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.


No comments:

Post a Comment