Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sell-Out Chehardy Gets His 30 Pieces (Or More) of Silver

Sorry if it seems like selling out and cutting political deals is becoming a theme of this blog. But, it is what it is.

If you missed my post about Kenner Political Appointee Stephen Petit, the obvious deal he cut and the fact that he now wants to engage in political activity, despite 70% of Kenner voters saying that political appointees should not be involved in politics, click here.

Two years ago, I left the Republican Party. Or, more correctly, the Republican Party left me.

I joined the Republican Party as soon as I was able to vote because I firmly believed in smaller government, less government involvement in our lives and lower taxes. Add that to the fact that I am staunchly Pro-Life and against entitlements, and becoming a Reagan Republican was an easy choice.

The problem is, it is really hard to be a true Conservative Republican.

Conservative Republicans are going extinct.

Just look around.

Mike Yenni a Conservative Republican? Yeah, his propaganda team at the Third Buisson Reich are great at fooling many of you. But, sorry Mikey, Conservative Republicans (at least by my definition) don’t try to double property taxes, take on added debt, and grow government.

Newell Normand a Conservative Republican? Not even close. Newell Normand is one of the most egotistical, power hungry men I’ve ever met.

In fact, I dare you to find a true Conservative Republican anywhere in Jefferson Parish or Kenner government. Despite the vast majority of our elected officials being labeled “Republican”, they wear that moniker simply to get elected and re-elected.

Truth be told, the most fiscally Conservative member of the Kenner City Council is District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll.

Carroll is a Democrat.

When Ronald Reagan was around, he touted his famous “11th Commandmant” – thou shalt not speak poorly of fellow Republicans.

And that’s how I believed it was, or should be.

You debate candidates on issues, not personal attacks.

I don’t care about the rumors regarding Mike Yenni’s lifestyle or his choices (other than the fact that he attempts to portray himself in a vastly different light). When I ran against Yenni I wanted to beat him because I thought his policies were bad for Kenner.

Same as when I ran against Ben Zahn for Parish Council. I firmly believed that Ben Zahn accomplished little during his time on the Kenner City Council, was severely ethically challenged, and didn’t deserve a promotion to another office that he was not qualified for.

Sadly, as Zahn’s record has proven, I was correct. Aside from siphoning off tourism dollars for some decorative lights on a couple block stretch of West Esplanade and ceding half of Lafreniere Park to the legacy of Al Copeland, I can’t tell you what Zahn has accomplished during his stint on the JP Council.

And, I pay attention so I’m certain many of you couldn’t list Zahn’s “accomplishments” either.

Has he worked to reduce the size of JP Government? Has he reduced taxes? Has he strengthened ethics in JP? Has he reversed Kenner’s overfunding of the bus line, the 911 Call Center or extracted Kenner taxpayers from continuing to pay for Lafreniere Park?

If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, you’re not paying attention.

Which brings us back to Sell-Out Lawrence Chehardy.

The former longtime Assessor, who was anointed to the position by his father, retired in 2010 amid the biggest political scandal in JP’s history.

At the time, many speculated that Chehardy cut a deal – provide information on alleged wrongdoing and resign gracefully.

I asked Chehardy myself and he claimed that he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Chehardy was Assessor for over 30 years and, to this date, people consider him to have been a “great” Assessor.

But, what did he accomplish?

Sure, he fought for the Homestead Exemption (who wouldn’t), but he never got it increased.

Did Chehardy modernize the Assessor’s office, make it state-of-the-art befitting the State’s 2nd most populous parish, properly staff it and give us the most accurate assessments possible? Obviously not since incoming-Assessor Tom Capella immediately asked for a huge budgetincrease.

Did Chehardy make assessments transparent? Again, obviously not. When Capella, who was a Chehardy ally, campaigned, one of his platforms was to take politics out of the assessment process.

So, an understaffed, not technologically updated office where assessments were politically based. 

Still think Chehardy was a “great” Assessor?

Since his ‘retirement’, Chehardy has grown his law practice, started a political blog, and still stayed involved in politics.

Chehardy spoke at both of Yenni’s Kenner Mayoral inaugurations. He was the Chairman of Yenni’s Streamlining Budget Committee, which accomplished nothing. What Committee calls a press conference and releases a report before its members have even read it or approved the contents and the report contains suggestions that were not discussed in any of the Committee meetings? 

When I ran against Zahn in 2011, a year and a half after his ‘retirement’, Chehardy issued a venomous, libelous automated robocall against me.

