Monday, July 29, 2013

Press Release Yields Clues Into Kenner Mayor’s 2030 Plan Deception

The news by Kenner officials heralding a $420,000 grant from the state to pay for a study involving a portion of Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s 2030 Plan piqued the interest of Times-Picayune Columnist Jim Varney and the city’s Press Release offered more clues into Yenni’s true plans and also his deceptiveness.

The study will focus on Williams Blvd. from Airline to 33rd Street. In 2008, a similar study focused on a portion of the same stretch of Williams and cost only $80,000.
When Yenni’s 2030 Plan was announced, I had several issues with the plan. No, I’m not against beautification and I agree that Kenner could use a facelift or, at least, a sprucing up.

My primary issues were that I didn’t think Kenner should go into debt for the next 20 years for Mayor Yenni’s plan and hamstring future Mayors and Councils with his decisions and I firmly believed (and still do, by the way) that any project this massive should be approved by the voters.
I was also concerned that no traffic and engineering studies had been completed to see if any of these projects even warranted funding and that none of the projects proposed were dedicated. At one of the meetings held after Mayor Yenni went to the State Bond Commission and the City Council, he and his landscape architect Greg Cantrell noted that the projects and the project funding could be moved to other projects at the discretion of the Mayor.

At several council meetings, District 4 Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch said that the 10 proposed projects “weren’t written in stone”.
So, essentially, the $28 Million in new debt that the city incurred could be used by Mayor Yenni for any capital project that he, or the Council, approved.

For all intents and purposes, the $28 Million is a giant slush fund controlled by Mayor Yenni.
Think I’m exaggerating?

“I am so thankful to both agencies (the Regional Planning Commission and the State DOTD) because that is $420,000 now directly available for other improvements,” Yenni said.
Uh, specifically, what “other projects” Mayor?

But, there’s more from the same press release courtesy of Regional Planning Commission (RPC) Executive Director Walter Brooks:
“There’s potentially even better news in the future for Kenner, as Brooks said the Williams Boulevard corridor improvement work could be funded by the RPC…”

“’I think once we see what kind of recommendations are coming from the feasibility study that could be a great project to place in our construction program,’ Brooks said.”
So, it’s not just a $420,000 study. 2 of the 3 biggest ticket items in Mayor Yenni’s 2030 Plan totaling Millions of dollars and over 60% of the money that the City of Kenner borrowed “could be funded by the RPC”.

If that’s true, why did Kenner borrow all this money anyway and where are the Millions that Yenni said the city was spending on these projects going?

And, why didn’t Mayor Yenni find out what “could be funded” by other groups before asking the State Bond Commission and the City Council to borrow money that the people of Kenner will be paying back for the next 20 years?
One last question: since the City Council is supposed to the stewards of our tax dollars and represent the people of Kenner, why aren’t they asking the Mayor these same questions?

Obviously, Mayor Yenni has many on the Kenner City Council fooled. Unfortunately for him, he has only some of Kenner's residents still fooled.