Friday, June 19, 2015

Will Someone Please Poke Lenny Cline and Wake Him Up?

I think by now everyone know how I feel about Mike Yenni’s “Consensus Team”.

At a time when Kenner is at a crossroads, the very LAST thing that the people of Kenner not named Yenni (or whatever his name is today) needed was a rubber stamp Council that wouldn’t hold the Mayor accountable.

The Kenner City Council is like an oncoming train wreck. Even though you know what’s going to happen, it still surprises you.

If you need proof that having a piece of paper hanging on your wall and a law degree is not a sign of intelligent life, you need only look at Kenner District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline.

It’s no surprise that Cline is a member of Yenni’s “Consensus Team”.

My mouth has dropped open more times than I can count at many of Cline’s comments.

The boy just doesn’t get it.

The truth is, I don’t think he even knows what “it” is.

This week however, I have been stunned by Cline’s ignorance.

At last night’s Council meeting, the Council approved moving forward with an application for $15 Million in bonds for sewerage projects.

I posted yesterday some of my questions regarding the debt and the need for it.

As expected, only District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll voiced any objections – not to the projects involved but the financial need for more debt.

And, as I wrote yesterday, those are valid concerns that, sadly, I surmised only Councilman Carroll would raise.

And, he did. 

But, back to Lenny Cline.

You don’t need to be Al Morella to know the difference between a resolution and an ordinance. Even a casual Council observer should be able to pick up on the fact that resolutions are not binding and not law. Ordinances are.

Resolutions don’t require First and Second Readings to allow for public notice and comment.

But, after a year as a Councilman, Cline still doesn’t know the difference.

That would be shocking and shameful in any other municipality but it’s par for the course in Kenner.

Heck, it’s even expected.

Because this Council is spoon fed and led around by their noses by Yenni and his minions.

Again, with the exception of Councilman Carroll, I would bet the “Consensus Team” doesn’t use the restroom without Yenni or Greg Buisson’s approval.

It is truly sad. 

In addition to Cline's ignorance, there were several other idiotic comments from several Council members including District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud and Councilwoman-At-Large Maria Defranchesh. 

I know you're shocked, right? 

But, we will get to those whoppers in another post. 

Now, I’m not advocating that Kenner ever return to the near fisticuffs of Council meetings 10 years ago and the extreme adversarial relationship between the Council and Mayor.

But, c’mon, a little dissent is not a bad thing.

In fact, it might even prove that they are paying attention and they care.

Contrary to popular belief at 1801 Williams Blvd. and inside a home in Chateau, Mike Yenni is not omnipotent.

We already know all too well that Greg Buisson isn’t either.

This Council needs to start doing what is best for the people of Kenner.

And, that isn’t licking Mike Yenni's boots.

He already has someone for that. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yenni Seeking More Debt Without Voter Approval

Not content with the massive debt Kenner already has for its sewerage system, or the huge debt from his poorly concocted 2033 Plan, which was the largest single issuance of debt in Kenner’s history with little to show for it except interest payments, Kener Mayor Mike Yenni is proposing to add more debt for Kenner’s sewerage system.

Unlike the 2033 Plan, this debt will be sold directly to the state DEQ and the proposal specifies the projects involved. The debt will carry a .95% interest rate.

It is unknown if the Becknell Law Firm, which handled the 2033 Plan debt sale and litigation, will be involved. Interim City Attorney Mike Power, who is “Interim” because he doesn’t reside in Kenner and Yenni continues to violate the spirit and will of the people of Kenner, is still listed “Of Counsel” at the Becknell Firm.

It is also unknown if Power retains a relationship with the law firm, which would clearly be a conflict although if you’re a Friend of Mike’s, there are no conflicts.

It is also unknown why the City continues to needs to add even more debt for sewerage projects.

Since Yenni has been Mayor, the City of Kenner has tripled sewerage fees and received tens of millions in multiple low-interest DEQ loans to repair its aging sewerage system.

It is also unclear why the City needs the debt when it has received millions in State, Federal and Regional dollars to fund aspects of the 2033 Plan that the debt sale was to include. It would seem fiscally responsible to shift those funds to this project.

But, “fiscally responsible” is just campaign rhetoric for Mike Yenni written by his insipid political consultant.

And, once again, the City of Kenner is taking on a large debt, financed by sales tax revenue (when the City’s sales tax base is dwindling), without a vote of the people.

But it’s more no-bid contracts for Yenni’s friends and contributors as he squeezes them for even larger contributions to fund his Parish President campaign.

