Monday, June 19, 2017

Zahn To Hire Buisson Political Operative For New Position

When Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn announced at the budget meeting that he was bringing Economic Development in-house and discontinuing Kenner's annual $75k stipend to JEDCO, I was cautiously optimistic. After all, I have long decried the fact that Kenner was paying JEDCO anything for doing what it should be doing for free.

Well, as with his friend and mentor, Jefferson Parish's Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni, nothing with Ben Zahn is ever as it seems.

Instead of searching for someone with a true background in Economic Development that could help Kenner attract, recruit and retain businesses and jobs for this newly created position, Zahn is hiring a political operative with strong ties to Zahn (and Yenni's) campaign manager, Greg Buisson.

John Tobler, who has also worked for Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta (also a Buisson client that is said to be inline for a position in the Trump Administration), and is involved in several of the faux endorsement groups like the Greater New Orleans Republicans (GNOR) that routinely rubberstamp Buisson clients, will be hired as a "Mayoral Assistant" responsible for Economic Development.

Skrmetta's possible ascension to Washington would result in Tobler being unemployed. So, in rides Ben Zahn with a newly-created position for an unqualified Buisson political lackey at Kenner taxpayers expense.

Tobler will be named a "Mayoral Assistant" so Zahn can continue to disrespect the people of Kenner and circumvent the spirit of the City Charter which requires all Directors, but not all non classified employees, to be Kenner residents.

This is truly semantics by Zahn as the spirit and intent of the residency rule approved by Kenner voters was to mandate that ALL non classified employees (political appointees who are the highest paid employees in the City), are Kenner residents.

Tobler has ZERO Economic Development experience and will be paid $55k annually plus benefits. He will be Zahn's 5th Mayoral Assistant, surpassing the inflated total of Yenni.

Tobler will receive little resistance from the Kenner City Council since several of them including Mike Sigur, Lenny Cline and Dominick Impastato are also Buisson clients.

Tobler's hiring is yet another reason why Zahn is allowing a group of 12 disgruntled political appointees to sue the City to overturn the 2012 Charter Change regarding political activity by non classified employees.

A City of Kenner employee who asked not to be identified said, "Tobler will be coordinating non classified employees as they work on Zahn's re-election campaign and on other campaigns."

It is rumored that the self-appointed "Ringleader" in the group of 12 malcontents suing the City to overturn the political ban, Stephen Petit, will run for the District 3 Council seat currently held by Keith Reynaud.

Petit spent over 20 minutes at the last Council meeting personally attacking Reynaud and the Councilman's wife.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Zahn’s Political Circus Takes An Ugly Turn

Two weeks ago, I opined that things in Kenner City Government couldn’t possibly get much worse.

Well, Thursday’s Council meeting sadly proved that I was wrong.
Kenner City government under Lyin’ Ben Zahn has sunk to a new low.

No, I’m not talking about the reversal of Zahn’s Uber Money Grab (the City will still get $.50 from Uber and Lyft for every pickup).
I’m not even talking about the ridiculous dog and pony show put on by District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur as he wasted everyone’s time by calling almost every group known to man up to the podium to seek their approval for the revised Uber Money Grab.

No, I’m referring to the disgraceful actions and comments of City employee Stephen Petit as he personally attacked District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud and the Councilman’s wife, while Council President Lenny Cline and Lyin’ Ben sat idly by and let Petit’s “stunt” drone on and on and on.
Petit is the self-avowed “Ringleader” of a band of disgruntled malcontents masquerading as City of Kenner employees who have utter contempt for the people of Kenner and are suing the City to overturn a Charter Change approved by a 70-30% margin by Kenner voters in 2012.

13,665 Kenner voters approved the 2012 Charter Change which banned political activity by non classified employees (political appointees of the Mayor).
Those 13,665 Kenner voters totaled more people than those who voted in the most recent Kenner Mayoral election and several thousand more than those who voted for Lyin' Ben.
Clearly, the voters of Kenner wanted an apolitical workforce. They didn't want the highest paid Kenner employees out campaigning for politicians and using their influence over Kenner business owners and residents.
Petit was hired on the last day of the Mike Yenni Administration before Jefferson Parish’s Sexual Predator-In-Chief ascended to Parish government. Despite having no background in Code Enforcement, Inspections, Municipal Government or Management, Petit was named Code Enforcement Director.

After Lyin’ Ben took over, Petit was shuffled over to a new position as Prosector at City Court, again, despite Petit having zero Prosecutorial experience.
At the end of every Council meeting, citizens are given an opportunity to address the Council on “Special Subject Matters”. Usually this consists of residents discussing issues that affect them or ordinances that the Council has or will vote on. Occasionally, a citizen will ask a question.

