Friday, February 8, 2013

Kenner Mayor Yenni Planning “City Listening Sessions”

In a move shockingly reminiscent of his ill-fated plan to try to convince voters to go along with his plan to double property taxes, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni is planning a round of “City Listening Sessions” this time to promote his Kenner 2030 Plan.

In 2011, Yenni put up a package of 6 property taxes designed to primarily fund capital projects (buildings, vehicles, etc.). The Mayor, along with Police Chief Steve Caraway and a representative of the Kenner Fire Department, put on a Powerpoint presentation to any Civic Association that would have them. In the end, despite his efforts, all 6 taxes were overwhelmingly defeated by the voters.
Now, instead of new taxes, Yenni wants to re-bond debt set to expire in 2018 and tie up that funding for an additional 15 years. The new funding will be used on a multitude of projects offered up by Yenni’s Economic Development Committee. The Mayor has not offered exact details of his “2030 Vision” but potential projects include rehabbing the old Kenner High School, extending West Napoleon to the Airport Access road, and beautification projects throughout Kenner including Chateau Blvd.

Here's a link to a July 2012 article about the Mayor's "Vision"

Billed "as part of the Kenner 2030 Plan for Improving Kenner's Political Climate", the Mayor fails to note that next year Kenner will have an opportunity to really improve "Kenner's Political Climate" when it can vote in a new Mayor and Council.

In an email to Kenner City Councilmembers obtained by, Alicia Schulz, Executive Coordinator in the Mayor’s Office and writing on behalf of Deputy CAO Natalie Newton, says “Newton would like me to reach out to the leaders of the Kenner Civic Associations” and asks the Councilmembers to “please send me any listing you have of your Civic Associations’ contact and/or mailing information”.

While it is curious that Mayor Yenni does not already know who the leaders are of the handful of Kenner Civic Associations, it is also curious that Yenni is calling these “City Listening Sessions”. It is not clear whether the City will be listening to the people or the people will be listening to the City.
In any event, I’m sure Yenni, possibly with others, will do the majority of the talking. The Mayor has been criticized for not seeking citizen input in the past. At one point, he would leave the Council meetings before citizens had the opportunity to address the Council and he used his column to author a piece that criticized citizens for speaking out.

In the Mayor’s favor, this time around he just needs to convince the 7 members of the Kenner City Council to go along with him and not the voters. Obviously the Mayor learned a lesson in 2011 that he doesn’t want to repeat. Unfortunately, for the people of Kenner, he didn't learn the lesson of less government and less government spending and would rather mortgage Kenner's future for some dubious projects.