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Morning Brew: Budget delivers 2 per cent tax rise, chief planner skeptical on Gardiner repairs, Ford heads home, another Chow poll, giving coal, and no snow this Xmas

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 18, 2012

toronto ocad uToronto's property tax will rise by 2 per cent - slightly more than expected - to raise an extra $1.15 million for community grants, arts funding, lawn bowling clubs, the Botanical Gardens, and student nutrition programs. Some of those issues are priorities for several councillors. Toronto Police Services Board also agreed to cut spending by $21 million to keep levels the same as last year. So far, nothing's been decided on the whopping Gardiner repair bill.

Speaking of which, Toronto's chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat says she's opposed to spending big tax dollars on the giant elevated crumblefest that is the Gardiner Expressway and would prefer to invest in transit instead. Keesmaat believes burying the road (an unbelievably expensive exercise) is also out of the question but can't be certain without the results of an environmental assessment that was shelved when Rob Ford came into office.

Rob Ford is apparently coming back from his not-at-all-strange vacation to who knows where this week. Ford was spotted leaving town on Dec. 10 at Pearson airport shortly after finding out he'll remain in office until his appeal of a conflict of interest ruling. It's apparently routine to keep the vacation habits of politicians secret.

We've heard this a thousand times, but another new poll says Olivia Chow would be the only mayoral candidate with the popularity to unseat Ford at a by-election. In all other scenarios without Chow the present incumbent comes out on top. Is that a concern? will Ford be re-elected?

Today is "Super Tuesday," a day of strike action by up to 20,000 elementary school teachers that will seriously disrupt classes in GTA. Action against the controversial Bill 115 - legislation that could introduce two-year contracts and effect striking rights - by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is also taking place in Peel and Durham regions.

Over at The Star there's some fretting about what mean-spirited parents will give their badly-behaved little imps for Christmas in a world without coal. An alternative from a surprising number of countries around the world: a wooden switch. Coal is available, at a push, for $30 a sack from a farrier in Orangeville.

Also in bizarre news: beanie babies aren't the first class ticket on the gravy train they used to be.

The TTC has released its holiday schedule. Bus, subway, and streetcar service will run as normal except on Christmas Day and Boxing Day which will see a reduced, Sunday service. On New Year's Eve the TTC is free after 9pm and the subway will run until 3:30am. Don't forget on Jan. 1 the 2013 fare increase will take effect. Hooray Christmas cheer!

Also, it won't snow this Christmas either. Womp womp...


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "Reflections on the future" by D O'Quinn from the blogTO Flickr pool.



steve / December 18, 2012 at 08:19 am
Why does it seem hypocritical, Ford makes no secret his scorn for what he calls lazy over paid civil servants? Rob Ford pulls down a high 6 figure salary, works part time, and avoids much of his job even when he is there, and feels it is ok to just take off on "vacations" when ever he feels like.
Who is the lazy over paid civil servant here?
howcome? / December 18, 2012 at 08:25 am
biggest news item of the day for toronto doesn't make it? the teacher strike, super tuesday, why is that?
Xavier replying to a comment from steve / December 18, 2012 at 08:36 am
I remember you making similar complaints about David Miller. After all Rob has missed fewer votes than Dave did. Its good to see you being consistent
steve replying to a comment from Xavier / December 18, 2012 at 08:42 am
Never made the same complaints about David Miller. David Miller had his problems but he did come into the downtown core for more then just photo ops. He talked to people and listened, like every mayor before him has done. He represented the whole city, not just the voices in his head.
Christmas Vacation? replying to a comment from steve / December 18, 2012 at 09:32 am
People take vacations around this time of's the holidays. Are you angry at everyone taking time off to themselves, or just Mr. Ford?
not4evenclose replying to a comment from howcome? / December 18, 2012 at 09:59 am

