Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

Trust none of what you hear, and less of what you see.
-          Bruce Springsteen

I’m sure it breaks some “Writer’s Rule” to start a post with two quotes but, like Yogi Berra said,  in Kenner “it’s déjà vu all over again.”

10 days ago we wrote about more stores leaving the Esplanade Mall. District 4 Councilwoman Maria DeFrancesch, who is term-limited and seeking a promotion to Councilman-At-Large, reached into her bag of tricks and pulled out a familiar card and promised more large retailers would soon be coming to Kenner.

“(Stores) like Belk’s and others,” DeFrancesch said.

Mayor Yenni and DeFrancesch had pulled a similar trick on voters during the election campaign in 2010 when they touted their hard work in bringing a Kohl’s Department Store to Kenner.

The Kohl’s never materialized and, after repeated questions from Kenner shoppers, DeFrancesch took the fall and admitted that a Kenner Kohl’s was not forthcoming due to “personnel changes” at Kohl’s.

In my post 10 days ago, I wrote that it was similarly unlikely that Belk’s would be coming to Kenner either.

Belk’s has one South Louisiana location in Covington. Their only other Louisiana locations are in Shreveport and Monroe. The Covington location sits adjacent to I-12 and near other Belk locations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, making distributions costs significantly less than shipping products and incurring significant marketing costs for a standalone Kenner location.”

Since that post, has confirmed that Kenner isn’t on Belk’s radar.

“Conceptual Drawings”

The graphics for the 2030 Plan show many things that WON’T happen in Kenner including underground power lines on Williams Blvd.

Many new subdivisions and emerging cities boast of underground power lines.

For an existing, older city like Kenner, the cost of underground power lines is cost prohibitive.

But that didn’t stop Mayor Yenni from trying to get the people of Kenner to buy into his flawed “vision”.

Of course, when the work is done on the 2030 Plan, Mayor Yenni will be long gone. He won’t need to face the fallout from Kenner taxpayers who are paying for his 2030 Plan until, well, 2033 to be exact and were sold a bill of goods with pretty “concept drawings” that don’t reflect reality.

And Yenni's campaign contributors will have raked in Millions. 

Not content to stop with fudging about retailers, at yesterday’s “State of the City Address”, which every year was held in November but this year was changed to January to generate some buzz about Mayor Yenni’s 2030 Plan before qualifying for the Spring election occurs in 3 weeks, the Mayor told another huge whopper.

Mixed in with several smaller lies about Mayor Yenni’s successes (cutting 135 “government jobs” when the bulk of that was tour guides at Rivertown museums; “strategic savings by eliminating or significantly reducing subsidies to the Pontchartrain Center – yet to be seen, and by using JEDCO for economic development and the Jefferson Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for tourism when both are receiving the same funding), was more “concept drawings” for Laketown.

Here's a link to the Mayor's slide show. See how many lies you can count. 

Laketown which, with the exception of Coconut Beach Volleyball, has languished during Yenni’s almost 8 years at the top of Kenner City Government, is finally a point of emphasis for the Mayor.

Yenni envisions breaking ground in 2016 on an “entertainment district” in Laketown.

“Yenni also touted a Laketown boardwalk. Behind his lecturn, he showed the luncheon audience an architectural rendering of what could be built there: proposed broad plazas, an amusement area sporting a Ferris wheel and lake-view cafes stippled with umbrellas. He said in an interview that his administration has finished drafting a request that developers propose specific improvements.

"We want a hotel. We're looking for condos. We're looking for high-end restaurants," Yenni said. He compared the proposed development to Beau Rivage, which sits on the Gulf of Mexico at Biloxi, Miss., or to Fisherman's Wharf, which peeks over San Francisco Bay.”

“City officials are in discussions with Boyd Gaming, which owns the Treasure Chest, to determine how the lake-based casino would fit into the larger plan. The city has also crafted a request for proposals to seek developers interested in building the project.”

According to The Advocate, Yenni also compared his vision of Laketown to L’Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles.

The only problem is, Beau Rivage and L’Auberge du Lac are owned by competitors of Boyd Gaming and the Treasure Chest’s owner might not take kindly to a Mayor promoting other properties and comparing them to Kenner’s only casino.

In addition, the Beau is land-based and L’Auberge had plenty of land to expand, neither of which the Treasure Chest can claim.

The “conceptual drawings” for Yenni’s Laketown “vision” also included a giant Ferris Wheel.

A giant Ferris Wheel? 

Perhaps we can also get a rollercoaster from Jazzland. It might be a little rusty but, city workers are good at rehabbing old relics although normally from Jefferson Parish and not Orleans.

“I’d love to see that concept become a reality,” Yenni said.

We all would Mayor Yenni. We all would.

The problem is, it’s just a fancy drawing that is fake as were the drawings in your 2030 Plan.

From my April 11th 2013 post:

“One of the biggest revelations was the fact that, in Mayor Yenni’s package and on his video presentation for the projects, Mayor Yenni used “doctored photographs” that are not realistic portrayals of what the actual intersections will look like.

In the Mayor’s video presentation, Williams Blvd. is shown to have 8 driving lanes (4 lanes North and South), a median, a turning lane and bike paths along both sides of the street. It is portrayed to have underground power lines and other amenities that the City of Kenner has no funding for.

“I want to be for this project, I really do,” Kenner resident Stacey Allesandro said, “But it is not right to show ‘Photoshoped’ pictures and say ‘This is how it will look’ when it won’t look like that at all.”
Mayor Yenni replied that these are “conceptual drawings”. The City’s Landscape Architect Greg Cantrell added that “Some of these things we might not have money for and we may need to move money from one project to another.”

So, instead of letting the Public decide on the projects that they want and getting their input from the beginning, the Mayor is asking the people to pay a bill for the next 20 years based upon “concepts” and, it is conceivable that, this money can be moved to other projects that the people of Kenner don’t want and aren’t even aware of.”

And, the groundbreaking for anything in Laketown won’t occur until 2016. I guess Mayor Yenni hopes that “conceptual drawings” that are subject to change are enough to persuade Kenner voters to re-elect him.

I wonder what role the lead sponsor of yesterday's "State of the City Address", Greg Buisson of Buisson Creative Strategies  Mayor Yenni's political campaign manager and the man who handles advertising for the Jefferson Convention & Visitor's Bureau, will have in Laketown? 

Like I said, stop me if you've heard this one before...