Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Tent In Kenner’s “Political Circus” Comes Crashing Down



I know that it’s been awhile since my last post. I’d apologize but, I’m really not sorry. Needed to take some time away and decompress and, to be perfectly candid, Nola.com’s ‘Dynamic Duo’ of Adriane Quinlan and Ben Myers has done a great job writing about Kenner and Jefferson Parish.

That being said, it’s time to get back to work – not because they’re doing a bad job (because they aren’t) but I have missed writing. And, apparently, some of you have missed my commentaries too (unless you’ve just said things to flatter me and boost my self-esteem, which really doesn’t need boosting…).

In any event, the past few weeks I’ve been intrigued by the Civil Service hearing regarding the termination of Joey Metzler, a former City of Kenner employee in the Code Enforcement Department.

We first discussed Joey Metzler in September of 2013. At the time, many in Kenner were shocked that Mayor Yenni had approved private investigators following and reporting on the actions of several Code Enforcement employees, and Metzler in particular.

Some went so far as to claim that the following of Metzler was purposely intended to intimidate and attack his credibility as Metzler was alleged to have played a role in exposing money in the Code Enforcement Department and untruthfulness by another Code employee.

ClickJefferson.com and other news outlets reported the findings of the private investigators, there was a disciplinary hearing and no action was taken against Metzler.

Shortly after, there was a complaint lodged against Metzler for his driving. The City operates a “How’s my driving” telephone tip line. The complaint, from a school crossing guard, alleged that Metzler was carelessly driving.

The complaint was investigated and found to be without merit.

Flash forward to January of 2014 when new Code Enforcement Director Amy Vallot is hired and a new deputy, Rick Walther, is also in place.

Walther, a former police officer, undertakes another, albeit sloppy, investigation of the September 26th driving complaint against Metzler. On Vallot’s first day of employment, rather than spending time getting to know her new employees, she sits in on a meeting regarding the complaint against Metzler.

Now, for the record, I personally like Ms. Vallot and she’s always been kind and professional towards me. Ms. Vallot testified that she wanted to review the complaint against Metzler with a “fresh set of eyes”, and that is well within her purview as an incoming Director.


I have no malice towards her but, you have to admit that the timing is certainly curious and suspect.
During the Civil Service trial, Ms. Vallot testified that she received no undue influence or pressure from Mayor Yenni to fire Metzler.

In addition, Yenni tried to portray himself as a “hands-off” Administrator who doesn’t interfere in the mundane day-to-day operations of City Departments.


When I heard Mayor Yenni say that with a straight face, I could hardly contain my laughter and this was no mere ‘disciplinary act’ – it was the termination of a city employee. How could the Mayor not be briefed by a politically appointed Department Director prior to a termination?

Yenni’s statement was almost as laughable as the statement by Attorney Alvin Bordelon, who was representing the City in the Metzler Civil Service hearing, when he claimed that Metzler and Attorney Ron Wilson were trying to make the hearing into a “political circus”.

Yes, this is the same Alvin Bordelon who, despite the City of Kenner having several attorneys on staff, continues to reap hundreds of thousands of dollars for his “representation” of the city.

Why would the City of Kenner spend hundreds of thousands of dollars with an attorney whose office is in Metairie? I’m sure that it has absolutely nothing to do with political contributions.

Through the years, Bordelon has contributed thousands of dollars to Kenner politicians including Aaron Broussard, Louis Congemi, former Councilmen-At-Large Jeannie Black and Michele Branigan, current Councilmen-At-Large Keith Conley and Maria DeFranchesch, and, of course, Mike Yenni.

In fact, Conley and Yenni each received max $2,500 donations from Bordelon.

Talk about a good investment for Bordelon.

In any event, it is ironic that Bordelon decries the very same ‘political circus’ that he himself has been a part of, and benefited from, for years.

But, let’s go back to the hearing.  

During their testimony, both Vallot and Yenni claimed that honesty and integrity were paramount in Kenner city government. In another irony, in Metzler’s disciplinary hearing back in September, the city cited several violations of city policy including “truthfulness”.

Among the violations of city policy Ms. Shaw cites are the following:

6.1 Personal Conduct – “Employees shall conduct themselves at all times, both on and off the job, in a manner which will not cause adverse public criticism of the City Administration.”

6.2 Moral Conduct – “Employees shall maintain a level of high moral conduct that is in keeping with the highest standards of the community, and in accordance with the State and Federal laws.

