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Morning Brew: Rob Ford allowed to keep his $6 million, snow by the numbers, "gay" penguins start families, TTC prepares a fare hike, and the model railroad club rolls on

Rob Ford is surely feeling a little flush this morning after a judge threw out a $6-million defamation lawsuit against him. George Foulidis, the owner of the Boardwalk pub in the Beaches, brought the suit believing Ford had defamed him with comments he made to the Toronto Sun editorial board during his 2010 mayoral campaign.

The judge ruled a reasonable person would not have concluded Ford was referring to Foulidis when he said a sole-sourced contact on the Boardwalk pub "stinks to high heaven." Is this a good omen for January's conflict of interest appeal hearing?

Ever wonder how a waterfront pub could become such a central figure in municipal politics? The Star has a useful primer on George Foulidis, the Boardwalk Pub, and Rob Ford's involvement.

There's still some of that freezing cold white powder on the ground in Toronto - the first major snowfall this season - and while it lasts the National Post is crunching some numbers on this and other recent winter storm events in the city including (ahem) that time Mel Lastman called in the army.

The Globe and Mail (paywall) reports that Accenture, the US firm hired to implement the Presto contactless fare card system across Ontario, has a troubled history when it comes to delivering projects on time in the province. The firm was criticized in 2002 for a $60-million increase on a $120-million contract to automate Ontario's welfare system. Despite that setback, the company still won the fare contract in 2006.

Five African penguin chicks hatched at Toronto Zoo over the holiday season, two to the new mating partners of Buddy and Pedro, birds that were thought to be gay when they became inseparable, though not sexual, in 2011.

One new year's gift that won't be as pleasant is the TTC's upcoming fare hike. Starting Jan. 1 the price of tokens and some other non-cash fares will rise. Metropasses and cash fares remain the same but the cost of a token will rise to $2.65.

Finally, after 67 years playing trains the Model Railroad Club of Toronto is being forced out of its Liberty Village basement. A victim of the area's increasing density and rapid urbanization, the club's members say they've found a new space but don't want to divulge the location until the deal is complete.


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

Photo: "Boxed In" by RadarContact from the blogTO Flickr pool.

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