Monday, July 16, 2012

Yenni Trying To Craft New Legacy

Not content with being known as “The Mayor who tried to double property taxes” (and really, who would be), Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni has a new mission: create a new legacy by borrowing and over spending on dubious projects under the guise of “Economic Development”.

Since Kenner voters saw through the smoke-and-mirrors and overwhelmingly defeated Yenni’s plan to double property taxes rather than cut the size of government and operate more efficiently, Yenni has offered up a pie-in-the-sky wish list of projects with an initial cost of over $25 Million to be financed by borrowing and using sales tax revenue as collateral and mortgaging Kenner’s future for the next 15 years so he can rebuild his political base.

I guess when “Tax and Spend” didn’t work, it’s on to “Borrow and Spend” for Mayor Yenni.

While governments worldwide are trying to deleverage and stop borrowing to avoid bankruptcy, rather than letting current bonds expire and using the cash and interest savings on sorely needed capital infrastructure projects like fixing our crumbling streets and drainage system or addressing the needs of the Kenner Fire and Police Departments (“Public safety is my Number One priority,” Yenni said before last year’s disastrous tax vote), Yenni has fashioned a plethora of projects, some highly dubious and speculative, others simply foolish, lumped these disparate projects together and called them “Economic Development.”

Yenni presented his wish list to his hand-picked Economic Development Committee.

The projects include:

- An $11 Million extension of Napoleon Avenue to the Airport Access Road. There are currently no studies showing a pent-up demand by Kenner residents for this road and Napoleon Avenue certainly isn’t one of Kenner’s commercial corridors.

- A $4 - 6 Million rehab of the vacant Kenner High School building ot move some city offices including the City Attorney, the City Council and the Council Chambers (which were just remodeled last year at a cost of over $150,000).

- Over $2 Million to beautify and repave Chateau Boulevard which, except for the intersection of West Esplanade and a golf course owned by his Father-In-Law and managed by Mayor Yenni’s wife, is residential.

Again, the question begs to be asked: What do any of these projects have to do with “Economic Development”?

Similar to the Mayor’s hand-picked Streamlining Budget Committee, whose final report was written by Mayor Yenni’s political consultant with little to no input from some committee members, rather than letting the Economic Development Committee determine or advise on the future course of Kenner’s growth, Mayor Yenni presented a plan that will hamstring Kenner’s future growth and fiscal flexibility for the next 15 - 20 years.

The fact of the matter is, Yenni, who has never started a business, created a private sectory job or even held a private sector job, has no concept of the what the term “Economic Development” means.

If you ask most people what “Economic Development” means, they’ll tell you that to them it means new jobs, new businesses or expanded businesses.

In a nutshell, “Economic Development” means prosperity.

I’m not an Economist but even I know that if I rearrange the furniture in my house, I’m not spurring “Economic Development”. I’m not creating jobs or prosperity.

Yenni’s plan to move city offices, build an unneeded road, and repave a residential street, won’t spur “Economic Development” in Kenner either.

Hopefully, the Kenner City Council will just say “NO” to Yenni’s pie-in-the-sky “Economic Development” plan and not allow him to mortgage Kenner’s future to pay for his legacy.

Last year, Kenner told Mayor Yenni that it couldn’t afford a “Tax and Spend Mayor”. This year, Kenner can’t afford a “Borrow and Spend Mayor” either.