Categories
Alberta Politics

Edmonton Mayor swipes at NDP, Wildrose over Katz arena funding.

“Danielle Smith will probably yell and scream. Brian Mason will yell and scream. They really don’t care about the City of Edmonton, I guess, but I would hope they would be wise enough to see it’s about Edmonton.” – Mayor Stephen Mandel (December 18, 2012)

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel
Stephen Mandel

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel took swipes at NDP leader Brian Mason and Wildrose leader Danielle Smith as the latest saga of the never-ending debate over Edmonton’s downtown arena entered a new phase. The two provincial party leaders have been vocal critics of the proposed downtown arena funding formula and the Mayor’s proposal for the provincial government to provide $100 million in funding.

While his eight-year occupancy in the city’s executive office has generally been positive, Mayor Mandel has become known for making hot-headed abrasive comments about his critics (see the quote at the top of this post). Perhaps the most notable example was when Mayor Mandel admonished Members of Parliament after the federal government denied funding for Edmonton’s poorly communicated Expo bid in 2010.

Brian Mason Alberta NDP leader 2012 Election
Brian Mason

As for yesterday’s comments directed towards the two provincial leaders, Mayor Mandel previously sparred with Ms. Smith when the rookie politician from Calgary waded into the heated City Centre Airport debate in advance of the 2010 municipal election. In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, Ms. Smith, who has been a harsh critic of provincial government spending, said she will propose a new lottery funding model for Mr. Katz’s arena in the new year.

Mr. Mason, a former City Councillor, is a veteran of Edmonton’s Peter Pocklington-era and appears to have enjoyed the opportunity to jump into the Katz funding fray.

The latest phase in the never-ending downtown arena saga

After the Katz Group surprised Edmontonians in September 2012 by rejecting a generous funding formula that had been agreed to earlier this year, an envoy representing billionaire pharmaceutical baron Daryl Katz, owner of the locked-out Edmonton Oilers, informed City Council of Mr. Katz’s desire to restart negotiations to fund the new arena.

Danielle Smith Wildrose Party Alberta Election 2012
Danielle Smith

Last week, the Katz Group’s envoy appeared with a request to appear before City Council, which they did last Wednesday. It is suspected that Mr. Katz is beginning to see his window of opportunity may be closing. With a municipal election being held next fall, Mr. Katz could lose one of his strongest allies, Mayor Mandel, who is considering seeking re-election. If a new agreement is not reached before next summer, Mr. Katz’s costly venture risks becoming a defining issue of the October 2013 vote, which might not play out to his benefit (the Katz Group was strategically silent during the 2010 election).

Yesterday, Mayor Mandel once against began pressing the downtown arena issue, saying that a new deal must be reached within the next six weeks (keep in mind that this issue has been simmering for years).

One of the biggest flaws of the original mega-deal between the City of Edmonton and the Katz Group was the absence of $100 million in funding. Mayor Mandel has been adamant that the provincial government will fill the revenue gap, despite continued assurances from Premier Alison Redford, Finance Minister Doug Horner, and Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, that this will not happen. With the provincial budget likely to be the largest political battle of 2013, the cards are likely not to be dealt in Mayor Mandel’s favour.

The Wildrose Party’s candidate for Mayor?

On another topic, while the Wildrose Party continues its permanent negative campaign against the provincial Tories into the new year, a party organizers tells me that a a group of Wildrose Party supporters in Edmonton are quietly searching for an ideologically-sympathetic candidate to run in next year’s mayoral election (he suggested that right-wing Councillor Kerry Diotte would suitably fit into the Wildorse Party mould).

Categories
Alberta Politics

pity the billionaire. katz group asks city council for more.

Daryl Katz Edmonton Downtown Arena Oilers
Pity the Billionaire. Oilers owner Daryl Katz asks Edmonton City Council to make more financial concessions in his sweat-heart deal to build a new downtown arena.

