Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mike Yenni’s Bad Decisions Continue To Plague Kenner

‘I’m not alone because the TV;s on
I’m not crazy because I take the right pills
-          “Bleed American”, Jimmy Eat World

First off, I owe many of you an explanation.

In April, I was diagnosed with two detached Retinas. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: he couldn’t just have one detached Retina he had to screw up both of them.

Hey, it’s not all my fault. Blame the Diabetes for some of it.

Due to scar tissue caued by Diabetes, the procedure to repair my retinas consisted of my Doctor inserting a silicon oil in my eyes for 3-4 months. I had the oil removed from my left eye a few weeks back and my vision is improving. There were some complications with my right eye and I will have the oil removed from it tomorrow (9/15).

Removing the oil leaves an air bubble in your eye which is replaced in a week or two by the body’s natural fluids. It takes a few weeks for the air bubble to recede,

In addition, I have cataracts in both eyes, however the process for their removal is much simpler and quicker than than the Retina surgeries that I have had. Or, at least, I am hopeful that they will be quicker.

At the moment, I can see large objects but cannot read small type. For example, I can see a car but I can’t read a license plate. It has been interesting being offline for the past 4 months and being unable to read a book, visit a web site, watch a movie, drive a car, read a menu, etc. Many of the things you (and I before my Retinas became detached) take  for granted.

I can watch, really listen to television. Thus the Jimmy Eat World reference above. Without the internet, newspapers or magazines, the radio and the television have been my only real sources of news and information.

My Doctors remain hopeful that, when completed, my vision will return but they don’t know to what degree yet. Time will tell.

I do appreciate those who called to check in on me even those who sounded surprised when I answered my cell phone. Evidently, given my lack of posts, presence at Kenner City Council meetings and other events, there was a rumor that I had died.

Sorry Mikey, no such luck. I will die one day but, unfortunately for some, that day is not today.

Also, thanks for the condolences on the death of my stepdad in June. It has been difficult on my mom but I have been spending a significant amount of time with her in Gonzales and helping her as much as possible, despite my lack of vision.

If you emailed or texted me, sorry that I haven’t responded but I can’t yet read.

But, enough about me. The bottom line is that I am alive, my leg is still attached and I’m doing much better than I deserve. I do, however, have much to say. So, through the magic of technology (and with some human assistance) we will return to our regularly scheduled programming. We have work to do.


Like the smell emanating from an outdated Kenner sewerage treatment plant or the sludge that backs up into many Kenner homes after a hard rain, the stench from former Mayor Mike “Don’t Call Me Kevin” Yenni’s poor decisions and unbridled political ambition continues to permeate through Kenner like a flatulent Phoenix that continues to rise over the abandoned corridor that is Rivertown or the nearly abandoned Esplanade Mall.

When Yenni quit on the people of Kenner after his reelection (and after saddling Kenner with Millions in debt), his untimely promotion to Jefferson Parish President set off a chain reaction that has sent Kenner City Government reeling.

The “Illegitimate, Unelected” Kenner City Council

With Yenni’s reelection, and the turnover of the City Council to Yenni’s “Consensus Team” (put in place to rubber stamp Yenni’s 2033 Plan), resulted in an inexperienced, illegitimate and unelected City Council that is not accountable to anyone, let alone the people of Kenner.

Yes, I said “illegitimate” in describing the City Council because that truly is what they are.

Let’s look at the facts:

In the 2014 election, of the 7 City Councilmen (5 District, 2 At-Large), only 2 (District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll and District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato) were actually elected by a majority of the voters in their District.

The remaining Councilmen, were appointed after their runoff opponents dropped out or they faced no opposition.

District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur and then-Councilman-At-Large (and former Yenni City Attorney) Keith Conley had their runoff opponents drop out, District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud, new District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline and the other Council-At-Large, Maria DeFrancesch, ran unopposed.

Then, after Yenni tapped Conley for a position in JP Government, rather than seeking someone with institutional experience and service to the City like former Councilmen Michele Branigan, Kent Denapolis (who dropped out of the runoff election with Conley for the At-Large position), or Joe Stagni, the Council approved Brian replace Conley.

Brennan was destroyed in the 2010 election for the District 5 Council seat by Denapolis.

So, you have 3 of the 5 District Councilmen who were brand new to government and 2 At-Large Councilmen, DeFrancesch and now Brennan, who were never elected to citywide office. As mentioned, Brennan couldn’t win election to a District seat in 2010 and, for her part, DeFrancesch was barely relected in 2010 to her District 4 seat.

How can you claim to represent the public when only 2 of 7 Councilmen were actually elected by 50% + 1 vote of those they are supposed to represent?

The answer is…you can’t.

