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Newsstand: March 5, 2014

Since you’ll forget at least 50 times between now and the weekend, let’s start off with a reminder that Daylight Saving begins on Sunday. In the news: A whole lot of Toronto schools are falling apart while the TDSB fends off more allegations of infighting, everything you wanted to know about Sandro Lisi but were afraid to ask, and a swan gets rescued from the harbour.

matt newsstand raccoon

A new report by the Toronto District School Board says that most of the board’s 550 schools need immediate repairs. Using a formula that assigns higher percentage ratings to schools in the most critical need of repair, the report found that only 114 schools managed to scrape by with a “good” or “fair” grade. The Seneca School in Etobicoke and the Metropolitan School for the Deaf fared the worst—both are in what the TDSB considers critical condition. School trustee Shelley Laskin revealed that there were an additional 15 schools in her ward alone that were assessed as being in either “poor” or “critical” condition.

Not to get too metaphysical on you so early in the morning, but the decaying state of Toronto schools seems to mirror the state of affairs within the TDSB itself. The National Post says that since 2002, TDSB board meetings have been identified in reports as being dysfunctional, with a history of staff complaints that rude trustees overstep their bounds as elected officials. In 2008, a TDSB report on school safety went as far as to say that school trustees had “difficulty recognizing and respecting boundaries.” Well, it is great to see they have learned so much in the past decade: last week, allegations of bullying behaviour by school trustees against senior staff resulted in off-duty police officers being asked to sit in on all future board meetings. It certainly doesn’t help much that most Torontonians have little to no idea what a school trustee is actually supposed to do, nor do they actively participate in voting for them. So until the lack of public engagement changes, the culture within the TDSB has little hope for improvement…police protection or not.

If you’ve got time this morning, why not tuck into this lengthy read about Sandro Lisi’s history of violence and threats against women? Since 2001, Lisi has been charged with and pleaded guilty to criminal harassment twice. He was also charged with assault, uttering death threats, and criminal harassment in 2007 after a former girlfriend accused him of stalking her; however, the Crown eventually withdrew those charges. Most recently, Lisi threatened to kill a woman in 2011, and was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to attend an anger-management program. It is a really good thing that Councillor Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) has made it clear he has never met Lisi before in his life, because who would want to be associated with that type of riff raff? Oh…wait.

Finally, after digesting all of that “ick,” let us end the morning with a bit of a palate cleanser. Golf claps all around for the two members of the William Lyon Mackenzie fire boat who ventured onto the frozen waters of the Lake Ontario to rescue a swan that was trapped in ice in the Toronto Harbour. Risking it all for a bird that would likely try to poke your eye out—that’s heroism!

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