6.6 Truthfulness – “Employees shall be truthful in his conduct towards all people.”

Yet, no disciplinary action was taken against the Code Enforcement employee who lied on her job application and didn’t divulge a prior felony conviction and no disciplinary action has yet been taken against Assistant Code Enforcement Director Rick Walther who lied on an affidavit that was filed with the Civil Service Hearing Board.

As noted earlier, former City Attorney and now Councilman-At-Large Keith Conley and Mayor Yenni approved the spending of over $8,000 for a private investigator to follow Code employees.

Ironically, despite the public knowledge and reporting of what was contained in the report that Yenni and Conley authorized, in Yenni’s own sworn testimony, he denied knowledge of what the private investigator’s report said.


Huh?

You allocate taxpayer dollars for the unusual request of following city employees and then you have no idea what the outcome was? 

Really?

Now, I will be the first to admit that I doubt that Mayor Yenni reads ClickJefferson.com (although I would suspect that he has had someone read it to him on occasion); I know he reads the Times-Picayune and spends thousands of campaign dollars framing every article that casts him in a positive light.

Nonetheless, Kenner is a small town and everyone who wanted to know what was in the private investigator’s report knew what was alleged. Of course, we (the Times-Picayune and myself) also needed to file Public Records Requests to learn how much money Yenni allotted for the private investigators.  For some reason, Mayor Yenni wouldn’t divulge that info without one of those Public Records Requests that he claims are such a burden on his legal department.

Of course, if honesty and integrity truly reigned from top-to-bottom in Kenner City Government there would be no need to have people followed and have multiple investigations over a driving complaint.

Yesterday afternoon, the Civil Service Board ruled in favor of Metzler and ordered his reinstatement 
with back pay (less any income that he has had in the interim). It’s also possible that the City will be responsible for Metzler’s attorney fees, which could add thousands more to the City’s tab.

“After considering the Appellant’s appeal, the testimony and evidence presented, as well as the entire hearing record, this Board concludes that the City has not borne its burden of proof and the disciplinary action was arbitrary and further, was undertaken without reasonable cause.”

The bottom line to all of this is that Yenni’s attempt at political retribution backfired and cost the city (us) thousands of dollars in back pay, attorney’s fees, private investigator’s fees, and time and all because an employee exposed wrongdoing that Yenni didn’t want to see the light of day.

What a waste.

But, that ends this particular “political circus” in Kenner.And, what a circus it was.

Now about Rick Walther’s affidavit…

Here are the links to Adriane Quinlan’s excellent reporting on Nola.com on this hearing:




Friday, July 25, 2014

Despite Objections and Only 1 Bid, Kenner Council Approves $700k+ “Cadillac” Food Bank



If you were shopping for a new car, whether it was a Chevy or a Cadillac, chances are you would do your research. You might go online to compare car prices or visit multiple dealers to try to get the best deal and the most bang for your buck.

Even after you’ve decided upon a dealer who is giving you the best price for the car that you want, you probably would still haggle with him to get the price down even more. All they can do is say “No” right?

Unfortunately, since they are spending other people’s money, Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni and the Kenner City Council don’t feel the same way.

At last night’s Kenner City Council meeting, by a 6-1 vote, the Council approved spending over $700,000 for a new “Cadillac” Food Bank. The current Food Bank is being sold to the East Jefferson Levee District as part of the EJLD’s new headquarters.

The lone dissenting vote, District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll, who’s District houses the current Food Bank and will be home to the new Food Bank.

Councilman Carroll doesn’t object to the Food Bank. On the contrary, he spoke eloquently about “Kenner showing its humility and humanity” for wanting to help others less fortunate.

Carroll objected to the bulk of the money for a City of Kenner Food Bank coming from money that could be spent on infrastructure improvements in District 1.

“The fact that we are getting a new Food Bank is fantastic,” Carroll said. “But this is a ‘City of Kenner Food Bank’ not a ‘District 1 Food Bank’.”

The City is using money that was dedicated to District 1’s infrastructure needs from the sale of streets to the EJLD, and a combination of money including $180,000 from the sale of the Toy Train Museum in Rivertown (which I believe should also stay in District 1 to promote Economic Development in Rivertown) and Federal CDBG money dating back to 2007.

What other money is sitting in old CDBG accounts that hasn’t been used for its intended purposes and is sitting there in a quasi-slush fund waiting for Mike Yenni to spend it?

Why does the City of Kenner have unspent CDBG money from 2007 and other years including 2010? No one knows. Most cities spend their Federal funding almost as fast as they get it because, if they don’t spend it all, they can receive less in subsequent years.

But, that’s not how Kenner works.

In addition, the Kenner City Council doesn’t follow its own laws.

