Josh Matlow doesn’t expect any of his colleagues to hijack the meeting with drug scandal questions, but said the matter has proven to be an unwelcome distraction.
“This is a surreal, bizarre vortex that the entire city’s been sucked into, with Rob Ford being the source of it,” he said. “I just feel embarrassed with what Toronto’s reputation is going through … I look forward to getting past it.”
Earlier this month, two Star reporters viewed a video which appears to depict the mayor smoking crack cocaine and making disparaging comments about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the students he’d coached at an Etobicoke high school. At one point, he apparently calls Trudeau a “fag” and, though he is mumbling, appears to call his football team “f---ing minorities.”
Outside of council chambers, the video seemed to be on everyone’s lips as Torontonians enjoyed their long weekend.
The smoke from barbecues was thick in Morningside Park in the Ford stronghold of Scarborough Monday. Families gathered on blankets and folding chairs and were quick to offer their opinions on the video scandal.
“I think it’s fake,” said Oscar Polanco, a Colombian refugee who’s been settled in Toronto for five years. “It’s all political,” he said.
“Bad news travels fast,” added his friend William Ceron. “Once it’s out there, it’s really hard to fix.”
As proof of this, Polanco said he first heard of the Ford video when his daughter, who lives in Florida, called to say that it was being discussed on CNN. “What’s with your mayor?” she said. “Always the mayor.”
The fact Ford had already weathered so many previous scandals led others to believe the video must be real.
From exceeding campaign finance limits to soliciting donations for his personal charity on city letterhead; from a forgotten DUI charge in Florida to a denial that he drunkenly berated a couple during a hockey game, the video is just the latest in a long string of incidents, any one of which could have led to Ford being removed from office, said Andrew Jesudasan, who works in vehicle licensing.
“How many chances does he get?” Jesudasan said. “Anyone else in a regular job would have been laid off by now.”
Over in Thomson Memorial park, also in Scarborough, sentiments were similar. While some defended the mayor, others said his alleged actions were painting the whole city with bad brush.
“As citizens, it’s shameful because we’ve elected a man who should have better judgment — if the allegations are true,” said city maintenance worker Ian Hinds.
Hinds’ wife, Angela Hamilton, said Ford has already gotten away with too much.
“It’s like raising my daughter,” she said. “If I don’t punish her for breaking the rules the first time, she’ll keep doing it.”
“I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England. There are ways of conducting yourself (when you’re in a position of power). If you don’t do it, the citizens who put you there should be able to get you out,” said Hinds.
May 21 2013 05:00AM
As the investigation continues into the murder of Ancaster father Tim Bosma, it was eerily quiet at Dellen Millard’s North Dumfries farm Monday, where police spent the past week searching for clues.
Millard, 27, of Toronto, faces charges of first-degree murder, forcible confinement and theft in relation to Bosma’s death.
Police confirmed last week that Bosma’s remains had been recovered, but were burned beyond recognition. The location of the discovery has not been confirmed, but an incinerator was seized at the farm property last week.
On Sunday night, CBC News reported that police found new remains on the farm property, but forensic investigators haven’t determined whether the remains are human or animal.
Calls to Hamilton police were not returned over the weekend. Waterloo Regional Police said they have no information relating to the report.
In addition to Bosma’s death, Toronto homicide detectives are now investigating whether Millard played a role in the death of his father, Wayne, last December.
Wayne Millard was reportedly found with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head.
Police are also exploring possible links between Millard and his former girlfriend, who disappeared last year. Laura Babcock, 23, of Toronto was last seen in early July. She also went by the name Elle Ryan.
At the time, Toronto police issued a missing persons alert. Now her disappearance is being investigated by the homicide squad, according to CTV News.
Millard’s lawyer, Deepak Paradkar, said these latest allegations are an attempt to “malign him in the court of public opinion.”
A lone police car was present at the rural Roseville Rd. property Monday.
A flatbed tow truck was also seen entering the property, leaving later with a small Bobcat excavator.
Bouquets of flowers were tied to the wire fence surrounding the farm.
A makeshift memorial with flowers, a photo and messages of condolence has come together on a gated-off driveway.
There was no visible police presence at the Waterloo Region Airport, where Millard owns a massive airplane hangar.
Barricades remain to block off the driveway and an employee for a private security company was on site.
Both properties have been the site of significant searches by police in relation to Bosma’s murder.
Police say video evidence shows Bosma, 32, was followed from his rural Ancaster home by an SUV-type vehicle when he took two men for a test drive May 6 in a truck he was trying to sell online. Police believe Bosma was targeted, but the motive for the crime remains unknown.
Police allege Millard and his unidentified accomplice killed Bosma that night, burning the body “beyond recognition,” and stealing his truck.