One week after Edmonton’s Chamber of Commerce warned of dramatic consequences if construction of the new downtown arena did not begin soon, the Katz Group, owned by billionaire Daryl Katz, has demanded further financial concessions to the already rich deal that City Councillors agreed to last year. Despite weak-kneed support by most Councillors who voted to build a downtown arena for the Katz Group-owned Edmonton Oilers last year, a pre-election year backbone appeared in Council Chambers today.

From the Edmonton Journal‘s Paula Simons:

In a last-minute addition to the agenda, councillors were given a top-secret briefing by city administration on negotiations with the Katz Group over a new downtown arena.

When councillors finally emerged from their closed-door meeting, they were grim. Without revealing any details of their private discussions, Bryan Anderson and Kim Krushell, two of the most passionate supporters of the arena project, moved and seconded a motion, written in the sort of code that could only be deciphered by longtime arenaologists.

Here’s the exact wording: “That in response to the Katz Group’s recent request for additional public funding, administration is directed to respond to the Katz Group that City Council remains committed to the negotiated framework approved by City Council on October 26, 2011.”

Simple translation?

No.

No more concessions for Daryl Katz and the Oilers. Councillors were united in their new-found resolve. Only Kerry Diotte and Linda Sloan voted against the motion — and that’s only because they thought last October’s deal was too rich. Read more…

According to a letter from Katz Group General Counsel John Karvellas, the current $450 million project, which includes $125 million from the City of Edmonton, $100 million from the Katz Group, and $125 million from a ticket tax. An additional $100 million is still missing from the funding formula. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel told reporters today he is confident that money will become available from the provincial government (which may be unlikely following Finance Minister Doug Horner‘s projections of a potential $3 billion provincial budget deficit).

Meanwhile, Mr. Katz’s employees, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, are signed up to earn $42-million and $36-million over the next seven and six years playing for the last-place Edmonton Oilers. Mr. Katz’s hockey company may operate in an alternate bizarro universe when signing paycheques, but these types of sky-high salaries make it difficult to feel sympathetic to his company’s plea for more financial concessions by Edmontonians.

Additional reading: Alex Abboud’s Edmonton’s Arena Will Likely Happen, But Would it be Bad Thing If It Didn’t?

Categories
Alberta Politics

recommended reading: how the katz group did an end run around the best interests of edmontonians.

If you read one article today, please read Paula Simons well written column on how billionaire Daryl Katz and the Katz Group were able to score major concessions from the City of Edmonton during their campaign to secure public funds to build their new downtown arena.

Simons: Katz Group power play scores major concessions from city

Call it the art of the deal — raised to the level, not of a Donald Trump, but of a Leonardo da Vinci.

Back in April, Edmonton city council agreed that it would only support Daryl Katz’s proposal for a new downtown arena under a long list of very strict circumstances. Among them? The motion required the Katz Group to put up at least $100 million toward the capital cost of the arena. It put a strict $125-million ceiling on the city’s direct cost for building the facility. And it specified that no deal would go ahead until another level or levels of government had somehow made up the remaining $100 million funding shortfall.

There is still no public hint of that magical $100 million, from either the Alison Redford Tories or the Stephen Harper Conservatives.

Yet at a hastily called meeting this past Friday, with three councillors out of town and one on a medical leave, city council voted to buy the land that Katz has optioned for a new arena. (Bryan Anderson, who’s recovering from surgery, missed the vote. So did Ben Henderson, who was stuck on a plane. Karen Leibovici and Linda Sloan were out of the country on holiday, but voted over the phone.) Of those councillors who did vote, only Sloan, Tony Caterina, and Kerry Diotte opposed the purchase.

Read the rest and if your stomach is feeling queasy when you reach the end of the column, phone or email the Mayor and your City Councillor, and tell them how you feel about the decisions they are making by rushing the decision to provide public funds to pay for a downtown arena for Mr. Katz and his company.