Citizens are given 3 minutes at the meeting.
It is extremely unusual, and I cannot remember a time when a City employee spoke (other than to respond to a citizen issue or question) during the time reserved for citizens to address the Council.

At Thursday’s meeting, not only did Petit sign up to speak, he arranged for others in his group of disgruntled co-conspirators to sign up to speak as well. Petit then used the time that should have been allocated to other malcontents, a clear violation of Council policy that was ignored by Council President Cline and approved by Mayor Zahn.
In fact, Petit used over 20 minutes of time questioning, hurling accusations, discussing the personal life of Councilman Reynaud’s wife, personally attacking Councilman Reynaud, and interrogating the Councilman as if he were a common thief on trial.

All the while, Council President Cline and Mayor Zahn did nothing.
Cline, as Council President, could have stopped this staged, coordinated stunt.

Zahn, as Mayor and Petit’s employer, SHOULD have stopped this and didn’t.
The fact that neither man did anything and allowed a City employee to publicly disrespect a Councilman is disgraceful.

The reason why Zahn and Cline did nothing to stop Petit's attack? Petty politics.

The tension between Zahn and Reynaud has been thick since Zahn's return to Kenner as Mayor.

The fact that they allowed a City employee to discuss the personal life of a non-public figure (the Councilman's wife) is shameful as well.

During his initial 3 minutes, before he began the attack and interrogation of Councilman Reynaud, Petit said that he wanted to stop any rumors that Zahn is involved in the employee lawsuit. Considering that I don’t recall anyone making that assertion (except me and I didn’t attend this meeting), for Petit to even bring up the question proves Zahn’s complicity and tacit approval of the lawsuit.
After all, if the Charter Change banning political activity is overturned, it will benefit Zahn and others in the Spring 2018 election.

And, let’s be real here: what employee, let alone 12 employees, would sue the City without the Mayor’s prior knowledge and approval. These employees are non classified and not subject to Civil Service protections. They serve at the pleasure of the Mayor. They wouldn’t jeopardize their cushy jobs if Zahn wasn’t on board.
If Zahn cared about the City of Kenner and respected the people of Kenner, he would have stopped this lawsuit in its tracks and terminated this disgruntled band of malcontents.

But Lyin’ Ben neither cares about the people of  Kenner nor has the backbone to actually take action to stop HIS employees from their public contempt and disrespect of the people of Kenner.
Petit also stated that, “Since day 1” of his employment over a year and a half ago, he began talking with other disgruntled employees and began researching ways to challenge and overturn the Charter Change.

Exactly how many of those conversations and meetings, and how much legal research was done on city time using city resources? That alone should qualify for Petit’s dismissal, as well as the others involved in this lawsuit, some of whom don’t even live in Kenner (another violation of the Kenner Charter approved by Kenner voters that Zahn is trying to weasel around).
The people of Kenner voted – they wanted an apolitical work force. Classified employees, those who meet the requirements to be employed by the City and not appointed, as banned from political activity. Policemen and Firefighters as well are banned.

Kenner is not the first city to ban political activity by non classified employees and we aren’t the first city to impose a residency rule.
In fact, Zahn's use of Petit as the instrument of this political attack proves the point that the voters of Kenner were correct in approving the Charter Change banning political activity.
It is selfish and self-serving for Zahn to attempt to circumvent the Charter and simultaneously condone a lawsuit by his political appointees to overturn another portion of the Charter.

Petit's own comments at the Council meeting could be construed as a violation of the Charter and should be grounds for his dismissal - that is, if we had a Mayor who actually enforced the Charter and respected the people of Kenner.

Since it is extremely unlikely that Zahn will take any punitive action against his appointees, if Stephen Petit and these other malcontents are so unhappy with rules approved by the voters of Kenner that pay their salaries, they should quit or never accepted their positions.
The late Comedian George Carlin once said, “If you don’t like the weather…move!”

Well Stephen Petit, George Bode, Adam Campo, Gerald Dillenkoffer, Wendi Folse, Mary-Sharon Howland, Kenneth Marroccoli, Theresa Nevels, Johnnie Sullivan, Ronald Vitellaro, Richard Walther, and Mike Wetzel, if you don’t like the rules approved by your bosses (the people of Kenner) and you are so unhappy that you feel the need to sue, quit your jobs. The people of Kenner deserve to be respected and you are clearly putting your self-interests and the interests of a select few politicians above the best interests of the people of Kenner.  
It’s really that simple: quit. Move on with your lives. Kenner will function just fine without a bunch of disgruntled, selfish malcontents.

And, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

The City doesn’t need to spend more tax dollars to defend another ridiculous lawsuit.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Zahn Tries To Thumb Nose At Kenner Voters - Will Council Too?

Our old friend, Lyin' Ben Zahn, is at it again.

Zahn, who swore an oath to uphold the Kenner City Charter, now wants a "Special Hiring Ordinance" to allow 2 of his political appointees to be exempt from the City of Kenner's residency rule that requires non classified employees (political appointees) to reside in Kenner.

On tomorrow's (6/15) City Council Supplemental Agenda, is Item 16-F which, if approved, would allow Personnel Director Wendi Folse to keep her job and Interim Finance Director Mike Wetzel to lose the "Interim" title.

Folse has been the Personnel Director for several years and formerly resided in Kenner. In 2015, despite her knowledge of the City Charter's residency rule, she moved to New Orleans. Former Kenner Mayor and current Jefferson Parish Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni and former Acting Mayor and current District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur both looked the other way and didn't enforce the residency rule. With this proposed ordinance, Zahn wants to make it official - the voters of Kenner that approved the residency rule don't matter.

I have nothing against Ms. Folse or Mr. Wetzel (or others in the Zahn Administration that are also circumventing the Charter either through the semantic distinction of "not being a Department Director" or using the "Interim" title). But, rules are rules and the voters of Kenner decided that it was important that Kenner's highest paid employees are also residents of Kenner.

In the height of irony, Folse and Wetzel are also named plaintiffs in the suit by several non classified Kenner employees against another City of Kenner Charter Change approved by voters that bans political activity.


You don't live in Kenner but you want the right to support the candidate of your choosing and exert your influence on others in Kenner?

So, thanks to Lyin' Ben Zahn, you now have an ordinance proposed to circumvent the charter for 2 non classified employees who are also suing the City because they disagree with the wishes of Kenner voters on another matter too and they don't even live in Kenner.

Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me.

How many of us when we've applied for or accepted a job, were told what the Company policies are? It's the same with Folse and Wetzel and the other non classified employees that are suing the City.

If you don't like a Company policy, or in this case, the City policy, don't accept the job.

If you are going to be paid with City of Kenner tax dollars, then adhere to the rules that are set by City of Kenner voters.


Like Zahn, the Kenner City Council was also voted in to uphold the Kenner City Charter and do what is best for the people of the City of Kenner, not circumvent the Charter and draft ordinances that only apply to a select few who have the audacity to thumb their noses at the people that are paying their bills. 

Let's hope the Council does a better job of understanding their responsibilities to the Charter and the people of Kenner than our Mayor does.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Zahn’s Political Appointees Sue City Over 2012 Charter Change

After reports that City of Kenner political appointees were coerced into helping political candidates that they did not support in order to keep their jobs, the Kenner City Council passed an ordinance in 2011 to bar political appointees, many of whom are the most-highest paid employees in City government, from publicly taking part in political activity.

The logic behind the ordinance was valid: political appointees, while appointed by the Mayor, work for all of the city and should not be forced to campaign in order to keep receiving a paycheck. In addition, it is unfair for a non-incumbent if, for example, the Code Enforcement Director is out soliciting businesses for sign locations. What business owner would say “No” to the Code Enforcement Director? What reprisals could there be if a business owner didn’t allow the Public Works Director to put a political sign in front of their home or business?

The Council ordinance was promptly vetoed by then-Mayor Mike Yenni, himself a beneficiary of political appointees involvement in political activity. For years, the Buisson Machine has stacked organizations like The Alliance for Good Government and other faux endorsement groups with political appointees who pushed for the groups to endorse their favored candidates.

The next year, in 2012, the voters of Kenner approved a change to the city charter that mirrored the Council’s vetoed ordinance. The charter change was approved by a 70-30% margin.

Now, several of Lyin’ Ben’s political appointees, including many political operatives, have filed a Federal lawsuit challenging the restriction on political activity.

These employees are appointed regardless of their background and experience (or lack thereof) and aren’t subjected to the typical employment screening and testing that other city employees required. These employees are put in charge of Millions of tax dollars and dozens or more city employees whether they are qualified or not, simply because they support the person in power, Lyin’ Ben Zahn.

The employees claim that the charter change infringes on their 1st Amendment rights, among other things.

The lawsuit also mentions that the political appointees want to be empowered to support their candidate of choosing (Zahn) in the 2018 election. They must be concerned that Lyin’ Ben will be facing a challenger next year. 

The bottom line is, these employees want to secure their future paychecks and want to openly campaign for their preferred candidate, the man who appointed them, Lyin’ Ben Zahn.