On May 7, Millard purchased a $627,524 condo at 70 Distillery Lane in downtown Toronto.
Ten days later, after his arrest, he transferred the condo to his mother for $1.
Friday, Hamilton Police posted a short update into the investigation, saying the forensic analysis of two properties in Waterloo Region and three vehicles seized by investigators were expected to wrap up over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Bosma’s friends have set up a website in his memory, inmemoryoftimbosma.ca, to celebrate a life tragically cut short.
May 21 2013 05:00AM
Ontario’s education ministry has quietly amended a controversial regulation around hiring teachers — changes that force school boards to interview all qualified applicants for long-term supply jobs, not just the ones they want to.
The Peel District School Board estimates it will have to conduct more than 3,000 meetings alone for supply jobs, when staff would normally speak to about 400 candidates.
“Anyone interested in teaching wants to get an LTO (long-term occasional) position” because it is the gateway to a permanent job, said Peel board Chair Janet McDougald.
“I just think it’s an incredible waste of resources. On the one hand, the Peel board is looking at challenges with our budget, we are looking at (cutting) $9 million to balance, and now the ministry is suggesting that we put resources toward interviewing this number of people?”
More education stories on Thestar.com
Education Minister Liz Sandals says the changes were made to clarify what the original intent of the regulation was, that teachers with enough experience on the job — 20 days — “shall” get an interview, not “may” get one, as the rules initially stated.
“It isn’t like this is everybody who ever dropped a letter off at your personnel department” being entitled to an interview, she added.
Sandals acknowledged boards’ concerns, but said “we don’t specify the structure of the interview, it’s really up to boards to decide how onerous they want the interview to be.”
Boards typically bring in many pairs of principals to act as hiring panels, interviewing candidates for occasional teacher supply list on weekends, without additional pay.
McDougald says Peel will have to bring in retired principals, and pay them, to handle the extra work.
Both Peel and Toronto say they don’t currently have separate lists for long-term occasional assignments — typically 10 days or more — and are now forced to create one to manage the new workload.
“This is going to have a significant impact at the board level,” added Michael Barrett, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association.
“These changes they are making do not rectify any issues that school boards put on the table,” he said. “It compounds them even further.”
Boards are most upset at the provision requiring principals to hire from the top five teachers with the most seniority, not the ones they think are best suited for permanent positions.
Barrett said the amendments were done without the input of school boards, nor a committee recently created to look at the concerns around Regulation 274.
“This smacks of a continued process by which they are making changes without consultation, and I thought we were past that,” Barrett added.
Sandals told the Star there was no consultation because the province was simply correcting the language in the regulation to match what had been agreed upon with the province’s Catholic teachers, the deal that set the stage for all others with other teacher groups in the province.
The ministry has said the “principle of the regulation (is) … to promote a consistent, transparent and fair hiring process for long-term and permanent occasional teachers.”
The updated Regulation 274 also opens up the applicant pool to those who have worked 20 days in a 10-month period within the past five years. Sandals said this was done so as not to discriminate against a teacher who has taken parental or other leave.
But Trustee Howard Goodman of the Toronto District School Board wonders why an exemption wasn’t simply granted for teachers who’ve taken a leave. He is not sure how the five-year stipulation will play out, “but what it does is open to door to a larger group of people; it shuffles people around a lot.”
“This throws another wrench in the ability of boards to keep up with ministry directives,” Goodman said. “It’s unfair to our staff at all levels to have the rules changed so often and so dramatically.”
McDougald said the new rules seriously hamper the Peel board’s drive to hire a more diverse teaching body — typically new graduates.
Those concerns were echoed by the deans of education at universities across the province, who wrote to the education minister late last year.
“We believe that unless the regulation is revoked, there will be significant long-term adverse impacts on the renewal of the teaching profession in Ontario,” said the letter, obtained by the Star. “We feel that this is not in the best interest of Ontario’s public school students.
“By privileging seniority over all other factors in the hiring of teachers, the regulation removes school boards’ freedom to hire the candidates whom they consider best able to meet the needs of students.”
It also means that experienced teachers won’t be able take jobs at other boards, given they won’t have any seniority in a new board, it adds.
Sandals said the province is open to changing the regulation, and to boards’ suggesting ideas that they feel are less onerous “as along as it meets our criteria about fair hiring and transparency and reasonable access to new grads for jobs.”
May 21 2013 05:00AM
Premier Kathleen Wynne is committed to giving them a try. But the Ontario NDP says high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are a boondoggle in the making.The revenue they produce doesn’t justify the expense of building them, according to NDP transportation critic Rosario Marchese.
But experts say that their ability to manage congestion can be worth the investment, given the productivity that traffic is sucking out of the area’s economy.
