As you read here first, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni's Annual Prayer Breakfast is the subject of some controvery in Kenner.
Billed as a fundraiser for the Kenner Food Bank and sponsored by the non-profit group Kenner City Events Inc., a group formed by then-Mayor Ed Muniz and then-CAO Yenni and composed of their friends, tax records show that no money has been donated to the Food Bank and the money instead has been deposited in a bank account and used for other matters.
At the last Kenner City Council meeting, Mayor Yenni admitted that the Prayer Breakfasts haven't raised enough money for a donation, yet the bank account of Kenner City Events continues to grow every year and the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast is its only source of income. As of their last tax form, Kenner City Events had almost $18,000 in the bank.
Mayor Yenni, as he is known to do when facing criticism, tried to deflect the conversation to discuss another fundraising event and attack his critics (myself among them).
At the January 3rd council meeting, CAO Mike Quigley gave a different answer regarding the Prayer Breakfasts saying that the proceeds were never meant to go to the Food Bank and were instead used as "seed money" for the next event. Of course, Mayor Yenni can't answer why he doesn't use his own personal or campaign funds as "seed money" or what the "seed money" is needed for. Since the events are held at a venue managed by his wife (and owned by his father-in-law), I don't think the "seed money" is needed for deposits and, since the speakers are primarily friends of the Mayor, there are no deposits for speakers.
As I mentioned, Kenner City Events has almost $18,000 in the bank. That's alot of "seed money".
The Mayor also cannot answer why the events, which have generated $12,000 - 14,000 each, have expenses over 80%. Of course, as Mr. Quigley says, the people attending are served a "tremendous breakfast".
At $30 a plate, with no money generated for the Food Bank, I guess I would say that's a "tremendous breakfast". Tremendously expensive, that is.
Kinda makes you wonder how the upcoming Slidell Mayor's Prayer Breakfast can charge $15 a plate. Maybe it's ok for the Mayor of Slidell to serve only an "ok breakfast".
In any event, The Advocate is also joining the party and asking about Mayor Yenni's Prayer Breakfasts. You can read the article by clicking here and read how the Mayor and Quigley try to deflect and attack.
Read all the way to the end and see the comments from the City of Kenner's Community Development Director, Arleeta Terrell. Ms. Terrell's department includes the Food Bank. It's interesting to note that Ms. Terrell said "she never knew the food bank was supposed to receive money from the prayer breakfast." I guess that, along with the Mayor's own words, confirms the fact that this sham went on for years.
Mayor Yenni, Mr. Quigley, and others in the Yenni Administration, should be ashamed of themselves for using the Kenner Food Bank as a prop for the Mayor to funnel business to his wife's company, generate sponsorships from city contractors and contributors, and not donate one cent to the Kenner Food Bank from the Prayer Breakfasts.
To his credit, Mayor Yenni does hold another event (again, at his wife's business) that does raise money for the Kenner Food Bank. Thankfully, for Kenner citizens and the Food Bank, it's not a breakfast and that event doesn't need any "seed money".