Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On Sam Katz

This is something that had popped into my mind at work; as my current job consists mainly of sitting and staring into space for several hours at a time, I had plenty of time to flesh it out. How short-sighted was our current Mayor of Winnipeg in setting up his re-election? Consider!

For this year's election, Sam Katz didn't put forward any grand ideas for improving our standing among major cities, or for creating exciting new projects for the city to rally around, or for attracting people to the crumbling downtown, or even for improving our gimpy transit system. (I swear, in the last two years, I put more money into the transit system as a university student than Katz put in as mayor.) No, Sam Katz made his campaign platform out of the tiniest of civic platitudes for common folk -- hiring more cops, synchronizing traffic lights, fixing the roads faster, banning spray-paint purchases by minors, and leaning on panhandlers because how dare they be poor.

And he won, all right. By a lot. But clearly he did not think his cunning plan all the way through.

You know how everybody savages Taz Stuart every year for being an ineffectual dragonfly-hugging Weird Al Yankovic pallet-swap not getting rid of the mosquitos, as though anything short of a Biblical plague in reverse could get rid of the mosquitos? It's going to be like that for Katz, except a few times worse -- because not only is he taking on several issues that can't be solved, but it isn't even plausible that he could solve them. Taz Stuart was hired by the city to take on the entire mosquito population, which is about as likely to succeed as hiring a squad of blind midgets to throw the Hell's Angels out of town, but the entomologist versus the bugs is a matchup that at least makes sense. The sports and concert promoter versus the entire abstract construct of street crime? Not so much.

I mean, yes, the absolute minimum amount of effort was required to win this election, but he could have at least put his absolute minimum amount of effort into something tangible and conclusive. Let's use our prominent business connections to get more big projects downtown and make it somewhere worth going! Let's get the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' ownership and stadium issues settled! Let's do something with the Metropolitan Theatre! How's that Human Rights museum coming along, guys? But, no. Sam Katz looked over all of his campaign options, of which there were more than last time given the vast and varied powers of the mayoral seat, and genuinely decided he wants to shoot to be THE MAN THAT WILL DRIVE GRAFFITI AND GRIDLOCK OUT OF WINNIPEG FOREVER.

If four years from now we still have crime, traffic, infrastructure problems, graffiti and panhandling in the city, then Sam Katz has absolutely and completely failed us as Mayor of Winnipeg. But hey, no pressure, dude! This was your idea!

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