Sunday, December 10, 2017

Double-talking Zahn Sells Out Hispanics and Kenner Residents

“The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a man only tells them with all his might.”
-          Mark Twain


It must be difficult speaking out of both sides of your mouth.
It’s certainly not a skill that I have mastered or ever will. 
Unfortunately, talking out of both sides of your mouth comes easily to career politicians like Ben Zahn. 
But, sooner or later it will catch up to you. 
Because he panders to anyone and everyone, and is always looking for more and more money to grow government, while claiming to support public safety and defending his actions at places where he can’t be challenged, the walls are starting to cave in on Lyin’ Ben’s House of Cards. 
I could sit here and rehash the many missteps that Zahn and his administration have engaged in during their 11 month tenure at Kenner’s helm but I will refrain and just speak about some significant recent developments and point out Zahn’s continued hypocrisy. 
Considering that Zahn has grown the size of City government, added departments and political appointees, continuously pats himself on the back for the vast State, Parish and Local government experience that he has and has brought to the City, and that Zahn has been in Kenner or JP Government for the past 12 years, there should be far fewer missteps, if any at all.
But, since this is going to be a long post as is, let’s not digress and delve right into it. 
The "Hispanic" Resource Center
First, let’s get this straight – this is not a post about whether Kenner needs or should even have a "Hispanic" Resource Center. 
If you want to debate whether the trailer on Florida Avenue should be called the “Hispanic Resource Center”, the “North Kenner Resource Center”, the “Kenner Community Center”, or some other name, fine, we can do that. Just not now.
Personally, I believe that the City of Kenner should have more Community Centers that serve all facets of our community. The name is immaterial.
That being said, the fact is that we’ve had a “Hispanic Resource Center” for 14 years, it’s falling apart and the City and City Council have committed to rebuild it. 
For several years, the Kenner City Council has allocated funding and moved money around to build a new HRC to replace the trailers that currently house it. 
Just when it seemed like the City finally had the money put together to build a new Resource Center, Zahn and his council buddies pulled the wool out from under the Kenner Hispanic Community and Kenner residents.
At Thursday’s Kenner City Council meeting, Zahn moved $396,000 that was allocated for the HRC into capital budgets for the KPD and the KFD, and a “Loss Fund” to cover legal and other fees from lawsuits (including the lawsuit thrust on Kenner taxpayers by his own political appointees trying to overturn a Charter Change overwhelmingly approved by Kenner voters).
Both KPD Chief Glaser and Interim KFD Chief Bergeron have significant needs and, if you’ve read this blog in the past you know that  I have long banged the drum to try to get more money for the woefully underfunded KFD. 
While I have no issues with funneling more money to the KPD and KFD, the money should not have been reallocated from the HRC. 
And, clearly, not one cent from any community program or service should be used to pay for a lawsuit that Zahn himself has encouraged and will benefit from. 
But, let’s discuss the double-talk spewed from Zahn. 
Zahn claimed that he was opposed to building a new HRC on land that was being used by a local soccer group.
What he didn’t tell you was that only 2 months ago, he gave the soccer team the right to use the land without even discussing his plan with District 2 Councilman Keith Reynaud and knowing full well the condition of the HRC and the money that was allocated to rebuild it. 
Earlier in the year, Zahn himself approved a $12,000 change order for the contractor designing the new building, bringing the total already spent on the "new" HRC to $91,000. Of course, to hear Zahn tell it, he was just signing off on what the Council had already approved. 
But, if you know the money is allocated for the building and you approved additional money for the design, why would you give that land away and, isn’t there already ample land for the new HRC and the soccer team? 
Because Zahn claims that the City doesn’t need any more new buildings.  On that point, Lyin’ Ben and I agree. But, this money wasn’t going towards a NEW building – it was to replace a dilapidated, outdated temporary building that has long outlived its usefulness.
But wait…there’s more. 
Zahn falsely claimed that the current land housing the HRC and the soccer team wasn’t large enough and the plans for the new HRC building also weren’t big enough. 
Earlier in the meeting, District 2 Puppet, I mean, Councilman Mike Sigur, at the urging of Zahn, tried to get an item added to the agenda to allow the City to buy another piece of land for the larger Resource Center that Zahn now envisions. 
Why would the City want to buy another property when the existing property is more than enough? 
And, since the City doesn’t have enough money for new KPD and KFD capital expenses or to fund a “loss fund”, and needs to move money from the HRC funding, where will it get even more money to buy another property and build another, even larger Resource Center?
And, what about Zahn’s claims that the City doesn’t need any new buildings? Why buy property if you don’t need a new building? 
When discussing his plan with Hispanic groups in an attempt to secure their support, Zahn also has reportedly told several people that Kenner needs not just a soccer field but a soccer stadium that could hold regional tournaments.
Where will the money for that come from and isn’t a “stadium” a “building”?
It’s all very confusing but that’s what happens when you don’t speak the truth.

 The Staffing Issue
Both Zahn and his puppet Sigur also said that they were pulling the HRC funding because a new, larger HRC would need more staff and the City couldn’t afford it (but they will be able to staff an even bigger Resource Center?).
When you consider the amount of new departments and political appointees that Zahn has added to Kenner government, you know that this clearly is a ruse.
Zahn could move his new “Diversity Coordinator” to the HRC and make him actually work instead of just attending luncheons.
I mean really, does anyone even know what the “Diversity Coordinator” does aside from giving Zahn cover so Lyin’ Ben can point to the token Hispanic on his staff? 
Sorry Ben, Hispanics represent ¼ of the City’s population. They deserve more than token representation in your Administration. 
But, I guess 1 Hispanic “Diversity Coordinator” is still 1 more than the amount of African-American Directors Zahn employs. 
Yeah, having ZERO City Directors that reflect 50% of Kenner’s population really proves your “diversity” Mr. Zahn. 

The Real Reasons Behind This
There are two reasons that I can see as to why Zahn reallocated the HRC funding: 
1). To cover the legal expense incurred by the lawsuit from his political appointees.
2). Rebuilding the HRC wasn’t Zahn’s idea. 

3). Zahn can give out even more contracts to his campaign contributors. 
The Future of the HRC
While Zahn maintains that moving the funding from the HRC is not a death sentence and that he will build a new, bigger (to be named) Resource Center, several questions remain: 
1). When will the Resource Center be built?
2). How will the land and building be funded and staffed? Since we know Lyin’ Ben won’t cut his bloated political appointee budget, will Zahn steal money from other community programs or should we get used to seeing Bake Sales at future Council meetings to provide the funding? 
3). If and when a new HRC or Resource Center is built, will Kenner Hispanics and residents of all ethnicities feel welcome there?
4). What about the $91,000 that the City has already paid for design work? Do we just write that off because Ben Zahn says so? 
 One Last Thing
I would be remiss if I didn’t address the ugly, vile and unprofessional comments made by District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur regarding his fellow Councilman, At-Large Councilwoman Maria DeFrancesch and District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud.
Sigur inferred that DeFrancesch and Reynaud were against moving the HRC funding because they will economically benefit from increased property values if the HRC stayed in its current address. 
Sigur claimed that there could be “ethics violations” and charges against DeFrancesch and Reynaud.
Of course, Sigur just threw these statements out there and didn’t elaborate or offer any proof to substantiate his claims. 
For those of you that follow Kenner politics, you know that it is incredibly hypocritical for Sigur to lecture anyone on “ethics”.
Consider this:
       -          While campaigning, Sigur lied about his support of then-Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s plan to                double property taxes. When he was presented with photographic proof that he had a yard                sign supporting the tax increase, Sigur claimed that he was simply supporting the KPD and                    not Yenni’s tax scheme. Yeah, right. 

-          Sigur allegedly removed thousands of dollars in excess floor tiles from the Kenner Police Headquarters for use in his residence.

-          He approved funding for the Kenner Italian Heritage Festival while receiving compensation for paid police details and advertising for his side hustle from the Festival. 

-          Sigur has received thousands of dollars in police detail work as a "Reserve Officer" while sitting on the Council (he did get an opinion from the State Ethics Board which foolishly allows this to occur but even with the Ethics Board’s ok Sigur receiving compensation from the KPD while a Councilman doesn’t pass the smell test). These lucrative paid details could have and should have gone to active KPD officers to help supplement their income – not pad a "Reserve Officer"/part-time City Councilman’s income. Around the KPD, Sigur’s nickname was “Detail Whore”.  
Like I said, Sigur lecturing anyone on “Ethics” is like Ben Zahn teaching a class on “Telling the Truth”. 
Councilman Sigur, and I use that term loosely, you owe Councilmen DeFrancesch and Reynaud, and the people of Kenner an apology for your unprofessional behavior. 