Categories
Edmonton Politics

edmonton election 2010: election night races to watch!

After a month of driving by signs on the boulevards, volunteered knocking on your door, and receiving literature in the mail, Municipal Election Day in Alberta has arrived! As you sit down to enjoy a night of watching the results, tune into the live coverage at theEdmontonian.com, which is sure to be entertaining and educational (edutainment for all your political needs) and watch the results roll in online at ShareEdmonton. As a last send-off before the voting stations close at 8pm and the results roll in shortly afterward, here are some of the contests to watch:

Mayor
How much of the protest over the phased closure of the City Centre Airport will translate into the vote results. Most political watchers expect Mayor Stephen Mandel to be re-elected with a healthy margin with David Dorward to place a respectable second place and Daryl Bonar in third.

Ward 2
Hard-working incumbent Councillor Kim Krushell is facing a well-funded opponent in perennial candidate Don Koziak. The closure of the City Centre Airport is Mr. Koziak’s main issue, so it will be interesting to see if it has resonated with voters at the polls. This could be a close race.

Ward 3
WIth the retirement of long-time Councillor Ron Hayter, there is no incumbent standing in this Ward. Dave Loken is trying for his third time and is facing off against Councillor Hayter’s Executive Assistant Terry Demers and former Liberal candidate Kim Cassady. I expect Mr. Loken to take it, but this could also be a close race.

Ward 4
Councillor Ed Gibbons is being challenged by former MLA Dan Backs. Mr. Back’s campaign has campaigned hard on the City Centre Airport closure, so this will be another interesting race to watch. I give the edge to Councillor Gibbons, but it could be close.

Ward 7
First-term Councillor Tony Caterina is facing a challenge from on-leave Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen and local activist Brendan Van Alstine. Councillor Caterina is a solid campaigner, but does not have a great reputation for working together with fellow Councillors. The incumbent probably has the edge in this race, but with three strong candidates it could be interesting.

Ward 11
The retirement of long-time Councillor Dave Thiele has left this seat as an open contest. My gut tells me that former Edmonton Sun columnist Kerry Diotte may skweek out a win in the end, but he faces three strong opponents in Chinwe Okelu, Shane Bergdahl, and Vishal Luthra.

For Public School Board, watch the races in Ward F between Michael Janz and Bev Sawyer and in Ward G between Sarah Hoffman and George Rice.

Categories
Edmonton Politics

edmonton election 2010: nomination day at city hall.

It was Christmas morning for political watchers this morning as candidates poured into City Hall to file their nomination papers. I have been to a lot of different political events in my time, but nothing has so far matched the euphoria of Nomination Day at City Hall.

Starting at 9am, bright eyed and well-intentioned candidates began to line up to submit their papers. As they moved down the line, candidates were peppered with questions and camera flashes by the media. For most candidates running in this election, this will be the closest they get to walking the red carpet.

After filing their nomination papers, candidates were scrummed and pressed by the media about who they were, where they were running, and what their positions were on pressing issues. Most of the media questions had to do with the decision to redevelop the City Centre Airport lands, but candidates also brought up their pet issues. Some candidates, like Councillor Jane Batty, came and left quickly. Others, like Ward 11 candidate Kerry Diotte, lingered to get as much media coverage as possible. Different styles for different candidates I suppose.

I was able to live-tweet this morning and you can see those tweets at @davecournoyer and others at #yegvote.

You might think that 30 days is a short time to reasonably campaign for election, and you would be right, but there were many candidates who came out of the woodwork to launch their campaign today. Most candidates came prepared and some, like Ward 11 candidate Vishal Luthra, came with campaign t-shirt toting entourages.

Almost Mayoral candidate Cheryl Ullah

One unfortunate Mayoral aspirant, Cheryl Ullah, came with her nomination papers signed, but forgot to bring her $500 deposit with her. In a bizarre scene, she started collecting donations from reporters and other candidates only 10 minutes before the nomination deadline. Although she was able to raise $90 in about 8 minutes (with a generous $60 donation from Ward A Public School Board Trustee Cheryl Johner), she was unable to make up the extra $410 and dropped out of the race. Don Koziak has now lost the record for shortest Mayoral candidacy.

