Tuesday, April 30, 2013

No, You Can’t Buy An “I’m A Communist” License Plate In Louisiana - Yet

The House Transportation Committee defeated a bill by Houma State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R) that would have created new vanity license plates proclaiming that you are a member of the Republican or Democratic Parties.

“It’s just political support for your political party,” Whitney said.
Several committee members disagreed.

“You realize if you do this then the Socialists have a right to come here and ask for that? If we approve this then they can have the same standing. So could the Communist Party and the Islamic Party. That’s the problem that this thing can open, do you realize that?” Rep. Sam Jones (D-Franklin) said.
“I don’t know that this bill would open, ‘I’m a Communist’,” Whitney said. “I’m not asking for that license plate.”

The bill failed by a 7-8 vote.
The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles says the state already has 214 vanity license plates in circulation

Monday, April 29, 2013

Senator Landrieu Says She's "Indispensable"; Congressman Boustany Blasts IRS Over Budget Increase; and More

This morning I was a guest on "The Ken & Bernie Show" with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm in Acadiana. We discussed Mary Landrieu being "indispensable"; Congressman Boustany taking the IRS to task over ObamaCare; and some Louisiana Budget Bill. You can listen to the interview here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just Say “NO” To The CCC Toll

You could probably count on NO hands, the number of times that I have agreed with anything written by the Times-Picayune Editorial Board.

I’m not sure what that says about me or the T-P’s Editorial Board, but it does say something.
In fact, I think the probability of lightning striking me or my winning the Powerball are better than the T-P Editorial Board and I agreeing on anything.

Allow me to digress for a moment (since it’s my blog, you really don’t have a choice so just patronize me).
Let me take you back to the Fall of 2011 when I sat before the Times-Picayune Editorial Board.  I was summoned there and granted 10 minutes to extoll the virtues of my possibly representing District 4 on the Jefferson Parish Council to a group of people who were largely from Orleans Parish (and had no idea what the issues in District 4 were nor did they care) and who really didn’t like me because I owned an online media company (something they obviously aspired to be).

I sat in a chair facing about 10 people who peppered me with questions about things that had nothing to do with my platform, my experience, or why I wanted to run for public office and serve the people. Since I was, at one time, a media consultant, the then-Publisher of the T-P wanted to know what newspapers I had worked with. Don’t know if he was trying to use that to network for his next job or call them and see if they would act as a reference for me.
Sitting in that chair, I thought “Why am I here? Do I really even want the endorsement of these people?”

As I walked to my car I said to myself, “Well, that went ok but there is no way in Hell that they are ever going to endorse me.”
Of course, I was right. The T-P endorsed one of my opponents (the “anointed” candidate).

In light of those facts, I have been stunned by the T-P’s support of the elimination of the CCC toll.
Jim Varney (one of my favorite T-P columnists) has opined several times this week about the need to eliminate the toll. In fact, he says that “Voting ‘No’ on CCC Tolls is a Public Service.”

If you missed any of Mr. Varney’s writings on the CCC toll issue, click here or here or here.
Today, while it is cloudy in Kenner and there was some lightning, none struck me (I didn’t win the Powerball last night either).

But, the T-P’s Editorial Board actually decreed that the CCC toll should be gone.

No, Hell hasn’t frozen over (at least not to my knowledge).
The case against the continuation of the CCC toll is so overwhelming that it is somewhat surprising that it took this long for the T-P to come out against it.

Consider these facts:

-          Decades of mismanagement and fiscal mismanagement

-          Money spent on phony insurance policies that served only to line the pockets of politically ingrained Insurance agents

-          Only $.19 out of every dollar spent on the toll actually goes to bridge maintenance

-          Drivers already pay $.20 per gallon in gasoline taxes for road and bridge maintenance in Louisiana

-          The CCC is the only toll bridge that crosses the Mississippi River in the entire country. In fact, there are 10 bridges in Louisiana alone that cross the mighty river and don’t charge a toll.

-          The CCC bridge has been paid off for years

-          It costs more to collect the toll than is spent on bridge maintenance and operations

-          About $20 Million each year is sapped out of our local economy and much of that is spent on projects across the state including the LA 1 bridge and other road projects
I could keep going but you get the drift. I'm glad that the T-P's Editorial Board got the drift too (or, at least, read Jim Varney's columns).

As I told a friend this weekend when we were discussing a local Talk Radio Host, “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then.”

Whatever the reason, I say "BRAVO!" to the Times-Picayune Editorial Board. Now if everyone will vote NO to the toll on May 4th, we will all win.

Now that I don’t need to hoard my One Dollar bills for every trip to the West Bank, I should be able to find 2 to buy myself the winning Powerball ticket on Wednesday.

Who knows? Stranger things have happened.  


Sen. Landrieu’s Gun Vote Shouldn’t Hurt Much; Ties To Obama Could

Many pundits have criticized Senator Mary Landrieu’s recent vote to expand background checks and called it a “kiss of death” in The Sportsman’s Paradise.

The Senate voted 54-46 in favor of expanding background checks to internet and gun show sales but they needed 60 votes for passage.
Landrieu called the bill a “hard-fought, but balanced approach that would reduce gun violence and make it much harder for criminals and mentally ill individuals to access guns.’’

“Currently, guns can be purchased online and at gun shows without any background check whatsoever, leaving a gaping hole in our gun protection system,’’ she said.
While many Americans support expanding background checks, Louisiana voters are overwhelmingly against any new Federal gun control measures and there has been no data to support Senator Landrieu’s assertion that criminals buy guns on the internet or at gun shows and would thus be thwarted by a background check.

The concept of a criminal producing a valid id to make a gun purchase is completely unrealistic to most people, except our Senator Mary.
Even so, I really don’t think this vote will hurt Senator Landrieu.

There are two things that will minimize the politics of Senator Landrieu’s votes and its impact on her 2014 re-election campaign: her base and time.
Democrats in Louisiana will almost assuredly vote for Landrieu. There is little doubt that Landrieu will carry Orleans Parish by a wide margin regardless of who Republicans, Libertarians or any other party put up against her.

