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Morning Brew: Councillors say Fords are in conflict over sewage spill, PCs pitch relief line, TTC driver under fire, Presto likely delayed, and local moonshine hits LCBO

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 20, 2013

toronto snowTwo councillors say Rob and Doug Ford's involvement in the aftermath of a sewage spill by one of their company's clients is a conflict of interest. The brothers assembled top city staffers, including the city manager and head of Toronto Water, to help Apollo Health and Beauty Care, a soap and shampoo maker that uses the Ford family labels. Councillors Adam Vaughan and Denzil Minnan-Wong both spoke out yesterday. Doug Ford called the idea of a conflict of interest "a bunch of nonsense"

The province's Progressive Conservatives say they would freeze expansion of full day kindergarten and sell off unwanted government buildings to fund a Downtown Relief Line if they are elected, according to a white paper released yesterday. "Building Great Cities" also envisions thousands of public service job cuts to help pay for the much-needed subway without raising taxes.

A TTC streetcar driver is coming under fire after he allegedly refused to help a lost child. Eight-year-old Josh Parker became separated from his group while on a field trip Wednesday. He told the driver he was lost and needed assistance, but the nameless employee refused to help or stop his vehicle. The TTC says it's conducting a full investigation.

The TTC is unlikely to have full Presto integration in time for the 2015 Pan Am Games, as originally promised. "It's unlikely that we'll meet our commitments," said TTC chair Karen Stintz after urging the various companies involved, including Metrolinx, to work faster. It's not clear how many of the streetcar, bus, and subway system will have fare card integration by 2015.

Rob Ford's second round of bobblehead dolls will go on sale today (not yesterday like I said before - oops) in benefit of the Canadian Cancer Society. The Robbie Bobbies will cost $20 and be available in the City Hall rotunda at noon. A strict one-per-person limit will be enforced, the mayor's office says. The last batch of dolls raised $12,000 for the United Way.

Get ready for a messy weekend - freezing rain and snow is on its way. Environment Canada says a large portion of southern Ontario (including Toronto) will see freezing rain giving way to normal precipitation starting this morning. The worst of the weather is expected to arrive Saturday night into Sunday morning, with as much as 5 mms of ice build-up expected.

Finally, yokels rejoice! Toronto moonshine is now available in the LCBO. The Toronto Distillery Co. has released its first batch of Organic Ontario Wheat Spirit (un-aged whiskey) this week. The company is the first distillery to open in Toronto since the 1930s.


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

Image: Empty Quarter/blogTO Flickr pool.



Dave / December 20, 2013 at 08:13 am
Does it surprise anyone that Adam Vaughan and Denzil Minnan-Wong would be the only two Councillors to cry conflict of interest for an incident that happened 18 months ago? How low will these two clowns stoop?
steve replying to a comment from Dave / December 20, 2013 at 08:44 am
It is amazing to watch how low Rob and Doug will go.
MirrorDave replying to a comment from Dave / December 20, 2013 at 09:03 am
Does it surprise anyone that Adam Vaughan and Denzil Minnan-Wong, councillors from opposite ends of the political spectrum, would agree that it is a brazen conflict of interest for the Fords to devote city resources to their personal friends in an incident that just recently came to light? How low will these two clowns, the mayor and his thug brother, stoop?
Al / December 20, 2013 at 09:17 am
I'm not surprised by the behaviour of the TTC driver. Many times I've seen people get on and ask the driver whether the vehicle goes past a certain spot, only to be met with silence or "I don't know". The other passengers usually have to answer the question.
CW / December 20, 2013 at 09:31 am
"Commissioners heard that 50 new streetcars and 23 subway stations would be Presto-equipped beginning next fall. Only then would procurement begin for the second wave of implementation."

Was this "second wave" procurement rule just made now or did nobody pop this into their project file? How did these people even get jobs?
iSkyscraper / December 20, 2013 at 09:47 am
Drivers should absolutely respond to something like a lost child. But I can't blame them for becoming jaded from taking endless inane questions from the public like "does this vehicle go to X" or "I don't have quarters" or "when is the XXX bus coming?". Drivers should be walled off, like subway drivers, and only reached in an emergency. This is how things work in London because all payment is off-vehicle and automated (or just a reader on-board), they have NextBus displays at all stops, and their signage and wayfinding is generally excellent. Because the TTC has crappy, unreadable system maps, doesn't use line maps at all, and gives very poor information in general they have created a situation where passengers have to bother the drivers, the boarding process is slowed, and the drivers get fed up.

