Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Yenni/Buisson Lies, Pt. 2

In Part 1 of our Mythbuster series, we debunked two lies that continue to be perpetuated by the propaganda team of Mike Maunoir/Yenni and his loyal henchman, Greg Buisson. Today we debunk two more myths.

Yes, I know that I’ve written about this before but, since it’s on his TV commercial, Maunoir/Yenni is obviously proud of his choices and his team. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the folks in the Maunoir/Yenni Administration and his personnel choices.

The Clerk of Court through the majority of the Maunoir/Yenni Administration had no prior government or management experience. Her job prior to becoming Clerk of Court? Director of Promotions at Rock N Bowl.

The current Clerk of Court, Tamithia Shaw, is the former Code Enforcement Director who resigned and abruptly left Kenner City Government only to subsequently return.In a statement announcing her resignation, Yenni said, "She is looking forward to getting back to her passion of helping children and their families throughout the parish." Since it was less than a year and a half before Ms. Shaw returned, perhaps that really wasn't her "passion". At least Ms. Shaw is an attorney.

The Assistant Clerk of Court position was created after Yenni’s hand-picked Streamlining Budget Committee recommended deleting the position of Public Information Officer. In true Yenni form, he simply moved the former PIO into the new position.

After the former PIO/Assistant Clerk of Court retired, Yenni hired former Times-Picayune reporter Bob Ross to become the new Assistant Clerk of Court.

Ross was recently moved to the recreated position of...wait for it... “Assistant to the Mayor/Public Information Officer”. I know what you're thinking - didn't Yenni's Committee recommend that position be eliminated? Of course they did and, when it was convenient for Yenni, it was eliminated.

Well, at least Ross does have the experience to write press releases.

This “Department” was created by Yenni after he took office. While it is within the City Charter to add (and delete) departments at the whim of the Mayor, you would think that the first head of a new department would be immanently qualified.

C’mon, we’re talking about Mike Yenni.

Who did Maunoir/Yenni tap to head this new department: his former secretary. Her IT, Management or Government experience prior to becoming a Mayoral Secretary? None. She was a legal secretary.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a Secretary and working your way up the ladder. My mom was a secretary before moving up to Office Manager and ultimately becoming a Mortgage Broker and running a Regional office for a nationwide company. That's impressive for someone with only a high school diploma and a testament to my mom's hard work and determination.

However, I trust my mom around my computers as much as I would trust Kenner’s IT Director.

So, not only did she get a job she is not qualified for, she also got a hefty raise. In an article announcing job cuts in Kenner, and Yenni stating, "We only fill positions if it's an absolute necessity for the department," there’s also this nugget:

“One of Yenni's political appointees, Valerie Waguespack, received a much bigger boost. She went from being the mayor's executive assistant making $47,319 a year ago to the open position of head of Information Technology and Telecommunications, which pays $60,000, a $12,681 increase.”

In defending the promotion and raise the Times-Picayune reported,

He said Waguespack is working toward her master's degree and that, as former Mayor Ed Muniz's assistant, she helped the mayor's office improve its technology. "She's been at the forefront of getting our new website," he said.

That’s nice – she's going to school while working. But, “she’s been at the forefront of getting our new website”?

What exactly does that mean – “getting our new website”? Built? No. Designed? Hardly.

Perhaps she suggested the City get a new website? Possibly. Did she handle the coding for the new website? Not a chance. Kenner’s IT Director can’t write code.

But, she was at the “forefront”.

And, she is a whiz on Facebook…

And, don’t forget that Waguespack was on Yenni’s Inauguration Committee.

So, I guess it was absolutely necessary that you move your Secretary into an unfilled position that she was not qualified for AND give her a $12k raise.


Prior to becoming Mayor, Maunoir/Yenni was appointed by Ed Muniz to the position of Chief Administrative Officer. Prior to that, Maunoir/Yenni was appointed by Aaron Broussard to be the Director of JP’s Citizens Affairs Department where he was in charge of the Mardi Gras Parade schedule and Senior services, overseeing a budget of less than $800k (or about the revenue of a small convenience store by the way).

When Maunoir/Yenni ascended to Mayor, he moved Mike Quigley from Deputy CAO to CAO. The City of Kenner did without the position of Deputy CAO (NOTE: Pratt Reddy was Deputy CAO for Public Works – the overall Deputy CAO position was not filled).

After several months in office, Yenni hired an Internal Auditor. Her governmental experience – none. 

Her auditing experience – none. In fact, she wasn’t a “Certified” Auditor.  

In fact, prior to joining the City of Kenner, she worked for an Insurance Adjuster in Texas. 

Less than two years into her new position, the Internal Auditor was promoted to Deputy CAO and put in charge of all city departments except Finance and Public Works.

In an August 2012 post written by then Times-Picayune reporterBob Ross, announcing the promotions, Yenni said that, with the reorganization, Quigley would be better able to work on “economic improvements” including Laketown.

That will free Chief Administrative Officer Mike Quigley to focus on economic improvement programs, including development of the Laketown area, as well as working with Gonzalez on current sewer projects.

“I think we’ve done a very good job of hiring the right people for the right jobs,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat.”

Yeah, keep telling yourself that Mikey.