Instead of concentrating on working for the people of Kenner (who ultimately pay their bills), these employees want to thumb their noses at the voters of Kenner who overwhelmingly understood that their political activity was abused and abusive.

These political appointees have clearly forgotten that they work for ALL of the people of Kenner not just the political elite.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Zahn and Sigur’s Next Act – No Rules For Taxis

After their failed attempt to strap onerous and possibly illegal anti-competitive regulations on Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft that would have essentially run TNCs out of Kenner, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn and District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur have disclosed their new strategy. If they can’t regulate Uber and Lyft out of Kenner, they can unregulate the Taxi industry.

Admittedly, the Taxi industry and taxi drivers in Kenner have had to work under some ridiculous rules,  an annual health screening for drivers and other rules that have little to do with the driver or passenger safety, but to completely unregulate the taxi industry is also ridiculous.

And, again, it has nothing to do with public safety or the best interests of consumers which should be the paramount goal of a Mayor and a City Council.

It’s all about favoring local companies versus non-locals and trying to decide who wins and who loses.

Set rates from Armstrong International Airport are in place to prevent price-gouging by the Taxi industry. On the surface, deregulating prices appears to be a good thing and should result in lower fares as the Taxi industry attempts to be more competitive with Uber and Lyft.

But, what if it has the opposite effect and prices rise significantly, irritating locals and visitors alike?

One of the biggest complaints about TNCs, particularly Uber, is “surge” or “dynamic” pricing. Essentially, when there is a “surge” in the amount of customers trying to book an Uber, the company puts out a call to its drivers offering them more money, in the form of higher fares, to get on the road and accommodate the increased usage.

This can result in nightmarishly high fees.

A trip that may have cost $10 to get somewhere can now go for as much as $300 or more to get back home.  Uber implements “surge” pricing automatically and any event can trigger it, from a concert to a disaster like Hurricane Katrina to the London terror attacks last week.

While London taxi drivers were giving folks free rides so they could get home safely after other forms of public transportation were suspended, Uber’s computer algorithms triggered surge pricing resulting in numerous complaints.

Uber has announced that they will be offering refunds to affected London passengers which helps now but, does little to remedy the situation, or someone’s wallet, at the time.  

“Surge” pricing at Armstrong could be an issue and, rather than allow Uber to utilize “surge” pricing and simultaneously remove fixed-price taxi fares from Armstrong, Kenner should opt to keep the price-fixed fares but as a maximum fee that can be readjusted annually. This would protect consumers while still allowing the free market to set standard fees.

As I’ve discussed for months now, since Zahn, Sigur, Council President Lenny Cline and other members of the Kenner City Council were so focused on regulating TNCs (while benefiting the local Taxi industry), they have completely ignored consumers and public safety.

"We've got to find that (regulatory) balance," Sigur told

Perhaps if you would think about what is best for your constituents, the majority of your constituents anyway, and focus on public safety instead of trying to decide winners and losers, the task wouldn’t be so difficult Mr. Sigur.

If you, Lyin’ Ben and Stumblebum Lenny had started there Mr. Sigur, it wouldn’t have taken you over a year to get where you are now.
And the three of you wouldn't have embarrassed Kenner in the process.

Monday, June 5, 2017

At “Emergency” Meeting Zahn, Cline, Sigur Show Their True Colors - Yellow

After getting grief from everyone, with the exception of Kenner’s Taxi Companies, over their ill-fated ordinance to regulate Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn called an “Emergency” meeting of the Kenner City Council to reconsider the ordinance and amend it.

Instead, before a packed council chamber filled with Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as taxi drivers and members of the community, the Kenner Council voted to defer adding any amendments to the ordinance.

It is expected that, at the next council meeting, the council will amend the ordinance to remove the imposition of a $50 “Occupational License” on TNC drivers, pushed by District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur, as well as the mandating of trip fees to and from points in Kenner.

The ordinance will still include a $.50 per trip fee imposed on TNC fares. Mayor Zahn has long pushed for a fee, any fee, that would raise money for Kenner.

Since the $.50 per trip fee is identical to what New Orleans, Jefferson Parish and other governmental entities already charge TNCs, Uber and Lyft will not contest this fee.

District 4 Councilman and Council President Lenny Cline said that the reason for the deferral was because two council members, Councilman-At-Large Maria DeFranchesch and District 1 Councilman Greg Carroll, were absent.

The reality is that the council had a quorum and all three members of Cline’s Transportation Committee (Cline, Sigur and Councilman-At-Large Tom Willmott) were present.

Zahn, Cline and Sigur simply didn’t want to listen to  comments from the TNC and Taxi drivers that filled the council chambers.