While we wait for Sigur’s apology, you better get started baking Ben. 
It takes a lot of cookies to buy another piece of land to build another building that Kenner doesn’t need.



Thursday, November 9, 2017

JP "Teacher Tax" Not Just About Teachers - And Not Needed

It's hard to write a post against Teachers.

Teachers are overworked and underpaid. They often spend their own money on supplies for their classrooms and, all too often, for students.

I haven't met anyone that thinks Teachers are paid too much or don't deserve a raise. In Jefferson Parish, the starting salary for a teacher is $40,949. Which, according to the School System, is the lowest starting salary in the Metro New Orleans area. The "Teacher Tax" would raise JP to $44,949, or 2nd in the area behind only Plaquemines Parish ($46,300).

Like I said, it's hard to write a post against Teachers, especially JP Teachers.

So, I won't.

But, if you believe the spin coming from the Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS), it's high-priced PR firm, and the Teacher's Union, if YOU vote No on the "Teacher Tax" YOU are against Teachers.

Sadly, that perception just doesn't match reality.

So, while I won't write a post against Teachers, I will tell you why I think the "Teacher Tax" is not needed and why you should vote NO.

Let's break things down a little and look at the numbers.

According to the school system, in 2015/16 (the last year noted on their website) the JPPSS had 48,835 students and 6,029 employees, of which only 2,892 are "Certified Teachers". That's a Student/Teacher ratio of 16.88/1. The US Department of Education only has data through 2013 and that shows that the average Student/Teacher ratio nationwide was 16.1/1. The State of Louisiana sets the maximum number of Students per Teacher at 20/1.

That also means that, the JPPSS has more non-teachers than teachers. 

The JPPSS has a FY 2017 budget of $579 Million which means it spends over $11,856 per student per year. Again, according to the Federal Government, spending per pupil in 2013 was $10,700. Louisiana averaged $10,490 in 2013.

So, if the amount spent per student is above both the National and State averages, what's the problem?

That answer is simple: like most government entities, and many people, the JPPSS has a spending and a debt problem.

They spend and borrow too much and, instead of being prudent and cutting back, the JPPSS simply comes back to the taxpayer for more.

On November 18th, it's an 8.45 mills tax for "Teacher Pay". This Spring it will be another tax for new buildings.

This despite the fact that in 2012, voters approved a 9 mill renewal for "Teacher Salaries and Benefits", and, in 2013, voters also approved a 7 mill renewal for "Buildings". In addition, in 2015 and 2016, the School System added over $89 Million in new debt and paid an almost $10 Million "Premium on bond issuance".

And, voters also approved an additional 1/2% sales tax for "increasing salaries and benefits of school teachers and other employees" among other things. This raised the amount the of sales tax the JPPSS receives to 2% of JP's 4.75%.

Oh yeah, and in 2015, the School Board approved a $32 Million settlement as part of the BP Oil Spill.

The new debt added to the School System's existing debt means that, as of 6/30/2016, the JPPSS had outstanding debt of $206,492,000. The annual interest payments alone on the debt are $28.4 Million. 

The new tax is estimated to generate $27 Million annually for 10 years, or less than the amount the JPPSS pays annually in interest payments.

In fact, the JPPSS is budgeted to spend $89 Million in "Purchased Professional & Technical Services" in 2017, up from $40 Million in 2016, and both more than the amount of revenue the new tax would generate.

What are "Purchased Professional & Technical Services"? Legal, accounting, engineering and architectural services primarily (or, things not directly related to educating our youth).

In addition, "General Administration" costs ballooned by almost 50% from $23.4 Million in 2015 to $31.2 Million in 2016.

Clearly, some money could be cut from both of those items to fund teachers and I'm certain there is even more fat that could be cut before asking taxpayers to dole out even more money.

The "Teacher Tax" will giver every JP Teacher an additional $4,000 per year. It would also give employees earning $20,000 per year a $3,000 increase and those earning less than $20,000 a 10% salary increase.

If we round things off and say that there are 3,000 teachers in JP, giving every one of them $4,000 would still only total $12 Million, so only about 44% of this tax will actually go to increasing teacher salaries.

The remaining 56% or so will go towards increasing the pay of other JPPSS employees, from Administrators to Janitors.

But, don't they deserve to be paid more too?

Perhaps, but not until all of the fat in the JPPSS budget is cut and teachers (which should be the #1 priority of the JPPSS) have their salaries increased.

And, we haven't even brought up the School System's continued mediocre performance.

The JPPSS says that it needs this tax to "be competitive".

In a statement supporting the tax, the JPPSS also says, "Teachers are the key drivers for improving educational outcomes in the classroom. We are losing teachers at all levels, but especially newer teachers."

What the JPPSS can't say is if newer teachers are leaving because of the pay or for other reasons and, if it is the pay, is another $76 a week (before taxes) going to get them to stay?

But, if MORE money from this tax is going to non-teachers, how is this tax about making our schools competitive and retaining and attracting quality teachers?

And, if the situation is as dire as the JPPSS would have you believe, why can't they cut some money from non-teacher spending to afford the raises?

Until the JPPSS can get it's non-teacher related spending and it's debt under control, no JP resident should support spending more of our money for below average performance.

Whether it's called a "Teacher Tax" or not.

Sorry if that makes you say that I'm "Against Teachers".

The reality is that I'm just a guy against more taxes, especially before you cut government first.










Wednesday, November 8, 2017

JP Public Schools Decline Slightly, Keep "C" Grade

State rankings for the 2016-2017 school year show that the Jefferson Parish Public Schools System declined slightly overall but managed to keep their "C" grade finishing well below the state average.

Schools and school districts statewide are ranked according to several criteria including standardized test scores, high school graduation rates and level of coursework.

Overall, Jefferson Parish dropped from 79.4 to 78.9 on the 150-point scale, both within the "C" grade. The state average of 70 school districts ranked was 86.8 ("B"). Unlike JP however, the state average increased by 3.8 points.

13 JP schools were ranked "A" led by Haynes Academy for Advanced Studies with a 141.2 score. 20 schools received "B" grades. There were 28 "C" graded schools, 14 "D" rated schools and 8 "F" graded schools.

The 8 "F" graded schools are Woodmere Charter, the Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy (JCFA), Martyn Alternative, Wall Elementary, Theodore Roosevelt Middle, Westbank Elementary, Frederick Douglas Elementary and Livaudais Middle. Martyn Alternative and Roosevelt are on the Eastbank; the others are on the Westbank.

The Zachary Community School District finished 1st statewide with a score of 115.6.

Jefferson Parish finished 6th in the 7 District Metro New Orleans rankings. Plaquemines Parish was 1st with a score of 110.7 (#2 statewide); St. Tammany followed with a 104.1 score (#8 statewide); St. Charles Parish was third in the Metro with a 100 score (#17 statewide); St. Bernard Parish came in 4th in the Metro with 98.3 score (#21 statewide); St. John the Baptist was next with a 83.8 score (#42 statewide); Jefferson Parish was 48th statewide with Orleans Parish (including the Recovery School District) rounding out the Metro with a 70.8 score (#58 statewide).

Click here to search for individual school performance grades.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Deja Vu? Did Kenner Council And Mayor Zahn Screw Up Interim Appointment Again?

"It's deja vu all over again."
    - Yogi Berra

At the last Kenner City Council meeting, District 5 Interim Councilwoman Kelly Hand took her seat. Unfortunately, since the Kenner City Council prematurely voted to appoint her before Dominick Impastato's resignation took effect on 10/31, Mrs. Hand could only sit there quietly and not vote.

Unfortunately for District 5 residents who are left without any official representation, Mrs. Hand may be just sitting there for another meeting or even longer.

At a "Special" Council meeting (and really, aren't they all "Special"?), the Council voted again to appoint Mrs. Hand. But, City Hall missed the deadline for the resolution appointing Hand a second time to be published in the Official Journal (The Times/Picayune).

Article 2.18 of Kenner's Home Rule Charter provides that  ordinances and resolutions do not become effective until ten days after publication of the legal notice in the official journal.   Kenner's legal notices are usually published in the "Kenner Picayune" section of the Times Picayune every Wednesday.

