Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dem’s Scream – “Get Hurricane Mary Away From the Microphones”

Coming up next on “Worst Jobs In America”, meet the Press Aide for Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.

That’s a job that you couldn’t pay me enough to fill.
Lately, it seems that every time Senator Landrieu opens her mouth she put her proverbial pedicured foot in it.

Beginning with her combative comments to constituent Larry Katz’s testimony about the effects of ObamaCare at a Senate Small Business Committee hearing that Landrieu chaired, Landrieu seemed to be in a downward spiral.
Who gets combative with one of their own constituents anyway? Especially someone who owns multiple restaurants and has created more private sector jobs that Landrieu has in her lifetime.

Now, admittedly, I doubt if Mr. Katz, who is the owner of Dot’s Diners, is a “Landrieu voter”. But, still, who goes after a constituent?
At the same committee hearing, Landrieu also said that there are a “few glitches” with ObamaCare.

Talk about the understatement of the year.
Perhaps Senator Landrieu missed the news that President Obama is so concerned about the impact of ObamaCare that he postponed some of its implementation until after next year’s midterm elections to help save the political lives of some Democrats including, possibly, Senator Landrieu’s.

And speaking of “midterm”, Senator Landrieu’s comments later in the week regarding 20-week abortions being “midterm” were also surprising.
According to Senator Landrieu, she will not support lowering the ban on abortions to 20 weeks. Since Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has declared that banning abortions after 24 weeks is acceptable.

Well, it’s acceptable to the Supreme Court anyway.
Most Americans support lowering the ban to 20 weeks, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. Neither are bastions of Conservative thought.

While the poll did not discuss Louisiana specifically, I’m sure the results are even stronger here in favor of lowering the ban to 20 weeks.
But, Senator Landrieu says that she can’t support the House bill that lowered the ban to 20 weeks.

Of course, Senator Landrieu also refuses to admit that Louisiana is a Red State, despite Louisiana having 5 out of 6 Congressmen who are Republican; every Statewide-elected office held by a Republican; and elected Democrats leaving their party on an almost weekly basis to become Republicans.
Louisiana is not a Red State or a Blue State “I think it’s a Purple State”, Landrieu said in a radio interview on KEEL-AM in Shreveport.

Senator Landrieu also said, “I’ve just tried to be independent for Louisiana.”
Really? I can’t believe the radio hosts didn’t break out laughing at that statement.

The deciding vote on ObamaCare – that was being “independent for Louisiana”?
Selling your vote – that was being “independent for Louisiana”?

Voting 95% of the time with the Democratic Party and President Obama – that was being “independent for Louisiana”?
95% is the new definition of "Independent"?
I guess when you can’t tell your Reds from your Blues, when it comes to independence, it’s all shades of gray for Senator Landrieu.

Or, rather, shades of purple.

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Never Knew That Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni Won A Hot Sausage Eating Contest

You learn something new everyday.

There's a new cartoon video about Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni that was posted this morning on YouTube that claims the Mayor won a hot sausage eating contest in college. I knew that Mayor Yenni liked Twinkies and Ding Dongs but I didn't realize that he is a prolific hot sausage eater.

Didn't know that the Mayor liked to "get his groove on" to "It's Raining Men" by the Weather Girls either, so I guess I learned a couple of new things today.

Take a look. It's a funny video (unless of course, you're Mayor Yenni).


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.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mary Landrieu’s Curious Position On Abortion

While the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions 20 weeks after conception, the bill is facing stiff opposition in the Democratically-controlled Senate and, once again, the focus is on Louisiana’s Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu.

Speaking to The Weekly Standard, Landrieu said:

I do support, you know, the current constitutional outline which provides for decisions to be made which are very private in, you know, the early stages of pregnancy. So, I'm going to have to look at that bill and make a decision. I've opposed last-term abortion, but 20 weeks is midterm."
 What? While technically 20 weeks may be “midterm” just as 40 might be “middle-age”, at 20 weeks a fetus is more than capable of living on its own.

In the New York Times, Senator Landrieu whined that a vote on abortion was a “tough vote”.
“Look, I’ve taken a lot of tough votes,” said Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who added that she doubted she could support a ban at 20 weeks. “That’s what I’m here for, to take tough votes. And if we have to take it, we take it.”

Benjamin Clapper, the Executive Director of Louisiana Right To Life, tried to set Senator Landrieu straight when she informed the group that she was on the fence about the 20 week abortion ban.
"The babies at question here could live outside the womb," Clapper said. "They are almost completely developed. It is unfortunate that a senator from our pro-life state would have to think hard about this common-sense legislation."

Regardless of what color state Senator Landrieu believes Louisiana is (and, newsflash, we are a Red State), Louisiana residents are decidedly Pro-Life.
In fact, according to a Washington Post/ABC News Poll released this week, by a 56% to 27% margin, Americans favor banning abortion 20 weeks after conception.

