Thursday, February 23, 2017

Yale, Like New Orleans, Tries To Rewrite History

“Your ordinary run-of-the mill historian will tell you that John C. Calhoun, having defended the bad and lost causes of state rights and slavery, deserves to rest forever in the dustbin of history. Nothing could be further from the truth. No American public figure after the generation of the Founding Fathers has more to say to later times than Calhoun.”

-          Clyde Wilson

 When I was a young boy, many aspired to attend an Ivy League school like Yale or Harvard. If you were lucky enough to get accepted into one of these prestigious universities, you were essentially set for life.

Now, Yale University finds itself in the crosshairs of the racial divide that our country is mired in.

And all because of a building.

After saying it wouldn’t rename Calhoun College, Yale officials capitulated to a growing clamor from misguided students protesting a policy that hasn’t existed in over 150 years – slavery.

Now, none of these students or their parents endured slavery, yet they are outraged by it nonetheless.

To be fair, I’ve never endured slavery either and, while I deplore the concept of slavery, I can’t pretend that it didn’t exist.

Yale University’s Calhoun College was named after John C. Calhoun, a Vice President under two administrations (one of only two Vice Presidents in our country’s history to do so), a Secretary of War and State, a Representative and Senator from South Carolina.

And, oh yeah, he was a slave owner in the late 1700s until his death in 1850.

“The danger in our system is that the general government, which represents the interests of the whole, may encroach on the states, which represent the peculiar and local interests, or that the latter may encroach on the former.

John C. Calhoun

As a Senator from a slave state, Calhoun vigorously fought for slavery and for state’s rights as did many Southerners (and some Northerners too) during that time. If you were a Senator from South Carolina (or any Southern state including Louisiana), that’s what you did in pre-Civil War America.

The Union next to our liberties the most dear. May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union.”

John C. Calhoun

In fact, 12 of our Presidents including Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson and even Civil War hero U.S. Grant owned slaves.

In addition to Calhoun College, 7 other Yale colleges are also named after slave owners.

No reasonable person in this day and age would argue for slavery, but, simply because we are disgusted by something now doesn’t mean that we can ignore that it occurred or attempt to rewrite history.

We aren’t a perfect country. We’ve made mistakes along the way. But, let’s acknowledge and learn from our mistakes without desecrating and attempting to rewrite the story that is the United States of America.

It is harder to preserve than to obtain liberty.”

John C. Calhoun

Was John C. Calhoun a bad person? He was clearly wrong for supporting slavery but does being a slave owner automatically disqualify a person or cause us to want to strike that person’s name from the history books?

Then a member of Congress, Calhoun was instrumental in rallying support for the War of 1812 which made a hero of Andrew Jackson and memorialized the Battle of New Orleans.

In 1824, Calhoun created the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He signed 40 treaties with Indian nations and was instrumental in the Western migration of Indians as America grew. While many at the time would have been happy to annihilate the Indians or forcefully remove them, Calhoun signed trade agreements with them.

In 1957, knowing Calhoun’s history, a Senate Committee headed by John F. Kennedy named Calhoun one of the five greatest U.S. Senators of all time.

“The Government of the absolute majority instead of the Government of the people is but the Government of the strongest interests; and when not efficiently checked, it is the most tyrannical and oppressive that can be devised.”
John C. Calhoun

The purpose of this post isn’t to give you a history lesson about John C. Calhoun but to show the misguided thinking of some in our society who believe that they can rename buildings, streets and schools and tear down monuments because they don’t agree with the history that these things represent.

There are towns and cities, schools and streets across the country named after John C. Calhoun.  In fact, there’s a “Calhoun Street” in New Orleans.

I probably shouldn’t have written that. Now some yahoo will want to change the street’s name just as the New Orleans City Council voted last year and Mayor Mitch Landrieu approved the removal of four historical monuments, including three that commemorated Confederate Civil War leaders.

Yeah, trying to run from and rewrite history will ease racial tensions.  

There is often, in the affairs of government, more efficiency and wisdom in non-action than in

John C. Calhoun

Let me show how you can take rewriting history to a whole new level.

The Western Hemisphere was named America by a German cartographer, Martin Waldseemuller, to honor Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.

Now, I’m sure we can all agree that the Holocaust (instigated by a German) was wrong.

We can probably also agree that early Romans used slaves as gladiators and made them fight to the death as entertainment. Using anyone to kill someone for amusement is wrong.

So, since the Germans and Italians did bad things, let’s rename America, right?

Ok, here’s another example, closer to home:

The City of Kenner was once three plantations owned by the Kenner family. The plantations had slaves; thus, expect protestors soon to demand that the City change its name.

As I mentioned, Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner. I guess we can also expect protestors to demand that we change the name of Jefferson Parish.

Look, we can all agree that slavery and racism, bigotry in any form whether it’s based upon gender, ethnicity, race, religion or any factor is wrong, but we can’t deny that they existed and still exist.

We ought not to forget that the government, through all its departments, judicial as well as others, is administered by delegated and responsible agents; and that the power which really controls, ultimately, all the movements, is not in the agents, but those who elect or appoint them.”