So, in summary, we have

1). Potential conflicts of interest

2). No clear rationale for the debt

3). A missed opportunity to move money from the 2033 Plan

4). An unclear accounting of sewerage funding since Yenni’s tripling of sewerage fees

5). More no-bid contracts for Friends of Mike

There are all valid questions that should be posed by the Kenner City Council. However, since no one on the Council not named Gregory Carroll has the intestinal fortitude to demand answers, they will go unanswered.

Since this Council, again minus Carroll, can’t begin to fathom the concept of actually representing the people they were elected/appointed to represent, Kenner will continue down this leadership abyss.

While the projects are specified in the proposal, there is some limited accountability there thankfully.

But, remember who we’re talking about…

Just as “fiscally responsible” does not remotely describe Mike Yenni, “accountability” both to the voters he was elected to represent and for spending wisely are not in Yenni’s vocabulary.  

So, Yenni is  not the “Fiscally Responsible” Candidate and not the “Accountability” Candidate.

And, despite his best efforts, he is clearly not the “Family Values” Candidate either.

But, we have time for that…

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Yenni Backtracks on Rec Tax

They say that balloon sales go up when the circus comes to town.

In Kenner, balloon sales increase each time Mayor Mike Yenni gets another hair-brained idea.

I guess that means that the circus is always in town in Kenner. At least at 1801 Williams Blvd. 

As is his m.o., Yenni had one of his minions, this time District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato, float a trial balloon regarding a new tax dedicated to Kenner Recreation.

You will remember that Impastato, at Yenni’s urging, recently also touted privatizing several Kenner playgrounds.

More taxes for less playgrounds. That only makes sense in YenniVille and to members of Yenni's "Consensus Team" like Impastato..

The Mayor floats these trial balloons so that he and his political consultant, Greg Buisson, can get a sense of which way the political winds are blowing since Yenni doesn't have the conviction or backbone to do anything that don't directly put money in his campaign account or in the pockets of his friends, family and contributors.

You remember, “I don’t want to double your property taxes. I only want to give you the kind of government you want.” If he was sincere about that, the Mayor would have resigned years ago.

Or, “I don’t want to close playgrounds. My hand-picked Streamlining Budget Committee is making me close them.”

Or this gem, “The 2020 Plan is comprised of projects put forth by my Economic Development Committee”, meaning, if they flop, it’s not on me and yes, Impastato was on that committee too.

Or this whopper, “We need to increase the salaries of the Mayor, Police Chief and City Council to attract quality candidates – no, not me, Chief Glaser and the current Council. We are quality candidates. I mean, in the future, when I bail on the city after loading it up with debt and taking care of all my contractor friends. Then, Kenner will really need a quality Mayor, Police Chief and Council.”

Alright, you caught me. The last one wasn’t really a quote from the Mayor.

But it could have been.

At last week’s budget hearing, Impastato floated the idea of a property tax dedicated to Recreation.

"We have a history of wanting to jump out in front to show how much more money we need for police and fire, yet recreation seems to go on the back burner. I think that's shameful," Impastato said. "I think if we are serious about it, it's time to step up and act like we are serious."

Impastato obviously doesn’t see the contradiction in dismantling Kenner’s Recreation Department while seeking more money and tax dollars for it.

Recreation Director Ken Marraccoli, the same guy who tried to sell “naming rights” to a park that the city didn’t own (why is this guy still employed and not in jail? Oh, that’s right, he’s a friend of Mike). Also chimed in discussing other municipalities and their recreation budgets.

"We are one of the only recreation departments in this region that doesn't have some type of millage for recreation," Marraccoli said. "I understand when you talk the word millage, people start getting skittish, and I get that."

It is always amusing to me when Yenni and his minions compare Kenner to other places when they want something but, when Kenner and the Yenni Administration are unfavorably compared to other cities, the comparison is “bogus”.

Sorry Councilman Impastato: Kenner is considerably smaller than East Baton Rouge Parish and our recreational facilities aren’t even in the same league, nor is our huckster Recreation Director.

The problem in Kenner isn’t a taxing problem – it is and always will be a spending issue.

And, if Yenni hadn’t bonded $3.5 Million in sales tax dollars for the next 20 years to pay for his non-voter approved 2030 Plan, Kenner would have money for Recreation, Police and Fire.

Of course, Yenni could also cut some of his political appointees – but we all know that will never happen.

So, mere hours after having his crew launch the recreation tax trial balloon, Yenni quickly backtracked.

After all, how would it look for an allegedly “family-values fiscal conservative” to propose raising taxes (again) while simultaneously campaigning for a promotion to Parish President just one short year into his 2nd term?

