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The Front Page

Even “Mooskoka” Is Wearing His Mask; Gord & Anne Moore of Scarborough Village are helping to get out the message about the importance of wearing your face mask

Pandemic Economics

In Conversation ~ With Gary Crawford, Budget Chief

By Bret D. Snider

I recently interviewed Ward 20 Councillor Gary Crawford to get his insights on the economic effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the City’s finances.

Q: Gary, you have been the City of Toronto Budget Chair since 2014 - correct?

A: “Yes, Mayor Tory recommended me, and Council endorsed me in 2014. I am now in my 6th year as Budget Chair.”

Q: Toronto is the sixth largest economy in Canada and is the fourth largest City in North America. How has the Covid-19 Pandemic effected our City's revenues?

A: “Our Municipal revenues have plummeted. We’re losing approximately $65 Million per week due to loss of revenues ranging from low TTC ridership, Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT) declines, Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) revenue declines, permit fee declines, etc.… This all translates to an estimated $1.5Billion to $2.8 Billion annual deficit if the pandemic lasts anywhere from 9 to 12 months. Our costs have also increased due to the crisis, including purchases of Personal Protective Equipment, overtime for some staff and increased costs to provide social distancing at shelters throughout the city. To be safe and limit risk, most employees are working from home or have been re-deployed. Minimal lay offs may be considered; however, we’re making our best efforts to avoid that impact. The City is also implementing some cost-covering initiatives, yet they really won’t begin to deal with the financial challenges we are currently facing. The Toronto Transit Commission has played an essential role in moving over 300,000 people a day during the pandemic. They have reduced some routes but, most are being kept at regular service levels (80% of normal service) to help move essential and front-line workers while providing proper distancing on buses and subways. There has been an 86% decline in revenues adding to over $300M in revenue losses by September.”

Q: Canadian cities, by statute, are not permitted to run deficits or carry debt. Is that correct?

A: “Yes, Toronto, like all municipalities, must balance their budgets yearly by virtue of Provincial legislation. We don’t have the ability to raise debt to support operating expenses or to have a deficit, unlike the Provincial or Federal Governments. The magnitude of the financial challenges facing the city of Toronto are such that we’ll need financial support from both the Provincial and Federal governments. Both City Council and the Mayor have been working closely with both those governments to advocate financial support for all municipalities in the Province.”

Q: Given that, are we looking at tax increases for the foreseeable future?

A: “We’ll continue our commitment to keep taxes as low as possible. It’s our hope that both the Provincial and Federal governments will provide financial support to municipalities, including to the City of Toronto.”

[continued...]

Baby Birds: To Help Or Not To Help

By Corey Cameron The season is upon us. Migrant birds have shown up again, claimed their territories and have begun the mating process. One thing I hear every spring is “I found a baby bird, what do I do?”
Most of the time the answer is to simply leave it alone... [continued]

A HIGHLY UNLIKELY BUT TRUE STORY TO COMMEMORATE THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF V-E DAY!

For the complete story of ballplayer-turned-espionage agent Moe Berg, read his bio "The Catcher Was a Spy".
An undistinguished ballplayer and intellectual misfit among them - a teammate once said of him "He speaks 12 languages, but can't hit in any of them."

When baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went on tour in baseball-crazy Japan in 1934, some fans wondered why a third-string catcher named Moe Berg was included. Although he played with five major-league teams from 1923 to 1939, he was a very mediocre ball player. But Moe was regarded as the brainiest ballplayer of all time.

In fact Casey Stengel once said: "That is the strangest man ever to play baseball.” When all the baseball stars went to Japan, Moe Berg went with them and many people wondered why he went with "the team."

The answer was simple: Moe Berg was a United States spy, working undercover with the CIA. Moe spoke 15 languages - including Japanese. And he had two loves: baseball and spying. In Tokyo, garbed in a kimono, Berg took flowers to the daughter of an American diplomat being treated in St. Luke's Hospital - the tallest building in the Japanese capital.

He never delivered the flowers. The ball-player ascended to the hospital roof and filmed key features: the harbor, military installations, railway yards, etc. Eight years later, General Jimmy Doolittle studied Berg's films in planning his spectacular raid on Tokyo.

His father disapproved of his baseball career and never once watched his son play. In Barringer High School, Moe learned Latin, Greek and French. Moe read at least 10 newspapers every day.

He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton - having added Spanish, Italian, German and Sanskrit to his linguistic quiver. During further studies at the Sorbonne, in Paris, and Columbia Law School, he picked up Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian - 15 languages in all, plus some regional dialects.

While playing baseball for Princeton University, Moe Berg would describe plays in Latin or Sanskrit.

