York Italian professor celebrates in Little Italy

The street party that shut down St. Clair West Tuesday after Italy’s semi-final World Cup victory over Germany reminded John Picchione, professor in York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, Faculty of Arts, of 1982, when the boot-shaped country last captured soccer’s prestigious prize. Just like the celebrations 24 years ago, reported The York Guardian July 5, Italian soccer fans crowded the streets, singing, dancing and waving their green, white and red flags. “I suppose the difference at that time in 1982 was that it was completely unexpected,” said Picchione, who recalled walking along the same street on St. Clair amongst his compatriots. “The original event leaves a mark that’s a little bit stronger.”

Picchione said he is confident that whoever ends up being crowned the champion after the World Cup final match this Sunday, sportsmanship will prevail. But the York University professor who teaches Italian literature will obviously be rooting for his home country, where he lived in a city just east of Rome before immigrating to Canada. “For people like me who grew up in Italy, soccer is part of an everyday reality. It’s ingrained in our culture,” said Picchioni, hoping for a favourable outcome for Italy on July 9. “We’re hoping there will be a victory party.”

Payday lenders are hard to kill, says Robinson

No one has hard data on how many payday lenders exist, what their finances are or how many people have gotten into trouble from payday loans, reported Eye Weekly July 6. Many lenders claim different rates on their Web sites, in annual reports and in their stores, says Chris Robinson, a finance professor in York’s Atkinson School of Administrative Studies, who has studied the industry and produced several reports (one for the government that has never seen the light of day).

“This is an industry that’s hard to kill entirely,” he says. “There has to be a better way.” In a recent report, Robinson suggests that banks may be the answer. Banks and credit unions, he argues, could just add another line of business (short-term credit or payday loans) to existing operations that can earn profits without the risk that payday lenders face of opening a new, small-scale business.  “It would drive almost everybody out of the business,” Robinson says.

Tennis business partner who studied at York tells his tragic story

By all accounts, Mike Pietras was a promising Canadian junior tennis star with international success ahead of him, wrote the Toronto Star July 6. But few knew the mental and physical anguish he faced from his father Andrzej every time he stepped on the court, or the terrible domestic abuse suffered by his mother Anna that would eventually end with her murder on Sept. 13, 1998. Anna’s remains have never been found. Her ex-husband shot himself six days later in a Mississauga park and didn’t leave a note revealing where he had dumped her body. Pietras didn’t pick up a racquet for nearly three years after his parents’ deaths. He eventually turned down several US tennis scholarships, deciding to play tennis and study kinesiology at York University before joining his partners in the Joshua Creek sports complex in Oakville, where he teaches tennis and helps manage the club.

Badge of dishonour: Why not implement a name tag policy, asks Simmons

Once again, the Toronto Police Association is trying to push the Toronto Police Services Board around, wrote Harvey Simmons, professor emeritus in York’s Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and a member of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition. Simmons’ comments were made in The Globe and Mail Online’s Web comments section July 6. This time, Simmons wrote, they want the board to delay implementing a plan – agreed to by both the board and Chief Bill Blair – to replace police number badges with name tags. According to CBC Radio, board chair and York graduate Alok Mukherjee (PhD ‘04) has stated the name tag policy is now “on hold.” Why the delay? Although the decision to adopt the name tags is new, the idea is not.

Not long ago, wrote Simmons, I telephoned the top 10 police departments in cities listed under the “25 most-dangerous cities” in the United States and found that, in every case, uniformed officers are required to wear either name tags or name patches sewn onto their uniforms. They also wear badges with identification numbers on them. The name tag issue has been discussed, debated and decided. It’s about time the Toronto Police Services Board had the guts to stand up to the Toronto Police Association.

Rapist pleads guilty to marijuana charge

A sex predator whose three-month reign of terror left women on the York University campus living in fear admitted yesterday he breached conditions of his bail after only two months, reported The Toronto Sun July 6. Philip Foremsky finished his five-year sentence April 4 for crimes but police sought a judicial restraint, which would have forced him to report to police every week and barred him from going to any park or school campus. Foremsky challenged the order and was released on bail until his court hearing.

But within two months of obtaining bail, police nabbed the 23-year-old rolling a marijuana cigarette at a Toronto bus shelter on June 8. He has been in custody ever since. Foremsky pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of failing to comply, including the marijuana breach and another ordering him to carry his bail papers. Foremsky will be sentenced Aug. 8.

  • CFTO-TV in Toronto also carried a report of Foremsky’s court appearnce.

On air

  • Fred Lazar, economics professor with York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed the impact of adjusting for inflation the allowance given to First Nations people for hunting and fishing, on CBC Radio in Halifax July 5.