Toronto’s new chief planner is a breath of fresh air in a stuffy bureaucracy

City hall likes its unelected officials bland and obedient. Most of them are happy to play the part, keeping their heads down and letting city councillors grab the headlines. Not York alumna Jennifer Keesmaat, reported The Globe and Mail March 1. The city’s new chief planner is on her way to becoming modern Toronto’s first celebrity bureaucrat, and some people don’t like it. Ms. Keesmaat, 42, seems to be everywhere these days – giving speeches, tweeting up a storm, leading public consultations and heading up high-end talks. York University’s magazine put her on the cover, asking: “Can urban planner Jennifer Keesmaat help Toronto make a comeback?” Read full story.

Does Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s memo telling staff to come into the office signal the end of telecommuting?
When Marissa Mayer arrived at Yahoo! as its first female CEO last July, she saw a bloated company with a whole lot of people working from home….And so Ms. Mayer made a bold move, a possibly surprising one from a working mother and smasher of glass ceilings: She told her staff to come into the office to work, or quit….In her research on flexible work arrangements, York University organizational behavior Professor Julia Richardson said that when employees who have long worked remotely three days a week suddenly get a manager who made them come into work, a certain amount of trust was lost. “They’re saying ‘Nothing changed in my behaviour, the only thing that changed here was the manager – I went from feeling trusted now to feeling not trusted.’ That’s a problem,” she said in the National Post March 2. Read full story.

Cops’ banked sick days next to go?
Paid sick days have always been cause for debate. Some professions have benefit plans allowing them to bank sick days and cash them in upon retirement. Until recently, municipalities had been quietly cutting back on these perks.…York University work and labour studies Professor Dr. Carla Lipsig-Mummé said by engaging in these sort of cuts, the province risks engaging in a “race to the bottom” effect. “Often it’s a case of ‘bring them down to our level of insecurity’, which is counter-productive for Ontario, where we should be trying to improve working conditions for everyone,” she said in the Newmarket Era Feb. 28. Read full story.

Digging for data on black daddies
Brandon Hay, the founder of the Black Daddies Club – a support group for black fathers that he started in 2007 – has his application approved last summer for a $50,000 grant from the City of Toronto’s Access, Equity and Human Rights Investment program….The research project will also be inclusive of different sexual orientations. “We’re going to get the LGBT community involved, as well as straight fathers,” said Hay, who’s the leader of the project and will be working with researchers, including University of Toronto OISE Professor Lance McCready and York University Professor Carl James, in the Toronto Star March 3. Read full story.

Taxes are dreaded by most Canadians, but not by all
“Each year, I have my Schulich MBA students who take my Personal Financial Management course prepare a simple tax return by hand, using only a pencil and calculator,” wrote Schulich School of Business instructor Jamie Golombek in the Financial Post March 2. “By walking through the forms, from the Schedule 4 to report investment income to the Schedule 1 to calculate federal tax owing, students gain an appreciation for how different types of income, such as Canadian dividends, capital gains and employment income, are taxed as well as an understanding of our graduated federal tax brackets and non-refundable tax credits.” Read full story.

Industrial park ‘long overdue’
The new developments – while seemingly helpful for the future economic impact on the community – may be subject to certain downfalls, according to York University economics Professor Tasso Adamopoulos. The expert believes while changes within Bradford will most certainly have positive effects, these types of developments may impact or negatively affect other industries within the community. “Development is accompanied by a process of structural transformation or a change in economic structure, whereby economic activity shifts from agriculture to manufacturing and then to services,” he said in the Bradford West Gwillimbury Topic Feb. 28. Read full story.