Thursday, June 4, 2015

Yenni Backtracks on Rec Tax

They say that balloon sales go up when the circus comes to town.

In Kenner, balloon sales increase each time Mayor Mike Yenni gets another hair-brained idea.

I guess that means that the circus is always in town in Kenner. At least at 1801 Williams Blvd. 

As is his m.o., Yenni had one of his minions, this time District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato, float a trial balloon regarding a new tax dedicated to Kenner Recreation.

You will remember that Impastato, at Yenni’s urging, recently also touted privatizing several Kenner playgrounds.

More taxes for less playgrounds. That only makes sense in YenniVille and to members of Yenni's "Consensus Team" like Impastato..

The Mayor floats these trial balloons so that he and his political consultant, Greg Buisson, can get a sense of which way the political winds are blowing since Yenni doesn't have the conviction or backbone to do anything that don't directly put money in his campaign account or in the pockets of his friends, family and contributors.

You remember, “I don’t want to double your property taxes. I only want to give you the kind of government you want.” If he was sincere about that, the Mayor would have resigned years ago.

Or, “I don’t want to close playgrounds. My hand-picked Streamlining Budget Committee is making me close them.”

Or this gem, “The 2020 Plan is comprised of projects put forth by my Economic Development Committee”, meaning, if they flop, it’s not on me and yes, Impastato was on that committee too.

Or this whopper, “We need to increase the salaries of the Mayor, Police Chief and City Council to attract quality candidates – no, not me, Chief Glaser and the current Council. We are quality candidates. I mean, in the future, when I bail on the city after loading it up with debt and taking care of all my contractor friends. Then, Kenner will really need a quality Mayor, Police Chief and Council.”

Alright, you caught me. The last one wasn’t really a quote from the Mayor.

But it could have been.

At last week’s budget hearing, Impastato floated the idea of a property tax dedicated to Recreation.

"We have a history of wanting to jump out in front to show how much more money we need for police and fire, yet recreation seems to go on the back burner. I think that's shameful," Impastato said. "I think if we are serious about it, it's time to step up and act like we are serious."

Impastato obviously doesn’t see the contradiction in dismantling Kenner’s Recreation Department while seeking more money and tax dollars for it.

Recreation Director Ken Marraccoli, the same guy who tried to sell “naming rights” to a park that the city didn’t own (why is this guy still employed and not in jail? Oh, that’s right, he’s a friend of Mike). Also chimed in discussing other municipalities and their recreation budgets.

"We are one of the only recreation departments in this region that doesn't have some type of millage for recreation," Marraccoli said. "I understand when you talk the word millage, people start getting skittish, and I get that."

It is always amusing to me when Yenni and his minions compare Kenner to other places when they want something but, when Kenner and the Yenni Administration are unfavorably compared to other cities, the comparison is “bogus”.

Sorry Councilman Impastato: Kenner is considerably smaller than East Baton Rouge Parish and our recreational facilities aren’t even in the same league, nor is our huckster Recreation Director.

The problem in Kenner isn’t a taxing problem – it is and always will be a spending issue.

And, if Yenni hadn’t bonded $3.5 Million in sales tax dollars for the next 20 years to pay for his non-voter approved 2030 Plan, Kenner would have money for Recreation, Police and Fire.

Of course, Yenni could also cut some of his political appointees – but we all know that will never happen.

So, mere hours after having his crew launch the recreation tax trial balloon, Yenni quickly backtracked.

After all, how would it look for an allegedly “family-values fiscal conservative” to propose raising taxes (again) while simultaneously campaigning for a promotion to Parish President just one short year into his 2nd term?

Meaning,” I’m in the middle of a campaign you idiots and you’re talking about raising taxes? If I have any hope of getting elected Parish President, I need to hope that folks don't learn my true identity Do that when I leave.”

As always, Yenni continued with the now infamous duck-and-dodge and also, as always, let him get away with it just as the news media continues to let Yenni/Buisson spew the false narrative that Yenni has cut jobs at City Hall and cut the budget significantly. While the former is partially true in that Yenni has cut City Employees, he has increased political appointees, filled unnecessary positions with unqualified people, and increased the number of City Hall Departments.

As for Yenni cutting the budget, well, that's just a flat out lie, just as him thumping his chest that he doesn't accept an auto allowance while driving multiple vehicles for free and never paying a dime for fuel, maintenance or insurance. .

Yenni said his previous campaign to raise taxes was intended to relieve pressure on the city's general fund, and that would have freed money for recreation maintenance. But he added that tight constraints has forced his administration to think creatively about "better ways" to deliver recreation services, namely by targeting city funds at facilities that see the most activity and turning others over to private parties for specialized instruction.

"We are still going to have free parks and playgrounds," Yenni said. "It may not be where you get to ride on your bike and go to your neighborhood pocket park or playground, but you are going to a better facility that we can put all of our resources into. Other facilities get the same type of treatment but by a private partnership."

So, you can’t ride your bike to a park, but we’re building more bike paths, and other people will control Kenner’s parks but we need more money because Yenni has borrowed every last sales tax dime that he can for the next 20 years and the largest sales tax driver in Kenner, The Esplanade, is imploding on his watch.

After all, less parks will attract young families to Kenner right? 

Makes perfect sense to me.

 Meaning, “If the 70% of folks who defeated my plan to double property taxes would have just gone along with it, Kenner would have the best recreation facilities money can buy. That is, the money that would be left after I spent more money on everything else not called Police, Fire or Public Safety. But, to be sure, Public Safety and Quality of Life are the #1 Priorities for the Yenni Administration. 

Well, #1 and #2. 

No, really, #2 and #3. Becoming Parish President is the #1 Priority of my Administration. And, taking care of my political contributors. So, really, Public Safety and Quality of Life are #3 and #4 Priorities for the Yenni Administration. But, hey, at least they made the Top 5. 

Oh, wait a minute. Getting my political appointees raises is also a priority. And making sure my hair stays in place, ensuring that no one learns my secrets so I can still be the "family values Conservative" that I've tricked folks into believing that I am, and jumping whenever Henry Shane says to. Those are priorities too. So, to be honest, Public Safety and Quality of Life are the #7 and 8 Priorities of the Yenni Administration.

Oh, who am I kidding - by now even a two-year old knows that I don't care about the Kenner Fire Department and, as long as my boy Mike Sigur is getting his fill of paid details, I don't care what goes on at the Kenner Police Department. 

Hey Ken, what can we sell next? I need to buy and fix up another car that my Grandpa drove. Now that's a priority!”