Luckily for Edmontonians, Mayor Stephen Mandel and challengers Daryl Bonar, David Dorward, Dave Dowling, Dan Dromarsky, Bob Ligertwood, and Andrew Lineker remembered their $500 deposits.

Councillors Don Iveson and Bryan Anderson

Out of 114 candidates who submitted their nomination papers today, only two were acclaimed. Incumbent Public School Board Trustees Dave Colburn (Ward D) and Catherine Ripley (Ward H) will not face any challengers on October 18. There had been rumours that some City Councillors may also be acclaimed, but in the end a few last-minute candidates filed papers to run against Councillor Don Iveson (Ward 10) and Councillor Karen Leibovici (Ward 5).

There are new candidates and competitive races across the City, but there are three City Council Wards that at this point stick out in my mind as the hot races to watch. Curiously, they are in Wards with prime numbers.

Councillor Karen Leibovici is seeking re-election in Ward 5.

In the incumbentless Ward 3, Former Liberal candidate Kim Cassady filed his papers to run for City Council in Ward 3, taking on challengers Dave Loken and Terry Demers. This is Mr. Loken’s third time running for City Council and Ms. Demers second. As retiring Councillor Ron Hayter‘s Executive Assistant, Ms. Demers will have a special insight into the issues in this Ward. New entries into the Ward 3 contest are Shawn Philip Fairbridge, Hatem Naboulsi, John Oplanich, Greg Siver, Louis Sobolewski, and Michael Suess.

In Ward 7, former Edmonton Journal columnist Scott McKeen put his name forward last week to run against Councillor Tony Caterina. Challenger Brendan Van Alstine has been pounding the pavement for over a year to unseat Councillor Caterina, so Mr. McKeen’s entry had added some extreme unpredictability to the race in this north east central Ward. Other candidates entering the contest in Ward 7 today are Terry Rolls and Grant David Pullishy.

Candidate Chinwe Okelu is standing for election in Ward 11.

In south east central Edmonton, the vacant Ward 11 has drawn four main challengers in Community League organizer Shane Bergdahl, many-time candidate Chinwe Okelu, former Edmonton Sun columnist Mr. Diotte, and the well-organized Mr. Luthra. There has been an intense sign and door-knocking war happening in this Ward since earlier this year, which leads me to believe that it could be any one’s race. New candidates entering the race this morning are Roberto Maglalang and Brent Schaffrick

It also appears that some of the most competitive contests in this year’s election might be at the School Board level. In south central Ward F, long-time Public School Board Trustee Don Fleming is not seeking re-election, leaving a three-way race between Michael Janz, Bev Sawyer, and Joanna Rozmus. In Ward G, incumbent Trustee George Rice is facing some serious competition from Sarah Hoffman.

Attending Nomination Day at City Hall was an interesting and worthwhile experience. At no other time during the next 30 days are all of the candidates going to be in the same room at the same time. This morning have me the opportunity to put the names (and websites, Facebook groups, and twitter accounts) to the faces and actually talk with some of the candidates. I hope that all the readers of this blog take the time to read up and try to meet with the candidates standing for election in your area. As the campaign begins in full (and the full list of candidates are released this afternoon), I will be taking a closer look at each Ward contest, the Mayoral election, and the races at the School Board level.

UPDATE: The full list of candidates has been released (h/t to TheEdmontonian.com)

Categories
Alberta Politics

the facebook campaign.