I believe the new streetcars will address this with more isolated drivers and more automated payments, but all vehicles, bus or streetcar, need to move payment off-vehicle, vastly improve signage, put line maps on all vehicles, and physically close off the drivers from the public.

Here is an image of a London bus -- note the glass wall that makes it hard to stop and ask the driver questions, which is exactly the point.

CW replying to a comment from Al / December 20, 2013 at 09:54 am
"Many times I've seen people get on and ask the driver whether the vehicle goes past a certain spot".

I think its fair to ask the drive if the bus is going North/East/South/West, but to ask if it goes by Larry Sefton Park is a little absurd. If you've ever worked in a service position you know just how ridiculous some people can be. The driver is a captive audience to babblers as he can't just walk away.

I'm actually surprised at the level of jerks this time of year. At the supermarket somebody forgot a bag and the clerk was nice enough to quickly look for them. The girl behind in line got furious and yelled at her "Yo where you going. Cant you see theres a line".

Having said that. What is the TTC policy/procedure for lost children? I understand the driver can't use a phone while driving, but could he have at least made an announcement at one of the stops asking another passenger for help? Could he have not radioed in and ask a supervisor what to do?
Mike replying to a comment from Dave / December 20, 2013 at 10:09 am
You're a Ford bootlicker.

You're a laughable doormat.

Who cares what you think?
Poopdawg / December 20, 2013 at 10:18 am
If Ford farted in a busy elevator, Dave would praise him for addressing the stale air issue.
TheCaptain / December 20, 2013 at 10:23 am
Can we get Team Vaughan Wong to actually accomplish something positive of their own? If they are such great leaders or potential leaders why don't they lead by example and actually do something.

Rob's powers have been stripped, council needs to move on from this. It just shows they still believe Rob could get his powers back and win the 2014 election. Everyone wants to be the one responsible for getting Rob removed from city hall like its going to make them an automatic hero with the citizens.

Skye / December 20, 2013 at 10:25 am
What's most alarming about the TTC driver's behaviour is that he told the kid to ask a stranger for help. We've been drilling it into kids' heads for decades now to never talk to strangers. And this driver advises the kid to do the exact OPPOSITE of that?!
HipAnonymous replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 20, 2013 at 10:31 am
When IS the XXX bus coming? Sounds like a bus worth waiting for.

The TTC is addicted to bad PR. But, let's forgive. I mean, this happened in the past and the past is the past.
Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 10:33 am
Adam Vaughan still thinks he's going to be Mayor. (lol) He'll be lucky if he's still a city councillor next year. You'd think Adam manipulating the med
duder / December 20, 2013 at 10:36 am
That TTC driver is an absolutely disgrace. They should bring back tarring and feathering just to do it to this asshole.
Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 10:42 am
Adam Vaughan still thinks he's going to be Mayor. (lol) He'll be lucky if he's still a city councillor next year. You'd think Adam manipulating the media (next to the Fords, he's had the most media time) to his advantage would be a conflict of interest. Adam is really good buddies with Mirvish, maybe their condo deal is a conflict of interest too.

iSkyscraper-That's their job! Those of us who live here (and those who travel here), want drivers to respond to in a polite calm manner.

That drivers ass should be fired. There must be protocols in place to deal with emergencies (this was an emergency).It is drivers like this who give the whole union a bad rep. Don't shield him.

People who ask questions are not stupid, or dumb. They're just people who are looking to be informed.

Denzil, I'm not voting for you. Stop trying so hard.

Presto is a joke. Gravy.
Grant / December 20, 2013 at 11:02 am
And another story of Rob and Doug Ford's corruption, this time featuring a Deco client. Hat tip to Vaughan and Minan-Wong for standing up to the Fords' bullying and obvious conflict.

Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 11:08 am
The latest from IPSOS, on Rob Ford.

Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 11:19 am
Lets try this one more time.
Shane replying to a comment from Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 11:28 am
I wouldn't read too much into those polls, Shirls. I got the call from Ipsos and told them that I'd vote for Ford. I want him to think that he can win so he runs, wastes his family's money and suffers a humiliating defeat. Other than jail, this is the best punishment for a man who should never have been elected mayor.
JoeCarter / December 20, 2013 at 11:33 am
Had the Wheat Spirit at Whisky Live and it was so gnarly. Do not recommend at all.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 11:38 am
Giving directions to tourists is not their job. Driving their vehicle as smoothly as possible, on-time and without accidents, is their job (along with, of course, dealing with emergencies). Answering inane questions slows boarding and, when often enough and trickled-down, makes thousands of people late. Do you distract subway drivers to ask them which stop is next? Of course not. Don't do it to bus drivers.