HOT lanes — sometimes referred to as “managed lanes” — are free to cars with more than one occupant just like the HOV lanes on highways 403, 404 and the QEW. Converting them to HOT lanes, however, means single-occupant cars are also allowed to use them — for a price.
They have two key benefits: First, nobody is forced to pay a toll. Second, all lanes of traffic benefit from faster speeds if the pricing and volume of cars is managed properly. That’s a big “if.”
The potential complication for drivers already using the Toronto region HOV lanes: According to a KPMG report for Metrolinx, the HOV lanes here don’t have much capacity left to sell. Making them work might mean giving free access only to cars with three occupants or more.
That will annoy drivers who enjoy HOV access with only a single passenger.
In many of the more than 15 HOT lanes operating in the U.S., three occupants is the minimum for free use of the lanes.
Most make enough money to cover their operating costs, according to Ed Regan of CDM Smith a giant American engineering consultant, who has worked on many managed lane projects.
The NDP’s Marchese says the Liberal government should be looking at ways to make the existing HOV lanes more effective and its approach of lumping HOT lanes in with other taxes and charges to pay for transit expansion is just wrong.
HOT lanes could bring in as much as $250 million per year if and when the government acts on its plans to more than double HOV lanes in the region, says the Metrolinx report. But the existing lanes probably wouldn’t raise more than $45 million, says the KPMG report for Metrolinx.
The projections are unimpressive, given that the provincial agency says the region needs to invest $2 billion annually in transit expansion, said Marchese.
“If the guard rails cost $720,000 per km. and the gantries cost $600,000 per km., not to mention maintenance costs, it’s hugely expensive and possibly risky and will not certainly be a reliable revenue tool for transit. They might even lose money,” he said.
Look no further than one of the newest U.S. HOT lanes projects, said Marchese.
Virginia opened 14 miles of Express Lanes on the I-495, part of the Washington, D.C. Beltway in Nov. Six weeks later, the news was they had already lost $11 million. Vastly over-blown user projections were to blame, according to news reports.
But a spokeswoman for the company that has an 80-year concession to operate the lanes, says it’s too soon to worry.
“There’s no expectation that when you open a facility like this it would make money,” said Pierce Coffee of Transurban Development, whose profits are tied to the success of the tolled carpool lanes.
Virginia’s Express Lanes are among the most technologically advanced in the U.S. Like most HOT lanes, they use dynamic pricing. Sensors planted at every third mile of the road collect data on the traffic density and the toll goes up or down depending on the level of congestion. In the morning rush hour, the price changes about every three minutes, said Coffee.
Charges are registered using electronic E-ZPass transponders.
Coffee did not provide figures on how many drivers are using the lanes, but some, she said, are reporting up to a 20-minute reduction in their commuting times.
In the U.S. all HOT lanes use electronic tolling technology. In most cases you have to have a transponder to use the toll lane. None of them accept cash and enforcement is frequently through photo-surveillance, so non-transponder carrying vehicles get a ticket in the mail if they use the tolled lane, said Regan.
“We run a project in Minnesota where the rates change every three minutes. On the I-15 in San Diego, they vary their rates every six minutes,” he said.
Dynamic pricing is essential in many U.S. jurisdictions. California legislation, for example, specifies that HOT lanes can’t degrade carpooling conditions.
Regan admits that hard data on who uses the lanes is scarce. But, he said, the number of vehicles using the toll lane for free in California actually increased after tolling was introduced. If you can avoid traffic for $6 and you can get that for free if you ride with someone else, that’s an incentive to carpool, he said.
“By putting a price on single occupant vehicles, people actually start to see a dollar value on what it’s worth to get out of congestion,” said Regan.
He points to the I-95 between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. It was so congested that the carpool lanes moved at about 20 mph and the regular lanes at 19 mph. The Florida department of transportation re-painted the road, narrowing the lanes and reducing the shoulder to add two toll lanes, replacing one carpool lane and retaining four free lanes. It also restricted the use of the carpool lanes to vehicles with three or more occupants.
“The people who buy these lanes get the trip for 60 mph compared with 20 mph for carpools previously,” said Regan.
“Even the people who didn’t buy into the lanes had their speeds improved from 20 mph to 40 mph. There has been a 50 per cent reduction in delay even for people who didn’t choose the toll lanes. For people who did, it’s a 70 per cent reduction in delay.”
The tolls generate about $20 million a year and cost almost nothing to operate, he said.
When San Diego was looking to expand its toll lanes on the I-15 from eight miles to 20, it asked people the best way to solve congestion on other parts of the road. By a 2:1 margin, people supported extending toll lanes, said Regan.
Drivers have begun to understand that building new lanes for cars is only a temporary solution. If that road is going to fill up again in a few years, he said, most people will choose to reserve some traffic capacity through pricing.
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