So, the question remains, if the Democratic Senate Leaders allow for a vote on the House bill, will Senator Landrieu represent Louisiana voters or will she represent the National Democratic Party?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

As If You Needed Another Reason To NOT Watch Bill Maher

I subscribe to HBO and I have for many years. Admittedly, I subscribe primarily to watch Boxing on Saturday nights, the occasional movie, and excellent shows like “Game of Thrones”, “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Newsroom”.

One thing that I don’t watch on HBO is the show hosted by alleged “Comedian” Bill Maher.
Now, I don’t watch because Bill Maher is a liberal – I don’t watch because I don’t think Bill Maher is funny and I think he’s hateful.

Last night on Maher’s show, the “Comedian” called God “a psychotic mass-murderer”.
BILL MAHER: Explain to me how a book that’s written by God who’s perfect has so much – it’s pro-slavery, pro-polygamy, it’s homophobic. Yeah, God in the Old Testament is a psychotic mass-murderer. You know, this, I mean, there’s so many things in it. And I always say to my religious friends, you know, if a pool had even one turd in it, would you jump in?

Whether Maher believes in God or not is not the issue, he obviously doesn’t. But to mock the rights of others who are believers, to call God names, to mock the parables that Jesus used to describe God to us, well, that’s downright hateful.

In fact, Maher’s hate isn’t reserved for God – he spews his hate on anyone who happens to disagree with him.
Last week, Maher attacked neurosurgeon (and Conservative) Dr. Ben Carson.

“He’s half brilliant brain surgeon, half Tea Party dumba**. He doesn’t just operate on conjoined twins, he is one,” Maher said.
He also called Dr. Carson “a drooling idiot”.

Now even someone like Bill Maher is entitled to his opinions but, when comedy breeds hate, I think that crosses the line.
So, just as I will defend Maher’s right to free speech, I will also exercise my own right by sending a note to HBO and asking why they are promoting hate and giving Maher a platform to attack a good man like Dr. Carson and God.

And I’ll continue to exercise my rights by not tuning in to Maher’s “Comedy” show.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Yenni’s Political Attack On Councilman Shines a Light On Kenner's Hypocritical Auto Allowances (Again)

The Hall-of-Fame Baseball Catcher and Manager Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like deja-vu, all over again” and that’s what it feels like in Kenner due to Mayor Yenni’s political attack on City Councilman Gregory Carroll’s use of a City of Kenner vehicle to commute to the Councilman’s day job in Orleans Parish.

For several years, I have been an outspoken critic of auto allowances for City of Kenner employees and the City Council.
Mayor Yenni and the City Attorney had always stuck to their guns that auto allowances were “reimbursements” although there were no mileage logs kept by city employees to reimburse.

Mayor Yenni even tried to get the Attorney General to verify that these payments were “reimbursements”.
The AG saw right through Yenni’s smokescreen.

In response to several questions from the Mayor, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said:
“A threshold issue of this opinion request is whether a car allowance is “compensation” as understood by the Charter. Your opinion request takes the position that this is a reimbursement rather than compensation. However, nothing in your opinion request indicates that employees submit mileage or any other kind of evidence of actual expenditures related to the use of personal vehicles for which they are reimbursed. Rather, it appears employees are given monthly flat amounts, regardless of much use of their personal vehicles actually occurs on any given month. Also, as your letter indicates, the car allowance is reported as taxable income on the employees W-2 form for IRS purposes. These facts seem to contradict the assertion that the car allowance is merely a reimbursement of the employee’s expenses.” Attorney General Opinion 12-0136.

Last year, Mayor Yenni tried again to include the auto allowances, along with cell phone and data allowances, in the city’s annual budget.
After more citizen complaints and District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni telling the Mayor again that the auto and cell/data allowances were illegal, Yenni relented and put an ordinance before the council to “legitimize” the formerly illegal compensation.

In addition to “legitimizing” the illegal payments, Mayor Yenni also expanded the program to include additional employees and additional compensation, all while proclaiming to the media that he was saving Kenner over $125,000 a year.
We’ve already pointed out several times Mayor Yenni’s issues with math.

Mayor Yenni’s plan specified several Levels of Responsibility and doled out payments accordingly.
Level 1, “The Highest Level of Responsibility”, receives a $400 per month auto allowance, a $100 per month cell phone allowance, and a $50 per month data allowance. $550 per month or an additional $6,600 per year to commute from their Kenner homes to City Hall and for using their own cellphones on the job.

Level 1 is reserved for Yenni’s top and highest paid Political Appointees including CAO Mike Quigley, Deputy CAO Natalie Newton, Finance Director Duke McConnell and City Attorney Keith Conley.
Level 2, “The High Level of Responsibilty”, receives a $300 per month auto allowances, a $75 per month cell phone allowance, and a $50 per month data allowance. $425 per month or an additional $5,100 per year to commute from their Kenner homes to City Hall and for using their own cellphones on the job.

