Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Now Kenner Mayor Yenni Wants To Give a $2.1 Million No-Bid Contract To Another Campaign Contributor

Not content with divvying up over $600,000 in no-bid contracts to the 9th and 13th ranked firms, who just happen to be significant campaign contributors to Mayor Yenni and every member of the Kenner City Council, now Yenni is trying to push through a $2.1 Million no-bid contract to another large campaign contributor.

On tomorrow’s Kenner City Council agenda, tucked in at Item number 16-B and up for First Reading, is “An ordinance approving an agreement with Linfield Hunter & Junius, Inc. in an amount not to exceed $2,150,000 for program management professional services associated with the Kenner 2030 Plan for the Department of Public Works.”

At the last Kenner Council meeting, District 4 Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch vehemently defended Mayor Yenni’s right to give out no-bid contracts, going so far as to cite state law (along with a bogus Federal law that has no impact on localities) that states that price cannot be a consideration in certain professional services contracts.

“Price is a secondary factor – it is negotiated after a vendor is selected,” DeFrancesch said.
“If you cannot come to an agreement that is fair with the first company (selected), you go to the second. Then, you can go to number three. You can pick up to three that is (sic) reasonable”.

Of course, Councilwoman DeFranchesch, in her haste to curry favor with Mayor Yenni and defend him from criticism, failed to mention that, at least in America, the counting process is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13 and not 9-13.

As a former school teacher who never fails to remind us that fact ad nauseum, DeFranchesch should know how to count.

After all, Common Core hasn’t been implemented yet and DeFranchesch, while first claiming to be “retired” before it was disclosed that she actually was on disability from the Jefferson Parish Public School System, hasn’t been involved in education for years.

DeFranchesch also failed to mention that, next to Mayor Yenni himself, she was the biggest pig at the campaign contribution trough raking in almost $5,000 from the two companies that received the no-bid contracts.

And, while Councilwoman DeFranchesch, in defending Mayor Yenni, claimed that design work was not subject to the state’s bid laws, this particular contract with Linfield Hunter & Junius is a completely different animal.

This contract calls for $1,725,000 for “basic services for program management” and $425,000 for “professional supplementary services.”

Those “professional supplementary services” are further broken down as $350,000 for “Coordination and Management of Resident Inspection Services to be performed by Consultants” and $75,000 for “Preparation of specifications for a maintenance plan for all landscape related work. Work includes assisting OWNER with bid process (as need be)”.

There is some design work involved in the contract, but it is minimal. Instead, the contract lists Personnel as including “Accountant/Business Manager”, “Abstractor/Appraiser”, “Archaeologist”, “Biologist/Wetland Ecologist”, Survey Crews, “Clerical/Administrative”, “Computer Analyst”, “Economist”, “Historian”, and other various personnel.

The original proposal from GCR disclosed the need for a Program Manager. However, I don’t think a $2.15 Million no-bid contract was what GCR had in mind.

Rafe Rabalais, a consultant from GCR & Associates who presented the document to the committee, recommended Kenner hire a staff member to specifically focus on the making sure the all goals are accomplished.

"We need somebody to mind the store," he said.

So, how exactly did it go from a “staff member” to a $2.15 Million no-bid contract?

Oh, I think you already know the answer to that one.

That’s right – contributions to Mayor Yenni’s campaign account.

Linfield Hunter & Junius, and their principals, have contributed $8,248 to Mayor Yenni’s campaign. And, I’m sure more will be on the way for his 2014 campaign.

In a required affidavit, Linfield Hunter & Junius also disclosed that they gave $500 to District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud, $250 to District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll and, you guessed it, $500 to Councilwoman DeFranchesch.

Oink. Oink. 

Not listed in the affidavit is a $2,500 contribution to District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni.

When contacted, Councilman Stagni confirmed the contribution but said that, while it was received in 2009, it was for an earlier 1998 campaign. This fact was confirmed by the Louisiana Ethics Board.

The affidavit states that it lists all contributions for current and past terms, so the contribution for a 1998 campaign was not required to be listed by Linfield Hunter & Junius.

In 2012, the voters of Kenner approved a Charter Change to require Council approval and include public comment of all no-bid professional services contracts with a value of $100,000 and above sought by the Mayor.

When Mayor Yenni gave out the $600,000+ in no-bid contracts to his contributors, bypassing many other more qualified firms, except for a question from Councilman Stagni, there was not another peep from any other council member.

No debate. No disclosure of their receipt of contributions. And it goes without saying that Mayor Yenni didn’t disclose the $12,500 that he personally received.

Certainly not the kind of oversight that I believe the people of Kenner were seeking when they approved the Charter Change by a 70-30% margin (over the vehement protestations of Mayor Yenni).

It will be interesting to see if there is any debate or discussion at all regarding this contract which represents a significant portion of the debt that Mayor Yenni rammed down Kenner residents throats gutlessly without giving them the opportunity to approve or disapprove of his “vision” at the ballot box.

It will also be interesting to see if Councilwoman DeFranchesch again grabs the microphone to defend this continued shameful practice by Mayor Yenni.

Kenner residents already know that Mayor Yenni can’t fight his own battles.

Until the last council meeting we didn’t know that he needed to hide behind the skirt of retired, disabled school teacher.

Did I mention that Mayor Yenni is hosting a "Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser" for Councilwoman DeFranchesch's impending bid to be promoted to Councilman-At-Large?

Yenni has been very busy hosting fundraisers for members of the Council lately including one this week for District 5 Councilman Kent Denapolis' impending bid to also be promoted to Councilman-At-Large and recently for Councilman Reynaud.

Yeah, when it comes to spending other people's money and leaning on city contractors for political contributions, Mayor Yenni is in a league of his own. 

Oh, and did I mention that the price tag for Mayor Yenni’s 2030 Plan has now ballooned from $29 Million to $37 Million?

Did someone hear an "Oink"?

We’ll talk more about that later.