Earlier this week I joined Calgary blogger DJ Kelly on CBC Radio’s alberta@noon province-wide call-in show to talk about social media and the upcoming municipal elections. Over the course of the show we had a good discussion about how the Internet is changing how voters seek information about candidates and how social media tools are increasing the ability of candidates to communicate and engage with voters. As I have previously written, while social media tools are too important for a serious candidate to ignore, they do not replace the kind of human contact that is achieved through traditional campaigning, such as door-knocking.

DJ’s most recent blog post used Facebook followings to gauge the support for candidates in Calgary’s competitive Mayoral election. It might not be scientific but the analysis is curiously similar to a recently released poll. The race for Mayor of Edmonton has so far been a lot less exciting than the crowded field of 17 candidates in Calgary. On the Facebook front, Mayor Stephen Mandel is absent. Challengers Daryl Bonar‘s Facebook Page has 483 followers and Dan Dromarsky‘s page has attracted 349 (with a lofty goal of 75,000).

Looking at City Council races, Councillor Amarjeet Sohi appears to be leading the pack with 503 members in his Facebook group. Following Councillor Sohi’s lead are Ward 11 candidate Vishal Luthra‘s group with 503 members, Ward 7 candidate Brendan Van Alstine‘s group with 291 members, and Ward 11’s Kerry Diotte with 229 members.

Online and on the streets, the Public School Trustee elections are looking like they might be some of October’s most competitive races. The two leaders on the Facebook campaign appear to be Ward F candidate Michael Janz with 717 fans and Ward G candidate Sarah Hoffman‘s group with 769 members. If previous elections are an indicator, these numbers could signal an incredible jump in interest in the School Board elections. Links to more School Board candidates websites and Facebook Pages can be found on the ARTES website.

As the October 18 election day approaches, I will be following and writing more about how candidates are using social media in their campaigns.

This post was cross-posted at EdmontonPolitics.com.

Categories
Alberta Politics

alberta politics notes 5/29/2010

Naheed Nenshi is in the race for Mayor of Calgary. Mr. Nenshi joins MLA Kent Hehr, Alderman Ric McIver, Alderman Joe Connelly, and former MLA Jon Lord. Read CalgaryPolitics.com for up to the minute updates on the Calgary Municipal election.
– Ward F candidate for Public School Board Michael Janz is kicking off his campaign with a free BBQ on May 30 (tomorrow) at the McKernan Community Hall.
– Minister Dave Hancock is expected to soon release the “Inspiring Education” report. Edmonton Trustee Sue Huff shared her thoughts on the process conference last October.
– One day he is filing a $2.8 million lawsuit against his former employer, the Edmonton Sun, and the next day columnist Kerry Diotte is seeking election to City Council. Mr. Diotte’s campaign team is said to include Gordon Stamp (Campaign Manager to Edmonton-East MP Peter Goldring) and former Councillor and perennial Mayoral candidate Mike Nickel (who was defeated by Don Iveson in 2007).
– Alberta’s Resource Royalty structure has once again been changed as the Provincial Government gives up $1.5 billion in revenue. The changes made in 2007 were the chief criticisms made by the Wildrose Alliance of the governing Progressive Conservatives. They reacted with luke warm support of the changes.
Todd Hirsh, a senior analyst with ATB Financial, raises the question: could Greece become Alberta’s nightmare?.
– “Maybe we need a good recession or a depression.” Former Premier Ralph Klein said he did not know how small business owners could address the province’s extremely high wage expectations.
– Former Edmonton-Mill Woods Liberal MLA Weslyn Mather wrote a letter about her party in yesterday’s Edmonton Journal.
– Some people are starting to notice the “election-like campaigns” that politicians are engaging in this summer (Energy Minister Ron Liepert described the recent Cabinet Tour as an “election tour“) Is it a sign of an early 2011 election?
– While her party may have shunned cooperation in the next provincial election, NDP Research Director and Public School Board candidate Sarah Hoffman engaged a friendly crowd at a fundraiser for Edmonton-Gold Bar Liberal MLA Hugh MacDonald this week.

Read more in the Alberta Politics Notes archive.