Level 2 is reserved for every City Director, the Clerk of Court, Deputy and Asst. City Attorneys, 1 of Mayor Yenni’s Executive Assistants, and 3 other Assistants to the Mayor.
Level 3, “The Moderate Level of Responsibilty”, allows for a $200 per month auto allowance, a $50 per month cell phone allowance and a $50 per month data allowance.

Level 3 includes all city Assistant Directors.
Not content with just spreading Kenner tax dollars to his Political Appointees, Mayor Yenni also spread the wealth among several Classified employees with auto, cell phone and data allowances of their own.

The ordinance approved by the council states, “Any position listed in this ordinance that is provided with a city vehicle to perform their assigned tasks will not be allowed a vehicle allowance.”
I guess I don’t understand how driving from your house to City Hall to do your job constitutes an “assigned task”.

So, if fake auto allowances are ok for Yenni’s highly paid Political Appointees, why the issue with a City Councilman, who by law is allowed to receive a $500 per month auto allowance or a city vehicle?
The ordinance that the Council approved last year doesn’t cover the Council. They have their own ordinance which allows them $500 per month as a car allowance or the use of a city vehicle.

That ordinance has been on the books for over 5 years through all of Mayor Yenni’s current term and even before that when he was the CAO.
Yet, Mayor Yenni had no issue with it then.

And, why does Mayor Yenni think it's ok for his Political Appointees, some of whom earn over $100,000 from Kenner taxpayers, to get auto, cell phone and data allowances or cars and simply commute back and forth to City Hall and make money on top of using their personal cell phones (who has a cell phone plan that costs $150 per month for one line?), but not Kenner Councilmen who earn less than $25,000 a year and actually use their vehicles to attend the Mayor’s Ribbon Cuttings, Press Conferences, “Listening Sessions”, meetings at City Hall and in other areas of the city; and report on street light outages, sewerage issues, code enforcement issues and street flooding, among other things?
So, why the issue with Councilman Carroll now?

Political payback, pure and simple.

Does anyone really believe that Councilman Carroll’s vote against Mayor Yenni’s plan to increase Kenner’s debt by $42 Million and his opposition to Yenni’s plan to sell streets and displace residents in Carroll’s District, isn’t the cause of Mayor Yenni mysteriously realizing that Councilman Carroll has a city vehicle and why Yenni is pushing this issue now in the media and with the Attorney General?
If you believe that Yenni’s motives are pure and not purely political, I have a former Mississippi River Toll Bridge that I can sell you.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mayor Yenni Now Targetting Kenner Councilman Carroll

Not content with launching personal attacks and setting his political consultant loose on me and a private citizens group, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni is also targeting another person who has disagreed with the Mayor’s policies: Kenner District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll.

Mayor Yenni, who as we’ve already reported, has 6 city vehicles at his disposal, is now trying to make an issue of Councilman Carroll’s use of city vehicle to commute to his day job in Orleans Parish.
After receiving complaints from Kenner residents about the expanded use of take-home vehicles by city employees and the council, several years ago the City Council approved a plan to provide themselves with a $500 per month auto allowance or a city vehicle.

In granting themselves a $500 monthly stipend, the Council put no limitations or restrictions upon themselves. They are free to drive their personal cars wherever and whenever they wish, even if they don’t log enough miles for you and I to justify $500 per month in gas and other auto-related expenses.
In fact, the $500 per month auto allowance is essentially income that the councilmembers can use for anything they want whether it’s a shopping spree, a trip to the casino or a lease payment on a Mercedes-Benz. The same is true for Mayor Yenni's Political Appointees and their auto allowances. There are no mileage logs or any justification for the auto allowances by either the Council or the Mayor.

Councilman Carroll opted for a city vehicle instead of the $500 monthly payments.
“I didn’t feel right taking a cash payment and I believe this actually saves Kenner residents money,” Councilman Carroll said.

It should also be noted that when Councilman Carroll requested a city vehicle, Mayor Yenni gave him a 1999 model, which was then oldest vehicle in Kenner’s fleet.
As I wrote the other day, Mayor Yenni  pats himself on the back by publicly proclaiming that he doesn’t receive an auto allowance but he has 6 vehicles available for his personal use including:

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 1992 Chevy Suburban that was his uncle’s Jefferson Parish vehicle
All 6 are maintained, fueled and insured by Kenner taxpayers.

Fox 8 ran a story Tuesday night about Councilman Carroll’s use of a city vehicle and Mayor Yenni’s issue with driving it to and from Orleans Parish.

In the Fox 8 story, Mayor Yenni was interviewed in his office sitting on a rocking chair. Councilman Carroll, well he was ambushed by a reporter lying in wait for him to leave his job and walk to his car.
The obvious question is: Mayor Yenni has the time in his schedule to sit down with a TV reporter for a leisurely interview (he was sitting in a rocking chair!) but he can’t pick up the phone and call an elected official who represents Kenner residents?