And, he wasn’t the only “Republican” to attempt to disparage my character and falsely accuse of things in an attempt to help Zahn and Yenni defeat me.

“He lived in 30 cities in last 20 years.” Yeah, I still love that one, especially when you consider that I’ve lived in Kenner for 16 years. Must be Common Core math. 

I guess Chehardy never read Reagan's Commandments. 

This Fall, Chehardy was extremely vocal in his criticism of fellow Republican David Vitter during Vitter’s run for Governor. Chehardy publicly crossed party lines (as did Newell Normand and others) and endorsed John Bel Edwards.

Now, it’s no secret that Chehardy has hated Vitter throughout the years but to publicly support a Democrat, especially a Democrat like Bel Edwards, raised eyebrows. 

At least I'm in good company - Chehardy hates me and David Vitter. 

To be fair, there’s nothing wrong with voting for someone that belongs to a different political party than you or supporting a friend. But, it’s one thing to support a fake Republican like Mike Yenni, but to endorse Bel Edwards should have gotten Chehardy kicked out of the Republican Club for good.

Well, now we are beginning to see what Chehardy reaped for his aligning himself with Bel Edwards.

After his election, Bel Edwards immediately appointed Chehardy to a committee to advise Bel Edwards on the budget.

Now, Chehardy has received another appointment, this time as Chairman of the Louisiana Tax Commission which oversees Assessors across the state. Chehardy will also be responsible for reviewing assessment appeals in 9 parishes including Jefferson.

To the Baton Rouge Advocate, Chehardy disavowed any quid-pro-quo for his endorsement of Bel Edwards.

Chehardy said Monday there “absolutely was not” any arrangement or expectation that he’d land the commission appointment in exchange for endorsing Edwards, who was sworn in to replace Gov. Bobby Jindal on Jan. 11. He said his new role is simply “the next step up” from a job he performed for more than three decades in Jefferson.

Ah, ok. So much for ‘retirement’ and needing to spend time with your family.

What’s that line? Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice shame on me…

Mr. Chehardy, you fooled us big time when your old man handed you the Assessor’s job.

Yep, politics as usual in Louisiana.

But, just be honest for once.

We KNOW you cut a deal. Just admit it. This is Louisiana – it happens every day.

Stop thinking that we are stupid.

Ok, some of us are stupid – but most of us aren’t, despite what you and other politicians seem to think.

But, the kicker to all of this is we, as taxpayers, have no idea what Chehardy will be paid. Is it a full-time job? Will he leave his law firm? If he is paid more than the median average salary for Louisiana residents, he should make it his full-time job.

Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me – fool me three times…

Yeah, I guess we are stupid.

Thanks Lawrence.

You got over on us 30+ years ago and you’re still getting over on us. 

Now that's a legacy to be proud of. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Failed Politician Turned Sell-Out Political Appointee, Thumbing Nose At Kenner Residents

Editor’s Note: I supported and campaigned for Stephen Petit during both of his failed campaigns. 

Louisiana politics truly is a cesspool.

Despite Bobby Jindal’s “Gold Standard” of Ethics, pushed by Republicans who flooded the State House in 2008, politics in Louisiana literally stinks.

And, it’s not just state politics.

Here in Jefferson Parish. you have the same political machines steamrolling over potential candidates who stand in the way of the anointed few who seem to continue to move up the ladder despite dubious qualifications and even more dubious character.

One need look no further than Parish President Mike Yenni and chauffeur turned Sheriff Newell Normand to prove my point.

Back room deals. Job offers. Cash. If the average person knew what went on behind the scenes, they might be shocked.

Of course, this being Louisiana, perhaps they wouldn’t be shocked or even care.

When I ran for office in 2012 and 2014, and when I helped in friend’s campaigns, the offers to drop out or defect from my friends were plentiful.

“We’ll help you run for another office. How about State Rep? City Council?”

“We can appoint you to boards and commissions and raise your profile. Then you can run and we will support you.”

“We can hold a fundraiser so you can recoup the money you spent and have money on hand for your next campaign.”

People that I thought were my friends were acting as go-betweens bringing me different offers. When I said “No”, they’d be back a few days later with a different offer.

It reminded me of the scene in The Godfather II when Tessio is found to have betrayed the Corleone family and is about to be killed.

Tessio (played by the recently deceased Abe Vigoda), looks at Tom Hagan and says, “Tell Michael it was just business.”

Politics IS Business in Louisiana and Business is good (if you have your hand out, which I've never had).

Which brings me to twice-defeated Judge candidate and current Kenner Code Enforcement Director Stephen Petit.