Senator Landrieu needs to hope that she can get out the inner city vote in New Orleans and Baton Rouge (and, in the process, make a significant dent in Congressman Bill Cassidy’s BR base), and split or not lose Acadiana and North Louisiana by too much, and her re-election is assured.
The other factor weighing in Senator Landrieu’s favor is time. By next Fall, this gun control vote will be long gone in the minds of most voters.

In addition, by voting for President Obama’s failed gun control measure, Senator Landrieu further solidified her relationship with the President. I’m sure that she thinks that is a good thing but her closeness to the President could also be Senator Landrieu’s undoing.
Senator Landrieu has voted with President Obama and the Democratic Party a staggering 97% of the time. That’s hardly bi-partisan and can hardly be called representative of Louisiana.

The 2014 elections are mid-term elections and could be a referendum on President Obama. The political party of the President in power has generally lost ground in mid-term elections.
In the 2010 mid-term election, Democrats lost 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats. Similarly, in 2006, the Republican Party lost 30 House seats and 6 Senate seats.

In fact, in every mid-term election since 1938, the party in power has lost House seats except for 2 elections: 2002 when Republicans gained 8 seats and 1998 when Democrats garnered 5 additional seats.
The losses in the Senate, while less dramatic, are also real.

In 2002, Republicans gained 2 Senate seats; in 1970, Republicans gained 1 Senate seat and in 1962, Democrats gained 2 Senate seats. In 1998 and 1982 there were no gains or losses in the Senate.  Every other mid-term election resulted in Senate losses for the party holding the White House.
Recently, in the 2010 mid-term election, Democrats lost 6 Senate seats as Republicans did in 2006.

In 1994, under Bill Clinton’s leadership, Democrats lost 54 House seats and 8 Senate seats. Only the 2010 mid-term election in President Obama’s first term had larger combined losses.
So, while playing to her base and strengthening her ties to a lame duck President who is unpopular in Louisiana, Senator Landrieu could also be unknowingly playing into Republican’s hands.

And, while the gun control vote may well be forgotten, Senator Landrieu’s “Louisiana Purchase” vote on ObamaCare will play a large role in the campaign as will her record as being a largely ineffective Senator.
While no one can deny that Senator Landrieu has recently fought for Louisiana’s coast and our share of offshore oil and gas royalties, Landrieu only recently attempted to make those royalties effective now instead of 2017.

But the question remains: why 2017?
When Senator Landrieu took office in 1997, the issue of Louisiana not receiving our share of royalties had been an issue for years. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, the cry got louder for Louisiana to receive more money to repair our fragile, neglected coastline.

Senator Landrieu sits on the Senate Appropriations and the Energy and Natural Resources Committees. Clearly, if she is an effective Senator, it would not take her 15 years to get a bill passed to get Louisiana’s share of energy royalties years from now.
Senator Landrieu takes much pride at her 2005 legislation that had the Senate apologize for the Senate’s failure in the early 19th Century to ban lynching. Why wasn’t Senator Landrieu as proactive regarding Louisiana’s coast as she was about trying to rewrite history?

Just this week, Senator Landrieu told Bruce Alpert of the Times-Picayune that “I’m indispensable”.   

Senator Landrieu has voted for over $1 Trillion in Tax hikes. I don’t know about you but, to me, that is hardly “indispensable”.
If Senator Landrieu was truly “indispensable” to Louisiana she would have fixed Louisiana’s royalty issue in 1997 instead of 2017. If she had done that then, perhaps Katrina and Rita would not have devastated Louisiana like they did.

But, I’m not a US Senator so I can’t rewrite history.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Kenner Bond Debt: The Aftermath

Ok, it’s been almost a week since the State Bond Commission and the Kenner City Council voted to approve Mayor Mike Yenni’s plan to increase the city’s debt by 32% and borrow $27 Million plus an additional $17 Million in interest through the year 2033 to fund beautification and aesthetic projects presumably designed to stem the tide of 30-year of outmigration from Kenner.

As you know if you’ve read this blog before, I strongly advocated for the Mayor and the Council to provide more information to the people of Kenner so they could be informed about Mayor Yenni’s plan. Since Mayor Yenni didn’t need a public vote, as is required in many cities including Lake Charles, I thought that the people of Kenner deserved more input into this plan, including deciding whether they wanted to incur this much debt for the next 20 years.
But, that part is over now.

The Council voted 6 – 1 in favor of Mayor Yenni’s plan with 1st District Councilman Gregory Carroll stating that, while some of his constituents supported the plan, many more were concerned about the amount of debt that would be handed down to their children and grandchildren.
According to Mayor Yenni, the City will be able to sell the bonds in June and get the money shortly thereafter.

So, now that there’s a lull in the process, this is the perfect time to ask once again for the Mayor and the Council to poll the people of Kenner. If he desired and wanted public support for his plan, Mayor Yenni could send out a full-color mail piece, describe the proposed projects and their costs, and ask the public if they wanted these projects or not. Maybe, just maybe, the people might have different or better ideas for their money.
Perhaps now, we can put aside the “concepts” and show the citizens of Kenner what Mayor Yenni is actually proposing for his $65 Million bond deal (including the refinancing of about $14 Million in debt that would have expired in 2018). Perhaps we can set aside the Photoshopped pictures and get to reality.
That is, if Mayor Yenni actually cared about what the people of Kenner wanted.
As 4th District Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch has said on multiple occasions, “These projects aren’t written in stone.“

Why not get public input? Why not hold more town hall meetings? By most estimates, about 120 – 150 people attended the 2 town hall meetings Mayor Yenni held after the Council voted on the Resolutions to move forward with the bond debt (which the Mayor had already done in advance of the vote anyway).

120 – 150 people means there are still 66,000 other Kenner residents that still know little about this plan (except those “lucky” enough to find Mayor Yenni's "concept" video while flipping through the channels on Cox Cable and landing on KTV).
In addition to seeking more input themselves, the Council should also take steps to ensure that whatever projects are put before them are completely open and transparent and that the bid process is completely inclusive to ensure that the people of Kenner are getting the most bang for their debt-laden buck. No member of Mayor Yenni’s Economic Development Committee should be allowed to bid or profit from their participation in this plan. I know that’s wishful thinking on my part but, I can dream about an open and transparent Kenner Government.