In 2006, then-District 2 Councilman Joe Stagni authored legislation to ensure that money from the sale of streets would stay within the District to fund other infrastructure needs like drainage, sewerage and streets. 

The legislation was never meant to pay for buildings.

This has been the custom for many years and Stagni’s ordinance only formalized this custom.

It was taken a step further by several Council members including new At-Large Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch to keep contract overages within the District. If a City contract actually came in lower than the money that the Council had approved, as rare as that is, the Council member of the District housing the project would request that overage be sent back to his/her District for use on another infrastructure project.

Interim City Attorney Louis Gruntz claimed that a new Food Bank was infrastructure and the Council was well within the parameters of the 2006 ordinance.

Carroll disagreed saying that the “intent” of the ordinance wasn’t for City buildings.

“You wouldn’t expect one council district to pay for a new firehouse or the relocation of City Hall. The City spent over $1 Million to pay for a new Public Works Building. The project started small and kept growing and growing. The Council always found the money for that.”

In addition, while Councilman Carroll doesn’t object to paying District 1’s share of the Food Bank (either 1/5 or 1/7 of the $700,000), he objects to District 1 paying almost 90% of the cost.

While Mayor Yenni maintains that CDBG money is “city money”, the reality is that this CDBG money was used primarily for low-income programs. District 1 has the lowest per capita income in the city, thus they would have received most, if not all, of this money anyway.

The City is using money from a CDBG grant that would have paid for the Annie Washington Center (to be housed in District 1), money from the aforementioned Toy Train Museum sale (also in District 1), $84,000 from the sale of the current Food Bank (again, in District 1), and $161,734 from the sale of streets in District 1.

The proceeds from the sale of the current Food Bank should naturally be included in the funding of the new Food Bank, but the rest, minus a prorated share, should stay in District 1.

In addition, after spending $512,000 to renovate the Code Enforcement office and $1 Million for some flowers at the entrance to Laketown, and with money unspent from the 2030 Plan borrowings (and still more money that was budgeted for the 2030 Plan and that is now being funded by the State and Federal Governments and the Regional Planning Commission), Kenner's coffers are overflowing and has ample money to pay for a new Food Bank from City funds.

Carroll was understandably frustrated.

“It is hard for me to believe that, with a $50 Million City Budget and $30 Million in new projects (from Yenni’s 2030 Plan), that we can’t find the money (from City funds) for a new Food Bank,” Carroll said.

Carroll also produced information from the City that showed that only 45% of the Food Bank’s users came from District 1.

After admitting that her staff gave Councilman Carroll the wrong information, Community Services Director Arleeta Terrell gave the correct stats on the Food Bank usage:

45% from District 1 residents
21% from District 2
11% from District 3
  9% from District 4
14% from District 5

So, 55% of Food Bank users come from outside of District 1.

“The numbers prove my point,” Councilman Carroll said. “This is a ‘City’ Food Bank.”

From those numbers, you would think that the rest of the Kenner City Council would be shamed into at least providing ½ of the new Food Bank funding.

“It’s up to the Councilmembers to determine what is fair,” Carroll said, “It is not up to me.”

So, did each Councilmember put up $100,000 each?  


No, the collective remaining members of the council could only pony up $13,600 each for a total of $81,600 of the $705,725 tab, or about 11% of the total.

New District 4 Councilman Leonard “Lenny” Cline sounded downright proud of the Council for spending any money on the Food Bank.


After the meeting, Councilman Leonard Cline noted that six council offices -- all except Carroll's- - contributed $13,600, or a total $81,600, from capital funding allocated to each district.

"We all contributed," Cline said. 

At the least, Carroll believes that $125,000 should be returned to District 1 for infrastructure. He rationalizes that if $161,734 was received specifically from the sale of District 1 streets, that money less $36,000 that the City is spending for new parking for the new Food Bank, or $125,000 should be sent back to District 1 for drainage, sewerage or other infrastructure projects.

That would be something. Not exactly fair to District 1 residents, but something.

He asked the Council to approve the new Food Bank with that stipulation. The Council refused.
As troubling as the Council’s lack of action in funding the new Food Bank with City money are, it is also troubling that there was only 1 bidder on a huge project like the new Food Bank.

How can a project worth $796,000 before some reductions, only have 1 bidder especially when it’s a building project that dozens, if not hundreds, of companies could receive?

Originally, there were 2 responding bidders but one bidder was disqualified.