I first met Stephen in 2013 when he was planning to run for Juvenile Court Judge. We were introduced by a mutual friend and spent several hours discussing politics in the French Press Coffeehouse on Williams Blvd.

Petit seemed like a decent guy with a few bumps along the way but he seemed to genuinely care about kids and believed the position was perfect for him.

I agreed to help in any way I could although, to be honest, I wasn’t asked nor did I do much for Stephen’s campaign.

Immediately after meeting with Stephen, and leading up to the election, I received pressure to disassociate with him and support the eventual winner and heavily endorsed candidate, Barron Burmaster.

I declined. Yeah, I’m kinda stubborn that way.

Hours after Petit came in third in the four-horse race, he endorsed Burmaster.

“I'm not a fan of the (political) machine, but I am a fan of Barron Burmaster," said Petit, a Metairie lawyer.

Nothing really unusual here. There were two candidates left and Stephen choose the one with the biggest bandwagon.

In the Spring of 2014, Petit attended my campaign kickoff party when I ran for Kenner Mayor.

Stephen even brought food to the party – food that he cooked – and it was good too.

In the Fall of 2014, Petit ran again for 1st Parish Court Judge.

Again, I supported Stephen and campaigned for him. This time, I did a little more, gathering volunteers to canvass neighborhoods for him. Many of the volunteers had never heard of Stephen, or hadn’t heard anything good about him, but walked door-to-door because I asked them to.

When I picked up literature from Stephen to distribute to volunteers, our conversation turned to the Mayoral campaign. Stephen was actually defending Mike Yenni and Jefferson Parish’s favorite crook, Greg Buisson.

I felt something in my stomach.

Had the Buisson Machine turned Stephen? Why am I going out of my way to help someone who may have sold out?

Another "Machine" candidate? I'm sensing a pattern here. 

This past fall, during Mike Yenni’s campaign for Parish President, Petit was a strong supporter of Yenni on social media, even attempting to joust with me, a choice he quickly reconsidered.

I was surprised when Petit was named Kenner’s Code Enforcement Director. Code also includes building inspections and Petit has no experience with code or inspections. He was primarily a Family Law attorney.

But, the pieces were falling into place.

Stephen Petit had sold out.

Which is fine, as long as you admit it and can live with it.

Kenner, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana and places all over are littered with people who have sold out.

And, there’s nothing wrong with taking care of your family. Of course, it’s not the way I would do it but it’s his life.

But, when you are a political appointee and your paycheck comes from City of Kenner tax dollars, there are strings attached.

In 2012, partially in response to Mike Yenni forcing Kenner political appointees to campaign for Ben Zahn in Lil Ben's campaign for Parish Council ("A Booster Chair for Everyone That Needs One"), the voters of Kenner by a 70-30% margin approved a Charter Change that was designed to eliminate the political activity of appointees.

"The nonelected employees in the employment of the City of Kenner shall not participate in any political activity on behalf of any city candidate in the City of Kenner elections."  

Yenni used that specificity in his claims that his political appointees COULD assist him in his Parish President campaign, since it wasn’t a “city election”.

But, the spirit and intent of the Charter Change was that Kenner voters didn’t want political appointees engaged in ANY political activity, including endorsement groups, party politics, or campaigns.

If City of Kenner employees cannot participate in political activity, their appointed bosses should not either.

Now, along comes political appointee Stephen Petit trying to push the envelope in his campaign for more power (and another Yenni/Buisson mouthpiece) by running for the Republican State Central Committee (SCC) and the Jefferson Parish Republican Executive Committee (RPEC).

One of the primary roles of both organizations is to endorse candidates.

Obviously, Petit isn’t interested in election to these groups so that he can follow the Charter and recuse himself from endorsing candidates running in Kenner elections.

No, Petit is seeking to payback Yenni (and Buisson).

As I said, when I met Stephen, I liked him. But, the Machine got to him and he had no problem selling out.

Now, if Petit has one ounce of integrity, he will remove himself from the ballot for the SCC and the RPEC and discontinue his association in any other political group that endorses candidates. As long as you are receiving a paycheck from Kenner taxpayers, you should act according to the spirit and intent of the Charter instead of thumbing your nose at it (Kenner residents already had 5 years of that with Yenni and now his "Consensus Team" on the Council).

But, I’m not holding my breath. 

You shouldn't either. 

Once you’ve sold your soul to the devil Buisson, it takes a really strong person to break away.

So Stephen, what kind of person are you? The one I met three years ago that cared about kids and doing the right the thing or just another sell-out?