Publishing the resolution in this Wednesday's (11/8) paper would mean that Mrs. Hand's appointment would not be legal for 10 days, thus not allowing her to participate (other than sitting silently) at the next City Council meeting on Thursday, 11/16.

Ironically, the City used the "10 day rule" both when it appointed Brian Brennan and Mrs. Hand, to convince the Secretary of State that the Council appointments were legal since they would not "take effect" until AFTER there was an actual vacancy.

The Zahn Administration scrambled to get the notice published in the Monday (11/6) "Newsstand" edition of the Times/Picayune. The "Newsstand" Edition is not home delivered and is only available for purchase at area retailers and newspaper boxes.

There is a question as to whether the "Newsstand" Edition constitutes "Official Publication in the City's Official Journal". If it is not considered "Official", any vote Mrs. Hand makes at the 11/16 meeting could be challenged and, possibly, illegal. It would also mean that Mrs. Hand would not be put on the Kenner payroll until 11/18, or two days after the next Council meeting  and District 5 would be without "Official" voting representation until December.

That is, assuming that the City of Kenner republishes the Legal Notice in the Wednesday, 11/8 edition.

If it is not republished in the "Official Journal", every vote Hand makes could be challenged and, possibly, illegal.

Of course, the Zahn Administration maintains that the "Newsstand" Edition qualifies as "Official". But, isn't the point of a Legal Notice to be published for the widest available audience? Clearly, the "Newsstand" Edition has a circulation that is not equal to the combined Home Delivered/Newsstand circulation. And really, how many people actually buy a copy of the newspaper at a store anymore?

Since he's been an elected official for over 12 years, shouldn't Ben Zahn get little things like this right? And shouldn't the City Council and Zahn actually know what's in the City Charter?

Several times during his 11 month term, Zahn has either tried to get around the City Charter or pushed for laws before they had been properly vetted.

Zahn has already allowed several  of his non-resident political appointees to get waivers so they could get around the Charter residency requirement that was voted on and approved by the people of Kenner.

Zahn pushed the City Council to "do something" regarding TNCs like Uber and Lyft so the City could get a new revenue stream from fees on drivers and passengers, and when the City Council passed an ordinance that Uber and Lyft said would drive them from Kenner, Zahn needed to call another "Special" Council meeting to repeal the ordinance and start again.

Regarding the controversial UDC provision that would ban Kenner residents from parking boats in their driveways, Zahn pushed for the UDC to be passed by the Council but deferred enforcing it for a year after public criticism.

Shouldn't WE push our elected officials to get it right instead of just plowing ahead? Isn't it better, especially regarding LAWS, to get it right rather than get it fast?

This isn't McDonald's - these are laws that impact all of us.

Since Ben Zahn has been on the public payroll much of his adult life, he should know the difference.




Monday, November 6, 2017

Sexual Predator Yenni Fundraising For Reelection Attempt

You know when you're hosting a party and it's winding down and people start to leave? You're tired and you're starting to clean up but there's one guy that won't get the hint that the party is over.

You want to scream, "Go home now!", but this guy just doesn't take the hint.

Well, in Jefferson Parish, Mike Yenni is THAT GUY.

Tomorrow night (11/7), Jefferson Parish's Sexual Predator-In-Chief  is holding a $500 per person cocktail reception as he raises money for his reelection bid.

That's right - the man who a year ago was accused of attempting to have a three-way sex romp with two teenage boys is having a cocktail reception that his sexual prey couldn't even attend.

Unless, of course, they drank "Shirley Temples".

At $500 a person, that's s pretty expensive Shirley Temple.

Despite horrendous approval numbers in every poll and a recall effort that garnered more signatures than the number of people who voted for Yenni in the last election, he still thinks he can be reelected. Of course, when you've never had a non-government job in your life or owned a business and your only skill is feeding off the government trough and using your campaign account to fund your lifestyle, I'm sure the "Real World" is a scary place.

Obviously, Yenni is emboldened (or delusional) as this week also marks his return to the Jefferson Chamber-sponsored "State of the Parish" Address.

You will recall that Yenni's invitation to speak before the Chamber last year was revoked after the allegations of Yenni's improper sexting with at least one teenage boy.

Yenni tried to save face by claiming that he never agreed to speak at the Chamber event, an annual gathering that is always headlined by the Parish President and the Jefferson Parish Council President.

It is unclear why the Chamber would capitulate and invite Yenni this year. The Sexual Predator-In-Chief continues to embarrass most moral Jefferson Parish residents and business owners by his defiance in not doing the right thing and resigning.

At least Yenni didn't change Veteran's Day this year to Richard Simmons Day.

Like the guy that won't leave the party, Yenni can't put his own arrogant needs aside and think about what is best for our parish to move forward.

And, like it or not, the best thing for our parish is to forget about Mike Yenni.

Why are some people still supporting and enabling the Sexual Predator-In-Chief? Access, contracts and their own selfish needs.

Many JP residents and business owners are distressed, but not surprised, by both Yenni's fundraising and the Chamber's turn. The Chamber has always been a rubber stamp for Greg Buisson candidates and issued a statement in support of Yenni's 2030 Kenner Debt Plan minutes before the Kenner City Council voted on it (as did the Times-Picayune).

But have no fear Loyal Readers, for I have your backs.

Since I'm a little too conspicuous to attend either function (and, in all honesty, I have ZERO desire to be in the same room with the Sexual Deviant), I have arranged for folks to be inside and outside of both the Cocktail Reception and the Chamber meeting.

These folks will report to me and also take photos so that I can let you know what businesses and business owners and private citizens are contributing to and supporting Yenni's reelection bid. I'm not asking or even suggesting that you boycott them but, you deserve to know who is helping to attempt to keep our Sexual Predator-In-Chief in office and continue making our parish a laughing stock.

Yeah, it cost me a few bucks but I think it's an investment in transparency.

So, if you are planning to attend either event and showing support for JP's Sexual Predator-In-Chief please remember to smile and wear clean clothes:

THE PEOPLE OF JEFFERSON PARISH WILL BE WATCHING. 

In the meantime, I think I'll have a Shirley Temple.

Better yet, make it a Double.





Friday, October 27, 2017

Silly Fish: Kenner Council Must Redo Interim Vote

The other day, I told you about my "Fortune" and compared the Kenner City Council to "Silly Fish".

To review, my "Fortune" said, "It is the silly fish that is caught twice with the same bait."

And now there's news that the Kenner City Council has proven me right (again).

The Council has scheduled another "Special" meeting on Monday. The only agenda item is...wait for it...to name an interim replacement for District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato.

As we noted in our last post, BEFORE a vacancy or anticipated vacancy can be filled on the Council, there must be an opening. In this case, as was the case in 2016 when the Council rushed the appointment of Brian Brennan to replace Keith Conley, Impastato's resignation letter had not arrived at the Secretary of State BEFORE the Council voted to replace him.

What is truly sad about this matter is, not that it happened again but, that the Council was warned AGAIN.

When I learned that the Council would be naming a replacement, I emailed and texted several council members. No, I didn't notify my councilman, District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur, since in almost 4 years in office, Sigur has NEVER returned a phone call or replied to an email from me.

Several other people also contacted the Council.

So, the Council knew they were screwing up but, in their arrogance, they ignored the warnings.

Silly fish...

For those of you that enjoyed my analogy/fortune, here's another one: the Kenner City Council is like a group of teenagers in a bad, scary movie where you know how it ends but you keep watching anyway.

You're sitting there watching the movie and talking to the movie screen and trying to warn the teenagers: "Don't go in there."

But the kids go anyway - and then they are killed.

Whether it's redoing yet another Council appointment or repealing the Uber/Lyft ordinance days after they approved it, or facing the maelstrom of criticism over their attempt to ban property owners from parking boats in their driveways, the Kenner City Council truly is "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight."

 I laugh every time I think of the character named "Baccala".

For those of you that don't know, Baccala is salt cod, and it was a staple of my Grandmother's Christmas Eve Dinner. We had fried Baccala; Baccala soup; Baccala salad; Baccala in tomato gravy; and more. You ate the Baccala and always complimented my Grandmother because at the end of the Baccala Trail was the prize: Pineapple Pie - a true delight.

I know...I'm writing about food again.

"The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" was a funny book and movie.

