Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mike Yenni: “I’m a Visionary”

No, that’s not a misprint or an April Fool’s joke. Those words actually came out of Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s mouth proving what an egotistical, delusional man he really is.

Less than a year after he was re-elected as Kenner Mayor, Yenni is already campaigning for the Parish President gig that is being vacated by John Young.

Aside from the fact that Jefferson Parish doesn’t need a “vision” or a "visionary" as Parish President, Yenni’s delusion of grandeur is laughably pathetic.

While his only other announced opponent, JP Councilman-At-Large Elton Lagasse, is hardly a visionary himself, at least Lagasse has significant administrative and government experience.

As the former head of JP’s School System, Lagasse oversaw a budget that was then only slightly smaller than the Parish budget he will oversee if elected. Lagasse has also spent 12 years on the Jefferson Parish Council giving him a significant leg up in the experience ladder.

And while Yenni has presided over a Kenner budget roughly 1/10th the size of JP’s, Yenni has never held a private sector job in his life or run a business.

But, we’ll have more time to delve even deeper into Yenni’s “experience” as we move closer.

For now, let’s focus on Yenni’s “vision”.

For the past 5 years in Kenner, Yenni’s “vision” has included:

-          Attempting to double Kenner’s property taxes and throwing a fit when the people rejected his plan. 

-          Attempting to close at least 3 Kenner playgrounds.

-          Significantly increasing the number of Kenner Departments and the number of political appointees while simultaneously cutting back on non-politically appointed employees.  You know, the ones who actually do the work in Kenner and keep Kenner running.

-          Sitting on his hands and watched as The Esplanade has withered.

-          Watching as Academy Sports left Kenner. 

-          Lying about Kohl’s coming to Kenner – 5 years ago. 

-          Shifting funds from the Kenner Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, closing it down, and funneling the money to the Jefferson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau controlled by his political consultant. 

-          Siphoning money from the Kenner Fire Department for the Pontchartrain Center and reluctantly gave the KFD some of the money back when Katrina insurance proceeds came in. That money was promptly squandered by Yenni’s incompetent Fire Chief, John Hellmers. 

-          Hiring an IT Director with no IT experience who was his former Secretary. 

-          Promoting the extension of the Crescent City Toll for another 20 years. 

-          Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from contractors receiving city work on personal items including lavish meals, gifts and Mardi Gras beads (purchased from another contributor’s company) to enhance his personal lifetyle. 

-          Actively campaigning against Good Government Charter Changes approved by more than 70% of Kenner voters. 

-          Setting up bogus Streamlining Budget, Economic Development and Charter Review Committees comprised of his friends and allies instead of a mix of Kenner citizens.

-          Repeatedly circumventing Kenner’s Department Head Residency rule specified in the City Charter and affirmed by Kenner voters by hiring “Interim” Directors who seemingly last forever. 

-          Taking on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without a vote of the people and without first seeking State and Federal grants. This debt will take over $3 million a year in Kenner tax dollars away from Kenner’s budget through 2033. 

Yeah, that’s some “vision” alright.

Enrich your contributors and friends while robbing the people who elected you, attempting to leave your term early and spending time campaigning when you should be governing and trying to strengthen Kenner so it can pay for the debt you forced down our throats.

Is that the kind of “vision” Yenni thinks Jefferson Parish needs?

In his announcement, Yenni made even more ignorant comments as’s Ben Myers illustrates here:

He also said he would prioritize blight remediation. "People will comply with the rules and regulations of their neighborhood, or they will deal with the consequences of being carefree and careless," Yenni said.

 A quick drive around Kenner shows that it has more residential and commercial blight than ever before and even more than after Katrina.

Until they conveniently fudged the numbers and recatigorized blight, Kenner had several hundred houses considered “blighted” and on the way to be torn down. Unfortunately, until this year, the Yenni Administration only allocated about $50k per year for demolition, or enough to do about 5-6 houses per year.

At that rate, Kenner will still have blighted houses even after the taxpayers pay off Yenni’s 2033 Debt Plan.

What should really gall Kenner residents, aside from Yenni’s attempt to double property taxes and the mountain of debt he incurred, is that Yenni has been effectively jockeying for the JP Parish President job for at least a year.

The none too bright unlicensed florist turned Councilman, Ben Zahn, let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn, who previously served on the Kenner City Council, said in a text message he "committed to Mike well over a year ago."

So, even before he was re-elected, Yenni was plotting his next job. How much time has he wasted this past year campaigning, schmoozing supporters and reaching into their checkbooks when he should have been trying to grow business in Kenner, working to rehabilitate Kenner’s image, working to turnaround The Esplanade and brining jobs to Kenner?

And, if he didn’t want to be Mayor, why did he run again?

In his 2014 inauguration address, Yenni said,

“I pledge to every Kenner resident that we will remain a community of progress throughout these next four years. No resident or residential neighborhood will be ignored.”

How many lies can one man tell in a single sentence?

The only good thing about Mike Yenni becoming Parish President is that he won’t be Kenner’s Mayor.

But, the reality is, he’s already checked out.

Is that the kind of person and "vision" you want as Jefferson Parish President?