Friday, July 19, 2013

WWL-TV Questions Kenner Car “Donation”

There’s an old joke that goes,

“How do you tell when a politician is lying?”
“His mouth is open.”

Nowhere is that joke more true than in Kenner with Mayor Mike Yenni.
Unfortunately, since Mayor Yenni rarely has any on-camera or face-to-face conversations with members of the media, he also lies even more in his public statements.

Now, to be honest, I’ve written many times about Mayor Yenni and his lies. If you need a refresher, click here.
Or here.

Thursday night, WWL-TV ran a report about a 21-year-old SUV that was donated to Kenner and listed some of Mayor Yenni’s expenses. Unfortunately, not all of the available information was included in the report and Mayor Yenni did his best to lie to the reporter and spin the story.

That’s what a politician like Mayor Yenni does best – spin.
The story discussed Mayor Yenni spending $2,100 to repair and upgrade a vehicle that is essentially worthless.

Mayor Yenni even admitted on camera that the vehicle was worthless.
“To us, that’s a small price to pay for a car with low mileage,” Yenni said. “Yes, the Blue Book says it’s worth nothing, but everybody who trades their car in thinks it’s worth a helluva lot more than they actually get for it.”

But, the $2,100 spending amount is only the First Lie.
I’m sorry Mayor Yenni but you can’t purchase 4 top-of-the-line tires, new wheels, a sound system, flashing blue-lights, a complete new interior, window tinting, a new transmission, a police radio and more or even do the routine maintenance to get a 21-year-old vehicle out of mothballs, for $2,100, even if city employees provided the labor.

The flashing lights and sound system alone would run several thousand dollars, possibly as much as $10,000.

Lie Number 2
“We thought it was a good grab for a vehicle that’s not going to be used every day, but only for emergency purposes,” he said. “And it’s gone through emergencies in Jefferson Parish since 1992 when it was purchased.”

The vehicle has “gone through emergencies” since 1992 and it has less than 50,000 miles on it? In Jefferson Parish?
The reality is, this vehicle remained in storage for 17 years and was lightly driven just to keep its engine operational.

Besides, the City of Kenner purchased a few dozen Chevy SUVS for the KPD in the past 2 years and there are other SUVs and a pickup truck in Mayor Yenni’s private fleet that could also be used for “emergencies” like piling in City employees for a recent trip to Baton Rouge to visit the State Bond Commission.

Lie Number 3
The reason that this Chevy Suburban was so lightly driven is that it was Mayor Yenni’s uncle’s vehicle when his uncle was Jefferson Parish President until his death in 1995.

“As for the connection to his uncle, Yenni said he didn’t find out about it until his fleet manager was inspecting the vehicle.”
Really? If anyone believes that I have a former Mississippi River Toll Bridge to sell you.

No one can possibly believe that Mayor Yenni didn’t realize that a 21-year-old SUV that was kept under a tarp in a City of Kenner Maintenance Garage under video surveillance wasn’t his uncle’s.
First, why would an old, worthless vehicle have video surveillance cameras monitoring it and second, I would bet Mayor Yenni may have even been a passenger in it or saw the Suburban at family gatherings.

And, if it wasn’t used by the late-uncle Yenni and had "sentimental" value, why wasn’t the vehicle disposed of after 7 years per Jefferson Parish’s Fleet Management guidelines?

Lie Number 4
“If anything, Yenni said the vehicle shows how thrifty he is. He takes great pride in his penny-pinching reputation, noting how he gave up a $2,500 expense allowance enjoyed by previous mayors.”

While true, that Mayor Yenni did give up the cash portion of his auto allowance, he still drives a City of Kenner vehicle.
In fact, according to information provided to the Legislative Auditor, he drives several.

Vehicles in Mayor Yenni’s personal fleet include:
1). A 2006 Ford Expedition

2). A 2003 Ford Crown Victoria
3). A 2007 Dodge Ram pickup truck

4). A 2006 Ford Excursion
5). A 2010 Ford Crown Victoria

6). The aforementioned 1992 Chevy Suburban.

In addition, I'm told that each of these vehicles (and the Mayor's personal vehicle) are also equipped with flashing blue police lights possibly in violation of state law.
In March, the Legislative Auditor cited the Mayor of Westlake, LA saying “Mayor Cupit had emergency, blue flashing lights installed on his City vehicle, which may have violated state law.”

The Westlake Mayor was also cited for using a City vehicle for personal purposes, the value of which “should be calculated and included as part of the Mayor’s compensation.” So, while Mayor Yenni is not taking cash, he is getting compensation in the form of the personal use of the vehicles and, since the IRS has declared that commuting to and from work is not deductible and a personal expense, each time the Mayor drives from his house to City Hall, the tax payers of Kenner are compensating him.
I wonder if anyone has looked at Mayor Yenni’s W-2s lately?

You would think that, with all of these vehicles at his disposal, Mayor Yenni would have given Kenner Councilman Gregory Carroll (the only member of the Kenner City Council that opted to take a city vehicle instead of the $500 monthly auto allowance afforded to Councilmembers) a nicer vehicle than the 1999 model that Yenni bestowed on the District 1 Councilman.
 Perhaps we’ll hear Mayor Yenni’s answer to that question next week when WDSU investigates.

Lie Number 5
“Yenni chalks up the whole cloak-and-dagger scrutiny of the Chevy Suburban to the contentious Kenner political climate.”

Of course he does. Everything is the fault of Kenner's "Army of Critics", myself included.
Look, the reality is, while I am all for cutting government waste and exposing abuse, I’m also in the process of trying to stop Mayor Yenni from selling up to $47 Million in bonds and adding to the debt of the city. If anyone believes or even thinks that I or CFBK could get a news organization like WWL involved and devote 4:30 of their news time to cover a story about $2,100 in repairs to an old SUV, you’re giving us way too much credit.

WWL knows there is more to this, otherwise they wouldn't have put the time into airing the piece.

There was far more than $2,100 spent on this vehicle. We’ve just scratched the surface. Unfortunately, so did the WWL report.

Lie Number 6
“The only thing nostalgic about (the Chevy Suburban), that I see, is that I used my grandfather’s motto: “Do not spend what you do not have.”

How Mayor Yenni can say that with a straight face, on the same night that the Kenner City Council approved the final vote authorizing Yenni to borrow up to $47 Million plus interest, is astounding. He really does deserve an Academy Award nomination.


Well, that’s 6 lies in 4 ½ minutes by Mayor Yenni. Of course, he wasn’t on camera for the entire 4 ½ minute story. But, only 6 lies? It must have been a slow day for the Mayor or very creative editing at WWL.

Here’s a link to the story by WWL-TV Investigative Reporter Mike Perlstein.