Without any public comment, the Council voted to defer any amendments and adjourn the meeting.

As a resident of Kenner, I want to apologize to all of the Uber/Lyft and Taxi drivers, and members of the community that took time out of their day (and possibly lost revenue) to attend an “Emergency” meeting, not have the ability to offer their comments on an ordinance that will impact their livelihood, and for viewing the dysfunction that is Kenner City Government with Lyin’ Ben Zahn as Mayor and an impotent Council that can’t get out of its own way.

By refusing to sit there and listen to the public that they were allegedly elected to serve and represent, Zahn, Cline, Sigur and the rest of the Kenner City Council proved once again that they are cowards who care little about the people of Kenner.

In the end, the “Emergency” Meeting was a colossal waste of time since this ordinance as written, should never have seen the light of day.

And it wouldn’t have if Kenner City Government had any true leaders instead of clowns and cowards.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Zahn, Kenner Council Bring the Circus, and Price-Fixing, To Town

I'm sure you've heard the line, "Elect a clown, expect a circus".
Despite the recent shuttering of Ringling Bros. Circus, the circus is alive and well in Kenner.
Just when you though that Kenner Politics has hit rock bottom, the Kenner City Council, under the watchful eye and tutelage of Lyin’ Ben Zahn, takes it even lower.

As if it wasn’t enough that Kenner endured a Mayor who was stalking teenage boys, following them into public restrooms and kissing and fondling them (all well campaigning for his next job).

As if it wasn’t enough that Kenner endured an ethically-challenged interim Mayor who never should have been elected dog catcher, let alone to the City Council.

As if it wasn’t enough that Kenner had to endure Lyin’ Ben Zahn, doing anything and saying anything he could to get elected.

As if it wasn’t enough that Kenner has to endure Council meetings where Lyin’ Ben lashes out at a Councilman and his wife (while I disagree with the Councilman’s wife and her personal attacks, every citizen has a right to speak at a Council Meeting and cannot be censored by anyone, let alone someone with as little personal integrity as Ben Zahn).

Now, we have this – a Mayor and Council approving an ordinance that would essentially drive out an industry due to onerous regulations, a short-sighted money grab, and an attempt to fix prices.

That’s right: a “Republican” Mayor and a “Republican” majority Council engaged in price-fixing.

As I noted in my prior post, I had several issues with the new Kenner ordinance (approved by a 6-1 vote) that regulated Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft.

One of the points I disagreed with was that the City of Kenner was now attempting to tell Uber and Lyft what they would be required to charge passengers on trips to and from Kenner and Armstrong International Airport and other points.

Essentially, Kenner wants Uber and Lyft to charge the same amount as a taxi.

This is big government price-fixing at its worst, and it was done by “Republicans”, allegedly the pro-business party and it’s something that even Marxist Mitch Landrieu and the inept New Orleans City Council didn’t attempt.

Yet, there are no emails or statements of outrage or condemnation emanating from the Jefferson Parish or Louisiana Republican Party. Certainly, no outrage from our Republican Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni.

No, the Parish and State Republican Party leadership continues to let fake Republicans run roughshod over businesses and economic theory that they clearly don’t understand and add more and more regulations, instead of cutting government and letting the market (and consumers) decide.

During the public comment about the TNC ordinance, representatives from Uber, Lyft and the airport implored the Council to defer this ordinance and stated on more than one occasion that they (Uber and Lyft) would be unable to continue to pickup passengers at Armstrong and in Kenner if the ordinance were allowed to become law.

Despite being 2/3rds of the committee that was formed to discuss and provide input into the TNC ordinance, District 4 Councilman (and Council President) Lenny Cline and the afore-mentioned ethically-challenged District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur, are clearly clueless when it comes to understanding how Uber and Lyft operate.

Several times, Cline discussed the imposition of a $50 “Occupational License” for Uber/Lyft drivers.

“If your fare from the Airport is $36, one fare almost covers the cost of the license,” Cline said.

Except for the fact that the driver doesn’t get the entire $36 from the fare. Cline obviously forgot that Uber/Lyft get their cut first.

But, the amount of money a driver receives per fare isn’t the issue or the point.

The point is, you can’t regulate an industry without having a basic knowledge of it.

District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud is in the Heating and A/C business. I’m not qualified to inspect repairs and installation of the heating and cooling units his company services and sells. I couldn’t tell you the proper amount of tonnage that a unit should have to properly cool a 2,000 sq. ft. home.

Similarly, after a year of discussion and countless hours of meetings, input and debate, this Council (and Zahn) still don’t get it.