Biggest story of the day is the trade the Blue Jays pulled off.
steve replying to a comment from Christmas Vacation? / December 18, 2012 at 10:16 am
Nope, looking at the hypocrisy, everyone else has to book time off. Why is he exempt? Why the secrecy?
close replying to a comment from not4evenclose / December 18, 2012 at 10:26 am
close, but not exactly!
mike1234 replying to a comment from steve / December 18, 2012 at 10:27 am
Steve's jealous that some people can afford a vacation, while he cannot. Should have studied harder in school, Steven.
Jill / December 18, 2012 at 10:37 am
The court grants Rob Ford as stay, presumably to tie up loose ends, and Mr. Opposite goes on an unannounced vacation before official holiday time. More slacking off on city's dime. He's probably gonna announce his resignation when he returns.
Christmas Vacation? replying to a comment from steve / December 18, 2012 at 10:47 am
Can you point me to somewhere that suggests he didn't book time off like "everyone else"?
McRib / December 18, 2012 at 11:30 am
im pretty sure the mayor doesn't need to "book time off" for his vacation. And i think its pretty common knowledge that he left without telling many people. nobody could say where he was, how long he was going for, or had any clue when he would be back. This leads most people to think that this was not a planned vacation.

i have heard through various grapevines that his recent sabbatical was due to ill-health, and he needed to get away from the circus around here.

Coming back to announce his resignation would not be beyond the realm of possibility.

steve replying to a comment from mike1234 / December 18, 2012 at 01:02 pm
What the hell is the matter with people like you? Are dim witted, unable to to think critically, have a reading comprehension problem? Or are you just a sad depressed mean spirited person who can not communicate without being argumentative, decisive and villainous. You are not worthy of any further conversation.
Gline replying to a comment from mike1234 / December 18, 2012 at 01:13 pm
Excuse me, you useless ignorant neocon motherfracker, but what the frack does Steve's studying or not studying have to do with the fact that Ford does not take his job seriously? Find some other place to speak your bullshit at, okay? And, take your own advice, go back to school, and get yourself a decent REAL education-one that would show you something of the world and how to vote better than you obviously have been voting now, and also how not to vote against your own interests.
steve replying to a comment from Christmas Vacation? / December 18, 2012 at 01:14 pm
Well sir, I follow the news and follow stories to a conclusion. I know it is difficult for some to do that. Until he was spotted at the airport no one knew he was on vacation his office did not give that information, they were pressured into admitting it. It is still vague on his return. A booked vacation has a start and end time, his has neither. He left on a whim and is retuning in the same manner.
An employee, yes he is a mayor but still an employee of the city, is required to let their employer and co workers know were he is, how else do plan for their absence.
Does this really need to be spelled out.
leftards / December 18, 2012 at 01:31 pm
you leftards would love Ford to step down, well I got news for you, he is a fighter and will never step down. someone has to stand up for us people and keep you leftards off the tits of the public dollar!
CanoeDave / December 18, 2012 at 02:14 pm
The LIberals must hold their ground and not let the Teachers obfuscation intimidate them. The Teachers are branding this as an issue of Constitutional rights when the rights they claim do not exist and the Supreme Court made this very clear last year in SCC Fraser v Ontario 2011. In 30 years of Charter litigation Organized Labour has tried to claim that the Charter protects the right to strike, to union dues, to Labour Board mediation, to compulsory arbitration and to majority representation and they have always lost. The Teachers Challenge must go to Court where it will be shot down long before it gets to the SCC so the public understands that the unions are blowing smoke and crying wolf. Otherwise the entire Country will be stuck with endless labour litigation whenever any government is faced with fiscal challenges and tries to reign in the public sector.
natural cures for treating your plantar fasciitis / December 18, 2012 at 02:19 pm
Wow, that's what I was looking for, what a material! existing here at this weblog, thanks admin of this website.
Al replying to a comment from mike1234 / December 18, 2012 at 02:40 pm
Seriously? Rob Ford flunked out of university in his first year. Guess he should have studied harder.
Chirstmas Vacation? replying to a comment from steve / December 18, 2012 at 02:58 pm
You've never heard of a "last minute" vacation I'm gathering. They do exist and people do take them.