Why didn’t the City re-bid this contract to get more contractors involved and get a lower price? Were the bids specs written so narrowly that only 2 potential bidders bothered to vie for the contract or was the bid rigged in such a way to favor the qualifications of the winner at the expense of the City and, since the money was coming from District 1 anyway, at the expense of District 1 residents? Was this punishment for Councilman Carroll’s disagreements with Mayor Yenni as Carroll continues to stand up and represent the people of District 1?

Regardless, on a project this big and general, this project should have received more than 2 bids. I mean, how many companies in Jefferson Parish alone can construct a modular building? But, when you’re spending other people’s money, you get a little lax from time-to-time.

"We all contributed," Cline said. 

Yes, indeed Mr. Cline – you all contributed. 

Unfortunately for the people of District 1 who have a multitude of infrastructure needs, THEY contributed more. Much more.

I hope that Mr. Cline is proud of himself and his fellow Council members.  

I know that I'm not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kenner Councilman Carroll Pushes Back At Yenni’s District 1 Shakedown




At Thursday’s Kenner City Council meeting, the Council will vote on a plan proposed by Quigley, and approved by Mayor Yenni, to build a new Kenner Food Bank to replace the current Food Bank after Yenni approved selling the land and certain District 1 streets to the East Jefferson Levee District. The EJLD is proposing a new headquarters in South Kenner to consolidate operations.

The EJLD proposal has met with strong community opposition after the EJLD tried to purchase streets that would severely limit access to historic cemeteries and discussed a plan to force residents from their homes if buyout negotiations were not consummated to the satisfaction of the EJLD.

In the letter, Carroll also takes aim at Quigley’s condescending tone.            

“And while you believe it may be somewhat complex for some of my new council colleagues, who are a novice to this projects it’s not that from my vantage point. Not only have I been involved in (the buy-out/new food bank) during my entire tenure on the Council, I have also lived within the vacant properties and the conditions endured by not only me but also my fellow constituents,” Carroll wrote.

“While the good people of District 1 and myself are supportive of the EJLD project and the new Food Bank we are not supportive at any cost ($$$).”

Carroll then goes on to specify funds that were dedicated to District 1 but will now be used to construct the new Food Bank, including
-          $64k that would have been used to purchase the Annie Washington Center
-          $42k from the CDBG budget Neighborhood Revitalization and Rental Housing Improvements
-          $60k from CDBG Regular Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program
-          $14k from CDBG First-Time Homebuyers Program
-          $84k from the sale of the Worth St. Food Bank
-          $180k from the sale of the Toy Train Museum
-          For a Grand total of: $444,000.00

Councilman Carroll rightly asks, “HOW MUCH MORE ARE WE REQUIRED TO GIVE?”

In addition, Quigley also proposed the sale of more streets in District 1 to fund the new Food Bank, whether it’s a Chevy or a Cadillac.

Councilman Carroll also reiterates his positions on the continued sale of streets and use of District 1 funds.

“While I have discussed this with you, the Mayor and the EJLD on more than one occasion, I think it is only fair to state to my fellow council members two (2) of the paramount positions of the people of District 1 as it pertains to the Food Bank and EJLD project.
-       
            We are not supportive of selling any streets (Alton, Warren and 4th) that are adjacent to the Historic African American Belle Grove and Love and Charity Cemeteries.

-          Any proceeds from the sale of ANY streets that are sold that are not adjacent to the aforementioned properties are to be used for the sole purpose of improving infrastructure, drainage or other projects that will improve the Quality of Life in District 1.

In closing, I will not be supportive of any additional funds coming from any projects, programs or coffers of the People of District 1. The proposed new Food Bank is a “City of Kenner” food bank and not a District 1 Food Bank and should be supported by all.”

Carroll’s point is well-founded: the new Kenner Food Bank should be paid for through City of Kenner funds – not just District 1 funds. In fact, whatever the cost of the new Food Bank, whether it’s a Chevy or a Cadillac, if Mayor Yenni can’t find the funds in his borrowed stash of 2030 Plan money, District 1 should be obligated for 1/5th of the cost. The remaining funds arbitrarily obligated by Quigley (like it’s “His” money) should be used on District 1 projects.

But, that probably makes too much sense.

We are talking about Kenna after all.

The Kenner City Council will discuss Yenni's plan to fund the new Food Bank's construction at Thursday night's meeting. The meeting begins at 5pm in the Council Chambers. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

After Borrowing Millions For His 2030 Plan, Kenner Mayor Yenni Wants To Shakedown District 1 Residents To Pay For Food Bank



It’s no surprise that I opposed Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s 2030 Plan to attempt to reinvent Kenner with $42 Million (plus another $17 Million in interest) in borrowed money. Sure Kenner could use a facelift but, borrowing Millions and tying up Sales Tax Revenue for decades without any research showing that the 2030 Plan will actually revitalize Kenner and provide real Economic Development was foolhardy in my opinion.

