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Morning Brew: subway shutdown?, City's "sunshine" list grows, TTC town hall meetings, snow-free March, Manners case returns to court, AGO staff vote to strike, Man U to visit, Raptors win

Is the TTC about to close the subway system over the long weekend to address a rat infestation? Reports are breaking that Toronto Public Health is demanding the immediate extermination of the vermin population, which has grown out of control in recent weeks. Over and above the general health risks posed by the infestation, some subway operators have reported difficulty bringing their trains to a stop due to a build up of excrement on the tracks. For more information, click here.

Not a joke is the fact that the number of TTC employees who make over $100,000 jumped by almost a third in 2009 -- up to 724 from 548. There was also an increase in other City of Toronto workers making over six figures, but it was less significant. I was flabbergasted when I saw the number 724, but just so I don't seem to be picking on the TTC, the Toronto Police Service "sunshine" list also saw around a 30 per cent increase.

But, if the TTC salaries have you all riled up, you'll have an opportunity to air your discontent at a series of town hall meetings organized by the union. John Tory will moderate the first one on April 11 at Downsview Secondary School. In the words of union president Bob Kinnear, "We want this process to be a platform for a new beginning of positive relationships between transit users and workers....We are tired of the negative and unproductive 'us vs. them' climate.

We just experienced the first snow-free March in Toronto's history (i.e. since 1845, when record keeping began). The former record was 0.2 centimetres in 1898. Even more remarkable is the fact that we also escaped November without snow. I sincerely hope this doesn't mean we're fated to establish some record for latest snowfall of the year once we've all become accustomed to the warm weather.

In Brief:

The Jordan Manners case returns to court today after a mistrial was declared on March 26. Preliminary statements from the Crown and the defence will focus on setting the date for a re-trial.

Unionized staff at the Art Gallery of Ontario have voted in favour of a strike. The announcement that Matthew Teitelbaum, head of the AGO, pulls in over $1 million apparently played a role in how staff voted. A worker was quoted as saying, "There's not enough money to have full-time employees, but there is enough money to give him (that much money)."

In sports:

With Toronto's BMO Field confirmed as the host-venue of the 2010 Major League Soccer (MLS) championship, local soccer fans were already excited. Now comes what some might consider even bigger news: there's an excellent chance that Manchester United will make a visit this summer. As exciting as this is, the game won't be against TFC, some stars might be missing, and the Rogers Centre -- which is the likely venue -- is far from an ideal place to watch a soccer game.

And Chris Bosh scored 34 points as the Raptors came up with a clutch win over the Los Angeles Clippers (114-92). Also putting in an excellent performance was Sonny Weems, who posted 17 points and seems to have taken Hedo Turkoglu's position as a starter.

Oh, and sorry about that April Fool's prank with the first story -- I couldn't resist.

Photo: "Urban Water Colour" by sniderscion, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.


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