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:
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.