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Singer David Cassidy performs at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas on Nov. 18, 2011. ZUMA WIRE/Barry Sweet

David Cassidy, ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Nov 22nd, 2017

David Cassidy, the teen and pre-teen idol who starred in the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family” and sold millions of records as the musical group’s lead singer, died Tuesday at age 67.

Cassidy, who announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with dementia, died surrounded by his family, a family statement released by publicist JoAnn Geffen said. No further details were immediately available, but Geffen said on Saturday that Cassidy was in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, hospital suffering from organ failure.

“David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long,” the statement said. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”

“The Partridge Family” aired from 1970-74 and was a fictional variation of the ’60s performers the Cowsills, intended at first as a vehicle for Shirley Jones, the Oscar winning actress and Cassidy’s stepmother. Jones played Shirley Partridge, a widow with five children with whom she forms a popular act that travels on a psychedelic bus. The cast also featured Cassidy as eldest son and family heartthrob Keith Partridge; Susan Dey, later of “L.A. Law” fame, as sibling Laurie Partridge and Danny Bonaduce as sibling Danny Partridge.

It was an era for singing families — the Osmonds, the Jacksons. “The Partridge Family” never cracked the top 10 in TV ratings, but the recordings under their name, mostly featuring Cassidy, Jones and session players, produced real-life musical hits and made Cassidy a real-life musical superstar. The Partridges’ best known song, “I Think I Love You,” spent three weeks on top of the Billboard chart at a time when other hit singles included James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “The Tears of a Clown.” The group also reached the top 10 with “I’ll Meet You Halfway” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted” and Cassidy had a solo hit with “Cherish.”

“In two years, David Cassidy has swept hurricane-like into the pre-pubescent lives of millions of American girls,” Rolling Stone magazine noted in 1972. “Leaving: six and a half million long-playing albums and singles; 44 television programs; David Cassidy lunch boxes; David Cassidy bubble gum; David Cassidy coloring books and David Cassidy pens; not to mention several millions of teen magazines, wall stickers, love beads, posters and photo albums.”

Cassidy’s appeal faded after the show went off the air, although he continued to tour, record and act over the next 40 years, his albums including “Romance” and the awkwardly titled “Didn’t You Used To Be?” He had a hit with “I Write the Songs” before Barry Manilow’s chart-topping version and success overseas with “The Last Kiss,” featuring backing vocals from Cassidy admirer George Michael. He made occasional stage and television appearances, including an Emmy-nominated performance on “Police Story.”

Meanwhile, “The Partridge Family” remained popular in re-runs and Cassidy, who kept his dark bangs and boyish appearance well into middle age, frequently turned up for reunions and spoke often about his early success.

“So many people come up to me and talk to me about the impact it (the show) had,” he told Arsenio Hall in 1990.

Even while “The Partridge Family” was still in primetime, Cassidy worried that he was mistaken for the wholesome character he played. He posed naked for Rolling Stone in 1972, when he confided that he had dropped acid as a teenager and smoked pot in front of the magazine’s reporter as he watched an episode of “The Partridge Family” and mocked his own acting. Cassidy maintained an exhausting schedule during the show’s run, filming during the week and performing live shows over the weekend, but had plenty of time to indulge himself. In the memoir “Could It Be Forever,” he wrote of his prolific sex life and of rejecting Dey’s advances because she lacked the “slutty aspect of a female that I always found so attractive.”

Cassidy would endure personal and financial troubles. He was married and divorced three times, battled alcoholism, was arrested for drunk driving and in 2015 filed for bankruptcy. Cassidy had two children, musician Beau Cassidy and actress Katie Cassidy, with whom he acknowledged having a distant relationship.

“I wasn’t her father. I was her biological father but I didn’t raise her,” he told People magazine in 2017. “She has a completely different life.”

Cassidy himself was estranged from his father. Born in New York City in 1950, he was the son of actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward and half-brother of entertainer Shaun Cassidy. David Cassidy’s parents split up when he was 5 and he would long express regret about Jack Cassidy, who soon married Shirley Jones, being mostly absent from his life. David Cassidy stayed with his mother and by the early 1960s had moved to Los Angeles.

Kicked out of high school for truancy, David Cassidy dreamed of becoming an actor and had made appearances on “Bonanza,” “Ironside” and other programs before producers at ABC television asked him to audition for “The Partridge Family,” unaware that he could sing and intending at first to have him mime songs to someone else’s voice. Cassidy, who only learned during tryouts that Jones would play his mother, worried that Keith Partridge would be a “real comedown” from his previous roles.

“I mean, how much could an actor do with a line like, ‘Hi, Mom, I’m home from school,’ or ‘Please pass the milk?”’ he wrote in his memoir. “I didn’t see how it could do much for me. After all, I wasn’t the star of it. Shirley had top billing; I was just one of the kids.”