If the projects “aren’t written in stone” now really is the perfect time to get more public input, hold more town hall meetings, and really poll the people of Kenner to find out what they want.
After all, it’s their money, right?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Early Voting Begins In Jefferson Parish

Early voting begins this morning in Jefferson Parish.

The entire parish, along with Orleans and Plaquemines parishes, will begin the revoting process on the Crescent City Connection toll extension. The November 6th vote was tossed out by a judge after toll opponents disclosed that over 1,000 voters were given provisional ballots that did not contain the CCC toll proposal.

In addition to the CCC toll, there are also several tax renewals including extending current 5 mills each for Water and Sewerage for 10 years and 7 mills for the School Board.

In Harahan, River Ridge, and parts of Metairie and Kenner, there is a runoff for the 24th JDC, Division D seat between Scott Schlegel and Hilary Landry. Schlegel led the 4 person primary capturing 36% of the vote while Landry received 27.5%.

Voters in Westwego will vote on a new Mayor and a District 4 councilman.

In the Mayoral runoff, Johnny Shaddinger faces off against Ted Munch. In the primary, Shaddinger received 46.9% of the vote while Munch received 36.5%. Both are Democrats.

In District 4, voters will choose between Republican Gary Toups and Democrat Melvin Guidry. Toups received 37.8% of the primary vote while Guidry received 35.7% of the vote. In real numbers, Toups received 9 more votes than Guidry.

There is also a 20 mills renewal for Fire Protection District 5.

There will be no early voting tomorrow (Sunday). Early voting will resume on Monday and last through next Saturday. Early voting hours are 8:30am - 6pm. East Bank early voters can vote at the Yenni Building in Elmwood or at the Kenner Registrar of Voters office, 408 Minor Street in Rivertown. On the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, early voting is at 5001 Westbank Expressway, Suite C-2 in Marrero.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In Case You Missed It

Monday, I was a guest on "The Ken & Bernie Show" with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm in Lafayette. The interview was before the Legislative Session started and we discussed tax reform and other issues. You can listen to the interview here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2nd Kenner Town Hall Tonight On Yenni's Debt Plan

A Town Hall will be held tonight at the request of Kenner District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni to discuss Mayor Yenni's plan to increase the city's debt by 32% and borrow $47 Million ($65 Million with interest included) for a series of beautification projects. The debt will be repaid through sales tax revenue over the next 20 years.

The Town Hall starts at 7pm and doors open at 6:30pm. The meeting will be held at the Kenner City Council Chambers, 1801 Williams Blvd., and the public is invited.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Taxes, Food Trucks in Fat City, and the Sex of Edwin Edwards’ Baby Is Announced – And It’s Just Monday

On the day that Federal Taxes are due, House Ways & Means Chairman Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette) did an about face and indefinitely deferred all bills that would change or eliminate the State Income Tax.

Just this weekend, Robideaux told The Advocate, “My role in this is to (ensure) the bills (are) heard, give them a fair hearing.”

This morning, Robideaux said, "Unless the committee members have a change of heart, I think it’s (the repeal of the State Income Tax) probably dead for this session."

In a statement, Governor Jindal, who had proposed eliminating the Income Tax in favor of an increased state Sales Tax, expressed his disappointment.

"Eliminating income taxes is the single best thing we can do to create jobs in Louisiana," Jindal said. "If the Legislature decides not to act, I think it will be a missed opportunity."


Food trucks return today in Jefferson Parish for the FatCity Food Truck Festival. The Festival, which Councilwoman Cynthia Sheng hopes to turn into a monthly event, will showcase food trucks in the parking lot of a strip center owned by Drago’s Tommy Cvitanovich.

Food Trucks were banned in Jefferson Parish in 2007 after they proliferated throughout the parish after Hurricane Katrina.
The trucks at the Fat City Festival are imported for the day from New Orleans.


Former Governor and soon to be Reality TV star Edwin Edwards and his wife Trina announced that they are expecting a baby boy. The Octogenarian Ex-Con and his 30-something ex-Pen Pal wife have already named their future son, Eli Wallace Edwards. This is their first child together although Trina has 2 teenage children and Edwards has four children, all older than his current wife.  


So What Will It Be? Door #1 – Door #2 or Door #3?

Monty Hall was legen – wait for it – dary on the tv game show “Let’s Make A Deal”. I know Wayne Brady does it now but, no one can replace Monty Hall. Sorry, Wayne.

Well, Monty Hall would fit right in today in Baton Rouge at the State Legislature.
The House Ways & Means Committee, chaired by Joel Robideaux (R-Lafayette) and including Jefferson Parish State Reps Julie Stokes (R-79) and Tom Willmott (R-92), will begin debating today 25 different bills dealing with the State Personal and Corporate Income Taxes, the Corporate Franchise Tax, the Cigarette Tax, along with various other proposals regarding tax credits and exemptions.

Some of the bills call for reducing the State Personal and Corporate Income Taxes while others call for the taxes to be phased-out over a period of 3 – 10 years.
In addition to phasing out the Income Taxes, there are also plans to keep the income taxes but lower their rates and a plan for a Flat Income Tax of 1.9% on personal incomes of more than $12,500.

Chairman Robideaux told The Advocate, “My role in this is to (ensure) the bills (are) heard, give them a fair hearing.”
Last week, Governor Bobby Jindal scrapped his plan to eliminate the State Personal and Corporate Income Taxes in 2014 and replace them with an increased State Sales Tax. Governor Jindal faced increasing pressure on several fronts before he withdrew his plan on the opening day of the legislative session.

The Governor basically threw up his hands and told legislators to figure it out.

The Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and the Public Affairs Research Council (PAR) have both cautioned against eliminating or phasing-out the income tax.
CABL said that it’s time to “end this unrealistic tax debate”.

So, will it be Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3?
Let’s hope that Louisianians won’t get Zonked.

Monty Hall would be so proud.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yenni’s Plan: “Doctored Photos”, “Concepts”

Before a packed Kenner Pavilion last night, half-filled with the Mayor’s cheering section and campaign contributors and the rest with residents, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni fielded questions and comments regarding his plan to increase Kenner’s debt by 32% and borrow $47 Million to pay off old debt and fund a series of beautification projects that were proposed by Yenni’s hand-picked Economic Development Committee.

