|Preceded by Glen Murray|
Residence Winnipeg, Manitoba
Name Sam Katz
|Succeeded by Brian Bowman|
Role American Politician
|Born August 20, 1951 (age 64)
Rehovot, Israel (1951-08-20) |
Occupation real estate developer, theatre producer
Education The New School, The New School for Social Research, Johns Hopkins University
Political party Republican Party, Democratic Party
Sam Katz NOT for Mayor
Samuel Michael "Sam" Katz, OM (born August 20, 1951) is a former politician and was the 42nd mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He is also a businessperson and a member of the Order of Manitoba.
- Sam Katz NOT for Mayor
- Life before mayorship
- Mayor of Winnipeg
- Aboriginal Community
- Advisory Boards
- Efficiency at City Hall
- Property Taxes
- Riverside Park Management
- Fire hall construction controversy
- Uniter opinion piece and lawsuit
- Personal life
- Electoral record
Life before mayorship
Katz was born in Rehovot, Israel. He emigrated to Winnipeg in November 1951 as an infant with his parents, Chaim and Zena Katz, and his older brother David and was raised in North Winnipeg. Shortly after graduating in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Economics from the University of Manitoba, he opened a retail clothing store in Brandon, Manitoba. Throughout his career he continued his entrepreneurial ventures in real estate and entertainment. His entertainment company, Showtime Productions Inc., brought artists such as Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney, and musicals such as Evita, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera to Winnipeg.
In 1994, he brought professional baseball back to Winnipeg with the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who now play in the American Association. Through this franchise, he arranged for the construction and success of Shaw Park in 1999. Katz was also founder of the Winnipeg Goldeyes Field of Dreams Foundation, an organization that has donated more than a $900,000 to children's charities and non-profit organizations in Manitoba.
Mayor of Winnipeg
On June 22, 2004, Katz was elected as the first Jewish mayor of Winnipeg., beating Dan Vandal, Al Golden, and MaryAnn Mihychuk and receiving 42% of the vote. This came after the resignation of Glen Murray as mayor of Winnipeg to run in the 2004 federal election.
Katz was re-elected to a second term in the 2006 elections on October 25, 2006 with 61.60% of the vote. He was re-elected to a third term in the 2010 elections on October 27, 2010 with 55% of the vote.
Katz assumed the role of Secretary of Urban Aboriginal Affairs in 2008. In 2009, Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) President David Chartrand and Sam Katz launched “It’s My Community Too”. Katz pledged $3 million for aboriginal youth over three years beginning in 2009.
Katz created the Mayor’s Seniors Advisory Committee in 2007. Katz also created the citizen-led Police Advisory Board. Councillors Jenny Gerbasi, Mike Pagtakhan, Harvey Smith, Lillian Thomas and Dan Vandal voted in opposition to this board because it is held behind closed doors. In 2009, Katz hosted Mayor’s Symposium – A Sustainable Winnipeg. This symposium was a surprise to some residents because Katz has been critiqued for his approach to the environment and sustainability.
In 2005, Katz cut the business tax by 20%. Katz created a Special Events Marketing Fund for conferences and special events.
Efficiency at City Hall
First, the Mayor’s Red Tape Commission recommended 30 recommendations to cut red tape. One of the recommendations of the commission was to implement 311. It was operational by January 2009. Expenditures have been posted on Winnipeg.ca since 2007. In 2009, he unveiled a plan to create a new Plan Winnipeg, a 25-year blueprint for the future.
In 2008, Katz committed to a 20% reduction in corporate municipal green house gases. In April 2009 a Mayor’s Symposium – A Sustainable Winnipeg was held and kicked off www.speakupwinnipeg.com which is a collaborative approach to city planning that is socially, environmentally and financially sustainable.
The Province of Manitoba and The City of Winnipeg negotiated a new infrastructure agreement with the Federal Government and the Provincial Government which say an increase of $50 million over two years (2006–2008). Katz endorses the use of P3s (Public, Private Partnership) to fund roads, bridges and paths. This method is reported to have ensured the Charleswood Bridge project (completed under Mayor Susan Thompson's term,1995) was built on time and on budget. For clarification, Katz had nothing to do with the Charleswood Bridge project, which long preceded his involvement in City Hall.
In 2009, Katz pledged to keep property taxes in The City of Winnipeg frozen for the twelfth straight year. This distinction was applauded by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. However this policy has been criticized by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives who, in their 2010 Alternative Budget, said "the semblance of a property tax freeze is only made possible with less transparent tax increases to pick up the slack of fiscal irresponsibility."