Perhaps if Mayor Yenni wasn’t doing 2-a-days at the Gym, binge-eating  and sitting around with his political consultant making up fake stories for the media to chase to attack anyone who disagrees with him, Yenni might have more time to actually converse with a Councilman.

Mayor Yenni is holding “Listening Sessions” to improve Kenner’s political climate. How about picking up the phone next time Mayor Yenni and calling a Councilman instead of alerting the media? That might help improve Kenner’s political climate.
The story also said that Mayor Yenni was unaware that Councilman Carroll used the car to commute to Orleans Parish for his job, and Yenni was not aware of any money was deducted from Councilman Carroll’s paycheck for the personal use of the vehicle.

There are several questionable references in that comment.
First, how does Mayor Yenni NOT know that Councilman Carroll works in Orleans Parish. I know it. I also know what each of the other councilmembers do for a living too – the ones who work anyway. I’m sure Mayor Yenni does too. Why the Fox 8 reporter didn’t question Yenni about that tidbit, is a mystery.

So, what does Councilman Carroll do in his day-job in Orleans Parish? Carroll helps prisoners gain employment in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. Last time I looked, Kenner was in Jefferson Parish.
"’I had an opportunity to work with a population that is important to me and dear to me, not only for the City of New Orleans but for the City of Kenner," says Councilman Carroll.

Carroll says he believes his job with the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office as an employment specialist, benefits the City of Kenner.

His job description is to assist probation and parolees.”

Second, Mayor Yenni could have contacted the Finance Department and asked them to verify if the proper amount of money or if any money was deducted from Councilman Carroll’s check. In fact, Yenni should have taken this step BEFORE inferring to the Fox 8 reporter that Councilman Carroll didn’t have any money deducted from his check.
According to Councilman Carroll, money has been deducted from his check for the vehicle use.

Now, I have not personally verified this. I guess I could file a Public Records Request but since the two that I’ve filed in the last year were characterized by Mayor Yenni’s political consultant as “mountains”, that might not be such a good idea.
And how far is Councilman Carroll’s commute that is driven in a City of Kenner vehicle with city gas? According to Councilman Carroll, 13 miles roundtrip daily. 65 miles a week. 260 miles per month.

Even if the mileage estimate is on the low end and it was 20 miles roundtrip, that's still only 100 miles a week and still far less then the mileage some city employees put on their take-home vehicles when they reside outside of Jefferson Parish.

I don’t know how many miles per gallon Councilman Carroll’s 1999 city vehicle gets but, 260 miles a month probably doesn’t even cost City of Kenner residents a tankful of gas.
Has anyone checked Mayor Yenni’s taxes to see if he has paid for the personal use and gas, and the personal portion of the maintenance and insurance on the 6 vehicles Yenni uses?

Yenni also claims that the city had to pay $2,000 in maintenance for the 14-year-old vehicle assigned to Councilman Carroll.
So, is the Mayor saying that the vehicle wouldn’t have been maintained if it was still sitting in a parking lot and not assigned to Councilman Carroll?

Even at $2,000 in maintenance, that’s still less than what WWL-TV said Mayor Yenni spent in city money to rehab his uncle’s old SUV, one of the 6 vehicles that Yenni drives.
If you take the $2,000 in maintenance and adding in the cost of gas, Councilman Carroll is still saving Kenner taxpayers money by not taking the $500 per month ($6,000 per year) allotted to Kenner City Councilmen.

I know that Mayor Yenni might not be good at Math but, the City’s Finance Director earns over $110,000 per year (he too, gets a $500 per month auto allowance) and he should be able to tell Yenni that, any way you slice it, the money spent for this vehicle is still less than what Councilman Carroll would receive if he opted for the $6,000 per year payment his fellow councilmembers receive.
Shouldn’t Mayor Yenni applaud a Councilman that is SAVING Kenner residents money? Shouldn’t the goal of Mayor Yenni and the Council be to save Kenner taxpayer dollars?

In addition, last year, Mayor Yenni expanded the city’s auto and cell phone allowances to include more Political Appointees and gave his Political Appointees even larger allowances then they previously received.  The Mayor’s Political Appointees also get auto allowances of $300 – 500 per month and all they do is commute back and forth from their homes to Kenner City Hall. If Mayor Yenni says that Councilman Carroll’s commute constitutes personal use, doesn’t that also apply to the Mayor and his political appointees?
In fact, Mayor Yenni’s secretaries get auto and cell phone allowances courtesy of City of Kenner taxpayers.

On top of that, some Kenner employees have take-home vehicles and they don’t even live in Jefferson Parish, let alone in Kenner. What does their gas, maintenance and insurance cost city taxpayers and is money deducted from their checks for the personal use and commute from their homes in other parishes to Kenner City Hall?
 So, why all the fuss about Councilman Carroll’s vehicle?

