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Morning Brew: Rob Ford allowed to keep his $6 million, snow by the numbers, "gay" penguins start families, TTC prepares a fare hike, and the model railroad club rolls on

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 28, 2012

toronto downtownRob Ford is surely feeling a little flush this morning after a judge threw out a $6-million defamation lawsuit against him. George Foulidis, the owner of the Boardwalk pub in the Beaches, brought the suit believing Ford had defamed him with comments he made to the Toronto Sun editorial board during his 2010 mayoral campaign.

The judge ruled a reasonable person would not have concluded Ford was referring to Foulidis when he said a sole-sourced contact on the Boardwalk pub "stinks to high heaven." Is this a good omen for January's conflict of interest appeal hearing?

Ever wonder how a waterfront pub could become such a central figure in municipal politics? The Star has a useful primer on George Foulidis, the Boardwalk Pub, and Rob Ford's involvement.

There's still some of that freezing cold white powder on the ground in Toronto - the first major snowfall this season - and while it lasts the National Post is crunching some numbers on this and other recent winter storm events in the city including (ahem) that time Mel Lastman called in the army.

The Globe and Mail (paywall) reports that Accenture, the US firm hired to implement the Presto contactless fare card system across Ontario, has a troubled history when it comes to delivering projects on time in the province. The firm was criticized in 2002 for a $60-million increase on a $120-million contract to automate Ontario's welfare system. Despite that setback, the company still won the fare contract in 2006.

Five African penguin chicks hatched at Toronto Zoo over the holiday season, two to the new mating partners of Buddy and Pedro, birds that were thought to be gay when they became inseparable, though not sexual, in 2011.

One new year's gift that won't be as pleasant is the TTC's upcoming fare hike. Starting Jan. 1 the price of tokens and some other non-cash fares will rise. Metropasses and cash fares remain the same but the cost of a token will rise to $2.65.

Finally, after 67 years playing trains the Model Railroad Club of Toronto is being forced out of its Liberty Village basement. A victim of the area's increasing density and rapid urbanization, the club's members say they've found a new space but don't want to divulge the location until the deal is complete.


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

Photo: "Boxed In" by RadarContact from the blogTO Flickr pool.



iSkyscraper / December 28, 2012 at 10:09 am
I don't understand why a consulting firm (nee Andersen Consulting) was contracted to deliver a piece of hardware/software. I'm pretty sure that no other transit agency went this route of using a consultant, and I don't think any of them used freaking AC. Why would you not contract directly with the vendor? Philadelphia, the only other major city still without a smart card, just hired a division of Xerox to implement their system (which by the way will be rolled out before Toronto's). Xerox. You know, a company that actually makes stuff with blinking lights. (Xerox also did the wonderful Montreal smart card).

Why on earth would you hire a consulting firm? Was Bain Capital busy? Too much money floating around? Never read House of Cards? What was Metrolinx smoking?

Toronto is the last city in North America to get a transit smartcard operational, but after waiting all that time to learn from others we get the most expensive, most balky system designed by a bunch of "consultants"? Idiots.
BG / December 28, 2012 at 10:47 am
One word: corruption. / December 28, 2012 at 11:45 am
the cost of metropasses are not staying the same. The TTC website has the price listed incorrectly. It says the current price is $128.50 and in 2013 it will remain the same. But the current price of the metropass is $126.
Anal Bum Cover replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 28, 2012 at 01:45 pm
Sadly this City seems to be run by consultants lately, rather than the Councillors we elected to do that job. So many issues in front of Council lately have been brushed aside or deferred pending further consultant work, rather than Council actually taking a stand and making decisive decisions. I understand why they do it (to save their own asses politically, of course), but it isn't right and shouldn't be tolerated by voters.
Joe / December 28, 2012 at 02:22 pm
The smartcard fiasco is the fault of Metrolinx, not the TTC. The TTC wanted to go with a different, open system, but Metrolinx threatened to pull funding for the new LRT/subway lines if the TTC didn't listen to them and use Presto. Metrolinx is another one of those private companies the liberals created to be more "efficient", except all it does is give them a monopoly over our tax dollars which they can spend privately because they are no longer accountable to anyone. Similar to eHealth, Orange, etc.
Jacob / December 28, 2012 at 02:37 pm
Consulting: There's money to be made in prolonging the problem.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Anal Bum Cover / December 28, 2012 at 02:38 pm
After getting through the paywall and reading the Globe piece I see Ford had his hands all over this. Typical of his thinking, it was all about saving money in the present at the risk of screwing up monumentally in the future. Miller had actually gotten a bid from Xerox, but surprise surprise Ford refused to act on it, probably because it involved some upfront expense. (Note to Ford Nation - this man does not save you money!)

All of these smartcards use the same underlying tech (MIFARE, google it) - it's not like a system built by Xerox would have been necessarily incompatible with the already existing regional Presto setup.

Compared to other cities, this is all just a giant clusterfuck.
Rob K replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 28, 2012 at 03:39 pm
Uh, no. For once this has nothing to do with either Miller or Ford. This is a provincial issue. Metrolinx forced the TTC to take on Presto as a condition for LRT money. As pointed out above, Metrolinx is quickly becoming another gov't agency out of control. In addition, Accenture, the company designing and implementing Presto, according to the Star today (or in recent days), has a history of delays, and with the city to boot!
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Rob K / December 28, 2012 at 04:01 pm
"Under the Miller administration, the TTC launched an aggressive search for a private vendor to run an open-fare system just for its own vehicles. Only one bidder, a division of Xerox, responded. But after Mayor Rob Ford took office, the new commission shelved that plan and signed on instead with Presto/Accenture, using a financing formula that guarantees the TTC pays no more than $47-million in upfront capital costs, plus a fee to Metrolinx of 5.25 per cent of fare revenues."

Had Ford not screwed around with Transit City in the first place this would not have happened.
realityCheck / December 29, 2012 at 04:28 pm
ISkyscraper... Even with the remarks in your 4:01pm post, the blame lies with Metrolinx. I am not a Ford supporter, but the path that TTC/Miller were pursuing pre 2010, should have been shelved because it would have FURTHER PREVENTED TRANSIT SYSTEM INTEGRATION ACROSS THE GTA, which is sorely needed. I don't like Ford, but at least he was elected. As for Metrolinx, it best considered a body of appointed charlatans (as opposed to the elected kind) used by the province to shield itself from accountability surrounding decisions to develop more robust transit across the GTA. I call them charlatans because from Presto, to the Union-Pearson link, they have a strong record of mismanagement.
Me / December 30, 2012 at 01:28 am
Luckily I've just discovered The Torontoist where news stories seem to be actual (GASP!!) news stories and not just Left wing bashfests. Buh bye BlogLEFTTO!!
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