Katz supported an Indoor Soccer Facility is built in The City of Winnipeg, Although controversial, Katz also championed having a Waterpark in The City of Winnipeg.
Katz welcomed a by-law enacted in 2005 to restrict aggressive panhandling. He also committed to alternative options for at-risk youth including participation in sports and activities in community centres as a preventative measure. In 2007, Katz appointed Winnipeg Chief of Police, Chief Keith McCaskill. Katz increased the Winnipeg Police Department budget from $140 million to $160 million which is 20% of the Operating Budget. Operation Clean Sweep became a permanent entity, which is supported by the established permanent Street Crime Unit. After touring New York City, Katz was interested in the creation and implementation of Crimestat. Crimestat is interactive and its goal is to provide up-to-date information to help protect citizens. Katz supported a Graffiti Control bylaw to stop the sale and possession of spray paint to minors. A Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy was supported by Katz as a way to crack down on auto theft.
Construction for the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor starts in the summer 2009. A transit strike was averted in 2008. Katz says that Winnipeg should take full advantage of being the mid-continent trade corridor.
Katz is the subject of criticism after a P3 deal had been tabled and provisionally accepted with Veolia to a 30-year deal to manage Winnipeg's waste water.
After referring to Winnipeg's five female Olympic medal-winners as "beautiful females" whose close-up presence made him "feel like Hugh Hefner", Katz was criticized by a women's studies professor at the University of Manitoba. Reaction from the citizens of Winnipeg was mixed, with some agreeing with the criticism and others disagreeing.
Katz is the target of humour in a song by The Consumer Goods. Their song "And the Final Words are Yours, Sam Katz" was entered in medium rotation at a number of local radio stations and offers Katz ironic sympathy for the difficulties of running "a city, a business and a baseball team", the use of Malathion for mosquito fogging, and a military training exercise (Operation Charging Bison).
Katz has also come under fire from the city's French-speaking population after removing a bilingual requirement from the criteria for awarding a restaurant license on the Esplanade Riel bridge and backing away from earlier promises to help fund a French-language theatre.
Six days before the Winnipeg City Council voted on the city's operating budget, Katz revised it. This drew criticism from councillor Jenny Gerbasi and the Manitoba director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Adrienne Batra.
Riverside Park Management
Riverside Park Management is a non-profit organization was founded by Katz in 1997 to create a leasehold stake in the proposed CanWest Park stadium that eventually housed his Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team. Katz continued his involvement after being elected mayor and when a property tax controversy arose was accused of conflict of interest as he was both Mayor of Winnipeg and president of Riverside Park from August 2005 to April 2008, while the two sides were engaged in a financial dispute.
Fire hall construction controversy
A 2013 city-commissioned report on the construction of new fire halls alleged that Shindico, a Winnipeg-based commercial real-estate developer, received the contract due to favouritism. According to CBC News, the developer was granted building rights after previous correspondence between Shindico and the former fire chief, Reid Douglas, despite being the highest bidder. Katz in particular was criticized due to his long-standing relationship with Shindico, of which he had partial financial ownership up until 2013. The mayor stated that his financial ties to Shindico had previously been severed, and denied any allegations of favouritism or involvement in the fire hall contract.
Immediately after the report was published, multiple city councillors asked for Katz' resignation due the fire hall situation. Katz' friendship with Phil Sheegl, the former City of Winnipeg Chief Administrative Officer and the person who negotiated the fire hall contract, received substantial attention. Katz stated that the councillors were entitled to their opinions but that he would not be resigning.
Uniter opinion piece and lawsuit
Shortly after the fire hall report was released, an opinion piece written by a volunteer was published by the Uniter, the University of Winnipeg's main student newspaper. The piece, which criticized the mayor's handling of the fire hall, resulted in Katz' suing the university, the Uniter and the author of the piece. Katz stated that he was seeking an apology, as he knew that the Uniter did not have the funds necessary for a financial settlement. The University of Winnipeg stated that it believed its involvement in the lawsuit was an error, given that it practiced no editorial oversight over the student paper. As of February 6, 2014, the case has not been heard in court.
In 2002, Katz was presented with the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2003 he received the University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2004, he was given the province's highest honour, the Order of Manitoba, for demonstrating an ability to improve the social, cultural and economic well being of Manitoba and its residents.
Sam was married to Baillie, with whom he's had two daughters (born in 2001 and 2005). Katz began divorce proceedings with his wife on October 26, 2006 – one day after his reelection. Katz is married to Leah Pasuta.