This was the first Town Hall that the Mayor has hosted despite conducting months of meetings with his Economic Development Committee whose leader, Henry Shane, paid for a study of proposed projects. In addition, Mayor Yenni also hired a Bond Counsel, which will receive $600,000 in fees from the debt package, despite the voters in Kenner approving a Charter Change which mandates that any contracts valued at over $100,000 are reviewed by the City Council and have a public hearing. Mayor Yenni maintains that this rule does not apply yet since the actual debt package has not been approved.
Striping away the comments from members of the Mayor’s Economic Development Committee, who did not disclose their membership when they made their comments, the majority of the comments from the public were negative.

Even the Times-Picayune, which supports Yenni’s plan, wrote that there were “mixed reviews” from attendees.
“Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni's $47 million initiative to refinance municipal debt and beautify 10 streets and intersections met with mixed reviews,” the Times-Picayune wrote.

“Mixed reviews” is putting it kindly.
The Mayor and the speakers glossed over questions, said they would come back and address other questions later (and, conveniently forgot about them), and did their best sales job rather than engaging the people of Kenner in a real dialogue about the merits of these projects.

One of the biggest revelations was the fact that, in Mayor Yenni’s package and on his video presentation for the projects, Mayor Yenni used “doctored photographs” that are not realistic portrayals of what the actual intersections will look like.
In the Mayor’s video presentation, Williams Blvd. is shown to have 8 driving lanes (4 lanes North and South), a median, a turning lane and bike paths along both sides of the street. It is portrayed to have underground power lines and other amenities that the City of Kenner has no funding for.

“I want to be for this project, I really do,” Kenner resident Stacey Allesandro said, “But it is not right to show ‘Photoshoped’ pictures and say ‘This is how it will look’ when it won’t look like that at all.”

Mayor Yenni replied that these are “conceptual drawings”. The City’s Landscape Architect Greg Cantrell added that “Some of these things we might not have money for and we may need to move money from one project to another.”
So, instead of letting the Public decide on the projects that they want and getting their input from the beginning, the Mayor is asking the people to pay a bill for the next 20 years based upon “concepts” and, it is conceivable that, this money can be moved to other projects that the people of Kenner don’t want and aren’t even aware of.

At the last Kenner City Council meeting, District 4 Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch said, “The projects that were mentioned (in the Mayor’s plan) are not written in stone.”
Well, why not?

Why can’t the people of Kenner know, before they are handed a bill for the next 20 years, what they are getting and being asked to pay for? You don’t go to a restaurant, order Filet, pay your bill and then get served Hamburger.
It’s an old sales trick: bait and switch. Car dealerships used to advertise that you could buy a car for $99 a month but, when they come to the dealership, you just missed out on that $99 a month car because it was just sold. But, you can buy this $299 a month a car and it’s even better.

The fact is NONE of this $47 Million is dedicated to any project, and it doesn’t need to be dedicated. It just needs to be SPENT. How Mayor Yenni chooses to spend that $47 Million is up to him. Of course, the money must be spent on “Capital Projects” – beautification, buildings, streets, infrastructure and Mayor Yenni will need the approval of the Kenner City Council.
But, considering that only 4 members of the Council need to agree with the Mayor spending anything, and 5 of them already agreeing to “fast-tracking” this debt issue without any real input from the public, it’s a safe bet that Yenni can get 4 votes regardless of what the people of Kenner want.

If Mayor Yenni was unwilling to agree to hold off on a vote and slow this process down until he and the Council had time to consider YOUR input, what makes you think Yenni actually cares about what you want.
Henry Shane said that this plan will help stem the 30-year tide of outmigration from Kenner, citing that Kenner’s population peak occurred in 1982 and has declined with every census.

When asked to support this “theory”, Mr. Shane said, “We’ll get back to that later.”
Of course, he never did. Nor did Mayor Yenni.

Yenni again played a video from the Mayor of Ocean Springs, MS, seeking support for his plan.
In the video, the Ocean Springs Mayor describes how the city used beautification projects after they were devastated by Hurricane Katrina to attract new residents.

And, it worked for Ocean Springs. But, the city was leveled and needed to rebuild. Kenner is an older, established city.
The Ocean Springs Mayor also stated that the city received Grants to pay for these projects. She didn’t ask her residents to take on a massive amount of debt. The same cannot be said for Mayor Yenni.

Shouldn’t that have been the first step: line up as many state and Federal grants as possible and then fill in the gaps with debt? No, that would take too long.

Despite Mayor Yenni’s claim at the last Council meeting that this plan will create new jobs and new businesses, there is no documented evidence that it will do either, or that an established city like Kenner can be remade to attract new residents.
In fact, Mr. Shane doesn’t care if this plan doesn’t create new businesses or jobs.

"We could add another big business, but why would those workers want to live in Kenner?” Shane said. “This is not a job problem."
 So, if it won’t create jobs, it won’t add new businesses or retain existing businesses, there’s no proof that this plan will bring flocks of new residents to Kenner, and the projects are subject to change, why is Mayor Yenni seeking to tie-up sales tax revenue for the next 20 years so he can get money now?

We know the answer to that question: Politics.
Yenni is up for re-election next year. After that, maybe the Jefferson Parish Council. Then, Jefferson Parish President.

You see, that is Yenni’s “Real” Plan and the goal of his campaign contributors on the Economic Development Committee. This beautification plan is just a means to an end.
Sticking Kenner residents with a Hamburger instead of a Filet, and making Kenner pay for that Hamburger for the next 20 years is just a page in the Yenni playbook.

Unfortunately for the people of Kenner, this page costs $47 Million over the next 20 years.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kenner Town Hall Tonight To Discuss Yenni’s Debt Plan

There will be a Town Hall meeting tonight, Wednesday, beginning at 7:30pm at the Kenner Pavilion, corner of Loyola and Vintage. The topic will be Mayor Yenni’s plan to refinance old debt and borrow $28.6 Million to fund new beautification and aesthetic projects.