Man fatally shot in Scarborough

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Nov 22nd, 2017

Toronto police investigate after a man was fatally shot in Scarborough on Nov. 21, 2017. CITYNEWS

A man in his 30s is dead after a late-night shooting in Scarborough.

Police were called to the scene near Littles Road and Morningview Trail, in the Morningside and Finch avenues area, just after midnight on Wednesday.

Area residents told authorities there they had heard some sort of fight and then gunshots rang out.

Police said the victim was found a short time later and pronounced dead at the scene.

No information has been released about a possible suspect.

Tuition refunds offered to students as Ontario college strike ends

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

Students gather outside the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday November 1, 2017, as they protest against the ongoing strike by Ontario college faculty members. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Half a million Ontario college students have the option of walking away from a now-condensed fall semester with a full tuition refund in the aftermath of a five-week-long faculty strike.

Students will have two weeks from the resumption of classes on Tuesday to decide whether or not they want to continue with the semester, Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews said Monday. The province’s 24 colleges will be expected to foot the bill for the refund, she said.

“I didn’t think it was right that colleges would actually financially benefit from the strike,” Matthews said. “I think it’s appropriate to actually return that money to students.”

The move comes as 12,000 college faculty were back on the job Monday after the strike was ended over the weekend with back-to-work legislation.

Ontario’s Liberal government first tried to introduce and pass the back-to-work legislation in one fell swoop Thursday night but the NDP forced the legislature to sit through the weekend to debate the bill, ultimately passing it Sunday afternoon.

Matthews defended the rebate program as the “right thing to do”.

“I think students successfully argued that students need some kind of compensation for this,” she said. “If it sets a precedent, I think it’s a good precedent to set.”

A similar tuition rebate was offered to students after a strike in 2006 shuttered Ontario colleges for 18 days.

Matthews said students who continue with the fall semester will be eligible to receive up to $500 for unexpected costs they incurred because of the labour dispute, such as childcare fees, rebooked train or bus tickets, or rent.

“I don’t think any amount of money will be able to pay for the amount of anxiety that students have suffered through this whole process,” she said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown called on the government to match the funds given to students impacted by the strike dollar-for-dollar.

“People have made Christmas, holiday plans, flights back home,” Brown said. “Frankly, the colleges have saved expenses, have saved costs during this period.”

NDP advanced education critic Peggy Sattler called the $500 compensation “absolutely inadequate.” In addition to the financial hardship, students who decide to continue their semester are now faced with the daunting prospect of trying to complete five weeks of school work into a compressed schedule.

“I’m hearing from students who are in an absolute panic over how they are ever going to be able to manage this compressed and accelerated semester,” she said. “Half of Ontario’s college students are parents, they are mature students. They have family obligations over the holidays. They are very, very worried over what this will mean to their ability to successfully complete their courses.”

Colleges are extending their semesters so students don’t lose their terms, but student advocates say trying to condense five missed weeks into roughly two extra ones will be stressful.

Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council, which bargained on behalf of the province’s colleges, said every school will have a different approach on how it structures the remainder of the semester.

“Each college will assess a variety of factors such as available time based on cancelling fall reading weeks or extending the term into late December and or early January,” Sinclair said in a statement. “Colleges will be closed between Christmas and New Years.”

College Student Alliance President Joel Willett said his group had been pushing the government to offer the tuition refund so students could start fresh in the new year.

“There was worry that (the student’s) year was compromised, relationships with faculty would be compromised,” he said. “And there is a feeling that they wouldn’t get the education that they paid for at the end of the day and graduate with an asterisk attached to their name for future employment opportunities.”

Willett said regardless of the government policy, students will have to deal with the aftermath of the labour dispute.

“The transition is going to be very difficult,” he said. “Students are the ones who are ultimately going to have to pick up this broken semester and try to focus on being able to get the best education possible.”

Should politicians be taken out of transit planning?

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017


It’s a vision of what Toronto transit could have looked like — had politics not interfered with transit planning.Proposed-Subway-Lines-Mon-Nov-20-23-23-41-UTC-2017-1-1024x640

The above map includes several projects that never happened: an underground Queen Street rail corridor, the Eglinton West subway line, and an extension of the Sheppard line to Scarborough Town Centre as originally intended.

For various reasons, all those projects fell apart. And transit experts say it’s all because of political interference that has set transit back in Toronto by decades.

“You look at what we have done in the last 30 years, and you realize that it’s been extremely dismal. There’s almost nothing significant being done on public transit.” said Ryerson University transit expert Murtaza Haider.

Transit advocate Steve Munro believes building transit has become more about political opportunism rather than getting shovels in the ground.

