Week in Review: October 16, 2016

  1. Toronto Ward 5 Councillor Justin DiCiano is under investigation by the city’s integrity commissioner, according to the CBC. While the Integrity Commissioner doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, the CBC alleges Etobicoke Resident Malcolm Strachan filed the complaint. If the CBC story is accurate, the complaint shouldn’t take long to investigate. Strachan alleges DiCiano violated Council’s Code of Conduct by accepting what, he argues, amounts to a gift from a developer in 2009. Problem is, DiCiano wasn’t a Councillor in 2009 – nor was he, as Strachan alleges, a candidate.  He couldn’t be, because registration for the 2010 election didn’t begin until January that year.  Strachan argues DiCiano acted improperly when he spearheaded a successful drive this year to rezone a piece of land that would benefit the same developer. I don’t know. The deal smelled fishy to me, but I couldn’t find anything actually wrong with it. Every council decision benefits someone – It may be true that DiCiano knows this particular someone, but unfortunately that’s just politics at City Hall.  It’s not illegal.  You may think it should be. I couldn’t possibly comment.
  1. Toronto Police Chief took questions from the public on Twitter this week. I took the opportunity to ask him what operation reason was behind his decision to change Toronto police cruisers from a highly visible white to a sneaky, Gestapo Gray. He didn’t answer my question, but he did answer another that was, essentially the same. Here’s his answer.  That answer is a 180º flip flop from his statement when the cars were first reported.  In a Tweet, Saunders said “The colour changes ties in with our modernization of policing.” Chief, can we get a straight answer from you on this?  What Saunders made clear last week, though, was that there was no “scientific or operational reason” for the change.    That clears the deck for the Police Services Board to step in and countermand his order.  Toronto’s police need to be less militarized, not more. They need to be less aggressive, not more. They need to be more trustworthy not less. Mayor John Tory, Police Board Chair Andrew Pringle – it’s up to you to do your jobs and stand up for society.
  1. My 90 Minutes to Clear campaign grew wings this week as Jerry Agar took up the charge after a semi-trailer truck full of frozen fish crashed and burned on the 401 this week. All westbound express lanes of North America’s busiest highway were closed. For 11 hours.  There were no injuries.  There were no criminal charges laid.  There was no damage to the asphalt from the fire.  Yet, still, it took over 11 hours to reopen the express lanes.  Other governments do much better.  Florida is one example, where their standard requires the road be reopened within 90 minutes of the crash. When Newstalk1010’s James Murray put the question to Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, here’s the uninspired and insipid response he received.
  1. City Hall announced the Runnymede Fire Hall will reopen this Wednesday. It was closed a year or so ago because… well, it’s not needed. It’s surrounded by fire stations.  Of course the union didn’t like that and so, the local NDP Councillor Sarah Doucette waged a pitched battle to keep it alive.  Apparently it has been renovated (KA-CHING) and will now provide new offices which are not needed, for the Public Education Division and include a captain and six fire and life safety public educators.  According to the Fire Department, “Station 424 will serve the West Command and can accommodate operations crews if required.” – you wait, there will be unnecessary fire crews sleeping there before this year is out.  Is it just a coincidence that this happens right after Fire Chief Jim Sales – who was hired to make changes to bring Toronto’s Fire Service into the 21st Century ­– was forced out of the department?



Scotiabank. Lake Shore & many of downtown’s major roads were closed today from 4am to 3:30pm for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  That's 11½ hours.  Seriously, a 1-legged blind man could hop the marathon backwards in less time.  As I drove in at 11:30 am down a jam-packed, but still moving, Queen St. there were fat men wearing marathon medals, walking home after finishing the marathon.

Hosting a marathon is fine.  It’s nice for the city.  But, let’s get real about how long the roads need to close.  And, when we close a major route like Lake Shore or Bay, let’s at least prohibit parking on the alternative routes – like Queen, King, etc.  That would be smart.  The way Scotiabank is running this event is just stupid.