Kind of like watching the Kenner City Council meetings.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Kenner Council Botches Interim Pick - Again

A few weeks back I was craving Chinese food, and one plate wouldn't satisfy my craving. So, I set off for my favorite Chinese buffet, Jumbo Buffet on Williams Blvd. in Kenner. Jumbo Buffet is really more than an average Chinese buffet - they truly have something for everyone. Whether you're craving sushi, hibachi, boiled seafood, or even roast beef, they have it along with a huge selection of Chinese food (My stomach favors the Black Pepper Shrimp and Honey Chicken - kind of a Yin/Yang thing).

Now, before you get the idea that we're now a food blog and not your favorite spot for opinions on Jefferson Parish and Kenner politics (we are, right?), let me get to the point.

At the end of the meal, the waitress brought the check along with the obligatory Fortune Cookies (which most of the time aren't really "Fortunes" at all).

At this gorging, my "fortune" said: "It is a silly fish that is caught twice with the same bait."

Which is a perfect segue to discuss the Kenner City Council.

At Thursday's Kenner City Council meeting, the Council voted unanimously to appoint Kelly Hand to fill out the remainder of District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato's term.

This post isn't anti-Kelly Hand. On the contrary, I'm hopeful Mrs. Hand will do a fine job serving the residents of District 5.

But, the process surrounding her appointment is an abomination.

Let's take a step back in time to January 2016, when the Kenner City Council screwed up it's last Interim Council appointment.

After Jefferson Parish unwittingly voted for a Sexual Predator to become our Parish President, former Kenner City Attorney (and Mike Yenni Loyalist) and newly elected Kenner Councilman-At-Large Keith Conley jumped to JP Government to become Yenni's CAO.

In its haste, the Kenner City Council rubber-stamped Conley's choice and another Yenni Loyalist, Brian Brennan, as the Interim Councilman-At-Large representing the entire city. This despite the fact that when Brennan ran for the District 5 seat in 2010, he was trounced 59-41% by Kent Denapolis.

The people of Kenner had no clue who Brian Brennan was, what he stood for, or what qualified him to serve as a Councilman at all.

In addition, the Council approved Brennan before Conley had officially resigned. A citizen, Richard Brown, complained about the process and the Council had to take a second vote to approve Brennan.

But, again, the people of Kenner weren't given the opportunity to question Brennan, learn about him or have any say in his appointment.

Contrast the Kenner process with the this year's selection of Jack Rizzuto as Interim Jefferson Parish Councilman.

While I didn't like the drama surrounding the selection, in JP, three candidates were nominated by Councilmen. The public knew the names of the candidates and the candidates appeared at a council meeting to discuss their qualifications, answer questions and at least be partially vetted.

None of that happened with the Brennan selection and none of that happened this time with selection of Mrs. Hand either.

And, that lack of transparency is the problem.

Councilman Impastato added the resolution appointing Mrs. Hand to the council agenda with a blank space where the name should appear. Members of the public had no notice of Mrs. Hand's appointment. In fact, several members of the Council themselves weren't aware of the appointment until right before the meeting began.

Why the secrecy? 

Now I know that members of the Kenner City Council and Mayor Zahn think they are smarter than the public and they don't owe us any explanations for the actions that they take. Often, when members of the public attend a council meeting and speak at the end of the meeting about an issue or to ask questions or give their opinion, they are greeted with contempt by the same officials that were elected to allegedly represent them.

This council meeting was no different.

When District 5 resident Greg Tefft asked whether Mrs. Hand would be seeking election to the council after her appointment expired, Impastato lashed out at Mr. Tefft.

No citizen, let alone someone as mild-mannered as Mr. Tefft, deserves the smug contempt and condescension strewn upon him by Impastato.

And, why the rush? 

Councilman Impastato hasn't resigned from the Kenner City Council yet and that should have been the first step. It also makes zero sense that Impastato was allowed to vote on his replacement. It remains to be seen if any citizen will contest this appointment and if the council will be required to redo it as they did in 2016.

Again, this isn't an indictment of Mrs. Hand. When I ran for Jefferson Parish Council in 2011, I got to know Mrs. Hand since her husband, former Judge and State legislator Skip Hand, was one of my opponents. Mrs. Hand seemed like a very nice person and she has been involved in her civic association. Is that enough to be appointed to the City Council? Hey, we have folks on their now with even less qualifications.

But the people of Kenner should be given the opportunity to know much more about someone appointed to a council seat and the Kenner City Council should operate with much more transparency.

And, they certainly should learn from their past mistakes.

Hopefully, this Spring the people of Kenner WILL learn from our past mistakes.

Hopefully, the people of Kenner are not silly fish.

At a 2014 Kenner Mayoral candidate forum, Mike Yenni compared me to a crab in a pot of boiling water that kept climbing to the top of the pot and wouldn't die.

Well, it's better to be a crab than a silly fish.

Now, there's a fortune for you.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Impastato Representing Ex-Councilman Accused Of Stealing $500k From Couple

The hits just keep on coming for embattled Kenner City Councilman, and Jefferson Parish Council candidate, Dominick Impastato.

Despite his attempts to distance himself from his longtime friendship with Jefferson Parish Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni, his use of Yenni's campaign manager, Jefferson Parish's Minister of Propaganda Greg Buisson, and having access to Yenni's campaign donors, Impastato can't seem to get out of his own way.

Rumors are running rampant on social media regarding multiple real estate transactions between Impastato and a convicted drug dealer and money launderer. While we can't confirm those rumors, we can discuss another case that "Mr. Fresh Ideas" would rather you didn't know about.

Impastato is representing former Interim Kenner Councilman-At-Large Brian Brennan in a case involving the theft of over $500,000 from a Mississippi company, Southland Express LLC, owned by a husband and wife.

Like Impastato, Brennan also has significant ties to Yenni who appointed him to Yenni's 2010 Kenner Mayoral transition team after Brennan was defeated in his bid for the Kenner City Council District 5 seat. Impastato was also a member of Yenn's transition team.

In 2016, at the urging of Yenni, Brennan was appointed Interim Councilman-At-Large after Keith Conley resigned to join the Yenni Administration in Jefferson Parish government. Brennan served until a Special Election was called and Tom Willmott was elected to serve the remainder of Conley's term.

An interesting side note to Brennan's appointment to the Kenner City Council was the fact that he actually got appointed twice to the same position. Brennan was appointed before Conley's resignation letter was sent to the Secretary of State. Because of this procedural error, Brennan's initial appointment was rescinded and the City Council needed to vote for his appointment at a later meeting. Impastato was on the City Council and voted to approve Brennan's appointment.

Brennan, who has been actively campaigning for Impastato, is rumored to be interested in seeking the Kenner City Council District 5 seat currently held by Impastato should Dominick be successful in his Jefferson Parish Council race against State Senator Danny Martiny.

According to court documents obtained by ClickJefferson, in 2008 Southland Express LLC signed an agreement with Metro Rediscount Company, Inc. (a Louisiana Corporation) whereby Metro Rediscount would provide factoring services to Southland Express.

Factoring is a commonly used practice of advancing funds based upon purchase orders or invoices. A company like Southland Express sells its invoices to the "Factor" at a discount, getting the cash now. The "Factor", in this case, Metro Rediscount, would then collect the payments due on the invoices as they became due.

The factoring agreement between Southland and Metro Rediscount went on for several years and Metro Rediscount billed Southland's clients and collected payments.

Then, things changed.

Between May 2011 and February 2012, Metro Rediscount wrote worthless checks to Southland Express for a total of $527,101.57 while continuing to collect payments from Southland Express clients in Jefferson Parish.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State, at the time, Metro Rediscount listed two officers on their incorporation papers: Frank Adolf (President/Officer) and Brian Brennan (Vice President/Secretary/Officer).

After repeatedly getting bounced checks from Metro Rediscount, and repeatedly being told that Metro Rediscount would make things right (which never happened), Southland Express contacted their Jefferson Parish clients and told them to stop remitting payments to Metro Rediscount and pay Southland directly.

In the court documents, Southland Express's owners claim that they had several conversations with Adolf and Brennan regarding the $527k that Southland was owed. Adolf kept promising to pay Southland.

In fact, Adolf sent one payment of $15,000.

Guess what? That check bounced too.

The owners of Southland Express also had several conversations with Brennan, who just passed the buck claiming that Adolf would deal with the Southland Express owners directly.

With no actual payments forthcoming, Southland Express filed a lawsuit against Metro Rediscount, Adolf and Brennan seeking the $527,101.57 plus interest, court costs and attorney fees.