It’s politics as usual in YenniVille.
Councilman Carroll opposed Mayor Yenni’s plan to double property taxes; he opposed Mayor Yenni’s plan to close playgrounds in his districts; he opposed Mayor Yenni on Yenni’s 2030 Plan and adding more debt to Kenner taxpayers; and he’s standing in the way of Yenni’s plan to sell several streets in District 1 to the East Jefferson Levee District, among other issues that the two disagree on.

This is just political payback – the kind of schoolyard bullying that Yenni and his political consultant engage in daily to attempt to discredit and intimidate anyone who dares to disagree with the great Mike Yenni.
Mayor Yenni attacked District 5 Councilman Kent Denapolis when Denapolis was against Mayor Yenni’s plan to double property taxes.

Yenni has attacked District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni in retaliation for Stagni’s independent thinking.
Yenni and his consultant have also attacked private citizens and a citizens group that is opposed to some of Yenni’s ideas. You and I have seen that firsthand.

And now, Mayor Yenni is attacking Councilman Carroll.
If he wasn’t trying to intimidate Councilman Carroll, why didn’t Yenni have the common courtesy to discuss this with the Councilman in private? Why did Yenni “expose” this in the media instead of having a simple conversation with the Councilman?

So, in a nutshell, Councilman Carroll was driving the oldest vehicle in Kenner’s fleet (until Mayor Yenni miraculously recovered his uncle’s old SUV from mothballs); the vehicle was parked and not doing any one any good; the city was paying for its maintenance anyway; he’s saving Kenner residents money;  and his day job is helping our community?
And Mayor Yenni thinks this is a bad thing?

Yeah, and Mayor Yenni says that I’m the ‘crazy’ one?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

T-P Columnist James Varney Talks Kenner Politics, Expensive Studies, And Shines A Light On The "Crazy Kenner Distruptor" (Me)

In a column that was posted online yesterday on Nola.com and in today’s print edition of the Times-Picayune, columnist James Varney takes a look at what is happening in Kenner with Mayor Yenni’s 2030 Plan and asks why the City of Kenner received a $420,000 Grant to study how Williams Blvd. could be more “pedestrian-friendly”, and why the study even costs $420,000 since most of Williams Blvd. was already studied in another study just a few years ago.

Varney actually stood at the intersection of Williams Blvd. and Veterans (arguably Kenner’s most trafficked intersection) and counted the number of pedestrians that were trying to cross the street during lunchtime.
Now that is dedication.

Varney’s count:  a whopping 5 pedestrians.
So, essentially, as part of his 2030 Plan, Mayor Yenni wants to spend Millions of Borrowed Dollars to improve pedestrian traffic for a handful of people and put a bike path on Williams Blvd. that runs under I-10.

Now, could Williams Blvd., and Kenner for that matter, use a facelift? Of course and if the City had the money and Mayor Yenni wasn’t undertaking the large Debt Plan in Kenner’s history, I would probably be in favor of his plan.
But, we don't have the money and the reality is, the intersection of Williams Blvd. and Vets will never be a spot where Kenner residents and visitors park their vehicles and walk from shopping center to shopping center. In fact, there’s only 1 small shopping center at that intersection to begin with.

Is crossing the street at Williams and Vets hazardous? Sure. In my current condition, I couldn’t do it.
But does making an intersection “pedestrian-friendly” when pedestrians don’t use it and there are no plans to give pedestrians a reason to use it, worth the expense when the city has so many other pressing needs? I don’t think so.

And, how many additional accidents will a bike path on Williams Blvd. cause? The city should be shifting bikers off a main State road instead of encouraging them.
Varney also talked about Mayor Yenni’s feud with me and Citizens For a Better Kenner and how Mayor Yenni thinks we’re “crazy” because we happen to disagree with him.

What Mayor anywhere calls the people that he was elected to represent, even those who disagree with him, "crazy"?

Anyway, feel free to read the article and post comments to it and here.
I asked my mom and she doesn’t think I’m crazy but she’s a little biased.   

Oh yeah. If you do think I’m ‘crazy’, please post your name and address so I can hunt you down.

Hopefully, you know that I am kidding.
Unfortunately, Mayor Yenni wasn’t.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Political Consultant For Aaron Broussard and Peter Galvan (and Yes, Mike Yenni) Calls Me “Disruptive” to Government

You gotta love Greg Buisson. That is, unless you’re a resident of Metro New Orleans.

Buisson and his firm, Buisson Creative Strategies, have managed or been involved in the political campaigns of many elected officials, and convicted felons, in the Metro.
From Aaron Broussard (Buisson got over $310,000 in fees for Broussard’s 2007 re-election), St. Tammany Parish Coroner Peter Galvan, St. Tammany Parish Assessor Patricia Core, and Orleans Parish Councilman and former State legislator Jon Johnson, if you’ve got money and want to be elected to anything, Buisson is your man.

