Morning Brew: Fighting for Ultimate Fighting in Ontario, TTC Customer Service Czar Named, Giambrone Returns, Carlton Cinemas Saved, Raccoons Dying of Distemper, Reporting Abandoned Bikes
What's happening in the GTA (and sometimes beyond):
Allowing mixed marital arts events (aka MMA, aka Ultimate Fighting) in Ontario is a change that Premier Dalton McGuinty is not willing to entertain, despite the sport being highly entertaining and despite previously alluding to potential revisiting and loosening of the rules. While not a fan myself, I can sort of see how people get thrills out of watching an angry kickboxer kick the brains out of a challenging judo specialist (in the same way I can somewhat understand how monster truck rallies and sport hunting might be "fun").
Giambrone is back at work at the TTC and ready to talk transit - the main order of business being fixing customer service. Steve O'Brien, the newly appointed "customer service czar" and hotelier, has plenty of experience in the area, but TTC union head Bob Kinnear thinks that since O'Brien only rides the system a few times each week, he's not in touch with the realities the employees or the public face. Who to you propose should head the initiative, Kinnear? You? Me? There's also renewed talk about the TTC creating a passenger's Bill of Rights, which is something that Torontonians appear ready to accept.
Three masked men pulled off a string of three bank robberies in short succession yesterday, keeping police busy trying to catch up. These may or may not be the same bandits that police were concerned about last month, after a few excessively violent robberies took place in the city.
Fans of cheap tickets and kitschy, retro movie theatres (no giant wrap-around screens, Burger Kings, or $12.50 admission) are delighted by the news that the Carlton Cinemas have been saved. Magic Lantern Theatres, who own and run the Rainbow Cinemas chain, has purchased the downtown space, and plans to refurbish it and re-open it in the summer. Hopefully they don't do too much upgrading!
Toronto wildlife is at risk due to an epidemic of distemper that is spreading amongst our raccoon and skunk populations. While this may come as welcome news to people with a hate-on for mangy urban trash diggers, the virus also poses a threat to unvaccinated pets (especially older dogs).
And if you're tired of seeing the weathered, rusted remains of bikes long abandoned and locked to poles, fences, and bike rings around the city, there is a solution. Call 311 to report their locations to the City, and they'll eventually be removed.
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