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Newsstand: June 12, 2014

Happy election day, Ontario! GO POLITICS! Happy World Cup, footie fans! GO FRANCE! In the news: It is a three-way tie between the Tories, Grits, and the NDP as polls open today; some good news for the future of the Red Door Shelter; city council appoints a deputy-deputy mayor; and more questionable accounting at the Sony Centre.

matt newsstand gull

The day has arrived. Yes, it is time to elect a new provincial government. According to an eleventh-hour poll by Ipsos-Reid, the Tories, Liberals and NDP are essentially deadlocked as polls open this morning. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are in the lead by the skin of their teeth with 33 per cent support, while Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives and Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats sit at 31 and 30 per cent, respectively. The June 6 poll reveals that NDP leader Andrea Horwath is currently the preferred choice for premier, with 38 per cent of respondents saying she would be best suited for the job. Traditionally, however, the odds stack up in the Tories’ favour when it comes to voter turnout, and it looks as if that trend is set to continue at the polls this year. Thirty-six per cent of Hudak supporters made a strong commitment to head out to vote today, compared to 30 per cent for both the Liberals and NDP. Make sure you cast a ballot today, or decline one—the choice is yours, so don’t waste it. Take a few minutes to go over a quick rundown of everything you need to know to vote, including how to find your polling station, and what identification you’ll need.

The long-term survival of the Red Door Shelter on Queen Street East was in question recently, when the property where the shelter resides was put into receivership, and no guarantee was offered that it would be incorporated into new development plans when it is sold. Yesterday, city council voted in favour of helping the shelter stay open, either by helping navigate business dealings to keep it at its current location, or to help find it a new one. The support of city council means a great deal to shelter staff, who say it provides a more firm foundation for future negotiations. Shutting down the Red Door Shelter would be a significant blow to shelter access within the city, since it provides the 106 beds that represent 13 per cent of the total permanent shelter spaces available in Toronto. The shelter’s occupancy rate is between 95 and 97 per cent, on average.

City council also passed a motion to appoint a deputy-deputy mayor, who would carry out Norm Kelly’s role as deputy mayor while he stands in for Mayor Rob Ford, if Kelly were unable to. Former budget chief and outgoing councillor Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) is the lucky person who joins our growing set of mayoral matryoshka dolls. Congrats!

Finally, let’s take a tumble down the rabbit hole that is the Sony Centre’s questionable accounting practices. According to a new report by Toronto’s auditor-general, Sony Centre’s CEO Dan Brambilla was paid almost $8,000 for his wedding, in an unusual deal that allowed the city-owned theatre to use the wedding for promotional purposes. Additionally, Brambilla was also found to have regularly charged for half of his meal costs at the theatre’s cafeteria, during which it is claimed he was conducting quality-control testing. Also in the report, the auditor-general found that between 2002 and 2008, Brambilla’s role as CEO was compensated as a consultant to the theatre, and that Stage-by-Stage Holdings—a company owned by Brambilla—received $572,000 for a business plan. Was that plan penned in gold ink, by chance? Because that seems a little exorbitant. These new revelations come after a previous audit revealed accounting irregularities within the ballooning construction costs connected to the theatre’s renovation, which lead the eight-person board to resign last week as council voted to tighten control over the theatre by installing a temporary board consisting of five councillors and three senior city staffers.

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