Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Throwing the challenge flag on Katz

This year my Mom got season tickets for matinées at MTC (and is loving it, btw !). Rather than drive and park downtown on a weekday she decided to use Transit Tom. A day before the first show she called to ask 'what about that free Transit for seniors ? It says here that I pay the same as students ?' (She does get a discount if she buys strips of tickets or a bus pass).

A few days later I saw a poster touting Wi-Fi at the Millennium Library. Years back, I recall that all of downtown was to be a complete, and perhaps free, wi-fi zone.

In fact, it seems that each election campaign there are a couple of very specific pledges that Katz has made that never get much further than that.

I've worked 'in the biz' so I know that promises can sometimes be made with the best intentions just to blow up in your face when the reality of office or a bad budget year kicks in. If you find that most or many of your 'marquee promises' end up in the bin, though, you might just be taking advantage of the short memories of voters.

I wanted to refresh myself with some quotable quotes and 'golden oldies' from past Katz campaigns. Note: this post is really best read with this song playing in the background !

Mayoral Candidate Debate
“Tell me something that I have said that I never fulfilled... name one thing. So, if you want to challenge me, challenge me on a promise I’ve never fulfilled. I guarantee you won’t find one.”
Sam Katz June 19, 2004 (Wpg Free Press, p. B2)

2004 CAMPAIGN - The promises, in general

What the candidates are promising
Winnipeg Free Press June 21, 2004
Sam Katz: Key elements of the platforms of leading mayoral hopeful

❚ Increase spending, which would be offset by cuts in the consulting budget and savings achieved through competitive service delivery in areas like garbage collection.
❚ Lobby the province to eliminate the provincial education support levy, while phasing out the business tax, starting in the city’s core.
❚ Give homeowners a 50 per cent cut in city property taxes for five years if they build a new home in an older neighbourhood. Don’t hike taxes for 10 years for homeowners who renovate homes 25 years and older valued under $175,000.
❚ Build on current efforts to fast-track permits, making the department a self financing agency.
❚ Give storeowners and residents more control over parking on their streets in neighbourhoods where it’s hard to find a spot.
❚ Free transit for seniors from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
❚ Expanded free services for all riders in tourist areas.
❚ Spend $2.8 million on promoting the film industry.
❚ Boost policing and community patrols at a cost of $2.6 million.

Katz airs big promises
Winnipeg Free Press, June 19, 2004 (p B1, B2)
Katz said he’d cut the fat at city hall, specifically indicating consultants’ fees....'Sam’s Plan for a New Winnipeg' .... Katz pledged to freeze property taxes, slash the business tax every year until it disappears, and offer tax incentives to core-area home builders and city home renovators. He also promised free bus rides for seniors during regular weekday hours and all day on weekends, and more free downtown shuttle buses.

Sam on Free Transit for Seniors

Seniors given transit discount But Katz backs off free-ride pledge
Winnipeg Free Press Feb 26, 2005 (p. A4)
Yesterday, he called the discount a compromise. “We believed our seniors need something more. We were way behind the rest of Canada, and with this additional savings, we now have a 50 per cent cut as opposed to 25, which put us in like with what seniors get across Canada.”

NOTE: At October 2010 seniors transit fare: 1.85 cash or $1.02 ticket (source).

Sam on ... his term in office

Council nixes vote on term limits
Winnipeg Free Press March 23, 2006 (p. B2)
“The bottom line is, I want to spend time with my family. Don’t expect me to be here 10 years from now. I said two terms is enough for me."

Fighting for term limits
Winnipeg Free Press (editorial) July 31, 2007
Mayor Sam Katz is playing coy about the chances a motion expected this fall on limiting councillors to three terms will get his vote — he says the idea makes no difference to him since he won’t be around that long. Mr. Katz has said previously he intends to quit city hall after two terms.

CBC News December 31, 2008
While he once said he wouldn't do it, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz is considering taking a run at a third term in office.... "I'm certainly open to one more term," Katz said in an interview.

Sam on ... Wi-Fi

CBC News, October 10, 2006
"Katz proposed establishing a Wi-Fi zone for the majority of the downtown area.... "Our goal is to give employers in Winnipeg and elsewhere even more incentive to locate and hire within our downtown, and citizens even more reason to live, work and play there"

Libraries to offer Wi Fi for fee
Winnipeg Free Press September 11, 2007
“The City of Winnipeg is proud to seize technological advancements to benefit our citizens,” Katz said during the news conference. Katz said he didn’t want to follow the example of some other Canadian municipalities that offer free wi-fi service. “There is no such thing as a free service,” Katz said. “We’re offering a userpay service. If you use it, you pay and if you don’t want it, you don’t have to pay. Everyone has a choice.”

Note: Oct. 2010: only libraries and Pan Am pool offer Wi-Fi

Sam on ... Consultant Fees

CBC April 7, 2010
Mayor Sam Katz's cabinet held off Wednesday approving a report that details about $35.5 million dollars worth of consultant work in 2009. That's almost $2 million more than in 2008.

