Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Local Elections and Other Atrocities:
Winnipeg, along with the rest of Manitoba, will be holding its municipal elections this October 25th. Me...I will be out of town, and I can't say that I'm weeping big tears about the matter. The field for mayor of Winnipeg holds four candidates, all equally unappealing. The front runner and likely victor is the incumbent Sam Katz. He stands as the "right wing" candidate though his record as either a tax-cutter or a spending-reducer is marginal to non-existent. What he excels at is glad handing in the fine old political tradition and conspiracy in same. When the recent affair of turning part of Winnipeg's Forks historic location over to be part of the parking space for his ballpark he had the grace to step out of council chambers for the vote. But when it was suggested that there was a certain amount of "influence" that he had on other council members to sway their vote there was "great shock and indignation" that such a thing could even be suggested. Perish the thought !!! This from a man who does his damnedest to get his "friends" elected to other council seats, forming an "unnamed Party" over and against the "unnamed Party" of the NDP oriented councillors. The Green Party who are also running candidates in some wards have the best take on this. Part of their platform is that candidates should be free to declare their Party orientation. It would be a considerable step forward from the present wink-wink, nudge-nudge system where everybody is quite determined to lie about an obvious reality.
Actually Sam Katz would make a truly magnificent Mayor if he would apply 1/10th of the sort of business acumen to running the city as he has in running his own financial affairs. In the last civic election which Katz won against a full slate of about 9 (I think) candidates. One radio station took it upon themselves to look up the legal records of the various candidates. Katz totalled more lawsuits than all the other candidates combined. He had been a regular for many years in sueing others and being sued in turn in a wide variety of different matters. A lawyer could make a decent living by only representing Sam Katz.
I had a recent conversation with a couple who are active members of the Conservative Party here in Winnipeg, people who might be assumed to have some sympathy for the mayor. They do, insofar as they dislike the other candidates more. But the three of us came to an agreement about two matters. One is that Katz is definitely!!! the most intelligent candidate in the race, and the proof is......he'll never get caught. The second is that Katz is standing proof that a person can never become rich by investing their money wisely. You only become rich by investing other peoples' money wisely .....and then never paying them back.
The other candidates in the race deserve little mention. One, Ron Pollack, is a joke candidate, and the only person who can't get the punch line is himself. Another, Chris Hasselriis, is the ultimate "fashion lefty". He oozes "slick" from the top of his fashionable haircut to the soles of his fashionable shoes. He actually has a "platform" of sorts which is to promise as much as he can to everybody that he thinks of as fast as he can. An occasional idea of his such as abolishing the business tax might seem "appealing", but what would replace the lost revenue of $60 million dollars is a matter of great silence. Should the waters of the sea part and Hasselriis gets elected it would be likely that this cut would go the way of Sam Katz's similar promise 4 years ago. In sum Hasselriis seems like the sort of person who has never heard of a way of spending money that he couldn't love.
Hasselriis has been labelled a "libertarian socialist" by some of the local media. Cough !, Gack !, Choke !. Such a label robs the term of all possible meaning. He is actually too much even for the local leftists, and one has to say that their taste buds are pretty jaded. So another more traditional leftist candidate, Marianne Cerilli, has entered the race. If Hasselriis has never met an expenditure that he couldn't love Cerilli has never met a tax that didn't spark romantic interest on her part. Once more, some of her platform may be superficially appealing. Putting an extra tax on big box stores certainly gets my "spite vote", though the surrounding RMs will undoubtedly take up the slack. Opposing the new hog processing plant in St. Boniface is also a winner in my books, though getting this reprieve through the process of electing a Mayor hardly solves the problem of the availability of city coffers to private interests in a structural sense.
This can be seen from a deadly silence about a certain question that follows from another one of her promises...that city funds won't be available for Winnipeg's professional football team. Fine and dandy from my point of view. Let all sports teams rise and fall on their own ability to generate income from fans. OK, but she justifies this by stating that the interest in the football team is only an interest of a "minority". Maybe, but she has made no noises whatsoever about city support for "high culture" and the not-so-high culture of the local arts scene. Minorities ???
Could it be be that Cerilli's regard for certain "white-wine socialists", to use an old cliche, is so strong that she thinks that one of these is equal to 20 "football boors" ? Even Katz won't touch this one with a ten foot pole.
Enough of the other candidates. On to the atrocity. Despite being the obvious front runner Katz has been searching around for an "issue" that makes his campaign look less like the shuffling of a herd of zombies. He has found it in a proposal to ban the sale of spray paint to anyone under 18 years of age. This would presumably cut down on the amount of graffiti around the city. He also wants to make it an offense for anyone under 18 to even possess a can of spray paint. A law prohibiting sale of spray paint to minors would likely survive a constitutional challenge, but one prohibiting possession would not. The mind boggles. "Sheriff Wyatt Katz" determined to clean up the crime of downtown Dodge City- I mean Winnipeg- by barring the dangerous weapons of spray cans from the hands of the young hoodlums. "All right kid, this is the police. Drop that can and come up with your hands up or we'll start shooting".
The sad part is that this lead weight will likely float. Mercifully it will attract only those who would have voted for Katz anyhow, even if he was proven to be the AntiChrist. About the same number of people who would believe that the city should drop support for the football teams but keep support for artists, real and pseudo. The majorities lay elsewhere.

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