“Transit planning is all about having a press release, of running an election campaign, of making promises of things you can’t possibly deliver because they weren’t practical to begin with,” Monroe told CityNews.

The chair of the TTC admits it could be time to stop talking and start building.

“I think the biggest mistake politicians have made… has been the constant debate about transit as opposed to building it,” said Coun. Josh Colle.

“We’re opening up a subway in less than 30 days, it will be the first one in 15 years in this city. And I think that’s where you see sometimes the failing of process and politics over building. I think we’ve got to stop getting caught in the quagmire and just keep advancing transit. We really should never stop.”

SafeTTC app tips lead to 3 arrests

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017


It’s only been operating for 10 weeks, but the SafeTTC app has already helped lead to three arrests.

To date, the app has received 574 reports – 22 per cent of those surrounded allegations of harassment, according to statistics provided to CityNews by the TTC.

“We’ve had over 500 reports filed. The most common report is harassment,” explained TTC spokesperson Susan Sperling.

The app, which is free to download and use, allows riders to discreetly submit videos, photos and texts about unwanted behavior to the TTC control centre. Submitting a tip doesn’t immediately summon emergency personnel, but tips received through the app have been connected to arrests in two allegations of sexual assaults and one robbery.

“Our goal with this app was to make the TTC safer and we can see that that’s already happening,” said Sperling.

Since its launch in September, 2,700 users have downloaded the SafeTTC app.

The TTC’s #ThisIsWhere campaign, which launched at the same time as the app, has encouraged commuters to take to social media with their experiences of racism, violence or harassment while riding the red rocket.

The campaign features posters and stickers placed prominently in TTC stations and vehicles. The billboards recount actual experiences like “#ThisIsWhere Agatha leaned away when someone leaned in to kiss her” and “#ThisIsWhere Savi faced violence when confronting a racist.”

But one expert is worried the campaign’s tone could be taking away from its actual message.

“Essentially people are reading these ads all over the place that are saying all the bad things that are happening on the TTC,” said marketing and business specialist Marc Gordon.

“They’re seeing this and they’re thinking, wow, is the TTC that dangerous, is this bus dangerous, is this subway car dangerous, because they’re being reminded of all the bad things that happened on it. And I’m worried that they’re to be focusing on that rather than really the core message that the TTC is trying to make sure these things don’t happen by empowering passengers to do something about it.”

Toronto partners with Waze, helping drivers navigate traffic

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

FILE-- Commuters are reflected in a rearview mirror while sitting in rush hour traffic in Toronto in this March 4, 2008 photo. A government source says Ontario auto insurance rates are about to go down.The rate is expected to go down by one per cent when the provincial regulator makes its announcement today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/J.P. Moczulski

Mayor John Tory’s multi-layered plan to ease congestion in Toronto has taken another step forward, with the city now sharing its traffic data with the traffic and navigation app Waze.

Tory formally announced the partnership with the traffic app Waze on Monday, but the collaboration has been in the works since September. At that time, he laid out the new traffic measures – part of his ongoing plan to make it easier for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to get around the city.

Waze users can get up to date information on road closures and gridlock in the city. Waze will also help the city communicate information about road closures and highway maintenance.

“This partnership will give our traffic operations centre better visibility into traffic patterns and give users of the Waze application enhanced information so that they can plan,” Tory said at the Consolidated Traffic Communications Centre in North York.

“By using Waze, all motorists will have access to the City of Toronto’s data in real time and be able to avoid road closures, construction and traffic jams.”

There are more than 560,000 active Waze app users in Toronto.

Earlier this month, Tory launched “quick clear squads” on the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. The rapid response teams will focus on fixing problems causing temporary lane blockages.

One dead in car fire near Woodbine Casino

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

Emergency crews on scene after a body was found inside a car near Woodbine Casino, Nov. 21, 2017. CITYNEWS/Bert Dandy

Police are investigating after a body was found inside a burning car near Woodbine Casino.

Emergency crews were called to the scene on Rexdale Boulevard around 5 a.m. on Tuesday, where they located the vehicle in a ditch off the side of the road.

Paramedics said a person was pronounced dead on scene.

No further details have been released.

Fran’s Restaurant on Shuter St. temporarily closed after fire

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Nov 21st, 2017

Firefighters on scene at Fran's Restaurant on Shuter Street. CITYNEWS

Late night favourite Fran’s Restaurant in the downtown core is closed until further notice after a fire overnight.

Toronto police, fire and paramedics responded to the restaurant’s Victoria and Shuter streets location at around 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Toronto Fire says the blaze was a grease fire in the exhaust ducts. While the fire was knocked down quickly, there was heavy smoke and some residents from neighbouring condos were evacuated.

No injuries were reported.

There is no word on when the restaurant will reopen at this time.

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