During World War II, Moe was parachuted into Yugoslavia to assess the value to the war effort of the two groups of partisans there.

He reported back that Marshall Tito's forces were widely supported by the people and Winston Churchill ordered all-out support for the Yugoslav underground fighter, rather than Mihajlovic's Serbians.

The parachute jump at age 41 undoubtedly was a challenge. But there was more to come in that same year. Berg penetrated German-held Norway, met with members of the underground and located a secret heavy-water plant - part of the Nazis' effort to build an atomic bomb.

His information guided the Royal Air Force in a bombing raid to destroy that plant.

There still remained the question of how far had the Nazis progressed in the race to build the first Atomic bomb.

If the Nazis were successful, they would win the war. Berg (under the code name "Remus") was sent to Switzerland to hear leading German physicist Werner Heisenberg, a Nobel Laureate, lecture and determine if the Nazis were close to building an A-bomb. Moe managed to slip past the SS guards at the auditorium, posing as a Swiss graduate student.

The spy carried in his pocket a pistol and a cyanide pill. If the German indicated the Nazis were close to building a weapon, Berg was to shoot him - and then swallow the cyanide pill. Moe, sitting in the front row, determined that the Germans were nowhere near their goal, so he complimented Heisenberg on his speech and walked him back to his hotel.

Moe Berg's report was distributed to Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and key figures in the team developing the Atomic Bomb. Roosevelt responded: "Give my regards to the catcher.”

Most of Germany's leading physicists had been Jewish and had fled the Nazis mainly to Britain and the United States.

After the war, Moe Berg was awarded the Medal of Freedom - America's highest honor for a civilian in wartime.

Moe Berg's baseball card is the only card on display at the CIA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
The R.A.F. destroys the Norwegian heavy water plant targeted by Moe Berg.

New Superintendent Appointed to the Rouge National Urban Park

Parks Canada announced the appointment of Omar McDadi to the position of Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park, effective April 24, 2020.

Omar McDadi began his career with Parks Canada in 2004 as a student wildlife biologist in Kootenay, Yoho and Banff National Parks, where he tracked bighorn sheep and delivered many educational programs in schools throughout the Canadian Rockies. Over the next 11 years, Omar worked in the Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay Field Unit in several areas, including as a park interpreter, mountain guide, fire information officer, and as a public relations and communications officer.

In 2014, Omar returned home to the Toronto area to work on the establishment of Rouge National Urban Park, where every day he is grateful to work with such a dedicated and talented team.

Outside of his roles with Parks Canada, Omar previously worked as a biologist for the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and the Royal British Columbia Museum, as well as an educator at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island.

Omar graduated with an Honours BSc. in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, and also has a diploma in French as a Second Language from Université Laval in Quebec City.

Pauline Browes, Chair of the Friends of the Rouge National Urban Park, congratulated Omar McDadi on his appointment and said, “We are delighted to be continuing to work with Omar, such an experienced and knowledgeable individual, devoted to managing the Rouge National Urban Park”.

Omar lives in east Toronto with his wife, eight month-old daughter, and 12-year-old golden retriever.

On receiving this appointment, Omar McDadi stated that, “I am grateful to have the opportunity to work closely with the Rouge community to complete the establishment of Canada's first and only National Urban Park, and I consider this appointment the most meaningful of my professional career”.

My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary, By Larry King

Day 1 – I Can Do This!! Got enough food and wine to last a month!

Day 2 – Opening my 8th bottle of Wine. I fear wine supplies might not last!

Day 3 – Strawberries: Some have 210 seeds, some have 235 seeds. Who Knew??

Day 4 – 8:00pm. Removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.

Day 5 – Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!! As my wise gran said "Waste not, want not", so...

Day 6 – I get to set out the rubbish & recycling bins.  Collection day.  I’m so excited, I can’t decide what to wear!

Day 7 – Laughing way too much at my own jokes!! Most of which I'm repeating many times.

Day 8 – Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I am astounded that this place is still in business. 

Day 9 – I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting all dressed up and going bar hopping.

Day 10 – Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He says he's a Web Designer.

Day 11 – Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “What the hell do you want now? My light's on so often, I can't get any sleep.”

Day 12 – I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks or car rides. I just barked at a squirrel.

Day 13 – Watched the birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals lead the Blue Jays 3–1.

Day 14   – I've discovered the best, safest remedy for self-contamination:By holding a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t touch your face

Day 15 – Anybody else feel like they’ve cooked dinner about 395 times this month?

Students – Yeah right.
Parents …Great opportunity for high school kids to get in their volunteer hours delivering the paper door to door in your neighbourhood. And we could really use your help right about now…
Email office@bluffsmonitor.com
put “student” in the subject line and we will be in touch. Do as many or as few hours as you like.

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