We don’t have time to discuss other dubious hirings like the Recreation Director who is now trying to privatize playgrounds after trying to sell naming rights to a field and pocket the money for the "Kenner Sports Fondation" - whatever that is (I’ve always been fond of the name Muss Bertolino Stadium myself); the City Attorney who filed for bankruptcy a couple of weeks after delivering a large campaign contribution to Yenni (shouldn’t you have used that money to pay your bills Councilman Conley? And let’s not discuss your stint with the JPSO. Been to any parades lately?) and who authorized spying on Kenner employees; the still "Interim" City Attorney who is “Interim” after over a year because that way Yenni can go around the wishes of the people of Kenner who voted for a Charter Change mandating that City Directors actually live within the City of Kenner; and others.

The point isn’t whether or not these folks are nice people, or whether a Secretary should be made a Department Director, or even if some of these folks have grown into their jobs (although I take issue with tax dollars going to political appointees for “on-the-job training”).

No, there are two points here.

1). Mike Maunoir/Yenni is an intellectual lightweight who needs to surround himself with people who can’t challenge him or his intellect. Mike Maunoir/Yenni needs to feel like HE is the smartest person in the room.

The fact is, the only time that Mike Maunoir/Yenni is the smartest person in the room is when he goes to the bathroom alone – and, even that may be debatable.

That kind of arrogance will be a disaster at the Parish level with a budget 10x that of the City of Kenner and far more projects and area to cover.

And 2). Maunoir/Yenni has not hired a “qualified team”. Whether you agree with the other point or not, this point is indisputable. You aren’t “qualified” to be a Clerk of Court, an Assistant Clerk of Court, an IT Director or a the Deputy CAO of City (with all but 2 City Departments reporting to you), or any City Department Director when you have no governmental management experience or relevant experience in what that department does.
Assisting or contributing to a politician’s campaign does not automatically make you “qualified”.


I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard this one. Mike Yenni – “Government Strategist”. It still cracks me up.

Ok Mr. Mayor. Let’s look at your track record as a "Government Strategist":
  -----After less than a year on the job, you increased sewerage fees by 145% and borrowed tens of millions of dollars to fix Kenner’s antiquated sewerage system. Kenner received a low-interest DEQ loan. Did you rescind the sewerage increase once you got an influx of state money? Of course not. Did your fee increase and borrowing fix Kenner’s sewerage issues? Of course not. If they had, you wouldn’t have borrowed even more money this year. 5 years as Mayor and 4 years as CAO and sewerage still backs up into Kenner homes when there is a heavy rain. Where has all the money gone?

-       -----  Were you a “Government Strategist” when you tried to double Kenner’s property taxes? How about when you pouted to the media that “There will be cuts that everyone will feel” when the voters resoundingly defeated your tax plan?
------- Were you a “Government Strategist” when you tried to close playgrounds in predominantly minority areas? How about your plan to “privatize” Kenner playgrounds and sell City-owned buildings? Is that what you consider “Government Strategy” – giving away City assets for pennies on the dollar?
-----  Were you a “Government Strategist” when you openly campaigned against two Good Government Charter Changes designed to limit the Mayor’s power and political influence and were overwhelmingly approved by Kenner voters?

----- Were you a "Government Strategist" when you extended the City's trash contract for an additional five years without notifying the City Council for months or putting the contract out for bid? Even the Times-Picayune criticized you. Don't think Bob Ross helped write that editorial. 

----- Were you a "Government Strategist" when you supported the extension of the Crescent City Connection Toll?

----- Were you a "Government Strategist" when you increased occupational license fees (which, since they are based upon revenue are really a hidden business tax)?

----- Were you a "Government Strategist" when, instead of adding Kenner Fire Department personnel so we could meet the national standard of 4-men-on-a-truck and provide better fire protection to citizens, you choose to spend $1 Million redeveloping the Code Enforcement Office?
----- Were you a “Government Strategist” when you took on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without a vote of the people? Yeah, hanging your hat on a 1950’s law and a politically connected judge is something to be proud of. Where are the quarterly reports on the 2033 Plan progress two years after the bond debt was sold? Which projects have been completed with the bond money? Which projects have been completed with regional/state/federal funding and where did the money that was budgeted for those projects go? Seems to me that the only thing that has been completed with the bond money is the hiring of a politically connected “Project Manager”. Why has there never been an open accounting of the bond and grant money and, if there has, why has it not been shared with the people of Kenner? Don’t WE have a right to know?

---It certainly doesn’t take a “Government Strategist” to form hand-picked committees to deflect blame from your weak attempts at governing nor does it take a “Government Strategist” to Tax, Borrow and Spend, Spend, Spend while neglecting important city functions like Economic Development, Public Safety and Quality of Life.

-Is it the “Government Strategist” in you who maxed out Kenner’s debt and is now leaving one year into your second term? Don’t you think the people of Kenner deserve a Mayor who lasts the full term instead of one who is discussing his next job right after his re-election? Remember little Ben Zahn letting it slip that he “committed to Mike well over a year ago” when Yenni announced his Parish Presidency campaign?

I’m glad that my tax dollars have paid your Mayoral salary for the past year and half while you’ve been putting your hand out for more campaign contributions for your next job, instead of finishing what you were elected to do in Kenner (which, by the way, wasn’t to borrow us into oblivion when you couldn’t double our taxes).  

Last July, during his 2nd inaugural speech, Yenni said, "Let me state this clearly...I am happy...I am proud...And I am eager to get started on the next 4 years of progress in Kenner."

And who can forget, "I pledge to every Kenner resident that we will remain a city of progress throughout these next four years."  

Were you lying to the people of Kenner last year or were those simply words on a page? 

Kinda sounds more like a “Political Opportunist” than a “Government Strategist” to me.