After spending Thursday night and most of Friday listening to complaints about the ordinance, Zahn has (rightfully) called for a special council meeting on Monday to reconsider the ordinance.

But what did Zahn, Cline, Sigur and the rest of the council expect would happen?

First, while the TNCs, particularly Uber, whine and complain about any regulation imposed on them that would impact their profits, this ordinance went way beyond the line.

And Zahn should have known that.

Now Zahn is attempting to spin this and make himself out to be the good guy – the guy that will make certain that Uber and Lyft don’t leave and the Mayor that will straighten out what the City Council screwed up.

He’s already begun trying to distance himself claiming that the Council is responsible since they are the Legislative Branch and the Mayor simply implements the rules and regulations that the Council gives him.

Don’t believe that line of bs for a second.

While the council, particularly Cline and Sigur (as well as Councilman-At-Large Tom Willmott who was the 3rd committee member) are to blame for this debacle, the ultimate blame rests upon Zahn.

As Cline mentioned several times during the council meeting, “This council, the Mayor and his administration have spent countless hours working on this ordinance.”

The ordinance was written by an Assistant City Kenner appointed by Zahn.

Zahn, as Mayor, holds agenda meetings with council members before the council meeting to discuss the items that are coming up for a vote.
While Lyin' Ben may want you to believe that he is blameless, clearly his fingerprints (and foreknowledge) are all over this ordinance.

If Zahn had the foresight and leadership that is required of a Mayor, he could have stopped this ordinance in its tracks and we would have never gotten to this point.

Each time that an ordinance regulating TNCs was deferred, Zahn bemoaned that fact that, even if all the Council did was impose a $.50 pickup fee on Uber and Lyft, that $.50 would be better than the nothing the City was getting now.

As I’ve said from the beginning, the TNC ordinance was NEVER about Public Safety and always a money grab for Zahn and the Council.

Lyin’ Ben, Cline and Sigur just tried to keep pushing beyond $.50.

What City in America, let alone one as small as Kenner, has successfully passed a law telling Uber and Lyft what to charge its passengers?

While we can debate Uber and Lyft, their business models, and whether they are good or bad for the transportation industry, one thing that is not up for debate is that TNCs like Uber and Lyft have been good for consumers (even if they are woefully bad for drivers who aren’t savvy enough to realize that they are being taken advantage of).

Case in point: Last Summer, during the peak of my eye issues, I used Uber to go from Kenner to Gonzales to visit my mom for a week. The cost, one way, was $50.

When I wanted to return to Kenner, I was unable to use Uber since they didn’t have any drivers that originated in Gonzales. I had to use a Kenner taxi company for my return trip. The cost: $120 one way.

On the return to Kenner, I heard the taxi dispatcher discussing pickups with drivers. The dispatcher was offering drivers $80 to pickup a passenger in Laplace and drop them off at the Airport.

“Make it $90 and I’ll do it,” one driver said.

“Standby,” the dispatcher said.

“$90 it is,” the dispatcher said when he returned.

I wonder what Zahn and the Kenner City Council would have to say about that kind of “surge pricing”?

As I’ve said, clearly, while I believe that TNCs like Uber and Lyft are really unregulated taxi companies and require some regulation, it is anti-competitive, business unfriendly (and certainly not consumer-friendly), anti-free market and anti-American, for Zahn and the Kenner City Council to tell a business how much they can charge consumers.

If Zahn and the Council didn’t know it then, they surely know it now.

The question is, why didn’t they know it before embarrassing Kenner yet again?

And when are we, as voters, going to start holding these people accountable, stop electing and promoting the same clowns and accepting the circus that they give us?  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Kenner’s ‘Uber’ Money Grab Proves It’s “Business Friendly” – But Only If You’re The Right Business

After the death of State Rep. Havard’s bill that would have provided statewide regulations for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft, the Kenner City Council approved its own ordinance by a 6-1 vote providing more regulations and fees on TNCs operating in Kenner and at Armstrong International Airport. District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato, who is seeking to quit on his constituents and seek a promotion to JP Council before he even completes his first term in office, opposed the ordinance.  

While I am firmly a small government guy, I do believe that TNCs need regulation, but since they operate throughout the state, they should be regulated primarily through a statewide law. Having TNCs jump through hoops for every Parish and Municipality that seeks to impose its own rules, regulations and fees is anti-competitive.

If you’re an Uber/Lyft driver, or a Taxi driver, the rules should be similar, if not identical, whether you live, pickup or drop off in New Orleans, Kenner, or any other city.  

As I wrote earlier, since Rep. Havard’s bill was essentially written for him by TNCs, I was opposed to it. I am also strongly opposed to Kenner’s ordinance as well, but not for the obvious reasons.