Winnipeg Free Press November 16, 2006
...one of more than 150 outside experts the city employed in the first half of 2006. They cost taxpayers more than $15.3 million, meaning the city is on track to surpass last year’s total spending of $26 million.

Note: Consultant fees 2006: $26m (source); 2009: $35.5m (source).

Sam on ... eliminating the business tax

2005 budget: "the rookie mayor made good on a campaign promise to cut the business tax rate from 9.75 per cent to 7.75 per cent in the downtown to spur growth in the core.

Note: At 2010 the business tax has not been eliminated downtown or anywhere in the city.

Sam on ... Gangs and Crime

CBC News Otober 17, 2006
In an interview with CBC News before Monday's forum, Katz called crime and safety his "No. 1 priority" during his campaign, and said he has acted on the issue since he was elected in a 2004 byelection.

Katz Launches Re-election Campaign
Winnipeg Free Press September 9, 2006
...He also said Winnipeg must address the root causes of crime by alleviating poverty in the inner city, even if that is not the traditional role of civic government.

2006 CAMPAIGN - The promises in general

No more promises for Katz
Winnipeg Free Press October 24, 2006
IN the 2004 mayoral byelection, Sam Katz made 30 promises. During the 2006 campaign, he’s only made ten. Here’s what’s new and what’s not-so-new in Katz’s platform playbook:

❚ Reduce the business tax. Following through on a 2004 campaign pledge, Katz has promised to cut the business tax from 9.75 per cent to 7.75 per cent.
❚ Establish a 311 phone service. When Katz’s Red Tape Commission rolled out its final recommendations in 2005, Katz promised to create a 311 phone service. He’s now pledged to make it happen by 2007, along with an efficiency-monitoring system called ServiceStat.
❚ Institute “intelligence-based” policing. In May, Katz pledged to emulate New York City’s CompStat policing system, which combines statistical analysis with weekly meetings. In September, he renamed the system CrimeStat.
❚ Explore more public-private partnerships (P3s). Also in May, Katz said he wanted to find more ways
for Winnipeg to partner up with the private sector on major infrastructure projects. In October, he said three new police stations will be P3 guinea pigs.

❚ Make it illegal for people under 18 to purchase spray paint or possess it in public. This is an antigraffiti measure.
❚ Implement an environmental strategy. Facets include green-rooftop and natural-grass pilot projects, energy-efficient city buildings, old vehicle spot checks, a water-conservation project and a pledge to ensure all new developments have bike and walking paths.
❚ Synchronize red lights along major streets. Routes to be determined.
❚ Cover downtown Winnipeg with a wireless Internet network. Cost to be determined.
❚ Make Central Park a priority for CentreVenture. No city money pledged for redevelopment.
❚ Create incentives for downtown living. No details announced.

Promises galore
Winnipeg Free Press October 2, 2006
Katz pledged to synchronize lights to speed up traffic flow and promised to form a seniors’ advisory council.

Mayoral Candidate Debate
“I don’t act like a politician. I don’t do what politicians do. When I have to assemble a team of advisers, I find the most qualified people for the job. Regular politicians don’t do that.”
Sam Katz, October 14, 2006


Anonymous said...

Wow. And great research.

mrchristian said...

Thanks !

One Man Committee said...

I echo the comments of Anonymous. Very impressive.

On a related note, it's strange how civic elections in Winnipeg have swung from a series of uber-specific promises such as the Katz platform in 2004, to really saying not much of anything at all such as the Katz/Wasylycia-Leis platforms of 2010.

Personally, I would expect a mayoral candidate to make pronouncements on broader policy matters as opposed to attempting to micromanage how the City operates. In other words, to focus on the ends (i.e. the "vision" part) as opposed to just the means.

Brian said...

Nice work - although you're being too kind.

The list of open files, unfinished projects, unmet goals and unkept promises is far longer than what you've posted.

John Dobbin said...

Great report and one that the Free Press probably should have done when evaluating the record of the mayor.

I'll add that I want him to pay my Crocus money back.

Jody said...

So who are you voting for Chris? I don't think I can bring myself to vote for Katz, but Judy doesn't impress me in the least and neither do any of those other jokers. It's a sad fact that none of the candidates deserves to run this city, but they're all the choice we have. I predict voter apathy rises to an all-time high today.

mrchristian said...

I was completely underwhelmed by every mayoral candidate this time around.

I could not support Katz given his record. As incumbent you should be able to run on your record, not set it aside and run as if you were doing it for the first time.

Judy had the experience and ability to pull together a lot of ideas people and come out of the gate like she meant it. Instead, she came out flatter than Katz.

Seems like neither really wanted it and perhaps would both be just as happy to move onto something else.

I went on the side of new (and who possibly could pleasantly surprise me) versus old (who, unfortunately, has proven that he will not surprise me).

I held my nose and voted for JWL.