I dislike Rob Ford, but your initial comment insinuates he's somehow doing something inappropriate by taking a vacation, when in fact, most of us do the very same. Quite frankly, if I was Rob Ford, I wouldn't want the world knowing where I was either.
Jill replying to a comment from Chirstmas Vacation? / December 18, 2012 at 03:38 pm
A mayor recently ousted for corruption and granted a stay until the appeal is not everyday people. The mayor of Canada's largest city, who's been tied up in myriad of court dealings concerning unscrupulous behaviour and criticized for absenteeism, does not go on 'last minute' junkets right before City Hall closes for the season. Ridiculously low standards got this boor elected.
Christmas Vacation? replying to a comment from Jill / December 18, 2012 at 03:47 pm
Actually all the reasons you listed above are exactly the types of reasons why someone would take a last miniute vacation to begin with. I'd probably need it after two court trials and being booted from my job too. I'm no Ford fan - I just think it's a bit silly to attack someomeone who has been through so much lately (even if most of it was his own doing)for something as trivial as taking a week off to relax around the holidays. Elected officials are human with families and friends too. Cheers!
Me / December 18, 2012 at 04:14 pm
Fire all the teachers and hire people that want to work.
Alex replying to a comment from Me / December 18, 2012 at 05:13 pm
Hire people who want to work? You realize that the teachers love to work or they wouldn't have attended post-secondary for 5+ years to earn degrees? Essentially the bill is not a rights for workers bill, it is a bill designed to make them work for less rights and less pay. The future of tomorrow deserves more. Good luck getting unqualified people to teach the 3 Rs and more.
Jay / December 18, 2012 at 06:47 pm
@Jill - are you a complete idiot or just a moron?

You know the Toronto Red Star even ran a story that showed Rob Ford has a better attendance than most on council and better attendance than Miller. You do know his court case is not about corruption, right? Was is OK for Leyton to have a fair trial to clear his name for getting caught at a rub-and-tug but not for Ford to access the courts? Talk about a boor.
Ryan replying to a comment from Jay / December 18, 2012 at 08:26 pm
Clearly Jill was referring the recent judgement where Ford was found guilty of accepting money from lobbyists, which is textbook corruption. The most recent matter before the courts concerns libel, and then there's the forthcoming campaign finance case, which is another matter dealing with corruption.

Ford may attend council more frequently than Miller, but he is otherwise absent according to his agenda and fellow councilors.

Stay klassy, Ford Nation.

Clueless replying to a comment from Ryan / December 18, 2012 at 09:08 pm
Ford wasn't "found guilty of accepting money from lobbyists". Are you that retarded that you interpreted the judge's decision as that? Wow...
Jay / December 18, 2012 at 09:11 pm
@ryan - $3000 that did not go anywhere near Ford's hands and went directly to a registered charity?? Yeah real corruption there. Legal corruption is left wing councillors extorting mindset from developers for pet projects to garner votes.

As for your libel charge. Another left wing backed politically driven case. It will get tossed. You cannot libel a company.

But hey, let's keep brining in the American style politics where lawyers backing special interest groups rule the city. Be careful what you wish for lefties. Stay classy when you're crying foul that a lefty councilor is taken out in the future. So blinded by your short sighted ideology to win a battle you'll end up creating a war. Your own demigog Adam Vaughan has said this is a bad precedent for the city.
FordNotQualified replying to a comment from Christmas Vacation? / December 18, 2012 at 09:18 pm
During this whole debacle, he kept saying he just wants to get back to work to fight for the "taxpayer". What did he do once given his stay? He ran away. If he was serious about fighting for the "taxpayer", don't you think he would have stuck around at least a few more days for the recent budget meetings before taking a scheduled Christmas vacation along with everyone else?

This is not something trivial like taking a week off around the holidays. They already have planned time off. He's just a coward. He never answers questions, and when faced with the hard truth that he can't escape at City Hall, he runs away. If this was actually a scheduled holiday, we would have heard better answers from his handlers at City Hall.
the lemur replying to a comment from Jay / December 18, 2012 at 11:31 pm
Ford's attendance isn't better than most - it's better than about half and worse than about half as well. The definition of middling. He also has a tendency to miss votes on issues that he later brings up as being forced on the city by council.

Layton didn't have to have a trial. The cops already decided there was no reason to charge him with anything and didn't publicize the matter. Then later someone decided to dig it up.
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