The Mayor’s plan, which is being fast-tracked through without any public input, was crafted by Yenni’s hand-picked Economic Development Committee, a group of 41 of Mayor Yenni’s friends and campaign supporters.
At the last Kenner City Council meeting, at the Mayor’s insistence, the Council approved a Resolution calling for the city’s bond counsel to move forward with the State Bond Commission to receive approval to sell bonds “not to exceed $47 Million”. The vote was 5-2 in favor with Councilmen Gregory Carroll and Joe Stagni supporting a delay while they polled their constituents. To date, none of the 7 council members nor the Mayor has polled the residents of Kenner or held a Town Hall meeting to discuss and debate these projects and the debt plan.

The plan consists of 10 projects, none of which will create any sustainable jobs or new businesses for Kenner and will increase Kenner’s debt by 32% and be paid back with sales tax revenue for the next 20 years ending in 2033.
The 10 projects are:

-Rebuilding the Duncan Canal. Cost: $11 Million to be split 50/50 between the City and the State
- Williams Blvd. Corridor from I-10 to Vintage. $11.250 Million (all City)

- Loyola Streetscape from I-10 to Georgetown. $3.3 Million (all City)
- Power Blvd. Beautification from West Esplanade to Vintage. $900,000 (all City)

- The Intersection of Airline and Williams Blvd. Landscape and Beautification. $500,000 (all City)
- Loyola Landscape and Beautification $500,000 (all City)

- Veterans at the Airport Access Road. $500,000 (all City)
- Erlander Bike Path, from Vintage to the lake. $866,000 (all City)

- Vintage and Williams Box Culverts. $1.2 Million (all City)
- Williams Blvd. from Vets to West Napoleon. $5.490 Million (all City)

A part of Yenni’s plan also calls for refinancing a portion of Kenner’s existing bond debt that is set to expire in 2018. The city will lower the interest rate on this financing by about 1% to 3.3-3.5%, which is still higher than the current national average for Municipal Bonds at 2.54% and higher than the interest rate of the recently announced debt refinancing by Jefferson Parish (1.8-2.8%).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Food, Festivals and 900 Pre-Filed Bills

This morning, I was a guest on "The Ken & Bernie Show" with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm in Lafayette. After we talked about food, we found time to talk politics. Here's a link to the interview: http://kpel965.com/walt-bennetti-wonders-why-la-legislature-pre-filed-over-900-new-bills/

Legislative Session Opens In Baton Rouge; 900 Bills Pre-Filed

The 2013 Legislative Session opens today in Baton Rouge. Governor Bobby Jindal will address the legislators at 1pm CT. The Governor’s address will be carried live on many LPB affiliates across the state.

While this is a fiscal session, legislators pre-filed 900 bills. Legislators were thankfully limited to 5 non-fiscal bills each.
While there are several bills regarding to large issues like Governor Jindal’s plan to eliminate the state income tax and gun control, talk at the session will also be dominated by the budget and the use again of one-time money to fill funding holes.

Sprinkled in among all of the weighty issues facing the state, legislators will also discuss and debate:
-          5 bills creating special license plates including the “I’m Cajun” license plate, license plates benefiting the March of Dimes and the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, and even a license plate if you want the world to know that you are a Republican or a Democrat.

-          HB 175 proposed by Baton Rouge Rep Patricia Smith will allow felons to regain the right to vote.

-          HB 300 proposed by Natchitoches Rep Kenny Cox clarifies the definition of a lighter and a novelty lighter.

-          HB 314, the Social Media Privacy Protection Act, bans schools and employers from asking for your email and Facebook passwords.

-          HB 445 is the Louisiana Beverage Container Law. It calls for a $.05 deposit and refund for glass and metal beverage bottles. Yes, that means that your 12-pack will be going up (but, you’ll get the money back if return the bottles – so it’s “revenue-neutral” to use a favorite Baton Rouge buzzword).

-          HB 502 allows for night hunting of nuisance animals year-round on private property. Currently, you are only allowed to shot nutria, beavers and “outlaw quadrupeds” from March – August. The new bill still requires that you notify your Sheriff 24 hours in advance of going on the hunt.

-          HB 529 imposes a $.05 tax on single-use plastic bags, you know, the bags you get at the grocery store or at a convenience store. Rep Regina Barrow wants to make this a Constitutional Amendment that we’ll vote on in November of 2014.

And my favorite bill:

-          HB 144 which would require the LSU Board of Supervisors to offer 1st time entering Freshmen the right to purchase tickets to attend football games in Tiger Stadium.

Now, I’m sure all of these bills seem worthwhile to someone but, do we really need them. Shouldn’t the legislature focus it’s time and energy on debating the merits or non-merits of Governor Jindal’s tax swap plan? What about debating the dismantling of the state’s Charity Hospital System or discussing Medicaid Expansion or the budget?

Shouldn’t legislators debate health care with as much time as they are spending on special license plates?


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Hypocrisy Rules The Day On Kenner Council

At almost every Kenner City Council meeting, at least one item on the agenda is deferred for one reason or another. Often, a Councilmember needs more time to learn about the item. Sometimes, they will defer an item to give the author more time to line up enough votes to get the item passed. Many times, the Kenner Council defers items without giving a reason or “as a courtesy” to another Councilmember.

It’s a common occurrence.
 This past meeting, the Kenner City Council voted 7 – 0 to defer some new regulations on taxi cabs. No reason was given and there was no public discussion. After the meeting, District 4 Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch told The Advocate that she didn’t want to pass an ordinance only to revise it in the future.

“I believe it’s inappropriate and totally wrong to vote on something unless you have a copy of it,” and it is complete, DeFranchesch said.
I buy that. The Council did too and the item was deferred.

About two months, District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni reintroduced legislation to move the boundaries of 2 precincts within his district. Previously, Councilman Stagni had introduced this same legislation but deferred it because another governing body was not ready for it. When they said that they were ready, Councilman Stagni reintroduced it.
Sounds like a simple bill, right? Move one precinct’s boundaries about 2 blocks, impact about 110 voters, and make it easier for them to get to their new polling place. Council President Jeannie Black supported the legislation saying, “Anything that makes it easier for people to vote, I am in favor of.”

But District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud said – SLOW DOWN.
Reynaud, whose district wouldn’t be affected by this change in boundaries, said that he didn’t have enough time to study this issue. He said that he just received the legislation on Monday and that the Thursday meeting just wasn’t long enough.

