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Morning Brew: 2010 Capital Budget Approved, Paid Off-Duty Cops a Cash Cow?, Double Hit-and-Run, Pretending to Practice Witchcraft

Photo: untitled by zanoskim, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

What's happening in the GTA (and sometimes beyond):

Toronto City Council passed the 2010 Capital Budget (full presentation in PDF format) and is already getting plenty of flack. Recent, massive spending sprees with debt amortized over 30 years (rather than 10 years, which the city has chosen in the past) means that we're paying a lot more than we should in the long term. And some argue that little is being done to address the growing repair backlog on city roads (while $22million is being earmarked for bike lanes in 2010).

The Toronto Star wins the award for most annoying web click sequence of the day. First they post a fluff piece called "Top 10 vehicles for hockey moms" on the GTA main page, but when you click it, you get a nothing article with a link to the fluff list. Clicking on the link, we arrive at an old, incorrect page, and a massive floating Toyota ad prevents the reader from accessing the main navigation menu. Anyhow, if you're keen to see the fluff, I was able to hunt it down via search.

And the Toronto Star also wins the award for most ballsy expose of the day, calling out the Toronto Police on their "cops as props" paid off-duty cash cow program. Paid $75.30/hr to stand around a construction site holding a flag (which is twice their hourly salary to do real police work), and with whopping 42,000 work requests per year, the "company" would be one of the 150 most profitable businesses in Ontario.

They still have no suspects or concrete leads to suspects. Toronto police and the family of slain pedestrian Christopher Skinner are now offering a combined cash reward of $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for running him over in an SUV and leaving him to die on the sidewalk back in October. With a number of people believed to have been in the SUV, and others believed to have observed the altercation that led to his death, someone must have told someone something - and we all know how money can make people talk.

Another fatal hit-and-run - this one last night - involved more than one car striking the pedestrian and fleeing. In this case, however, a distraught woman did call police shortly after the incident, to reveal that she hit something. But police are still seeking an additional driver, believed to be the one to first hit the pedestrian.

Lawyers generally occupy a high tier on the intelligence scale, right? How an unnamed Toronto lawyer was convinced to pay out tens of thousands of dollars to Vishwantee Persaud, a woman who claimed to be a witch that embodied the spirit of his dead sister, is beyond understanding. But the case is real, and is making the courts dig into an obscure section of the criminal code that cites offences related to "pretending to practice witchcraft."

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