Newsstand: July 26, 2013
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Newsstand: July 26, 2013

Can you believe this is already the last Friday of July?! In the news: Chris Spence speaks about his plagiarism scandal, city councillors battle over a garbage truck, the "Maple Leaf Forever" tree will find a new use, legionnaires' disease cases spike, and a reward in the search for bank robbers.

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Former Toronto District School Board director of education Chris Spence has opened up to the Toronto Star about his plagiarism scandal. In his first public statement since his resignation in January, Spence said that “there are no excuses for what I did; I didn’t give credit where credit was due.” However, he also blamed the work of several assistants he had over the years for unattributed material, and said that his own drive and “blind ambition” led him to plagiarize work. “When I look back at the blogs, the speeches, the presentations, I’m going to say that a large, large percentage, you had support to get some of that work done,” Spence said. “But I recognize that I approved everything, I signed off on everything. I take full responsibility for that.”

City councillor Peter Milczyn (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), a rival candidate for the provincial riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore, is asking for an investigation into the use of a city-contracted garbage truck at an event for Doug Holyday (Ward 3, Etobicoke Centre). Provincial PC leader Tim Hudak praised Holyday’s work to contract out city services at a Wednesday press conference, where a large garbage truck was prominently displayed. Milczyn has filed a complaint with the integrity commissioner over Holyday’s use of a city resource at the press conference, though Holyday’s campaign manager, Christine Bujold said the truck was not in use and having it there wasn’t a diversion of resources from the city.

The tree that inspired Canada’s first anthem, “The Maple Leaf Forever,” will be repurposed by the city after it was brought down by last week’s storm. Since it was reported that the tree was felled by the storm, the city has received a flood of calls requesting that its wood somehow be reused. It’s not yet decided how the wood will live on—it’s next home will be an indoor facility for storage, where the amount of salvageable wood will be determined. “I think the intent is, whatever way we’re going to use this wood, it’s going to have to stay in the public realm,” said Rob McMonagle, senior adviser with the city’s economic development and culture office.

The city is experiencing a spike in cases of legionnaires’ disease, with public health officials saying there have been five times as many cases reported in the past six weeks as were seen last year. Incidence of the disease—which usually affects the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, and can be fatal—usually increase in August, but the bump has come to Toronto early this year; there were 16 cases reported in the city between early June and July 19. Toronto Public Health officials said it’s unclear why cases have increased, or why they’re showing up earlier this year. “They’re not clustered in one area of the city or have been linked to a common exposure. So it’s really hard to say why the increase is occurring,” said Dr. Rita Shahin, one of Toronto’s associate medical officers of health.

And the Canadian Bankers Association is offering a $50,000 reward for information that will lead to the capture and conviction of a group of suspects wanted for a series of violent bank robberies across the GTA. Since June 1, there have been five robberies in Toronto, two in Peel Region, and one in York Region, with the robbers targeting banks located near highways and striking midday during peak business hours. The armed robbers have also been violent, slapping, choking, pistol whipping, and pulling the hair of tellers.