For Sam Katz, it's too good to be true.

"I have made a 'clean and green' city a priority in our 2007 budget," he says, "kept city property taxes frozen for the 10th consecutive year, and have reduced the job-killing business tax by 20 percent citywide."

Huh?

But it is true, he did all that - but we're not talking about Philadelphia's Sam Katz here. No, these are the achievements of a Sam Katz who actually is mayor.

Of Winnipeg.

This Canadian Katz is also Jewish and the father of two, but blond and two years younger than his Philadelphia counterpart.

And, of course, he's living his dream today, while the other Katz, a three-time mayoral candidate, can only wonder what it would be like. He's wondering so much, in fact, that it's possible he'll go for a fourth run at it this fall.

If so, maybe someday he too will get to say things like this: "It is an honour to welcome you to our City of Opportunity. 2007 promises to be an exciting year as we continue to invest in our community and build on our momentum."

Catch a glimpse of Mayor Sam Katz here at www.samkatz.ca.

- Marcia Gelbart

A ballot gamble

Looks like Philadelphia voters may get a chance to weigh in on the proposed casinos - even if the courts eventually decide to bar the casino referendum question from appearing anywhere on the primary ballot.

Dan Hunter of Casino-Free Philadelphia informed city election officials last week that his team had plans in the works to erect 4-foot-high ballot boxes near official polling places on Election Day. The actual work would be carried out by a new organization, Philly Ballot Box.

Hunter said the ballot boxes would appear only if the court ruled against his organization.

Election officials worried that the result would be chaos. But Hunter assured them the rules would be followed - including that the ballot boxes would be 10 feet from the entrances to polling places. He also said voters wouldn't be asked to cast votes on the casino question until after they finished voting for mayor, City Council, etc.

"Our plan certainly isn't to be in the way [of democracy]," Hunter said, "but to be supportive of democracy."

- Marcia Gelbart

Birthday wishes

Endorsement alert? Mayoral candidate Tom Knox was among the 75 well-wishers last Wednesday at a 47th birthday party for union leader John Dougherty.

Dougherty, of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 and its formidable political street battalion, has not made a pick in the mayoral race, but he has been cozy of late with Knox. One person he most definitely does not want: U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city Democratic chairman who stripped him of his post as treasurer of the party in a feud.

A three-tiered birthday cake was set up just under one of several wall-mounted plasma TVs. As the crowd broke into a chorus of "Happy Birthday," Brady's latest commercial, "Drive," appeared onscreen.

The singers drowned out his words.

"The illusion of Bob appearing to be singing 'Happy Birthday' to Doc along with the rest of the crowd was ironic and hilarious," Johnny Doc adviser Frank Keel said. "We laughed our heads off."

Other well-wishers included City Council candidate Bill Green Jr.; judicial candidate Ellen Ceisler-Green; and lawyer George Bochetto.

- Thomas Fitzgerald