Meaning,” I’m in the middle of a campaign you idiots and you’re talking about raising taxes? If I have any hope of getting elected Parish President, I need to hope that folks don't learn my true identity Do that when I leave.”

As always, Yenni continued with the now infamous duck-and-dodge and also, as always, let him get away with it just as the news media continues to let Yenni/Buisson spew the false narrative that Yenni has cut jobs at City Hall and cut the budget significantly. While the former is partially true in that Yenni has cut City Employees, he has increased political appointees, filled unnecessary positions with unqualified people, and increased the number of City Hall Departments.

As for Yenni cutting the budget, well, that's just a flat out lie, just as him thumping his chest that he doesn't accept an auto allowance while driving multiple vehicles for free and never paying a dime for fuel, maintenance or insurance. .

Yenni said his previous campaign to raise taxes was intended to relieve pressure on the city's general fund, and that would have freed money for recreation maintenance. But he added that tight constraints has forced his administration to think creatively about "better ways" to deliver recreation services, namely by targeting city funds at facilities that see the most activity and turning others over to private parties for specialized instruction.

"We are still going to have free parks and playgrounds," Yenni said. "It may not be where you get to ride on your bike and go to your neighborhood pocket park or playground, but you are going to a better facility that we can put all of our resources into. Other facilities get the same type of treatment but by a private partnership."

So, you can’t ride your bike to a park, but we’re building more bike paths, and other people will control Kenner’s parks but we need more money because Yenni has borrowed every last sales tax dime that he can for the next 20 years and the largest sales tax driver in Kenner, The Esplanade, is imploding on his watch.

After all, less parks will attract young families to Kenner right? 

Makes perfect sense to me.

 Meaning, “If the 70% of folks who defeated my plan to double property taxes would have just gone along with it, Kenner would have the best recreation facilities money can buy. That is, the money that would be left after I spent more money on everything else not called Police, Fire or Public Safety. But, to be sure, Public Safety and Quality of Life are the #1 Priorities for the Yenni Administration. 

Well, #1 and #2. 

No, really, #2 and #3. Becoming Parish President is the #1 Priority of my Administration. And, taking care of my political contributors. So, really, Public Safety and Quality of Life are #3 and #4 Priorities for the Yenni Administration. But, hey, at least they made the Top 5. 

Oh, wait a minute. Getting my political appointees raises is also a priority. And making sure my hair stays in place, ensuring that no one learns my secrets so I can still be the "family values Conservative" that I've tricked folks into believing that I am, and jumping whenever Henry Shane says to. Those are priorities too. So, to be honest, Public Safety and Quality of Life are the #7 and 8 Priorities of the Yenni Administration.

Oh, who am I kidding - by now even a two-year old knows that I don't care about the Kenner Fire Department and, as long as my boy Mike Sigur is getting his fill of paid details, I don't care what goes on at the Kenner Police Department. 

Hey Ken, what can we sell next? I need to buy and fix up another car that my Grandpa drove. Now that's a priority!”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mike Sigur: “Detail Whore”

Around the Kenner Police Department, there is a small group of retired KPD Officers who are now Reservists and are friends with Chief Glaser.

As they did under former Chief Steve Caraway, these Reservists do little more than paid detail work. 

You will see them at nearly every event at The City Park Pavillion; at the Chateau Golf & Country Club (run my Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s wife); and at private weddings and events throughout Kenner as well as retail stores and establishments like Wal-Mart.

Paid details normally go to current officers to help supplement their pay. Especially, the lucrative and regular details like Wal-Mart.

In other jurisdictions, the Reserve Officers are just that – Reserve Officers. They assist at parades, traffic accidents, etc. giving the Police Department additional coverage.They do this for the sole purpose of helping their Police Departments and their cities- with no compensation or expectation of compensation.

But, not in Kenner. Here Reserve Officers earn tens of thousands annually, drive take-home vehicles with gas and maintenance at taxpayer expense, and receive other benefits including weapons, uniforms and insurance coverage all while doing little to no none-paid work.

These Reserve Officers essentially take money that could be used by hard-working officers to make ends meet or pay for extras for their families.

Paid details are often paid in cash and can be several hundred dollars a day depending upon the event.

Within the Kenner PD, these Reserve Officers are called “The Detail Whores”.

And Kenner District 2 City Councilman Mike Sigur is one of the leading “Detail Whores”.

Since our post about Sigur, several current and former KPD Officers have contacted me regarding the unfair treatment given to the “Detail Whores”, the lack of oversight by Chief Glaser, and the growing resentment and poor morale within KPD.

While none want to go on the record for fear of retribution, all are outraged.

