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Newsstand: February 15, 2012

Good job! You've managed to make it to mid-week. Let's keep this positive trajectory going with some news! Torontonians want subways, but they also want Stintz (sheesh, make up your minds!); transit changes may mean bad news for Presto; it's a split pot when it comes to casino plans; Toronto's paramedics are mad, mad, mad; an intoxicated cop (maybe); and rocket cops in our city.

First, some news to soothe Mayor Rob Ford’s battle-weary soul. A new poll out from Forum Research (released exclusively to the Toronto Sun) seems to back Mayor Ford’s assertion that Torontonians want subways. According to the findings, nearly six in 10 citizens would prefer a subway-based transit plan over one based on light rail. Interestingly, though, while Mayor Ford wants to bury the Eglinton LRT as it moves into Scarborough and TTC chair Karen Stintz wants the line to go above ground, Stintz herself seems to have gained more support among residents than has our current mayor. Forum Research also found that in a hypothetical election between Mayor Ford and Councillor Stintz, 44 per cent would vote for Stintz to become mayor, while only 40 per cent would vote to re-elect Ford. Seventeen per cent were undecided.

If the TTC is good for one thing, it’s providing a never-ending stream of news. (That, and moving us from place to place.) In other transit news, it could be Presto change-o for the province’s transit-connecting electronic payment system. Last March, Mayor Rob Ford and the province agreed on a clause that committed the city to the Presto smartcard, and decided that Ontario would fund the implementation. However, city council’s rejection of Mayor Ford’s transit expansion may have also jeopardized plans to implement the Presto electronic payment system. Dun da daaaa—another chapter begins.

Looking for a buddy to hit the slots with? Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) should not be on that list. Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre), maybe. Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East), probably (and you may even be privy to remarks like “You can’t suck and blow at the same time” if you’re rolling with him). In fact, if you’re looking for some gambling buddies, it’s best not to bother with the downtowners, and instead try to round up a few Scarborough councillors. That’s right, yet another downtown-vs-suburb spat. What a helpful dichotomy.

If all of Toronto’s paramedics are spilling blood (or at least screaming for it), who’s going to rush in and help them, hmmm? Who will save the savers? This is a question that you should be pondering right now because, according to Geoff MacBride, president of the Toronto Paramedic Association, that’s what’s up (the screaming for blood—not any actually bloodshed). Toronto’s paramedics are apparently so unhappy with CUPE Local 416′s labour deal with the City they’re mulling mutiny. No sweat off Local 416 President Mark Ferguson’s back: he calls the upset a negative campaign by “a very small group of separatists.” Or maybe he was talking about Justin Trudeau? Either way, those paramedics are none too pleased.

It seems that the Toronto police, of anyone, should be able to prove whether the head of its traffic services division and R.I.D.E program was intoxicated. Until they can determine if this was indeed the case, Earl Witty, a 38-year veteran of the force, has been suspended. So, um, yeah…this is slightly awkward, but don’t they have breathalyzers and blood testers at their disposal? Couldn’t this “mystery” have been solved a little sooner?

Meanwhile, when not not testing their officers for intoxication, Toronto police are riding the rocket. With the aim of catching drivers texting, emailing, or talking on their cellphones, cops are watching from inside moving streetcars, ready to nab drivers at stop lights. Dialing or scrolling through contacts? Busted! Manually programming a GPS device? Nabbed! Calling 911? Well, actually, that’s okay. Drivers caught using a cellphone face a $155 fine, while watching an entertainment device like a tablet can result in a fine of $110. In other words, it’s a steeper fine for talking on the phone vs watching a movie. Who knew? The bottom line: don’t do it. The rocket cops are watching. It’s just like Robo Cop, just slightly less cool.

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