Even worse, rather than call for an election for a new Mayor after Yenni’s departure, the Council put it off for almost a year citing the cost of a special election. While I am adamantly opposed to politicians office hopping and leaving their current constituents in the lurch and believe that, if a politician is interested in another position before his term ends that he should have the deceny to quit his current position (since he has already quit in his mind), I also believe that, if a special election is required to fill a position due to a politician office hopping, that politican should be required to personally pay the cost of the special election called to fill his seat.

in Yenni’s absence, the Council appointed the ethically challenged Mike Sigur as “Acting Mayor”. The term was supposed to last 6 months with Impastato moving in to the “Acting Mayor” slot for the remaining months before the election of a new Mayor to fill the remaining term of Yenni.

Despite the City Charter calling for the Council President and Vice President to be elected for a single 6-month term, in an unorthodox move, the Council voted to rescind their previous deal and leave Sigur as “Acting Mayor” and Impastato as Council President for the entire time.

It is unclear why the Council took this step or why they appointed an inexperienced, morally chanllenged Sigur as Council President (which elevated him to “Acting Mayor” to fill the void) to begin with.

Perhaps Impastato, like Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”,  had his butt firmly implanted in the Council President’s seat and was just too comfortable to move.

For his part, aside from interrupting the public during their whopping 3 minutes they are given to address the Council at the end of meetings and his weak attempts at humor, Impastato has done a decent job moving the meetings along at a near record pace.

Sigur, on the other hand, has proven to be less worthy – adding yet another City Department, granting raises and proving to be good at three things: spending other people’s money, lying and isolating other Councilmen (especially those running for Mayor).

It was hysterical watching Sigur discuss how hard he worked to secure CarMax for the City. The fact is, I had several conversations years ago with then-District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni regarding CarMax’s interest in Kenner and land near The Esplanade. Sigur had little, if anything, to do with CarMax. It was just fortuitous timing on his part that CarMax was finally able to strike a deal on the property.

The good news is that Sigur’s reign will be over soon.

The bad news is that it even occurred.

Repay Debt? Why Would We Do That?

After Yenni saddled Kenner with generations of debt for a list of dubious projects that will only prove to benefit his political contributors, you would think that the Council would be hamstrung and unable to spend money.

Ahh, if only that were true.

As expected, and written about here, many of the projects that Yenni borrowed money to fund have received Federal, State and Reguional grants paying for all or a large portion of the projects. Instead of returning the borrowed money that was budgeted but not needed when the grants arrived, and repaying the bond debt early, the Council has rerouted that money to other projects not vetted by the people of Kenner.

Three years after the debt, there have been no public meetings, no discussion of project status or an accounting of the bond debt that was spent to date.

In addition, also noted here, the Council received a $6.5 Million settlement with BP over the Deep Water Horizon incident.

Did the Council use that windfall to repay the debt?

Of course not.

The Council couldn’t wait to spend it on more projects including funding the initial engineering study for a $1.5 Million “Taj Mahal of Sheds” to house outdoor generators.

That’s right, house outdoor generators.

While I have always been against the City of Kenner owning a Food Bank (that should be left to a non-profit or a faith-based group), the fact that the City will send double the cost of its new Food Bank building (with all the whistles and bells) for a shed to house outdoor generators blows my mind.

In addition, the Council has received over $3.5 Million (and counting) from fees for the expansion at Armstrong International Airport.

Has the Coundil put that money towards debt repayment?

Are you kidding?

Councilman TweedleDumber, aka unelected District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline, couldn’t wait to list the projects this windfall would fund and reiterate that there would be more money and, wait for it, more projects, to be announced soon.

$10 Million that could have gone towards digging Kenner out of Mike Yenni’s massive debt sinkhole spent on more projects.

Sure, Kenner has needs and I’m sure that some of these projects are worthwhile. But, at a time when our Police and Fire Department needs are going unmet, we are selling off assets and playgrounds, where are this Council’s priorities?

We are holding bake sales and fundraisers to purchase bullet-proof vests for the KPD and one of our firefighters feels compelled to attend a Council meeting, wait of his 3 minutes at the end of the meeting, and literally beg the Council for a working television at a fire station (Heaven forbid that the Council actually allocated the funding so Kenner could purchase a new fire truck or achieve the national standard of 4-men-on-a-truck), and we can afford a $1.5 Million Shed?

If it weren’t so laughable I would say that the 6 Republicans on the Council should be embarrassed to call themselves Republicans.

Unfortunatley, I’m certain that nothing embarrasses this Council, just as nothing embarrassed Yenni.

As long as political contributors are being taken care of multi-million dollar no-bid contracts, all is well if you’re an elected official in Kenner.

Sadly, that’s how politics works – as long as the campaign cash comes in and your reelection (and promotion) is assured, screw the folks you were supposed to represent.

Boy, am I getting cynical in my old age…

And I haven’t even gotten to the upcoming Mayoral election yet.

Oh well. I will write more soon, I promise. Gotta rest up now for surgery.