Councilman Reynaud asked Councilman Stagni and the rest of the Council to grant him a “courtesy” deferral so he could take more time.
Now, again, this change in boundaries was for 2 precincts within Councilman Stagni’s district, they weren’t near Councilman Reynaud’s district and wouldn’t impact him or his constituents at all.

Councilwoman Black again said that she supported the legislation and would be voting for it but, as a “courtesy” (there’s that word again) to Councilman Reynaud, she would vote FOR the deferral.
Councilman Stagni was mildly upset but, he too said that he would support the deferral as a “courtesy” to Councilman Reynaud.

So, the entire Kenner City Council was willing to hold up legislation that would impact about 110 people, people who supported the change in boundaries, and that the Council President said would make it easier for these people to vote, all as a “courtesy” so Councilman Reynaud could have more time to “study” legislation that didn’t impact him, his residents or his district.
That’s what makes the situation at Thursday’s council meeting so puzzling.

Mayor Yenni introduced a Resolution calling for the Council to approve fast-tracking his plan to increase the city’s debt by 32% and bond out 75% of Kenner’s sales tax revenue through the year 2033 to finance some beautification projects.
Councilwoman DeFranchesch said, “The projects that were mentioned (in the Mayor’s plan) are not written in stone,” yet the Resolution clearly calls for Kenner to ask the State Bond Commission to approve Kenner bonding “an amount not to exceed $47 Million”. The $47 Million figure is eerily close to the projected cost of $46.4 Million for Mayor Yenni’s plan.

“All this is, is a dialogue; it is not a commitment,” Defrancesch said.
So, if the projects aren’t “written in stone”, doesn’t that also mean that, like the Taxi legislation that Councilwoman DeFranchesch and the rest of the Council deferred earlier in the meeting, the Mayor’s plan could very well be changed and revised as we go along?

Since it is also incomplete and will be revised, shouldn’t Councilwoman DeFranchesch (and the rest of the Council) want to defer this Resolution too?
Makes sense to me, probably you as well. That’s the problem.

I guess that it also made sense to Councilmen Stagni and District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll too. Unfortunately, they were the only 2 Councilmen that it did make sense to.
Councilman Stagni introduced an Amendment (seconded by Councilman Carroll), to defer the Resolution until he had time to poll his residents and see if they actually wanted to take on so much debt for these projects proposed by Mayor Yenni.

“We got this piece of legislation on Monday; today is Thursday,” Councilman Stagni said. “We want to make it a transparent, open and collaborative process with the public and ninety-five percent of the people that this affects, they don’t really know what’s going on right now.”
“We are talking about refinancing and going into debt and strapping our children and grandchildren (with this debt),” Councilman Stagni continued. “Is it more important to do beautification projects or infrastructure?”

“It is our job (to get resident input); we’re the closest to our contstituents.”
Councilman Carroll talked about the length of his district and said that he, too, was not comfortable with the pace of the Resolution.

“It is my opinion that I still need more time,” Councilman Carroll said.
The other Kenner Councilmen disagreed.

Without elaborating on what specifically she had done to seek input and inform the resident of Kenner, Councilwoman-At-Large Michele Branigan said, “We’ve had time to discuss this with constituents.”
Councilwoman Branigan represents all of Kenner’s 66,000 residents.

Councilwoman DeFrancesch agreed. “There’s no purpose in deferring this. I don’t see the point to have a deferral. This is not the time.”
Claiming that the Mayor and Council were starting the process prematurely, Councilman Stagni made one last attempt to appeal to his fellow councilmen.

“This is a slap in the face to the numerous citizens who don’t know what’s going on,” Stagni said.
In the end, the Council voted 2-5 on the Deferral with only Councilmen Carroll and Stagni voting “FOR” the Deferral. Similarly, the Resolution authorizing the Bond Company to take the next steps with the State Bond Commission passed by a 5-2 vote with Councilmen Carroll and Stagni “Opposed”.

Despite not having any Town Hall meetings or any polling data, Mayor Yenni contended that “I have listened to the people.”

Late Friday afternoon, Mayor Yenni finally agreed to hold a single Town Hall meeting this Wednesday to discuss the plan with Kenner residents. According to his Facebook page, Councilman Reynaud is taking credit for setting up the Town Hall.
If you have questions about the 2030 plan that has been proposed by the economic development committee please come to this meeting that I asked the Mayor to set up,” the Councilman’s Facebook page said.

So, the only Town Hall that the public is invited to to discuss the largest debt issuance in Kenner history wasn't even Mayor Yenni's idea.

It sounds a bit hypocritical to me that Councilmen Black, Branigan, DeFranchesch, Denapolis and Reynaud, who also held ZERO Town Hall meetings with their constituents, sent out ZERO mail surveys, and did ZERO telephone polling, would not want to defer a Resolution on the largest issuance of debt in Kenner history when they previously sought deferrals on items that didn’t concern their districts, were also incomplete or delivered on a Monday for a Thursday vote as this item was.
Of course, we’re talking about Kenner so, I shouldn’t be surprised.

As I've said previously when discussing Mayor Yenni and his Administration:

"When you live in the land of hypocrisy, the skies are always sunny."

Sadly, for Kenner residents, the sun is shining in Yenniville.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Kenner Mayor Whines About Councilman: “Everything I try to do he tries to fight me on it."

As you probably already know, I’m not a big fan of Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s policies. Now, contrary to what you, and Mayor Yenni, may think, I don’t dislike Mayor Yenni. Really.

The fact is, I don’t know Mayor Yenni on that level to determine whether I like or dislike him as a person. And I probably never will know him that way.
No, Mayor Yenni won’t be buying me lunch anytime soon, and, even if he did, I would pay for lunch myself. But, Mayor Yenni, you can stop mailing me invitations to your fundraisers though and save the postage. Don’t know why you took me off the City of Kenner’s Press Release email list (which is free) but you insist on continuing to solicit money from me at every opportunity.

I’ve always tried to be cordial with Mayor Yenni, even when he has not been very cordial with me.
Case in point, the last time I spoke with Mayor Yenni was at a recent Kenner City Council meeting. I was walking (hobbling, actually) to the restroom and the Mayor was walking towards me from the restroom. Our conversation went like this:

ME: “How you doing Mayor Yenni?”
MAYOR YENNI: “Good. Never better.”

