Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kenner Spending $150,000 To Design “$1.5 Million Shed”

Yes, unfortunately you read that correctly.

In yet another example of the largesse that has defined the Mike Yenni era in Kenner, the City Council approved spending $150,000 from the BP settlement to design a building that will house generators that are only used during emergencies.

Characterized by District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll as a “$1.5 Million Dollar shed”, the building will be yet another in a long line of political payoffs to Yenni campaign contributors.

And, in typical Yenni fashion, the $150k design contract to Meyer Engineers was a no-bid contract and the $1.5 Million for the actual building is not in the budget.

Yes, despite Yenni's ascension to Parish President, his grubby fingerprints are all over this one. 

Meyer Engineers and its President, Richard Meyer, have donated almost $10k to Yenni’s campaigns.

Now, although it might be humorous to watch her almost blow a gasket, before Kenner’s resident Slumlord-In-Chief Maria DeFrancesch has a hissy fit and wants to lecture me again about an arcane, obsolete Federal law that doesn’t apply to municipalities, there is nothing illegal about a no-bid engineering contract.

Sorry, I wish there was.

But c’mon - $150,000 to design a shed?


Even District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud took issue with that one.

While some (myself included) question the need for a building to house emergency generators that costs twice what Kenner’s new Food Bank cost (and that was overpriced too), any sane person should question spending $150k simply to design anything, let alone a shed.

Yes, as pointed out by the Slumlord-In-Chief, the generators aren’t home generators and do cost upwards of $50k each.

And, yes, they may last longer if they are kept out of the elements and that may save the city some money in the long run.

But, beside the fact that these are outdoor-use generators to begin with, covering their trailers with a tarp would also keep them out of the elements and cost a lot less than $150,000 to design and $1.5 Million to build the “Taj Mahal of Sheds”.

Sounds more like a White Elephant Political Payoff to me.

If you’re keeping score at home, the Kenner Council approved the contract 4-2 with Carroll and Reynaud opposed and Mike Sigur (as Acting Mayor) not voting.  In his first meeting as appointed Councilman-At-Large, Brian Brennan showed that he fits right in on the Consensus Team voting with the majority to waste more Kenner money.  

Considering that Brennan was rejected by his own neighbors in his bid for a District Council seat, it was mystifying to me that he be appointed to a Citywide position. But that's another post. 

Look, if Kenner was awash in money and had no pressing needs I would still be against building a $1.5 Million shed.

But, when we’re not in a stable financial situation and there are needs everywhere you look due to the mismanagement of Yenni, I need to cry  “Foul”.

Look at the Kenner Fire Department.

The City Council budgeted $750,000, also from the BP settlement, for a new Fire Department ladder truck  which will cost more than $900,000 (could have used the $150k there right? But no political payoff for a Friend of Mike). The City is also facing a potential Multi Million court judgement to pay our Firefighters back pay and pension money owed them for years.  The KFD, under Chief John Hellmers has no hope of achieving the national standard of 4-men-on-a-truck and the Rescue Truck is out of service due to a lack of manpower, clearly Kenner has bigger priorities within its Fire Department alone than yet another no-bid political payoff to Mike Yenni campaign contributor.

So much for Public Safety in Kenner.

I know…you’re probably sick of me talking about the needs of the Kenner Fire Department.

Sorry but, someone needs to.

The bottom line is – Public Safety should come first, then Quality of Life. Way down on the list, my list anyway, is spending $150,000 to design a $1.5 Million shed to house outdoor generators.

Let’s shift back to revenue for a second.

When Kenner has more debt than ever before and is facing declining sales tax revenue from a dying, if not already dead, Esplanade Mall, shouldn’t our elected officials have been more prudent than blowing through the BP settlement money as quickly as they did?

And, even after the $150,000 for the design of the shed is deposited into Meyer Engineers’ bank account, the City still has to find the money to pay $1.5 Million for the building  - if not more – since it hasn’t been designed yet, how can we know how much it will cost when it comes time to actually build it?

Wonder which Friend of Mike will get that contract and where the money will come from?

Stay tuned.

In Kenner, there’s always something to write about.