Subsequent to the Southland Express transactions, Brennan resigned as Vice President of Metro Rediscount and is now an insurance agent. Adolf later dissolved Metro Rediscount Company, Inc., added a new partner and is operating as Metro Rediscount of Kenner II, LLC.

What's even more interesting about this case is Impastato's involvement in representing Brennan.

Now, don't get me wrong - everyone is entitled to proper legal representation and, since Martiny is also an Attorney, I'm sure that over the years he may have represented an unsavory character or two himself.

However, according to his attorney page, Impastato's primary area of practice is "Product Liability Litigation", and not representing someone accused of stealing $500k and causing financial hardship to a married couple.

Further muddying the water is the fact that Impastato began representing Brennan in this case while both were serving on the Kenner City Council together. In addition, none of the details of Brennan's involvement in the Southland/Metro Rediscount court case were disclosed to the people of Kenner or members of the City Council prior to the vote on Brennan's appointment to the Council.

As an Attorney and personal friend, Impastato must have been aware of Brennan's involvement in the lawsuit. Did Impastato purposely work with Brennan to conceal that from the Kenner City Council and the public?

And why would Impastato allow someone like Brennan, accused of being Vice President of a company that stole over $500k from a company and then tried to conceal the theft by writing worthless checks and changing the company name, into Impastato's inner circle?

I don't know about you but that sounds like the same good ole boy politics as usual to me and not the "Fresh Ideas" slogan on signs that Impastato is littering Kenner with. .

But, since all we've heard from Impastato on the campaign trail is a series of negative attacks on Martiny (despite Impastato's pledge to focus on his achievements), why am I not surprised.

The Southland Express/Metro Rediscount lawsuit is scheduled for a January court date. Since qualifying for the March Kenner elections is in early January, chances are that Brennan and Impastato will try to keep concealing the lawsuit from the people of Kenner and get the court date moved back until after the election.

Best friends with a Sexual Predator and an accused thief.

"Fresh Ideas" or politics as usual in Kenner?








Sunday, October 1, 2017

Zahn, Impastato Now Using Police To Thwart Martiny Support

The Yenni/Zahn/Buisson Machine must be very worried about the Jefferson Parish Council District 4 race between their boy, Kenner Councilman Dominick Impastato, and State Senator Danny Martiny.

We've posted about Impastato's 'Politrics' and about Impastato's lies about endorsements, but now the Yenni/Zahn/Buisson Machine has kicked it up a notch employing the Kenner Police Department and, possibly, the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office to help in their Dirty Tricks Campaign.

In the past few days, many Kenner and Metairie residents received a robocall from Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn promoting the Impastato campaign.

In the call, a response to a Martiny direct mail piece that slams Impastato's claim that he has done more in less than one term than many politicians do in their entire careers, Kenner's Pathological Lying Mayor says, "I learned long ago that figures lie and liars figure."

I have listened to the call about a dozen times and I still have no idea what Zahn is talking about, but, when it comes to lies and liars, Ben Zahn is THE EXPERT. 

Zahn further claims that Impastato is "the real deal" and has "the experience, the energy and the effective leadership style to bring 'fresh ideas' to life."

Zahn asserts that Impastato single-handidly engineered a "$10 Million dollar fix from the Corps to protect you from flooding."

This is patently false. No Kenner Councilman or even the Mayor of Kenner, was responsible for or could make the Army Corps authorize a $10 Million project on their own. The Army Corps is funded through Congress using our Federal tax dollars.

Did Impastato sit in on a meeting with the Army Corps? Perhaps, although if Impastato were present, he sat in a chair silently taking notes. The Army Corps couldn't care less what a part-time Kenner City Councilman who is an Attorney and not an Engineer thinks about levees.

But, I know what you're thinking: what does this have to do with the Police.

When a robocall is placed, the party making the call needs to enter a telephone number that appears on your Caller ID. This is to alert you to telemarketers and other folks you may not want to speak to.

The return number on the Zahn robocall (which was paid for by the Impastato campaign), originated from a 225 area code telephone number and the name listed was "West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office".

Who wouldn't answer the phone if they got a call from a Sheriff?

The problem is, using a government agency's equipment (in this case, their phone number), for political purposes is a violation of Federal law.

Ooops.

Since the Impastato campaign paid for the robocall, why would Impastato use a West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office telephone number on their auto-dialer? Was it an attempt to intentionally deceive voters?

In an email, the Sheriff of West Baton Rouge Parish said this:

"The phone #225-***-**** (number omitted by ClickJefferson) belongs to the WBRSO. No one was authorized to use that # for any reason & specifically no one had the authority to use that # in connection with any robocall. And, furthermore, at no time was anyone authorized to use that # in connection with the political campaign of Dominick Impastato.

Sheriff Michael B. Cazes
West Baton Rouge Parish"

So, it's either a crime or a lie - take your pick.

The second instance of Zahn and Impastato employing the police in an attempt to intimidate Martiny supporters occurred Saturday.

As I drove to the Registrar of Voters Office in Rivertown to early vote, I noticed several Kenner Police Department vehicles at The Castle where Martiny was having a social event for his supporters.

At first, I thought the KPD was there to provide security for the crowd as the KPD often provides police details (for a price) at events with a large group of people.

After I voted, I stopped by Martiny's social to inquire about the KPD, which were gone by then.

I was told that two Martiny supporters with "Elect Danny Martiny" signs in their vehicles were parked too close to the Registrar of Voters Office around the corner, in violation of the 600 feet rule regarding polling places.

Because of the event, JP Registrar of Voters Dennis DiMarco (a Yenni/Zahn supporter), posted signs designating the 600 feet proximity.

While the vehicles were not violating DiMarco's measurement, someone from the City of Kenner said that the Registrar's measurements were incorrect and used a different standard.

In any case, one of the offending vehicles was moved and the owner of the other vehicle (a pickup truck) placed their signs flat in the truck bed. All of this could have been done without KPD involvement.

Since the Martiny social was posted on social media and invitations were sent to many via email, I'm certain that Impastato and his campaign were aware of the event and the location. Whether Impastato himself or someone from his campaign complained about the vehicles is unknown. But, the KPD would not have responded unless there was a complaint and, given that it was political, I'm certain that KPD Chief Michael Glaser and Mayor Zahn were notified BEFORE a police unit was dispatched.

But, why send multiple KPD vehicles to ask a citizen to move their parked vehicle? Doesn't the KPD have better uses of it's time than to send several officers to the scene of a parked vehicle?

Clearly, it was a show of intimidation on the part of Zahn, Impastato and Glaser (who has also endorsed Impastato) - and that is sad and tells you everything you need to know about the sad state of affairs in Kenner Politics.

It's also curious that John Tobler, a Buisson operative that Zahn wants to be his "Special Mayoral Assistant in charge of Economic Development" (despite the fact that Tobler isn't even a Kenner resident and has no background in Economic Development), was across the street taking pictures of the Martiny social and those attending.

And Zahn wonders why the people of Kenner approved a Charter Change for an apolitical workforce.

Hopefully, someone offered Tobler a donut and some water. I would hate to see a City of Kenner employee with low blood sugar or suffering from dehydration while they were doing the dirty work of Ben Zahn and Greg Buisson.

Putting unwanted signs in people's yards, lying about endorsements, violating Federal law and using the police and political appointees to intimidate supporters - yeah, those sure sound like "Fresh Ideas" to me Dominick.






Friday, September 22, 2017

Zahn and Impastato's Campaign Manager Gets His "Taste" of Kenner Freedom Fest $$$

C'mon - you're not really surprised, are you?

In the Mafia, it's a tradition for everyone in a crew to "kick up" to their boss after they make a financial score. Their boss  kicks up to his boss, who ultimately kicks up to THE BOSS. By "kicking up", everyone gets a "taste" of the score.

In Kenner and Jefferson Parish, if there's money to be made, politicians find a way to "kick up" so Greg Buisson gets his "taste".

Buisson is the campaign manager/consultant for Jefferson Parish's Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn, several JP Councilmen, Kenner Councilman and JP District 4 Council candidate Dominick Impastato, and Kenner Councilmen Lenny Cline and Mike Sigur. Buisson also worked on the council campaign of Councilman-At-Large Tom Willmott.

Buisson has his tentacles in a wide array of Jefferson Parish NGOs including the Jefferson Convention & Visitor's Bureau (JCVB). While Kenner Mayor, Mike Yenni shut down the Kenner Convention & Visitor's Bureau (KCVB) and, rather than finding a Kenner-centric organization to promote Kenner, Yenni shuffled off Kenner's Hotel/Motel tax dollars to the Buisson-controlled JCVB.