John C. Calhoun

Did you read that Mike Yenni?

Slavery was evil. The Indian massacres and forced relocation was horrific. The Japanese internment during World War II was clearly flawed (oops, there goes Roosevelt Blvd. in Kenner). Denying voting rights to anyone that was not a white male landowner goes against the fundamental core values that our country was founded upon. Racism and gender inequality remain huge issues for our country.

The U.S. is a flawed country. We’re a work-in-progress. But, even with our flaws, we are still the most diverse country in the history of world and still the Land of Opportunity.

While a judge stepped in to stop Mitch Landrieu and then-Council President Jason Williams from removing the statues in New Orleans, no one can stop Yale from renaming Calhoun College.

The bottom line is – while we can abhor history, we must learn from it. We can’t rewrite it.

Yale University should be smart enough to know that even if the leaders in New Orleans aren’t.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Kenner Pays Almost $450k To Buisson’s JCVB To Do What It Should Do For Free

Now I will admit that, unlike Jefferson Parish’s Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni (at least in his own warped, perverted mind), I’m not always the smartest guy in the room.

Sometimes, I’m not even the smartest guy in the room when I’m sitting alone.

But, I can read a map and the last time I looked, Kenner was firmly ensconced in Jefferson Parish.

Thus, you would think that groups like the Jefferson Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (JCVB) and JEDCO, Jefferson Parish’s Economic Development arm, that receive tax dollars from Jefferson Parish (including tax dollars from Kenner), would perform the functions of marketing and promoting Kenner without receiving additional compensation from the City.

But, since both are associated with Jefferson Parish’s Minister of Propaganda Greg Buisson, who happens to be the campaign manager for Yenni and Kenner’s new Mayor Lyin’ Ben Zahn (among others), each group is paid significantly for work that should be done for free.

Several years back, on the heels of a scandal involving the misappropriation of funding, Yenni disbanded the Kenner Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (KCVB).

In addition to membership fees (Lyin’ Ben was a member of the Board while a Councilmember appropriating funds to the KCVB), the group also received a percentage of Kenner’s Hotel/Motel tax.


If the group wasn’t properly spending Kenner tax dollars, they shouldn’t receive them.

However, instead of forming  or finding another Kenner-centric group dedicated to promoting and marketing Kenner, Yenni ceded Kenner’s Hotel/Motel tax dollars to the JCVB, a group that has a significant relationship with the aforementioned Minister of Propaganda Buisson (and, remember, Yenni’s campaign manager).

From January 2015-December 2016, Kenner paid the JCVB $448,030.57 for the privilege of promoting Kenner, a role that they should do for ZERO dollars as part of their mission.

During the same period, the JCVB received over $2.8 Million from Jefferson Parish to promote and market Jefferson Parish, including the City of Kenner.

That $448k represents a significant increase over what the City of Kenner was paying the KCVB and will only continue to increase as more hotels are put online as part of the Armstrong Airport Expansion.

For its part, the JCVB has not offered the people of Kenner an accurate accounting of what exactly it spent the $448k on and how exactly it marketed/promoted Kenner tourism.

A rational mind, and, again, as I sit alone typing this, I’m probably not the most rational mind in this room either, would expect that, given the $448k that the JCVB received and is supposed to be spending to market Kenner AND the additional marketing dollars that were included when Yenni unilaterally extended the SMG contract to manage the Pontchartrain Center, that Kenner would be flush with conventioneers  and the Pontchartrain Center would be filled consistently with out-of-town visitors spending money in Kenner retail shops, restaurants, gas stations, etc.

That however, is clearly not the case.

Aside from a blip in November, Kenner’s sales tax revenue has consistently declined.

Yet, the City of Kenner continues to pay more and more to Buisson’s JCVB with little in quantifiable results.

During the same 2015-2016 time period, the JCVB paid Buisson Creative Strategies almost $164,000 in addition to the commissions Buisson received on the almost $27k in media ad spending placed through Buisson. Commissions paid to agencies like Buisson’s are typically in the 5-15% range.

Buisson earned additional money through his booking of acts for Family Gras and for services to other events related to Jefferson Parish Tourism or associated with the JCVB.

Clearly, Kenner could easily promote and market itself for less money (and more accountability) than it allocates to the JCVB.

Yes, the JCVB already has the infrastructure and manpower to promote Kenner, but, are they giving Kenner our fair share of time, money and resources or is a portion of our tax dollars just siphoned off the top and ending up in Greg Buisson’s money-grubbing pockets?

Like I said, it doesn’t take the smartest guy in the room, or even a Sexual Predator like Mike Yenni, to know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fox 8 – Greg Buisson’s Mouthpiece

When you watch TV news, you normally know what you’re going to get.

If you’re a fan of CNN, MSNBC or any of the Big 3 networks, you probably lean to the Left.

If you’re a fan of Fox News Channel, you probably lean to the Right.

However, when you watch Local TV News, you don’t expect to get someone’s agenda jammed down your throat. If you’re like me, you want FACTS and, if opinions are involved, you want to hear both sides.