The new Kenner ordinance adds new fees and regulations and doesn’t go nearly far enough when it comes to Public Safety – which should have been the focus of the ordinance.

The new Kenner ordinance imposes

…a $.50 per trip fee for trips originating in Kenner.

…fees on trips to and from Kenner to the Airport and fees from the Airport to other destinations that are identical to Taxi fees (meaning consumers pay the same fee instead of possibly a lower fee for using a TNC).

…a $50 per driver Occupational License, since TNC drivers are independent contractors (they pickup and drive when they want to versus having a set work shift). TNCs are also required to pay a $10,000 fee.

The ordinance also requires that TNC drivers submit to random background and drug testing, do not pickup passengers other than those that use the APP, and have a valid Driver’s License (yes, out-of-state drivers are permitted which I believe is a mistake).

While the Occupational License (particularly for non-Kenner residents who drive for Uber/Lyft) is a debatable question, the City of Kenner has no place in imposing fees per passenger or assigning a cost to trips – that’s for the marketplace (and consumers) to decide.
If TNCs like Uber and Lyft can provide a quality service at a price that consumers think is a good value, who is Kenner to determine that for consumers? If Uber/Lyft don't provide a good service and value, consumers won't use them.

Clearly, there needs to be a level playing field for TNCs, airport shuttles, limo and taxi companies. ALL companies providing point-to-point transportation of passengers or goods should either be regulated similarly or unregulated, depending upon your viewpoint.

However, unlike Uber and Lyft, which would prefer to remain unregulated (which benefits them), I would prefer that TNCs and their drivers have the same regulations as Taxi companies and their drivers.

Regardless of your opinion, you will never convince me that Uber/Lyft drivers aren’t unregulated taxi drivers. Simply using an app on a smartphone or other device, instead of a placing a call on a dumb phone to a taxi company, does not warrant enough of a distinction.

The issues with me and TNCs and Taxi Companies have always centered around fairness and public safety.

The new Kenner ordinance does nothing to fix those issues.

In attempting to provide a level playing field for Taxi Companies and TNCs, the Kenner ordinance goes backwards and provides more onerous regulations on TNCs and their drivers.

Requiring a $50 Occupational License for a part-time job (for many drivers) is ridiculous. TNC drivers should be licensed according to Taxi Drivers and should have the same level of state Driver’s License that Taxi Drivers operate with. TNC Drivers (or their companies) should also be required to have the same level of insurance coverage that Taxi Drivers/Companies do.

Since a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) could be suspended for driving violations including DUI and would not be granted if a driver had criminal violations in his/her past, I think requiring TNC drivers to have a CDL would be prudent. Unfortunately, requiring a CDL wouldn’t result in any money flowing into Kenner’s coffers, thus the reason for the $50 Occupational License.

Requiring TNC drivers have a valid Louisiana Driver’s License is something, but not taking the further step of mandating they also drive Louisiana-registered vehicles subject to the same vehicle inspections as Taxis, is a glaring omission.

Requiring random drug tests is also a good thing but, allowing drivers to move to another app if they are suspended from one TNC due to a criminal or driving violation also does not improve public safety.

Currently, if a TNC driver is using both Uber and Lyft to procure passengers (as most do), if they are accused of dui and suspended by one company they are not precluded from accepting fares from the other – or any other competitor on the horizon.

The bottom line is that Kenner’s new ordinance is, in reality, yet another money grab and bends over to protect the operations of local Taxi Companies and local Taxi drivers. It does not provide a level playing field, instead it tilts it in favor of Local versus National.

In their haste to protect the Local Taxi industry, the Kenner City Council has proven again that it is “Business Friendly”. But only if you are the right kind of business with the right ownership (local). Calling yourself “Business Friendly” and actually being “Business Friendly” are drastically different.

The Kenner City Council should not be in a position of saving the local Taxi industry while killing TNCs. They weren’t elected to choose who wins and loses in the “New Economy”. In fact, I’m not even sure they’re smart enough to know what the “New Economy” is, let alone set rules and regulations and pick winners and losers.

That’s not their job.

The Kenner ordinance also does not improve Public Safety.

On, District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur was quick to point out that the ordinance, which doesn’t take effect for 6 months, could be amended at any time.

What that really means is, “We’re not smart enough to draft an ordinance that does the right thing but, at least we can put the process in motion to start collecting new fees and ripping off our constituents while we work out the details.”

Unfortunately, that’s Kenner Government the Lyin’ Ben Zahn/Mike Sigur way.