Broussard is currently inmate #2234-034 in a Federal North Carolina prison; St. Tammany Parish sued Galvan earlier this month and Galvan was stripped by the Louisiana Legislature of any financial power; Core lost her re-election bid after the Legislative Auditor and TV News reports exposed her wild spending practices; and Johnson pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge for funneling FEMA grant money to his campaign account.
In addition to the $310,000 from Broussard’s 2007 campaign, Buisson and Aaron also teamed up to bill Jefferson Parish taxpayers for a series of newspaper ads after Hurricane Katrina designed to bolster Broussard’s public image.

“But Buisson charged for 75 hours of work related to the administration's newspaper advertising campaign after Katrina. He said he reduced his company's standard corporate fee of $125 an hour to $75 an hour.”
That is in addition to the $38,000 in newspaper ads and Buisson’s commission on that ad buy.

Recently, Buisson also advised the Pro-toll group that was promoting the 20-year extension of the Crescent City Connection Tolls.

Jefferson Parish, Kenner and Tourism – Just Follow The Money

In Jefferson Parish, a check of the State Ethics Board finds expenditures to Buisson from former JP Councilman and current Assessor Tom Capella; former Assessor Lawrence Chehardy; former JP Councilwoman Jennifer Sneed (whose husband is involved in the River Birch landfill); former JP Councilman and Kenner Mayor Louis Congemi; former JP Councilman and Kenner Mayor Ed Muniz; former Kenner Police Chief Nick Congemi; current Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni; current Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway; current Kenner Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch; and 5 current members of the Jefferson Parish Council: Chris Roberts, Paul Johnston, Mark Spears, Ricky Templet, and Ben Zahn.
In fact, when Ben Zahn defeated me for the Jefferson Parish District 4 seat, Buisson billed Zahn over $72,000 for Buisson’s work alone – several times the budget for my entire campaign. According to the State Ethics Board, Zahn is still paying off Buisson’s “win bonus” for helping to defeat me.

Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s bill from Buisson for Yenni’s 2010 election was almost $60,000. Since then, Buisson has been involved with Yenni’s Streamlining Budget Committee (Chaired by former JP Assessor Lawrence Chehardy and including Jim Hudson, who Buisson included in a Press Release that was critical of me and who is Yenni's appointee to the Armstrong Aviation Board) and Yenni’s Economic Development Committee (which also included Hudson). Buisson is also rumored to write the City of Kenner's Press Releases.
In fact, the Kenner ties with Buisson are so strong that, when a group was formed to promote Yenni’s plan to double property taxes, the group selected Buisson as its consultant. Not only that, Buisson wrote off over $11,000 in debt that was owed to him by the group PACK (“Protecting All Citizens of Kenner”).

Incidentally, the $11,000 Buisson “wrote off” is more than the total CFBK spent to defeat Yenni’s plan.  
Since the group was formed exclusively to promote Yenni’s plan, I’m sure Buisson had no issue writing off the debt. He knows he’s going to make that money up .
And make it up he did – again from Kenner.

In addition to managing campaigns, Buisson also has his tentacles in other aspects of government as well through his relationship with the Jefferson Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. The JCVB now receives Kenner’s share of the Hotel/Motel tax since the KCVB was disbanded and Mayor Yenni, decided, I’m sure with some prodding from Buisson, to not find a group to exclusively represent Kenner.
I guess it must be pretty easy to get funding from Jefferson Parish when the former Parish President was your client and you recently worked with 5 of the 7 current councilmembers, and get even more money from Kenner when you are the Mayor of Kenner’s political consultant. How can 5 of the 7 Jefferson Parish councilmembers (including current JP Councilman Zahn who was involved in the now defunct KCVB) vote on any funding appropriations for the JCVB when they have a relationship with Buisson too?

No conflicts of interest there right?
But, there’s more.

Buisson also advises the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition (which is Chaired by the President of the JCVB, Violet Peters).The LTCC was formed to spend BPs oil spill dollars on tourism (and through ads created by Buisson Creative Strategies).
So the Chairman of the LTCC and the JCVB hires Buisson to help the LTCC spend BP dollars and Buisson gets more dollars for the JCVB from his client, Kenner Mayor Yenni.

Yeah, no conflicts of interest there either.

Targeting Private Citizens
So, you can understand that when I read a Nola.com story where Buisson is reported to have said that Citizens For a Better Kenner (which I am President of), is “disruptive to city government”, I had to shake my head.

Obviously not content with making Millions from Political Campaigns or Tourism Dollars, Buisson is now targeting me and CFBK.
In the article, Buisson says that “There ought to be a legislative act to make them stop happening.” The “them” Buisson is referring to is “the relentless number of public records requests” he alleges CFBK has made.

In the earlier Times-Picayune article listed above regarding the partnership between Buisson and Aaron Broussard, Buisson said:
"My job is supposed to be the behind-the-scenes guy who orchestrates the flow of information to the media, and hopefully separates the fact from the fiction before it gets more convoluted."