And that was it.
The Mayor didn’t ask how my leg was progressing, how my family is, or even take 10 seconds out of his walk back to the Council meeting to make small talk with a Kenner resident.

And, that’s ok. If you know me, you know I’m not really good at small talk anyway.
At last night’s Kenner City Council meeting, Councilmen Joe Stagni and Gregory Carroll offered an amendment to defer a Resolution setting in motion the process for the state to approve almost $47 Million in debt for the City of Kenner. Several citizens, myself included, implored the Council to poll their residents and get more input BEFORE seeking this action. Mayor Yenni was livid and, sadly for the people of Kenner, Councilmen Stagni and Carroll could not get 2 more of their colleagues to see that representing their citizens and getting input from them, was important enough to wait two more council meetings and the Amendment failed by a 5-2 vote.

More on the deferral in my next post.
Given what I know about Mayor Yenni’s temperament, it was not surprising for me to hear him on WRNO 99.5fm this morning, once again blasting people who don’t agree with him.

Like a three-year-old child whose mother won’t give him another cookie, Mayor Yenni always gets defensive and takes things personally, so much so that his voice increases in pitch and he sounds like he’s whining.
Well, on the radio this morning, Mayor Yenni was whining about Councilman Stagni.

Now Councilman Stagni is my councilman and, while we agree on many issues, he will be the first to tell you that we’ve also disagreed on many too. But, we still talk in a courteous manner, Councilman Stagni returns my phone calls and emails when I call/email about an issue, and I think that we have a mutual respect for each other.
I think I have that same give and take relationship with several (although far from all) elected officials.

But, back to Mayor Yenni on the radio.
Lamenting last night’s council meeting and the Amendment offered by Councilman Stagni, Mayor Yenni said, "And everything I try to do he tries to fight me on it.”

So, let’s turn back the clock and look at some of the things recently that Mayor Yenni and Councilman Stagni have disagreed on:

-          Mayor Yenni’s plan to double property taxes. I also disagreed with this as did Councilmen Carroll and Kent Denapolis and 60 – 70% of the voters in Kenner. Sorry Mayor Yenni: Gotta score this one for Councilman Stagni.


-          The Charter Change Banning Yenni’s Political Appointees from participating in political campaigns. Mayor Yenni was against this; the Council voted 7 – 0 to put it on the ballot; I along with 70% of the voters in Kenner approved it. Sorry again Mayor Yenni. Score another for Councilman Stagni.


-          The Charter Change that required Council approval and public input for all contracts valued at over $100,000 per year. Yenni was against this one too; the Council again voted 7 – 0 to put it on the ballot; and, again, I along with 70% of the voters in Kenner approved it. Hate to keep saying it but, score another for Councilman Stagni.


The point of this exercise wasn’t to show that Councilman Stagni is correct on every issue. As I mentioned, Councilman Stagni and I have had some knockdown dragouts over Mayor Yenni’s plan (which Councilman Stagni supported) to give Yenni’s political appointees $200,000 a year in salary increases under the guise of “Auto and Cell Phone Allowances” and several other issues.

Had the Auto/Cell Phone Allowance issue also been put to a vote of the people of Kenner, I’m sure it too would have been defeated by the same 70 – 30% margin, if not more.
No, the point of this exercise is to show that there’s nothing wrong with a Councilman going against the grain and representing the interests of his constituents. Councilmen Stagni and Carroll should be applauded, and the other 5 Councilmembers should look hard in the mirror because not only did they not want to slow this process down and get input from the people, they’ve done little to nothing to inform their constituents about Mayor Yenni’s plan to increase the city’s debt by 32% and approve the largest debt issue in the history of the City of Kenner without a public vote or any public input.

There’s nothing wrong with going against the Mayor when you are on the side of the people you represent. This is America, after all.
You see, when Mayor Yenni puts things to a public vote in Kenner, he loses. A Mayor running for re-election next year can’t keep losing. So, if you can’t win, you change the rules.

Thankfully, since there was public outcry at last night’s council meeting, Mayor Yenni has scheduled a Town Hall meeting to discuss his 2030 Vision on Wednesday night at 7:30pm at the Kenner Pavillion.
Just so you know, I had to get the information from WRNO because the Mayor doesn’t email me anymore. Guess he doesn’t want my readers to attend.

Let’s hope that Mayor Yenni arrives on time for this meeting. If I were you, I would arrive early too. I’m sure that Mayor Yenni will have all of his political appointees and friends there hogging the chairs.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cassidy Makes Senate Run Official; Landry Won’t Stop Rumors

Appearing in Baton Rouge, Metairie, and the North Shore yesterday and starting today with breakfast in Lafayette with my friends Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm, Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-Baton Rouge) is confirming to Louisiana what has been rumored for months: he will run against Senator Mary Landrieu (D-New Orleans) in 2014.

Cassidy, spurred on by recent polls which show some potential kinks in Landrieu’s re-election bid, believes this is an opportunity for Louisiana and the Country.
A poll released this week by SMOR showed that only 37% of those surveyed would “definitely” vote for Landrieu while 34% would “definitely” vote for someone else.

Calling the 2014 race “A historic election”, Cassidy believes that, if he wins, it could help lead to a Republican majority in the Senate and, possibly, the repeal of ObamaCare.
In a video announcing his candidacy, Cassidy said, "As a family, we have decided that I will run for the United States Senate in the election held November 2014 and it's going to be a tough race. I'm running against Sen. Mary Landrieu who's been there for 18 years and against the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama."

Cassidy and his wife Laura are both Doctors. Both blasted Senator Landrieu and President Obama over their support of the Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare) and it’s impact on increasing health care costs.
According to Mrs. Cassidy, ObamaCare "is raising the cost of health insurance, making it difficult for workers to insure their families."

Cassidy is a former registered Democrat who has contributed to the political campaigns of former Governor Kathleen Blanco and the woman that he wants to replace, Senator Landrieu.

While Cassidy is the first Republican to officially announce, he surely will not be the last. Fellow Congressman John Fleming (R-Minden), Chas Roemer current BESE Board Chairman and son of former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and Governor Bobby Jindal have also been rumored to be interested in Landrieu’s seat. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne has already announced that he will seek the Governorship instead of Landrieu’s Senate seat.