And that’s wrong on all counts.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Yenni Attempts Victory Lap – Falls Flat On His Face

Jefferson Parish’s Sexual Predator-In-Chief Mike Yenni, the man who skipped out on giving the Parish President’s State of the Parish address because he was in hiding after his sexting scandal with an underage boy was disclosed, has now issued his own performance assessment.

In typical Yenni fashion, he issued a written statement (probably prepared by Jefferson Parish’s Minister of Propaganda, Greg Buisson). And, in typical fashion, took the bait.

In the release of his version of "accomplishments" during his first 500 days, which calls “midterm” (the last time a looked a year had 365 days and 4 years equaled over 1,400 days, so 500 days isn’t really “midterm” now is it?), Yenni pats himself on the back for numerous accomplishments, most of which he had little or nothing to do with.

Yenni claims the renewal of tax mileages as his #1 accomplishment. The reality is, Jefferson Parish residents should have easily renewed taxes for sewerage and drainage, roads, recreation and for the Sheriff’s office. While there was some talk of a NO Vote to protest Yenni’s remaining in office after the disclosure of the sexting scandal, there was never a real protest effort on that front. JP voters were smart enough to know that they would be hurting themselves, and not Yenni, by voting NO.

Yenni’s 2nd claim is a $34 Million Federal Head Start grant. Parishes, counties and municipalities nationwide receive Federal, State and Regional grants. Often, they simply apply for them while others are automatically doled out based upon population. Yenni and his administration didn’t go out and get anything that wasn’t available to anyone else.

Yenni claims that his 3rd accomplishment was reform of the Jefferson Parish Housing Authority. The Housing Authority Board is run by Terry McCarthy, a longtime political fixture in Jefferson Parish who has been accused and is under investigation for using thousands of Housing Authority dollars for his own expenses. The Board and McCarthy are close to naming the daughter of another longtime political fixture, former interim Parish President Steve Theriot, to become its new Executive Director at a salary of $170k per year plus benefits and expenses.
Housing reform? Great job there Mikey.

Fourth on Yenni’s list is “App-based Transportation”. Wait…Mike Yenni brought Uber and Lyft to Jefferson Parish? That’s like saying Kenner Councilman Mike Sigur and Mayor Lyin’ Ben Zahn are bringing Uber and Lyft to Kenner. Wait, I’m sure that will be in Zahn’s re-election flyers.  

Yenni claims “Coastal Protection” as his 5th accomplishment, citing his hiring of a new Coastal Zone Management Coordinator hired in December. Obviously, in 6 months, this Coordinator has done little, if anything, of note and is still getting his feet wet (no pun intended). How this ranks as an “accomplishment” is beyond me.

Yenni claims to have straightened out JP’s finances as his 6th accomplishment. As noted by, the parish’s finances were in such bad shape that workers got 5% raises each of the past 2 years.

Getting JP more input into the Port of New Orleans and projects that would impact JP is Yenni’s 7th accomplishment. Should JP have more input in projects affecting JP? Of course. While the Port of New Orleans board has said they will consider input from JP, there hasn’t been any significant issues yet. Again, how this is an “accomplishment” is beyond me.

 Library, Parks and Recreation is another of Yenni’s alleged accomplishments. The Library has its own board and voters approved the recreation tax renewal. Again, Yenni has nothing here to hang his hat on.

Yenni’s Education Taskforce is his 9th “accomplishment”. The Taskforce, which carries little weight and can do nothing more than offer suggestions, also hasn’t done anything noteworthy or accomplished anything. Only in Yenni’s delusional mind is it an “accomplishment” to form a taskforce that has no juice to take any action. Yenni pulled the same nonsense in Kenner with his Streamlining Budget Committee and his Economic Development Committee (which created ZERO jobs, assisted in adding ZERO new businesses to Kenner and was simply a smokescreen to get Yenni’s 2030 Plan to borrow Kenner into oblivion approved – and not by the voters).

The new Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter is Yenni’s 10th “accomplishment”. Of course, the Animal Shelter’s funding was approved by then-Parish President John Young and construction began under Young’s watch. But, it did OPEN while Yenni was Parish President so, in his mind anyway, Yenni can take all the credit.

Sadly missing from Yenni’s list of “accomplishments” are his two most important ones:

1). Staying in office despite a recall effort favored by the vast majority of Jefferson Parish residents and calls for his resignation from every elected Parish elected official (except DA Paul Connick) and City elected officials across the parish.

2). Ducking the media and the public and never telling the truth about his sexting scandal.

Whether you like it or not, those are Yenni’s 2 primary “accomplishments” during his stint as Parish President thus far.

Oh, and making Jefferson Parish government an embarrassment and the butt (no pun intended) of jokes and ridicule nationwide.