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Morning Brew: First mayoral debate heated, second Jordan Manners trial, fresh start for Toronto Humane Society, Toronto's gridlock the worst of 19 major cities, manhunt for 401 stabber

The mayoral debate held yesterday in Scarborough's Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School saw candidates George Smitherman and Rocco Rossi at each other's necks. Smitherman attacked Rossi on his idea to use downtown development fees in poorer areas of the city, and Rossi countered by calling him out on the eHealth scandal. But in Smitherman's opinion, a track record like that is better than none at all. Meanwhile, Giorgio Mammoliti sat feeling somewhat lonely facing his six supporters in a roomful of local residents, Joe Pantalone made his plea for LRT, Rob Ford proposed bringing back Julian Fantino as police chief, and Sarah Thomson appeared still not to have awoken from her subway platform fairytale.

After the mistrial declared on Friday in the Jordan Manners case due to deadlocked jury, the Crown announced its intent to proceed with a second trial for the two charged in the 15-year-old's 2007 shooting. Attorney General Chris Bentley had nothing to say on what is being considered an unusual move by Justice Ian Nordheimer. Nordheimer evidently told the court -- but not the jury -- that the two teenage witnesses had undermined the trial by changing their testimonies. The second trial is expected to occur on April 1.

The Toronto Humane Society is seeking court permission to shut its doors for the upheaval of its current less-than-virtuous animal-care practices. The six- to eight-week closure would involve a deep cleaning of the facility, staff retraining, a new computerized system to track animal intake, and other changes. It would end with the building's reopening in June, and is ultimately a promise by the THS to start again fresh. To begin, many of the 200 animals remaining in the shelter would probably be euthanized.

According to a new study by the Toronto Board of Trade, Toronto ranks dead last in a survey of 19 major cities' commute times. An average of 80 minutes per round-trip puts us 24 minutes behind Los Angeles, 12 minutes behind New York, and 32 minutes behind Barcelona. Gridlock is costing us over $5 billion in productivity losses a year, threatening the city's long-term viability, and probably isn't doing much for our long-term health and tempers. An 80-minute commute is just asking for road rage.

And speaking of road rage, police are now on the hunt for 28-year-old John Hoang, who is believed to have repeatedly stabbed a Scarborough driver during yesterday morning's rush hour on the 401. Hoang allegedly followed the victim off the highway, the two yelling at each other as they drove side by side. After they pulled over just north of Sheppard Ave. E., they continued to argue, resulting in the victim's stabbing. Police think it was caused by a small bump between the two cars. Or maybe we could all use a break from sitting behind that wheel.

Photo: "Con Fusion In Chinatown - 'I feel like I am in an alternate dimension and trying to find the way back'" by Metrix X, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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