Despite rules regarding the amount of volunteer hours a Reserve Officer must perform to even qualify for paid detail work, if there is any left that current KPD officers don’t want, those rules don’t apply to Sigur and the other “Detail Whores” favored by Chief Glaser.

Details are passed out to Sigur and the “Detail Whores” without regular officers even having the opportunity to request them.

Some of these “Detail Whores” routinely sign up for 2-3 details at the same time. Show up, collect their money and leave all the while stopping current KPD Officers from earning extra money.

And, while Chief Glaser claimed ignorance of Sigur’s detail work to, the detail log book is kept a few short steps from Glaser’s office in the Roll Call room.

The Chief may be able to pull the wool over’s eyes, but we know better than that.

Sigur, who was appointed to the City Council last year, routinely works a minimum of a full week’s worth of paid details or more each month while volunteering little or no hours.

In addition to his paid reserve work, Sigur also owns an internet business.

Where does he find time to represent the citizens of District 2?

He doesn’t.

Sigur is widely known around City Hall as being one of the least informed members of the Council, next to At-Large Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch. In fact, even his fellow Councilmen have complained about Sigur's lack of knowledge and attention to detail.

In addition, Sigur is also right up there as the most inarticulate Councilman along with District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud and District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline. If you include Yenni and CAO Mike Quigley, Kenner could easily support its own Dale Carnegie Public Speaking class.

But this post isn’t about Sigur’s personal foibles, although there are many. This post is about Sigur and others essentially taking money from the pockets of deserving KPD Officers while Chief Glaser looks the other way.

Shouldn’t a sitting City Councilman use better judgement than to continue depriving hard-working KPD Officers of money that they could use to supplement their income?

Shouldn’t a sitting City Councilman spend more time as a Councilman than greeting people at Wal-Mart or “guarding” a wedding or other event?

Don’t the people of Kenner and District 2 deserve better from their Councilman, the Police Chief and the Mayor?

Perhaps instead of seeking a Dale Carnegie Class Sigur should attend a “Detail Whores Anonymous” meeting.

I can see it now…

“I’m Mike Sigur and I’m a ‘Detail Whore’.

“Hi Mike – we already know.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ethics Questions Dog Kenner City Councilman

It has been a very inauspicious first year for Kenner District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur.

In addition to doing nothing for his District except riding the coattails of his predecessor, Joe Stagni, and claiming credit for projects initiated by Stagni, Sigur has been plagued by continuous ethics issues and questionable judgement.

Sigur, who ironically is my City Councilman, is a member of Mayor Mike Yenni’s “Consensus Team”. His  campaign was managed by the equally ethically challenged Greg Buisson. Since beginning his campaign and taking office, Sigur has suffered a series of missteps, bouts of verbal diarrhea, and ridiculously indefensible statements every time he pops his head out from under Yenni’s skirt.

But ethical questions, rumors of impropriety and statements that have proven to be false are nothing new for Sigur and date back years prior to his taking office.

Now the din from the multitude of ethics questions surrounding Sigur is growing louder even as Sigur continues to defend his indefensible actions and statements.

Sigur, who was appointed to the Kenner City Council in 2014 after his runoff opponent dropped out of the race, was never truly elected to the Council, something he shares in common with the majority of Yenni’s “Consensus Team”.

Despite raising tens of thousands of dollars from Yenni’s contractor friends, while his opponents were largely self-funded amd a huge victory by Yenni and outspending his opponents 3-1, Sigur couldn’t even manage to garner 50.1% of the primary vote.

Prior to the campaign, rumors swirled about Sigur’s involvement in missing bathroom tile that managed to escape the Kenner Police Headquarters and wind up in Sigur’s home.

During Yenni’s failed attempt to double property taxes, Sigur was a leading proponent. However, in campaign flyers Sigur maintained that he was opposed to new taxes. He even had the audacity to send out recorded calls to voters in District 2 where he continued his attempt to deceive them. When photos proving that Sigur had yard signs supporting Yenni’s flawed tax scheme, Sigur back peddled and claimed that, he supported the tax increases but only for the Police Department.

Yet another Sigur lie.

After his appointment, and before he took office, I had a conversation with the District 2 Council Aide to Councilman Stagni, who happens to be Sigur’s wife. In addition to being a very nice woman and extremely helpful to constituents, Sigur’s wife was also more than competent and over qualified for the position of Council Aide.

I asked Mrs. Sigur if she planned to stay on as Council Aide to her husband and if it would be awkward. She expressed a desire to continue serving the residents of District 2 and said her remaining had already been cleared by the Yenni Administration and the State Attorney General.

