Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ticketgate with Katz, friend of big money in politics

Ticketgate was, in a perhaps worse form, going on at City Hall. It's arguably worse because, not only were some outside companies buying tickets, but Mayor Sam Katz (a country club conservative who could easily afford tickets on his own) has been using taxpayer dollars that fund his office to buy tickets for colleagues on council. This may, ever so subtly, result in a tit-for-tat relationship at City Hall, where certain swing councillors feel the need to return favours to the mayor on issues.

If one looks at the CBC table showing which councillors received tickets and from who, it seems that Katz gave most of his tickets to soft supporters - people he'd recently swung over with Executive Policy Committee appointments (Rush Wyatt, Dan Vandal) yet still pose a risk of defection - and one went to the new councillor, Brian Mayes. This represents a great risk of leading to a "tit-for-tat", "we're all friends, right, and friend help each other out"attitude at city hall, where the Mayor can sway councillors with quasi-monetary incentives.

Katz personally doesn't seem to get how corruptive an influence money can be. In 2009, the country club (small-c) conservative of Tuxedo called provincial bans on corporate and union donations a "slap in the face to city council". In the campaigns for the 2010 municipal election, Sam Katz had even stronger things to say.

Katz also accused the NDP government of meddling in civic politics by introducing campaign-finance reforms that ban both union and corporate donations. 
"By eliminating corporate donations, they now make it more difficult for people who are right of centre," said the mayor. "It won't affect me, but people should give them credit for being a lot smarter than they thought they were." 
("NDP to field council candidates". Bartley Knives. Dec. 11, 2009.Winnipeg Free Press).   
Yup. The mayor is as utterly clueless as Dave Chomiak about why big money & fraternizing with corporate donors/gift providers in politics is wrong.

Since the premier can't backbench Katz, Winnipeggers will have to put up with him for a few more years - hopefully, City Council will have the sense to keep this incompetent mayor on a very short lease from now on.


  1. Wow. Speaking of clueless.

    The issue at city hall doesn't even come close to a senior cabinet minister outright lying to a legislative committee.

    And as for your comments on Katz's view of campaign reform laws, you obviously have no idea about or conveniently forgot the numerous union officals that were seconded to work on the campaigns of several left wing council candidates.

    Clueless indeed.

    1. Wow, talk about clueless indeed. The issue at city hall, with last minute disclosures, the mayor using PUBLIC money through his office's finances to do something that's like bribery (though probably doesn't fall under the strict legal definition of it), and an overall cluelessness on the part of some as to why this is wrong IS EXACTLY like the issue at the legislature. The lying is different (the errors at city hall were of omission until the last minute on the part of some councillors rather than errors of commission) and (as Collin Fast pointed out on his blog & WIPs) the most of "ticketgate" at the Legislature consisted of Crown Corps using their profits or private companies using profits rather than taxpayer dollars being used to buy tickets (which was the case at City Hall), but the two cases parallel each other regardless.

  2. a) If the tickets are purchased using the department's budget and falls within the allowable activities for that budget then there is no issue there ( as much as you think you have the right to determine what are acceptable uses of a department budget, there are rules in place for that so no, you don;t have that right)

    b) "to do something that's like bribery" Only if the tickets were purchased for the sole purpose of "rewarding councillors" in which case they are being used contrary to 'a)'. Now I haven't seen the list of how the mayor used every single ticket, and I doubt you have but it is highly likely that the majority DID NOT go to councillors.

    There is a huge difference between using your departmental budget on activities that fall within the purvue of that budget and accepting tickets from private companies and crown corporations as reward for political favours ( see Graham Hnatiuk's blog)

    But I guess when the point is to shift the spotlight of the NDP.....

  3. a) You're totally aware that a lot of the complaints about "ticketgate" at the Legislature are about provincial politicians doing things that are PERFECTLY LEGAL. You're assessment that you can't criticize unethical behaviour if it's legal is laughable.

    b)I made it pretty clear in the post that reports of WHO accepted tickets from the Mayor were used as data for this post. Most of those reports show a most of the tickets going to soft-supporters - in Dan Vandal's case, he recently voted against the country club conservative of Tuxedo's much cherished transit fare hike.

    I will overlook Graham Hnatiuk's blog and come up with another asessment of the situation. However, I doubt that the evidence for it being for political favours will be ANY STRONGER than my evidence of it being having the potential to swing soft supporters at city council into council-vote favours.