Buisson is involved in Family Gras, Uncle Sam Jam, Mardi Gras parade viewing stands and literally EV ERYTHING tourism-related in Southeast Louisiana.

So, it is to be expected that Ben Zahn and the "Buisson Boys" on the Kenner City Council, would find a way to get Buisson involved in the first Kenner Freedom Fest.

Although the Freedom Fest was held in Laketown, Zahn slyly got the Friends of Rivertown to act as his bag man so he could get his friends like Buisson involved without the need to put anything through the City of Kenner or it's bidding process - although there is no doubt that City of Kenner employees were involved in Freedom Fest. At a recent council meeting, Zahn complemented his Assistant in charge of Party Planning, Mary-Sharon Howland, for her work in soliciting sponsorship dollars.

According to a preliminary financial report, the Freedom Fest raised almost $131,000, the bulk of which came from Sponsor Fees ($83,500) and not including $50,000 from Jefferson Parish Interim District 4 Councilman Jack Rizzuto's district fund and almost $35,000 from the City of Kenner. That almost $85,000 is listed as "Reimbursements".

After "Reimbursing" JP and Kenner, Freedom Fest will eek out a meager profit of $7,000. Of course, the event wasn't designed to make money. But, by using tourism dollars you would hope that the City would generate some business to grow tourism.

Given the bands involved and the fact that the Freedom Fest was held on a holiday weekend, it is doubtful that anyone other than the bands themselves spent any time in a Kenner hotel.

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I think events like Freedom Fest are needed and should be promoted in the City, assuming the City has the funding. But, to say that Freedom Fest was a boon to Kenner tourism is a flat out lie.

Which makes the inclusion of Buisson all the more puzzling.

Despite telling The Advocate that he was paid $6,000 (and Zahn's attempts to "clarify the truth" at this past Council meeting), Buisson was actually paid $19,972.64 - almost $20,000, for his role in booking the bands and providing his advertising services. In addition to Buisson's "taste", almost $40,000 was paid to the performers.

According to Zahn and the representative from Friends of RIvertown, Buisson charged "only" 10% of the performer's booking fees, so he SHOULD have been paid less than $4,000.

As many of you know, I spent years in radio and still have many radio contacts. Radio stations across the country book emerging acts (like the three "National" acts that Buisson booked for Freedom Fest) that are routinely brought to town to play for nothing more than their expenses (generally traded out hotel rooms and catering).

Since New Orleans is home to three of the largest radio companies in America (iHeart, Cumulus and Entercom) and two of the three (iHeart and Cumulus) have Country Music stations, having a relationship with one of the radio companies (which would have also provided free advertising and promotion as well) could have resulted in Kenner saving the $40k in performance fees and the $20k paid to Buisson, which would have meant almost $60,000 in greater profit for the Friends of Rivertown (and, perhaps, next year they wouldn't need to charge $5 to park in the City-owned Pontchartrain Center Parking Lot).

But then, Zahn, Impastato and the rest of "Buisson Boys" wouldn't have been able to "kick up" to Don Buisson.

And, when it comes to Kenner and JP Politics, you MUST "kick up" to Don Buisson.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Impastato Lies About Council Endorsements

As if there weren't enough fake political endorsement groups put together by Jefferson Parish's Minister of Propaganda Greg Buisson, he is now using ads in the Kenner Star to lie to the public about endorsements for his client, Kenner District 5 Councilman and JP District 4 candidate Dominick Impastato.

Buisson's idol, the Nazi Propagandist Joseph Goebbels said, "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

Since Dominick Impastato himself is repeating the lie, HE obviously believes it.

In a full page ad in Kenner Star featuring a message from our own pathological lying Mayor, and fellow Buisson client, Ben Zahn, the headline reads:

"Kenner's Mayor, a Majority of the Kenner City Council, Kenner's Chief of Police, and 100% of our elected Eastbank Jefferson Parish Councilmembers all agree that Dominick Impastato is our best choice for Councilman."

The problem is - that isn't true.

Let's dissect the lies.

"A Majority of the Kenner City Council" - If you include Impastato himself (and one hopes that HE is endorsing himself), there are 7 Council members. A "Majority" of 7 is 4.

If you don't count Impastato, and you really shouldn't, there are 6 Council members. Since 6 is an even number, a "Majority" is still 4.

District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur and District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline, both Buisson clients, have endorsed Impastato.

At-Large Councilwoman Maria DeFrancesch and District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud have endorsed State Senator Danny Martiny.

At-Large Councilman Tom Willmott and District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll have not endorsed anyone.

So, in what universe does 2 (Sigur and Cline) equal a "Majority" of 6?

Impastato and Buisson must be using Common Core math.

Now, let's look at the JP Council statement:

"100% of our elected Eastbank Jefferson Parish Councilmembers all agree" - again, not true.

Currently, there are 3 "elected"  District Councilmembers and 2 "elected" At-Large Councilmembers representing the Eastbank. All 3 "elected" District Councilmembers (Johnston, Spears and Van Vrancken) are Buisson Clients and are, of course, endorsing fellow Buisson client Impastato.

Both At-Large Councilmembers, Chris Roberts and Cynthia Lee-Sheng, have endorsed Martiny.

3 out of 5 is NOT 100%.

In addition to the ad in the Kenner Star, Impastato has been publicly and privately making the same endorsement claims.

Like Sigur, Cline, Johnston, Spears and Van Vrancken, Zahn and Kenner's Police Chief Mike Glaser ARE Buisson clients.

In fact, Zahn is probably still making installment payments to Buisson for his win over me in 2011 and Glaser paid Buisson over $16,000 in 2014 despite running unopposed. Glaser paid Buisson another $200 in 2016 to design a fundraising invitation a full two years before his next election (in which he will probably run unopposed).

So, what the Kenner Star ad should have said is, "100% of Greg Buisson's Clients All Agree".

But, that wouldn't look or sound good, now would it?

Somewhere, probably in Hell, Joseph Goebbels is smiling.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

“Fresh Ideas”? No, Just Impastato “Politrics”


In another universe, I might like Kenner District 5 Councilman (and JP Council District 4 candidate) Dominick Impastato. 
He’s bright and, on the surface at least, looks like someone you would actually want in government. Unlike his friends, he’s not a Sexual Predator, a pathological liar or a money-grubbing whore who is only out for himself. 
Like I said, in another universe perhaps, but in this universe, Dominick Impastato has already been corrupted. 
Now I’m not saying that Impastato is politically corrupt, at least not in the traditional way of thinking (although he and disgraced former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard do share the same campaign manager). There’s been no proof of bribes or quid pro quo offered to or by me.
But, Impastato IS politically corrupt in the Jefferson Parish/Kenner way. 
And, that’s truly sad. 
It’s even sadder watching Impastato sit smugly upon his Kenner City Council chair and continue to attempt to justify his actions and watching his condescending ways (obviously learned from his mentor Mike Yenni). 
At several recent Kenner City Council meetings, residents have questioned Impastato about his shady campaign tactics.

Despite Kenner having a political sign ordinance which bans signs put out more than 60 days prior to an election, Impastato “bought” a vehicle, draped it with campaign signs and parked it in a private parking lot. The vehicle didn’t move for several weeks, which itself is a violation of Kenner code. 
When he was questioned about it at a Council meeting, Impastato smugly said that he drove the vehicle, although he admitted to not having a license plate on the vehicle (another violation of Kenner law and code). Impastato even had the audacity to get the Kenner City Attorney to prove that he was not violating Kenner Code since he’s involved in a Jefferson Parish election and the vehicle is a “rolling billboard”. 
Yeah, a “rolling billboard” that doesn’t move and isn’t licensed. 
Don’t we all sleep better at night knowing that our elected officials look for loopholes in the laws that they are sworn to uphold? 
At another Council meeting, Impastato was accused of putting up a campaign sign at the entrance of a subdivision. When questioned by a resident about that sign, Impastato said, “If it’s in the wrong place, I will move it.”
So, now elected officials can do whatever they want in Kenner until they are caught? How does that work? 
Another resident complained about the huge campaign banner Impastato has at his campaign headquarters which is considerably larger than Kenner sign law allows and, since it’s a banner and not a permanent sign, also violates other Kenner sign laws. 
When he was questioned about it, Impastato smugly said, “I’m surprised that it took someone this long to ask about it.”
Impastato again got the Kenner City Attorney involved and said that the banner was legal because he got a permit for it. 
How could he get a permit for an illegal banner that exceeded both size and duration?
And, why would Kenner’s Code Enforcement Department grant a permit? 
The answer is, if Impastato wasn’t supported by Mayor Zahn, a permit would never have seen the light of day.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want an elected official representing me who manipulates the rules and gets others to bend the rules for him. 