That said, a lost child qualifies as an emergency and the investigation into what happened is appropriate.
SamRobards / December 20, 2013 at 11:53 am
There are no strong candidates to run against Ford. He will win, which is why these councilors are digging up anything to try and get him booted. They removed his powers and they're still scared. Councillors need to focus on 2014
Edmund replying to a comment from SamRobards / December 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm
The Fords pulling municipal strings for clients of their private business is not digging up anything. Using city resources for their personal interests is wrong.

Ford supporters are as morally challenged as the Mayor and his smarmy brother.

FYI Stintz and Minan-Wong, centrist and right-leaning candidates, have already expressed interest in running for Mayor. Ford doesn't have a chance.
SamRobards replying to a comment from Edmund / December 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm
Again it is an issue YES, but there are just using as a tool to get Rob out. Nice Try. They are scared.

Stintz and Wong are not strong enough. Once all the votes are spit Rob will win.

Stintz doesn't stand a chance.
Wong stand's a small chance but she's only really got the downtown core.

Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 01:11 pm
iSkyscraper-(YES IT IS THEIR JOB!) If people have questions regarding train routes they ask the ticket collecters upon entry to the subway. For those who KNOW, there's an information line regarding all routes. Asking a bus driver a quick question upon entry to a bus is not putting anyones life in danger (buses are idol), and would hardly put a dent in anyones commute time. Wonder how you feel about wheelchairs, scooters and babystrollers (I don't really care, just being sarcastic).

Feels like you're a bus driver from New York (retired?).
Jacob replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / December 20, 2013 at 01:57 pm
For all the people who complain that TTC employees are overpaid, it's strange to suggest that giving directions to riders should not be part of their job.
tommy replying to a comment from Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 02:11 pm
No, as iSkyscraper outlined, it's NOT the driver's job. Subway ticket collectors aren't driving a vehicle or keeping a strict schedule so they can sometimes spend time, but I'm assuming you've never tried paying your fare when someone is blathering on with inane questions while blocking the fare line. It DOES affect commute times by delaying riders trying to get on the subway (even worse on streetcars/buses).

There are many easily available ways to plan a trip on the TTC, and expecting a bus driver or ticket collector to plan your trip for you is ludicrous. The fact that these people don't think to even move to the side and let others pass while asking questions is enough to argue for closed off compartments.

Also, drivers are only given a route, not an tourist guide. It would be better to ask fellow riders for help before even embarking on the damn bus!
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Shirley / December 20, 2013 at 02:55 pm
Best practices as developed by engineers and deployed around the world,


What Shirley thinks.

You decide.

Note that much of this is related to payment and signage, two areas TTC is trying to address but at their usual glacial pace. Perhaps if they weren't so distracted by polticians meddling with transit planning...
Bus Driver / December 20, 2013 at 03:01 pm
What happens when you ask too many questions:
Shirley / December 21, 2013 at 10:53 am
Tommy-YES IT IS! ALWAYS HAS BEEN, ALWAYS WILL BE. Yes, I've been in many lines, where many people have asked quick questions. Doesn't bother me one bit. These are paying customers. They have every right to ask questions of staff regarding service. I've NEVER seen anyone ask a bus driver to plan their trip for them. When new people arrive in this country (city), or people travel to a new part of the city questions will get asked. I've also seen the majority of bus drivers graciously give information. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen a Toronto bus driver be rude over being asked directions (they've all been fare disputes).

But you know, if you're a TTC driver, and you're speaking on behalf of all TTC drivers, perhaps your union should raise this issue with your bosses. I don't think you'll have a sympathetic ear on this one.

iSkyscraper-You mean what iSkscraper means, or what Shirley means, don't you? Engineer is just a title. Doesn't mean they know everything.

Bus Driver-...and now he's going to jail (I'll be honest, I didn't read the article, just the headline).
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from tommy / December 21, 2013 at 04:03 pm
It would actually be better for passengers to PLAN THEIR TRIP IN ADVANCE ON THE INTERNET (or with a paper MAP) before they go someplace-that way, they wouldn't have to ask a driver anything at all.
shutley / December 21, 2013 at 05:22 pm
Dave loves Shirley
shumley / December 21, 2013 at 07:13 pm
Alana is my friend too!
Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie / December 26, 2013 at 10:19 am
Oh R-o-o-bb!
Yan / January 24, 2014 at 11:06 am
Where did the Morning Brew go? :(
Catherine / January 29, 2014 at 09:11 am
I agree! Morning Brew, please come back!
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