Except, of course, when you are the one perpetrating the fiction.
The reality is, I have filed 2 Public Records Requests in the past year and they were regarding the City Attorney and Overtime during Hurricane Isaac. Both were filed on 17 December 2012. I filed these requests on my personal behalf and not as President of CFBK. Not one penny of CFBK funds have been spent on Public Records Requests.

Not one Public Records Request has been made by me or CFBK during the entire 2013 calendar year.

Buisson knows that. But, by his own admission, his job is to drag anyone who disagrees with his clients through the mud to discredit and destroy them. Normally, that means candidates who oppose your client.
In an article titled “Mudslinging In South Louisiana Hurts”, Buisson is reported to have said, “unless you attack your opponent you cannot win a race.”

I guess that mantra extends to attacking private citizens who disagree with Buisson’s clients too.

NOTE: An earlier version stated that I had only filed 1 Public Records Request regarding the City Attorney. I forgot about the Public Records Request regarding Hurricane Isaac Overtime.


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.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Jindal "Blasts" Senate Immigration Plan

You know, for a guy who emphatically denies that he has any interest in becoming a U.S. Senator, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sure spends a lot of time thinking about the Senate.

Case in point, last week Governor Jindal penned an op-ed piece for the National Review magazine titled “Botching Immigration Again”.
In it, Jindal takes several shots at the Senate immigration plan championed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and his fellow Gang of 8 brothers.

Jindal rightly points out the mountain of pork in the bill including millions for Nevada (and Harry Reid) to promote tourism and $1.5 Billion (that’s right BILLION) for Senator Bernie Sanders’ vote and a “jobs for youth” program in the border state of Vermont.  Yes for those of you that are geography-challenged, Vermont is a border state. Of course, I don’t spend too many waking hours worrying about an invasion of Canadians taking over our country and forcing us to watch Hockey 24/7.
And Jindal does point out that the Senate’s immigration bill is a win-win for Democrats. If it passes, they get millions of new voters and, if it’s defeated, the Dems can paint the Republicans as wanting to keep illegal immigrants from attaining citizenship or any kind of legal status, locking up the Hispanic vote for decades and minimizing the Republican Party.

There are three other points that I agree with Governor Jindal on:
1). Immigration reform must be done in stages – it cannot be solved overnight.

2). The border (with Mexico, not Canada) must be secured first.
3). Jindal says that an all-or-nothing approach on immigration reform will likely yield – drum roll, please – Nothing.

After that, aside from the partisan rhetoric, there’s not a whole lot that differs between Jindal’s position and the position of Rubio and his Merry Men but, at least, Governor Jindal didn't call Senator Rubio a "bed-wetter".
Both want illegal immigrants to learn English, pay fines and back taxes and “demonstrate a willingness to assimilate” (whatever that means), before they can begin the process of legalizing their illegal status.

Governor Jindal also advocates increasing legal immigration “by a lot” – even more than the Gang of 8. And how exactly will adding more Foreigners help with our unemployment rate and ensure wages increase?
 Selective immigration – sure, I’m for that. Holding the door open while millions more flood into our country? You lost me there Governor.

All of those are noble goals, except for the completely open door immigration idea, but they also raise questions.
1). Since many illegals are in low-wage jobs that often are paid in cash (after all, how can an illegal immigrant get a bank account), how will they be able to afford fines; how can we calculate back taxes and, if we determine there are back taxes due, will it be worth it to collect?

2). The majority of illegal immigrants have no desire to assimilate. Just listen to the radio. Cities across the country have multiple Spanish-language radio stations. New Orleans has several as do many large cities. You can even find Spanish radio in cities like Omaha, NE; Columbia, SC and Salt Lake City, UT, not exactly top-of-mind cities when you think of cities with a large Hispanic population.
And, economically, 3rd Generation Hispanics are actually doing worse than 2nd Generation Hispanics.

The City of Kenner has a Hispanic Resource Center and it just celebrated its 10th Anniversary.  How is that “assimilating”?
 “I’ll Take Jindal For Senate for $1,000, Alex”

A few weeks back when I discussed the growing rumble of Jindal for U.S. Senate rumors, a lot of smart people called me crazy. And, maybe they’re right.
But, Governor Jindal is crazy too if he thinks that he will be the 2016 Republican Presidential or Vice-Presidential nominee. And, what happens if Republicans don’t win the Presidency and Jindal can’t even get a cabinet position? What are the odds of him joining the (Hillary) Clinton Administration?

Yeah, barring a constitutional amendment allowing a 3rd term as Governor, Jindal’s choices are limited.
That’s why, if I were a betting man, despite the protestations from the Governor and his aides as well as the multitude of pundits out there who think I’m crazy, I still wouldn’t bet against Jindal running in 2014 against Mary Landrieu.