The Uber/Taxi Debacle
Recently, Kenner was involved in a huge debate regarding ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft and their impact on the taxi industry. While it was spearheaded by Mayor Zahn, District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur and District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline (both also involved with Greg Buisson), Impastato worked feverishly behind the scenes. It was painfully obvious that Impastato was favoring TNCs like Uber and Lyft and against taxi drivers. 
When a representative of the Taxi Union spoke before the Council and asked that the Taxi industry be treated fairly and the Uber/Lyft drivers be held to the same set of standards and fees as taxi drivers, Impastato treated the Union representative like a hostile witness under interrogation. 
Impastato, sitting smugly in his Council chair, fired off question after question and repeatedly interrupted the Union Rep and wouldn’t let him finish answering. 
As a resident of Kenner, I was appalled at the way an elected official was treating a member of the public who was simply asking for “fairness”. 
Isn't "fairness" something that government should strive for? 
No citizen addressing a City Council should be the subject of an interrogation or verbally assaulted.



Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign
In addition to Impastato’s other sign issues, I’ve received at least a dozen emails or calls about another Impastato campaign “trick”: putting campaign signs in people’s yards without their consent.

Here’s how this trick works: Impastato, or someone from his campaign, knocks on your door. If you’re not home, a yard sign goes up in your yard and a note saying, “Sorry I missed you. I put a sign in your yard. If it’s a problem, call me.” 
If it happened once, I’d say, “It’s on overzealous campaign worker”. Since I know of at least 12 occurrences in different parts of Kenner, it’s not just one campaign worker. Of course, if Impastato was confronted he would just do what he always does, deny any involvement. 
Since no one is going to call a sitting City Councilman, who may be a Parish Councilman, and confront them about a yard sign, and since folks are also afraid to remove the unwanted yard sign for fear of retaliation, Impastato gets over again. 
But, is that the kind of elected official we want in office? Someone who tacitly intimidates folks over a yard sign? 
 The Yenni Connection
In addition to Zahn, Impastato also has the support of Jefferson Parish’s Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni and he uses Zahn and Yenni’s Campaign Manager, the Minister of Propaganda and the biggest whore in Jefferson Parish, Greg Buisson. 
Impastato has taken pains to tell anyone who listen that he “will be his own man” and isn’t affiliated with Yenni. 
If you are foolish enough to believe that, I have an old toll bridge over the Mississippi River that I’d like to sell you. 
Impastato is where he is directly because of his friendship with Mike Yenni. Despite the fact that Impastato hadn’t created five jobs in his entire life, Yenni appointed him as Chairman of Yenni’s hand-picked Economic Development Committee. Before this, no one outside of a few folks involved in Kenner’s playgrounds had ever heard of Dominick Impastato. 
You will recall that the Economic Development Committee didn’t create one job or attract or retain one business for Kenner. 
What the Economic Development Committee DID DO is saddle Kenner residents with $40 Million in debt for Yenni’s 2030 Plan. 4 years after the money was borrowed, and with Yenni long gone to Parish Government (although he should be in jail, in my opinion), and Kenner residents still have not received any accounting of the Plan.  

When Impastato ran for Kenner City Council in 2014, Yenni ardently campaigned for him and helped significantly increase Impastato’s campaign fund with contributions from city (and parish) contractors.
Impastato owes his political career to Mike Yenni and, if Yenni hadn’t been exposed as the Sexual Predator that we now know he is, he would be out front leading Impastato’s JP Council campaign committee. Instead, we get Mike Yenni Lite, aka Ben Zahn. 
“Impastato Is Yenni’s Candidate”
When someone like Clancy DuBos at Gambit is bright enough to put 2+2 together, you know it’s obvious.
The question every Jefferson Parish District 4 resident needs to ask themselves is: “Do I want someone who is so closely aligned with someone as morally bankrupt as Mike Yenni, representing me?”
Now, to be fair, if you’ve read this blog in the past you know that I’ve had my differences with Impastato’s opponent, State Senator Danny Martiny. I’ve also butted heads on more than one occasion with former Sheriff Newell Normand, who is endorsing Martiny. 
But, differing with Martiny or Normand on issues is completely different than the case against Mike Yenni. 
Yenni continues to disgrace Jefferson Parish Government with his mere presence.
Last week, I was having a discussing with someone in Gonzales. When I mentioned that I was from Kenner, she said, “Is that pervert still your Parish President?”
Pervert.
Sexual Predator.
Whether you agree or disagree with Mike Yenni’s politics, everything is overshadowed by his infidelity and dalliances with high school boys. 
Do we really want someone who is considered “Yenni’s Candidate” representing us and our Parish?

I think you know my answer. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Zahn Wants To Be "The Decider"

Despite the fact that I've refrained from using the "Lyin' Ben" moniker when referring to Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn, it seems that I've been ruffling more than a few feathers at Kenner City Hall.

To that, I have only a one-word response:

GOOD.

But now Kenner residents, you should be afraid. Very afraid.

On the Supplemental Agenda for tonight's Kenner City Council meeting is Item 13-A, "A resolution in support of the Mayor's implementation of a policy implementing an Apolitical Workforce for Non-Civil Service Employees based on The Hatch Act."

We've already discussed some of the pros and cons regarding the Hatch Act, a law first enacted in 1939 primarily to ensure that Federal employees were not participating in meetings with Communist organizations during World War II.

If I believed that Zahn were truly on the side of the people of Kenner, instead of caring primarily about his own interests, I'd say, "Ok. This is a good step."

But, it isn't.

Instead, Zahn wants complete authority to decide what is and isn't "political activity" for his political appointees.

Will Zahn implement a rigid policy to ensure an "Apolitical Workforce"? Doubtful. To the contrary, Zahn will offer a watered-down policy that will allow his appointees to make campaign contributions, attend fundraisers, solicit contributions from businesses and people, and pretty much do whatever they can to ensure the re-election of Zahn and "The Buisson Boys" as long as it isn't during working hours.

Look, I could care less if a city employee wants to put a "Ben Zahn for Mayor" sign in their yard or a bumper sticker on their car. If they want to devalue their property and auto, who am I to be concerned?

The issue comes down to influence.

I don't want Ben Zahn going from office to office like Aaron Broussard did soliciting campaign contributions from the City of Kenner's highest paid employees who fear that, if they don't pony up a contribution, they will lose their jobs.

I don't want Ben Zahn shaking down his political appointees like Harry Lee, and forcing them to sell tickets to a Zahn fundraiser.

I don't want Ben Zahn forcing his political appointees like Mike Yenni did, to go door-to-door canvassing neighborhoods and businesses for sign locations and intimidating businesses and residents who support a different candidate.

And, I really don't want Ben Zahn making a unilateral decision about what is and isn't "political activity" when, the lower he sets the bar, the more he will benefit.

No, banning political appointees from engaging in political only during working hours and not allowing them to use city resources is not enough.

If Zahn is sincere in his words to uphold the charter and in his desire for a true "Apolitical Workforce", now is the time to put his money where his mouth is.

Or, will the people of Kenner continue to get nothing but talk from Zahn?

William Faulkner wrote, "Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words."

Especially when they come from the mouths of politicians.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Losing Public Opinion, Zahn Offers A Compromise So He Can Still Win

Clearly losing in the "Court of Public Opinion" and trying his best to pull out a victory after a string of political losses, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn is trying a new tactic: offering a compromise which may still get Zahn his preferred result and allow his Band of 12 Malcontents to participate in his upcoming re-election campaign.

In a letter today (Tuesday, 8/1) to members of the Kenner City Council, Zahn discussed the lawsuit by the Malcontents and their attempt to overthrow the 2012 Charter Change which banned political activity by non-classified (political appointees) employees.

The Malcontents filed for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to allow them to participate in campaigns until the court had rendered a final verdict, which could occur long after the Spring 2018 elections.

While the Court ruled that the City could ban political activity by non-classified employees, they also ruled that the Charter Change was too vague and did not define "political activity".

Zahn is proposing that the Council introduce an ordinance that is similar to the Hatch Act, which bans certain political activity by Federal and some State employees.