“I haven’t ruled anything out,” Fleming said. “The polling I’ve done has made it clear that a conservative Republican can defeat Mary Landrieu. So, whether it’s Bill or I, the critical issue is that Louisianians have a distinct choice.”
And, there may be others.

Former Congressman Jeff Landry (R-Acadiana), a favorite of Tea Party members, continues to dodge questions about his possible interest in Landrieu’s seat.
In a post on RollCall.com, Landry said he will make an announcement next week. He wouldn’t elaborate saying, “I never like to let people open their presents until Christmas Day.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kenner Mayor Trying To Bypass The Public On Bond Refinancing and Added Debt

What is going on with Jefferson Parish elected officials not wanting the public involved in major decisions that will impact them for years to come?

In the past month, the Jefferson Parish Council tried to get the state to cancel the revote on the Crescent City Connection toll extension; the JP Council, at the insistence of Sheriff Newell Normand, approved aresolution seeking to change state law to remove a public referendum so they can sell or lease JP’s two public hospitals without any public input; and now, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni is also trying to circumvent the governing process and remove citizen participation in their government.
In June of 2012, I wrote a two-part column about Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s lack of openness and transparency. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

Unfortunately, Mayor Yenni continues to prove me right.
At Thursday’s Kenner City Council meeting, Mayor Yenni has ordinances up for First Reading regarding the refinancing of bonds and the addition of new debt. In a slick twist, Yenni also has two Resolutions on the Agenda to hasten the speed of the bond refinancing process and Yenni’s 2030 “Vision”, without any real public input.

Of course, citizens will be able to speak out when the ordinances come up for final passage, but, by then, it will be too late.
The Resolutions (Items 13-A and B on the Agenda), essentially commit the City and the Council to Yenni’s “Vision”. They will take debt that was issued in 2003, and due to expire in 2018, and refinance that debt for an additional 15 years. The new bonds would expire in 2033 – 20 years from now.

In addition to refinancing the old debt, Yenni wants to issue $28.6 Million in new debt to fund a myriad of projects. All told, the City will increase its debt by 32% and add $46.4 Million to the City’s debt load.
To get the new bonds, and pay off the old ones, Yenni wants to continue to tie-up $3.2 Million each year through 2033 in Kenner’s sales tax revenue.

The current 2018 bonds carry an interest rate of 4.42%. The new bonds will have an interest rate between 3.25% and 3.5%, so the City will save about 1% in the refinancing. Of course, it will also extend the debt by 15 more years.
If you are refinancing your home, most mortgage brokers will tell you that it doesn’t make fiscal sense to refinance unless your interest rate will drop by at least 1.5%. But, sound fiscal sense doesn't apply in Kenner.

According to the Yenni Administration, the interest rate drop will save the City of Kenner about $60,000 a year in interest, for the remaining 5 years before the 2018 bonds mature. So, about $300,000.
Of course, they don’t tell you how much more in interest costs the City will pay be extending the debt by 15 more years.

By contrast, Jefferson Parish is refinancing $117 Million in bonds and will save over $4 Million by reducing their interest rates to between 1.8% and 2.8%. The Jefferson Parish bonds are for Sewerage and road debt, the Causeway, Courthouse construction, recreation and include $8.5 Million in new bonds for water system work.
Mayor Yenni and his hand-picked Economic Development Committee want to mortgage Kenner’s future to pay for such “critical” projects that include bike paths, public art, beautification (along with a $1 Million fund to continue to pay for the upkeep of the beautification),  and to add some box culverts to improve the “aesthetics” of some of Kenner’s drainage canals.

Did Mayor Yenni’s Economic Development Committee provide funding for any projects that will actually impact Kenner’s Economic Development? Of course not.
These projects will create ZERO new jobs in Kenner. They will create ZERO new businesses in Kenner and they do nothing to secure Kenner’s financial future.

In fact, as I asked last month, since these bonds are tied to Sales Tax revenue, what happens if the Esplanade Mall continues to decline or closes? What happens to these bonds if Kenner residents cut back on their purchases if Governor Jindal’s plan to increase the state sales tax passes? What if more Kenner residents use the internet for their purchases and create no sales tax revenue for the state or city?
On Monday, the City of Stockton, CA, became the latest, and largest, US city to file for bankruptcy protection because it is unable to continue to pay its bondholders.

Yet, Mayor Yenni wants to put Kenner in the same precarious financial position as Stockton and dozens of other US cities, while creating no new jobs or businesses or paying for any badly needed infrastructure or police or fire equipment.
Of course, in 2033, who knows where Mayor Yenni or the current city council will be. We do know that none of them will be around to pick up the pieces.
The Mayor and his Economic Development Committee are convinced that Kenner will undergo a “renaissance” if we put some trees in medians and add some bike paths.

At the Mayor’s recent “Listening Session”, not one person said, “Let’s increase our city’s debt by 32% and build some bike paths.”
While I haven't ridden my bike in over a year, I have nothing against bike paths. I just don't think I should have to pay for them for the next 20 years.
So, this bond refinancing and added debt for Kenner creates no new jobs or businesses, and will hamstring Kenner’s finances for the next 20 years. Sounds like a great deal, right?

Two years ago, when Mayor Yenni tried to double the property taxes in Kenner, he spoke at every Civic Association that would have him and tried to sell Kenner on his vision then. Obviously, that tactic didn’t work and the Mayor’s property tax plan went down in flames as Kenner residents didn’t drink the Mayor’s Kool-Aid.
Now, Yenni wants to ram this through the Kenner City Council before the people of Kenner, even some Council members, even know what hit them.

Is it any wonder that Mayor Yenni isn’t having any public hearings about this and hasn’t given the Kenner City Council enough time to poll their residents and learn what the people of Kenner want?
Obviously, Mayor Yenni doesn’t want you to know, even if you’ll be stuck with the tab for the next 20 years.

Hopefully, the City Council will have the fortitude to slow down Mayor Yenni’s “Vision” and get some input from their constituents.

If not, I sure hope you enjoy your shiny new bike paths.

You’ll be paying for them every year for the next two decades.