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Morning Brew: Rob Ford's new press team gets to work, more copies of alleged tape, Crackstarter hits its target, mayor is sorry, and owners defend heritage demolition

Rob Ford's hastily assembled press team is preparing for its first day. George Christopoulos and Isaac Ransom, his press secretary and deputy press secretary, quit yesterday "on principle." Ford has drafted Doug Ford's executive assistant, Amin Massoudi, and promoted another staffer, Sunny Petrujkic, to plug the staffing gap.

They will have their work cut out for them. This morning the Star is reporting a man pictured in the original Gawker story was one of those injured in the King West shooting that killed Anthony Smith, the other man Ford is embracing in the picture. Muhammad Khattak, 19, was hit in the arm and back, the paper says.

The mayor also took time to apologize for calling the press "maggots" on his last Newstalk 1010 radio show when he made the announcement. Are you surprised he said he was sorry?

The news came as Toronto Star reporter Robyn Doolittle told Dean Blundell that she believes there is more than one copy of the alleged drug video in circulation. She said her sources say there are at least two copies, one of which is outside the city. Do you think there's a chance a tape, if one exists, will come to light?

Meanwhile, Gawker's "Crackstarter" fundraising campaign to buy the alleged video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine reached (and quickly surpassed) its $200,000 goal yesterday. The site admitted last week it had lost contact with the people who claim to have the alleged video and it's not clear whether the money can be used for its original purpose. Gawker says the money will go to charity if the transaction falls through.

In taxes, TTC Chair Karen Stintz is welcoming the new revenue tools proposed by Metrolinx. The provincial transit agency says a 1% sales tax, 5-cent/litre gas tax, and a 25-cent-per-day non-residential parking levy with a 15% rise in development charges would raise the $2 billion a year needed to avert traffic armageddon. Stintz called the charges "balanced and measured."

The owners of a 127-year-old Queen East heritage building the city says was demolished without proper permits are are claiming they acted legally. Rick Kojfman told the Toronto Star his company, 2235434 Ontario Ltd., had the necessary paperwork to proceed with the demolition of the protected structure at 267 Queen Street E., originally built for grocer Robert V. Lauder. If convicted under the Ontario Heritage Act a judge can order a fine of up to $1 million.

Finally, Toronto's new tall buildings guidelines are now available to read (if that's your thing.) The rules, recently adopted by city council, urge developers to protect heritage features, views of the sky, and minimize shadow impact. The document is designed to be easy to read and understand.


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

Image: Jeff Hayward/blogTO Flickr pool.

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