Shortly after, Sigur asked for an opinion from the State AG regarding his wife’s continued employment. The letter seeking the opinion was crafted by one of Yenni’s City Attorneys expressly to remove Sigur’s wife from her position.

Not long after, Mrs. Sigur was terminated from her position as District 2 Council Aide.

So, in a matter of months and before he even took office, Councilman Sigur lied to the people of Kenner and to his own wife.

While the people of Kenner are used to their elected officials lying to their faces, Sigur’s arrogance takes lying to another level.

Recently, Sigur has been back in the news with more ethical questions, flawed statements, and outright lies.

Despite KPD rules regarding Reserve Officers and minimum requirements for obtaining lucrative detail work and his position on the City Council, Sigur has earned tens of thousands of dollars from paid details at Kenner Wal-Mart stores.

While those details should have gone to deserving KPD officers seeking extra income from the cushy detail, according to KPD Chief Glaser, Sigur was one of the select few “go-to” guys who would fill-in.

"He's one of the 3, 4 or 5 these guys call," Glaser said. "So you'll see he may only have one or two days a week, but he may work eight shifts. That's all people calling him saying 'can you cover for me.'"

Excuse me Chief Glaser but $100k is a lot of “fill-in” work.

In another flawed Attorney General opinion (is there any other kind when Kenner is involved?), the AG has opined that, despite Sigur voting on KPD budgetary matters and the inherent conflict and despite the fact that Sigur isn’t required to follow the rules laid out by his friend, Chief Glaser, there is no conflict of interest and Sigur can continue stealing money from KPD Officers while he acts as a glorified greeter at Wal-Mart earning $35/hr.

Some, including Rafael Goyeneche from the Metropolitan Crime Commission, still see a conflict, even if Glaser and Sigur don’t.

In addition to the lucrative pay for basically standing around, Sigur also receives a uniform stipend, paid medical insurance, short and long-term disability, and numerous other benefits.

Sigur works under a City Contract whereby Wal-Mart pays the City of Kenner and the City compensates Sigur. The City receives $47.50/hour and Sigur receives $35.50/hour.

Since this is “passed-thru” the City and included on Sigur’s Council paycheck, taxes are withheld from sigur’s detail work. Thus, City of Kenner taxpayers also are on the hook for this added cost.

In a letter to the State Ethics Board, which is truly an oxymoron, Sigur sought an opinion regarding continuing the Reserve detail work while also being a sitting Councilman.

One problem though: Sigur said that he wanted to do “volunteer” Reserve work, not paid detail work.

This same letter was also sent to the AG’s Office and used in their flawed opinion. The Attorney General has referred the matter to its Criminal Division for review. Let’s hope that they consider all the evidence and not just what Sigur tells them.

So, Sigur lied to the State Ethics Board and the Attorney General’s Office.

It is also alleged that, despite receiving a $500/month auto allowance afforded to Kenner City Councilmen, Sigur also has access to a takehome KPD vehicle and free gas and maintenance.

Yet, Sigur finds nothing wrong with any of this.

"In my mind, and the average person's mind, I'm not getting paid by the city. I'm getting paid by Wal-Mart. What difference does it make if it's passed through? There is no other cost," Sigur said. "I am not working any more hours for the city than what I'm paid as a councilman."

Yet, according to Chief Glaser, the average KPD Officer or even other Reserve Officers, couldn’t work the hours that Sigur has worked but we are led to believe by Glaser that this was simply an oversight.

Under Glaser’s “new” policy instituted in November after questions arose about Sigur’s continued Wal-Mart details after his election, Reserve Officers may not work more than 40 hours per month on details without written authorization.

According to Ben Myers at, Sigur was paid for working at least 115 hours in December, January and February, including 51 in February. Glaser said he did not know whether Sigur is complying with the new policy.

So, despite proof and, obviously, not receiving written authorization from Glaser, the Chief “did not know” if Sigur followed the policy.

Another lapse of judgement by Sigur occurred at Kenner’s Italian Heritage Fesival last month.

The festival, led by former Police Chief Nick Congemi (who happens to be current Chief Glaser’s father-in-law), received work from a company owned by Sigur and provided Sigur’s company with a corporate sponsorship.

The Festival employs Kenner Officers to provide crowd control and a presence at the Festival.

Yes, you guessed it, Sigur was one of those paid to attend the Festival.

The bottom line is that Mike Sigur is a pathological liar who has misled the people of Kenner, the people of District 2, the news media, the State Ethics Board and the Attorney General’s Office.

How many more lies will he tell in the next 3 years?