Not so with WVUE Fox 8 News.

It’s become apparent to me over the past several years, and particularly the past several months, that Fox 8 gives preferential news coverage to JP’s Minister of Propaganda Greg Buisson, and his clients like JP’s Sexual Predator-in-Chief Mike Yenni and Lyin’ Ben Zahn.

To prove my point, let me cite several examples.

A few months back, Fox 8 heavily promoted a Lee Zurik exclusive interview with Mike Yenni.

The “interview” was a snore fest staged by Buisson.

Zurik repeatedly threw Yenni softball questions about Yenni’s sexting escapade with a 17-year-old boy. Yenni dodged, deflected, and basically didn’t answer even Zurik’s soft questions and Zurik let Yenni off the hook.

Zurik even allowed part of the interview to include Yenni’s wife and almost gleefully noted that she was standing by her man (It does beg the question, unfortunately not asked by Zurik, how many men and underage boys have called Yenni “Their Man”?).

The “interview” was a complete waste of time that had no real news value other than a Public Relations vehicle for Buisson’s client.

Tuesday, there were two pieces of interesting Jefferson Parish News: a letter from JP Council President Chris Roberts discussing some of Yenni’s explicit sexts and the disclosure that Roberts had been dropped from a lawsuit that Buisson filed against Roberts and Jefferson Parish over an ordinance banning political consultants like Buisson from receiving Parish contracts.

Fox 8 covered neither instead offering up a piece describing a series of texts last week between Roberts and Council member Jennifer Van Vrancken where Roberts asked the Councilwoman if she was ok with the Parish President suggesting explicit sex acts with a teenage boy.

In the letter from Roberts to his fellow councilmembers, which Fox 8 did not report on, Roberts also paraphrased Yenni’s text to the 17-year-old in graphic detail.

In the Fox 8 piece, Van Vrancken acted mortified that Roberts would send her such a graphic text. Unfortunately, she was not just as mortified that Yenni would send such a text to a teenage boy.

Kind of a double standard, don’t you think?

And, once again, Fox 8 buries a story that could paint Yenni in a bad light and focuses on casting a political critic of Yenni (and a vocal critic of Buisson), in a negative light.

For the record, WWL-TV and WDSU-TV both reported on the Roberts letter and neither covered the sham Van Vrancken story.

To be fair, I didn’t watch WGNO’s “News With A Twist” because, in my opinion, it’s neither news or an interesting show (although I’ve always like Susan Roesgen and I firmly believe that she deserves much better).

Wednesday night, Fox 8 had a piece about the dustup at the JP Council meeting between Roberts and Yenni.

Fine. WWL and WDSU covered it as well.

However, Fox 8 took the additional step of adding comments from former JP Councilman and current Kenner Mayor Lyin’ Ben Zahn (also a Buisson client) that were extremely critical of Roberts.

At a press conference to announce that Lyin’ Ben was endorsing Larry Katz for the interim Council seat that Zahn vacated when he became Mayor, Lyin’ Ben said, "I would be remiss, though, if I did not question Chris Roberts motive for today's actions."

At the Council meeting, when the Council was discussing and voting on the interim seat, Roberts noted that he met with his nominee, Jack Rizzuto, at the urging of Zahn.

Three council members (Van Vrancken, Spears and Johnston) voted FOR Katz, while the remaining three (Roberts, Lee-Sheng and Templet), voted AGAINST Katz. 

The opposite 3-3 vote occurred for Rizzuto.

Was the personal shot questioning Roberts’ integrity by Lyin’ Ben necessary?

And, really, how can Lyin’ Ben question anyone’s integrity with a straight face?

Why wasn’t Lyin’ Ben critical of the other council members that voted Against Katz?

But, the point of all of this is, Lyin’ Ben’s comments are irrelevant. His opinion of Chris Roberts and his endorsement of an interim councilmember mean nothing. In fact, the Council should completely disregard Lyin’ Ben’s thoughts on the matter and choose the candidate that will best represent the interests of the District 4, not the one that Lyin’ Ben wants in office.

And Lyin’ Ben’s opinions should not be part of a Fox 8 news story.

But, of course, since Lyin’ Ben is a client of Greg Buisson and Buisson has a vendetta against Roberts (and some say that Roberts has a vendetta against Buisson), Lyin’ Ben’s comments criticizing Roberts were included.

Again, completely irrelevant to the story and another example of Fox 8’s Pro-Buisson stance.

I know many of the folks at Fox 8. I’ve appeared on air there and in news stories (probably won’t again after they read this but, oh well). I like Fox 8 and I appreciate the amount of local news they air, as I appreciate WWL and WDSU and, yes, even WGNO (when they’re not running “News With a Twist”).

But, when the opinions of some override the coverage of “news”, we all lose.

No offense Fox 8, but I don’t want Greg Buisson’s or Lyin’ Ben’s opinion on anything.

Just give me the facts. I have my own opinions and can make up my own mind.

I think I deserve at least that from you.