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".
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?