Friday, November 13, 2015

Roberts Pushes Back; Lightens Buisson's Greedy Wallet

An interesting ordinance was passed last week by the Jefferson Parish Council and since it didn’t merit much press coverage, I wanted to make sure that some of you were aware of it. More on the ordinance in a minute.

If you’re a faithful CJ reader, you know that I have long railed about the greedy sack of ____ that is Greg Buisson. If a non-elected official could step forward and prove to me that Greg Buisson has done one thing to positively benefit Jefferson Parish for the millions of tax dollars he has reaped, I would love to hear about it.

Buisson has skillfully managed to get candidates elected at all levels of government in Jefferson Parish so that they are beholden to him. From Mike Maunoir/Yenni and most of the Kenner City Council to most of the Jefferson Parish Council with stops in other places as well.

In return for getting them elected, these elected officials push money into entities affiliated with Buisson.

In addition, Buisson has also garnered some other tax dollars from his clients that have benefited his family.

Along the way, Buisson has tried to take some shots at me. Some, like this article have failed badly. Yeah, let’s stop citizens from making Public Records Requests. Great idea Greg! Keep trying to hide your tax dollar plundering from us. 

Still shaking my head that the clueless New Orleans Advocate reporter called Buisson a "media expert". 

When Kenner faced abuses with the Kenner Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, rather than replacing the Board (which included then Kenner Councilman Ben Zahn and current Councilwoman-At-Large Maria DeFrancesch), Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni disbanded the KCVB entirely. Did he put together another group to promote Kenner? Why would he when he could simply funnel Kenner’s Hotel/Motel Tax to the Jefferson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (which sould be promoting Kenner anyway since they receive Parish tax dollars including some from Kenner). Since the JCVB has a relationship with Greg Buisson (who just happens to be the campaign manager for Zahn, DeFrancesch, Yenni and others on the Kenner Council) and since the money goes to the JCVB, which then passes through the money to Buisson in the form of advertising placement or production costs, the State Ethics Board sits idly by and says there is no conflict of interest.

And what does the “Media Genius” Greg Buisson do for his money? He advertises Kenner on New Orleans Television Stations.

Cut to a dinner table conversation in New Orleans:

Man: “Honey, instead of going to the Quarter this weekend, why don’t we go to Kenner and count the people shopping at The Esplanade?”

Woman: “What a fantastic idea! We can have lunch at the Chic-Fil-A. No, wait a minute. I heard they closed.”

The list of Jefferson Parish NGOs and events that receive money from the Parish and have a relationship with Buisson include:

-          Jefferson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
-          JEDCO
-          Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo
-          Family Gras
-          Lafreniere Park (spearheaded by the aforementioned Zahn)
-          Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition (headquartered in the Coastal City of Metairie)
-          And many others.

Aside from being headquartered in Metairie, the Louisiana Tourism Coastal Coalition’s web site also directs visitors to try the many Jefferson Parish Seafood-based entrees at such restaurants as Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Ralph & Kacoo’s (in New Orleans, not even the correct parish).

In addition to sending Kenner tax dollars to the JCVB, Yenni also sends more Kenner tax dollars annually to JEDCO, which also should be promoting Kenner to business interests because their funding comes from Jefferson Parish tax dollars too.

In fact, during his 5 years as Kenner Mayor, Yenni has funneled over $1 Million in Kenner tax dollars to entities affiliated with his campaign manager Buisson.

Buisson is also deeply entrenched with business groups including the Jefferson Chamber and the Jefferson Business Council. He also has done work with Bridging Progress (the Pro-Toll group) and the group thrown together to support Yenni’s plan to double Kenner’s property taxes (for which Buisson wrote off over $12k in debt).

Buisson also wrote the report for Yenni’s Streamlining Budget Committee, held a press conference and distributed the report to the public before many committee members had even seen it and authored reports for the Yenni’s Economic Development Committee, each of which included several members from the Jefferson Chamber and the Jefferson Business Council.

Buisson also has his sticky little fingers in several endorsement groups like Crimefighters, which make their endorsement meaningless to anyone with half a brain (I said half, not a quarter, Mike).

Now that you know some background, let’s cut to last week’s JP Council meeting.

When Louie “Mr. Irrelevant” Congemi entered the Jefferson Parish Council-At-Large race against Chris Roberts, many believed that Congemi was placed there in retaliation for Roberts supporting Elton Lagasse instead of Buisson-client Yenni in the Parish President race.

Congemi, who has long battled health issues, hasn’t been a factor in Jefferson Parish politics since 2011 when tried to bequeath his Council seat to his wife after he was term-limited. In the end, she dropped out early and Congemi supported Ben Zahn over me. Congemi even did not one but two robocalls in the same day supporting Zahn. Why two in one day, you ask? Because Congemi couldn’t remember the election day on the first one.

But that’s in the past.

I have no issue with Louie supporting Zahn, reading robocalls against me (he was doing what he was told to) or running against Chris Roberts. In fact, I was happy to hear that he was healthy enough to campaign.

Of course, Louie’s campaign manager was none other than…wait for it…Greg Buisson.

Well, at the last JP Council meeting, Chris Roberts decided to step up and do the right thing – stop contracts that are awarded to political operatives like Buisson.

No, he didn’t go all the way (that really doesn’t sound right but you know what I mean) and stop NGOs that receive tax funding from having the pass through relationship with Buisson that the JCVB, JEDCO and other do.

But stripping Buisson of the contract to supply reviewing stands for Mardi Gras Parades is a start.

Of course, Ben Zahn voted against the Roberts ordinance claiming that it unfairly targeted Buisson.

Sit down Ben.

Oh, sorry, you were already sitting.

To be fair, no tax dollars should go to any NGO that employs a political operative like Buisson and his company. How can elected officials that have a working relationship with Buisson vote against funding an NGO that employs his company? They should recuse themselves but, since this is pass through money, even the State Ethics Board turns a blind eye to the conflicts that any ordinary citizen could see.

Buisson claims that the ordinance is unconstitutional. Curious that I couldn’t find anything related to greedy political operatives who leech tax dollars in the Constitution.

Hopefully, this is the first step to riding Jefferson Parish of corrupt leeches like Buisson (c’mon. I can dream, can’t I?).

You know what? I don’t care.

Anything that stops a tax dollar from getting into Greg Buisson’s pocket is a win for me.
Now you know that Chris Roberts and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. But, even when we disagreed, Roberts would never duck a question or an issue. When you can agree to disagree and act like adults, that’s a good thing.

Others may not have had the same experience with Roberts, but that’s mine.

Hopefully, Councilman Roberts will continue this small step and clean up more conflicts of interest in Jefferson Parish.

Since Jefferson Parish still has the stench of Aaron Broussard (who also worked with Buisson) on it, Lord knows that with Mike Maunoir/Yenni moving in as Parish President, his greedy BFF Buisson won’t be far behind.

And that will mean more JP tax dollars funneled into Buisson’s pockets.

Unless we and Roberts stop it from happening.

In the meantime, we can all relish the fact that Chris Roberts stepped up and helped lighten the pockets a bit of the greedy, tax-dollar sucking leech that is Greg Buisson.

To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, “It’s one small step for JP tax payers…”

You know the rest…