Friday, August 2, 2013

Kenner Councilman Carroll Pushes Back Against Mayor’s Political Attack

In an impassioned statement at last night’s Kenner City Council meeting, District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll spoke to his constituents and the people of Kenner regarding Mayor Yenni’s political attack on Carroll over the Councilman’s use of a take-home vehicle to commute to his job in Orleans Parish.

Mayor Yenni, who chose to contact the media, the State Attorney General’s Office, the Inspector General and the U.S. Justice Department rather than pick up the phone and discuss the situation with Councilman Carroll, claims that Carroll’s daily commute is a “misappropriation of funds” and, possibly, criminal.

In 2007, the Kenner City Council approved a $500 per month auto allowance for themselves or the use of a city take-home vehicle. In 2012, after Councilman Carroll’s personal vehicle had issues, the Councilman chose to accept a take-home vehicle.

Mayor Yenni gave Carroll, who frequently disagrees with the Mayor, a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria which, at the time, was the oldest vehicle in Kenner’s take-home fleet.

Yenni is now criticizing Councilman Carroll for the high cost of maintaining a 14-year-old vehicle.

“The vehicle I was given required numerous repairs before it was even safe to drive,” Councilman Carroll said. “I did not burn through the tires, crack the windshield, use up the brakes,” among other mechanical issues that the car had when it was given to Carroll.

Councilman Carroll also cited opinions from the State Ethics Board and the Legislative Auditor and placed blame upon the Yenni Administration for not having a policy regarding use of take-home vehicles.

“In light of the opinions of the Louisiana Ethics Commission and the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, I do not believe that any violations have been committed but, should I be informed of any by these agencies, I will take the necessary corrective actions, at that time,” Carroll said.

Councilman Carroll also discussed a recent Times-Picayune article in which the Councilman is quoted as comparing his use of a take-home vehicle to commute to his job was similar to police officers using take-home vehicles.

Carroll said that the statement was taken out of context.

“I spoke with Chief Caraway this week privately. My statements were in no way meant to suggest that my job is the same as these officers that work every day to protect our safety.”

Carroll also questioned Mayor Yenni’s motivations for the political attack and why Yenni or the City Attorney couldn't just pick up the phone to discuss the car instead of going to the media.

“I have been asked by District 1 residents, my colleagues and even the media if this was an attack on me by the Mayor. My answer is: I don’t know. But, I do know that I have disagreed with him on several issues.
I voted ‘No’ to increase the City’s sewer fees. I voted ‘No’ to the doubling of our taxes. I voted ‘No’ to the closing of playgrounds, particularly the Lincoln Manor playground. I did not and could not support the sale of streets in District 1, that would have resulted in one-way in and one-way out to historic Black cemeteries, not to mention the safety concerns for people visiting their loved ones final resting place. I voted ‘No’ on the bond refinancing plan, not because I wanted to stop progress but because of the length that it extended the debt of the city and refusing to let the will of the people be addressed.

I have disagreed with the Mayor based upon what I have been told by the residents of District 1. I want everyone to know that I will always vote based upon the wishes of the residents of District 1 and if these attacks are the result of my votes, you can expect more attacks against me because I will always honor the wishes of District 1 residents and the citizens of Kenner.”