The Hatch Act bans political activity during working hours; in government offices; while using a government vehicle; and while wearing an official uniform. It also bans employees from wearing political buttons while on duty; from accepting or soliciting political contributions; and from soliciting or discouraging political activity of anyone with business before their agency.

The Hatch Act does not ban political activity during non-working hours; stop employees from attending political fundraisers or contributing money to candidates; or preclude employees from being members of political clubs or endorsement groups.

As I said, if the Council approves an ordinance similar to the Hatch Act, Zahn will still get what he wants and he secures a political victory by claiming that he upheld the Charter and the will of the people of Kenner.

"I propose this ordinance as an interim step to support the people's wishes until such time as a Charter Amendment can be put forth. If adopted by you, we will then argue in the Permanent Injunction that the plaintiffs' claims as we now have in force limitations which are constitutional," Zahn wrote.

But why stop there?

Why not include additional activities that the Hatch Act doesn't cover like being members of the multitude of fake Endorsement groups out there or banning employees from contributing to campaigns or attending fundraisers?

When he was in office, for JP Parish President Aaron Broussard would routinely pass the hat and expect campaign contributions from his political appointees. And Broussard wasn't alone.

If you have 40+ political appointees as Zahn does (and that figure grows almost daily), and they each give a max $2,500 donation ($5,000 if there's a runoff), Zahn would receive $100-200k from his political appointees alone.

$2,500 or even $5,000 is a small price to pay to keep an $80-100k per year job with government benefits and a taxpayer-funded pension.

Of course, if Zahn or the Council were to take these additional steps, that wouldn't help the Zahn Campaign as much.

And, regardless of what he says or writes, we all know by now that Ben Zahn is all about Ben Zahn.

In closing his letter, Zahn continued to defend his Malcontents.

"Finally, when we do address this in public, I am reminded that the plaintiffs are our employees and many are our constituents. We work with them on a daily basis and they continue to be dedicated to their work for the citizens of Kenner. We may not agree with their opinions about government but we must support their right to express their opinions about government. The right to petition government for redress of grievances has been part of the United States Constitution since 1791. We can respectfully disagree, with, I hope, the emphasis on respect," Zahn wrote.

Gee, thanks for the lesson in Constitutional Government there Ben but, I think you really should spend some time with your Malcontents, particularly Stephen Petit, regarding the "respect" portion.

Again, regardless of what you say or write Ben, YOUR APPOINTEES clearly don't understand the meaning of the word "RESPECT" when it comes to members of the Council or the people of Kenner.

In fact, I sincerely doubt that you do either Ben.




Sunday, July 30, 2017

Zahn Lies, Defends Malcontent Political Appointees Suing City

For some time, I referred to Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn as Lyin' Ben. Recently, some people have taken offense to that moniker. While the overwhelmingly majority of readers (probably significantly higher than the 70% that approved the Charter Change regarding political activity), like my nickname for Zahn, out of deference to the few who are actually upset by the term "Lyin' Ben", I have stopped calling Zahn that.

Besides, I KNOW that Ben is a pathological liar.

So, while I have refrained from using the term "Lyin' Ben", I will still continue to point out most of the times where Zahn lies (sorry, can't point them all out since it happens almost every time he opens his mouth).

At the last Kenner City Council meeting, Zahn told some whoppers. If we were in Washington, DC, (or had a media that actually called out Zahn on his lies), the Washington Post would label Zahn's council performance as worthy of "4 Pinocchios", their highest rating of untruths.

During the citizen comments at the end of the Council meeting, there was an exchange between a citizen and Zahn. It began as a reference from the citizen to the frequent disagreements between the Council and the Mayor. Of course, with the reliable 4 "Buisson Boys" (Lenny Cline, Dominick Impastato, Mike Sigur and Tom Willmott) voting predictably as a block, they are just minor disagreements.

In all honesty, I don't mind disagreements between the Council and the Mayor, particularly if one of the parties is actually looking out for the people of Kenner.

Sadly, with Zahn and the "Buisson Boys", there aren't enough folks left on the Council advocating for the best interests of Kenner residents, thus the frequent 4-3 votes. And we know Zahn is all about Zahn and his campaign contributors, regardless of what the people of Kenner want.

After her comments regarding the Council-Mayor spats, she discussed the lawsuit by the 12 Malcontent political appointees who are suing the City to overturn the 2012 Charter Change, approved by a 70-30% vote, banning political activity by non-classified employees.

This is where the lies from Zahn really started flying.

When Zahn asked the woman what she wanted him to do about the 12 Malcontents, the woman replies, "I want you to fire them."

Of course, this is something that I've said since I first heard about the lawsuit.

Zahn replied, "The people of Kenner want an apolitical workforce. If I fired them, that would make it political".

What???

Yes, the voters wanted the non-classified employees to be like the civil service employees, the Kenner Police Department (except for the Police Chief) and the Kenner Firefighters, and stay out of politics.

While these non-classified employees are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, they should work for ALL Kenner residents and shouldn't be out campaigning for one Kenner resident over another during every election.

The fact that these 12 Malcontents accepted their jobs knowing the rules laid out by the people of Kenner (including the residency rule which Zahn has also not upheld for a select few), is a show of contempt for the voters who approved the political ban.

As I said, these 12 Malcontents work for US. They cannot, and should not, disrespect US.

If you have a job working for someone else, and you disrespect your boss and decide that you want to change the rules and do what you want, you would be fired.

Why not these 12 Malcontents?

The reason that Zahn hasn't fired them isn't that he doesn't want to make this "political", it already is.

Zahn knows that he can use these people and their influence to help him get re-elected. It is really that simple.

What business owner, that wants to stay in business, would dare tell the Code Enforcement Director, "No, you can't put a Ben Zahn sign in front of my business"?

The intimidation factor alone of having a high ranking City employee pushing candidates on citizens and business owners, is what the Charter Change was designed to stop.

Regardless of the semantics or whether the term "political activity" is too broad and not specific enough in the Charter Change, the idea for the Charter Change is legitimate - whether a Judge agrees or not.

The bottom line is that 12 Malcontents (some of whom don't even live in the City of Kenner and couldn't vote on a Charter Change anyway), shouldn't be able to overturn the will of 13,000+ Kenner voters.

Instead of colluding with the 12 Malcontents and assigning an ill-prepared Attorney who couldn't answer the Judge's questions or offer citations for his own legal arguments, Zahn should have immediately terminated these Malcontents when he first heard about the lawsuit.

Perhaps I'm getting cynical in my old age but, since Zahn wins if the City and Kenner residents lose, there is nothing that Ben can say that would convince me that he wasn't behind this lawsuit every step of the way.

But, let's debunk another of Ben's lies fro.

During the exchange with the woman, Zahn said, "These are not my political appointees. They were appointed by Muniz and the previous Mayor".

More semantic word games from Ben Zahn from the Council meeting.

Here's some facts:

- When Zahn took over, Stephen Petit (the self-anointed "Ringleader" of the Malcontents) was the Code Enforcement Director. Zahn moved Petit over to the Mayor's Court as Prosecutor. Did Zahn hire Petit? No. But did Zahn transfer/promote Petit? Of course. Petit is still a political appointee of Zahn.

- After Petit was moved, Zahn promoted Rich Walther (another of the Malcontents), to Code Enforcement Director. Did Zahn hire Walther? No. But did Zahn promote Walther? Yes, thus Walther IS a political appointee of Zahn.

- Mary-Sharon Howland (another of the Malcontents and a longtime political operative in Kenner) was moved by Zahn into the new position of Mayoral Assistant in charge of Party Planning. Did Zahn hire Howland? No. But did Zahn transfer Howland? Yes, thus Howland IS a political appointee of Zahn.

- Zahn promoted Adam Campo (another of the Malcontents) into the unfilled position of Internal Auditor and made Campo the Director of Internal Auditing - a new City department and a new Director's position. Did Zahn hire Campo? No. But did Zahn promote Campo and create a new position and department for him? Yes, thus Campo IS a political appointee of Zahn.

I could keep going but I think you should get my drift.

Zahn is trying to fool the people of Kenner into thinking that he is upholding the Charter by not firing these Malcontents and he is also trying to fool the people of Kenner by claiming that these Malcontents were not his appointees and he is powerless to do anything about their disrespect and contempt for their employers, the people of Kenner.

How does that old saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me...

What happens when you try to fool the people of Kenner everyday?