Maybe Governor Jindal needs some time off after his stint as Louisiana’s Chief Executive to gather his thoughts or campaign for the Republican Presidential nominee. Perhaps he secretly loves the rubber chicken circuit.
It’s either that or the unemployment line in January 2016.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Rev. C.L. Bryant Talks Race, Zimmerman Verdict

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Rev. C.L. Bryant for a few years now. Instantly, when we met, I knew that I respected him. Rev. Bryant is a commanding presence and he’s extremely personable.

A couple of years back, I was given the honor of speaking at the Greater New Orleans Tea Party’s Anti-Tax Rally. Also on the agenda was Rev. Bryant. While I had heard the name “C.L. Bryant” before, I never had the pleasure of speaking to him in person or hearing him speak to a group.
After I spoke and talked about the Mayor of Kenner's failed attempt to double property taxes, Rev. Bryant took that stage and gave a riveting speech about International, National and State issues.

After he finished speaking, I told C.L. that I was grateful that the GNOTP organizers had the foresight to ask me to speak BEFORE him as it would have been a huge letdown for the group if I followed him. We laughed, although I was being serious.
I’m pretty good at public speaking but I’m no C.L. Bryant. I don’t even know if I’m really qualified to be his warm up act.

Since that day in April 2011, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with and hearing Rev. Bryant speak several more times and watching his movie, “The Runaway Slave”. While I respected Rev. Bryant immediately, my respect has grown considerably since we met.
Well, this morning on “The Ken & Bernie Show” on KPEL 96.5fm in Acadiana, I was Rev. Bryant’s opening act again.

Rev. Bryant was in Orlando at the NAACP Convention and he took time out of his day to speak with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee about race and the George Zimmerman verdict.
With the rampant speculation that the Federal Justice Department is considering their own charges against Zimmerman, Rev. Bryant had some interesting thoughts about the not guilty verdict.

“There was almost no way that they (the Jury) would come back with a ‘guilty’ verdict,” Bryant said. “This was a self-defense issue.”
Commenting about Race, Rev. Bryant echoed the thoughts of many.

“Nobody would have known about this,” if Zimmerman was Black.
Rev. Bryant was also asked about President Obama attempting to politicize this sad event.

Regardless of who is President “When you as the leader of the free world would insert yourself into a local issue, it is going to have far reaching implications,” Rev. Bryant said.
No matter where you fall in the Zimmerman verdict debate, you can’t help but respect Rev. Bryant’s opinions.

If you are ever lucky enough to hear him speak, I’m sure that you’ll join me in respecting a lot more than just his opinions.
Here’s a link to the entire interview. It’s well worth 8 minutes of your time.

George Zimmerman, Elbert Guillory, Bobby Jindal, Mary Landrieu - All in 8 minutes

This morning, I was a guest on "The Ken & Bernie Show" with Ken Romero and Bernadette Lee on KPEL 96.5fm in Acadiana. We talked about the Zimmerman verdict; State Senator Elbert Guillory's world tour; Bobby Jindal talks immigration; Mary Landrieu's weak attempt at stopping the student loan interest rate increase; and more. And, as you can see from the headline, who says that I'm a Republican homer? http://kpel965.com/walt-bennetti-says-its-safe-to-say-that-senator-landrieu-will-beat-everybody/

Saturday, July 13, 2013

JP Murder Rate Up In First Half of 2013; Sheriff Normand Says It’s Mostly “Relational”

New crime statistics for the first half of 2013 show that murders in Jefferson Parish increased by 66% compared to 2012.

Thus far in 2013 there have been 20 murders in unincorporated Jefferson Parish compared with 12 last year.
Speaking to WWL-TV, Sheriff Newell Normand said that 14 of the 20 murders were “relational”.

"The victim and the suspect know each other," Normand said.
I don’t know if that is supposed to comfort us or why Sheriff Normand would try to deflect the message.

I am surprised though that our allegedly full-time Sheriff who is also Chairman of a Hospital Board while promoting the removal of voting rights for Jefferson Parish residents; is the Director of another Corporation and a Non-Profit; pushed through  the massive rezoning of Fat City trampling on the rights of individuals and property owners and leaving hundreds unemployed; and who is now floating the idea of becoming Governor (when does he find time to sleep?), tried to downplay Jefferson Parish’s increased murder rate while discussing JP’s lower overall crime rate, down 3.5%.
"We are encouraged, but I don't like the fact that people are solving conflicts by killing one another," said Sheriff Normand.

Yeah, me neither Sheriff Normand. Me neither.
What is most alarming and that was not mentioned by WWL-TV is the fact that more JP murders traditionally occur in the 2nd half of the year. Not an encouraging thought for JP residents.

But, since it’s mostly “relational” according to Normand, it might be best to spend the next few months in a cocoon or pretend you’re a groundhog.
By the way, how’s that whole Fat City redevelopment coming along Sheriff?