I was also vehemently opposed to Yenni taking on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without a vote of the people not to mention that some parts of Kenner, including some of Kenner’s neediest areas, would be virtually shut out of the 2030 Plan proceeds.

Case in point: Council District 1, where Kenner was founded.

When the 2030 Plan was announced, I called District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll since there was little in the then $27 Million in new projects (which has since ballooned to $37 Million) for District 1. In fact, the largest line item at over $12 Million would be spent on Williams Blvd., which is a State Highway.

I told Councilman Carroll that I would help him organize a Bake Sale so we could purchase a sign to put at the corner of Williams and Airline Highway telling travelers from Armstrong Airport that “Rivertown Is This Way ------>”.

Unfortunately, while I was joking, that would be more than residents of District 1 would get under Yenni’s plan.


Last year, the East Jefferson Levee District announced that they wanted to consolidate operations in Kenner.

Great, right?  

Not if you’re a resident of South Kenner.

To accomplish the move, the EJLD wanted to buy some streets in South Kenner and limit access to historic cemeteries.

After a meeting at the Council Chambers that was filled with angry Kenner residents and a City Council meeting that brought some residents to tears and vague assurances that their homes wouldn’t be expropriated by the EJLD, a compromise was reached between the EJLD and Councilman Carroll – a few streets would be sold but access to the cemeteries would continue.

But, despite the apparent compromise, the Yenni Administration still issued a veiled threat to South Kenner residents:

The four-street compromise plan might look good for now. But the other three streets -- Warren, Alton Street and Fourth -- are not permanently off the docket, said Kenner City Planning Director Jay Hebert, who recommended approval of the sale of the other four streets: parts of George Street, Hollandey Street and Centanni Lane between the Mississippi River levee and Jefferson Highway, as well as a long stretch of Worth Street.

"The understanding is that someday down the road, they could meet to discuss those issues further," Hebert said.

Are some of those chickens now coming home to roost in another Yenni Shakedown of South Kenner residents?

“A Chevy or a Cadillac?”

If I told you that you could have a new Chevrolet or a new Cadillac, and it wouldn’t cost you anything, chances are that many of you would chose the Cadillac.

With all due respect to Chevy owners and Car Dealers, it’s human nature.

When my Grandfather sold the family restaurant and bar and retired, the first thing that he did was buy a new Cadillac. After working hard almost every day of his life, he deserved it. He was so proud the first time that he took me for a ride in it, he was almost bursting.

Now, Mike Yenni (in the form of his “bad cop” alter ego, Kenner CAO Mike Quigley), is making a similar offer to Kenner – do you want a “Chevy or a Cadillac” for your new Food Bank?

On the face of it, we all salivate and say “Cadillac, please”.

But, as with everything that Mike Yenni touches, things aren’t always what they seem and, like many transactions, you need to read the fine print.

After putting the proposal for a new Kenner Food Bank out for bid (remember that the EJLD is taking the land that the current Food Bank is on and demolishing the building), the lowest bidder was still much higher than the City expected.

In a letter obtained by ClickJefferson.com, Quigley, while touting the $25 Million investment that the EJLD is making in Kenner (which, by the way, the City of Kenner will be receiving ZERO in property taxes – but let’s skip over that point for a moment), Quigley bemoans the economics of the new Food Bank:

“A look at the bids shows that all responsive bidders came in much higher than expected. Members of the Administration, together with the architect on the project, Meyer Engineers, came up with a number of deductions that lowered the bid contract amount to $550,965.”

What?

$550,000 for a new Food Bank? And, the original low bid came in at $652,000!

Like the proverbial “As Seen On TV” huckster that he is in real life, Quigley says, “Wait – there’s more!”

In ‘STEP 2 – CHEVY OR CADILLAC?’ Quigley gives the City Council three options:

“You have a number of options: accept only the $652,000 base bid as is; accept the $652,000 base bid and approve change Order No. 1 (reducing the contract amount to $550,965), or accept the base bid (with or without change Order No. 1) and include up to three alternatives.”

Alternative No. 1 includes a loading dock, an additional driveway and an overhead door. This will add another $76,650 to the cost. For those playing at home, we’re either up to $627,615 or $728,650.

Alternative No. 2 includes additional concrete and the electrical services that are necessary to accommodate a refrigerated storage area outside of the Food Bank. This will add another $32,890 to the cost so, if we include Alternative No. 1, we’re up to $660,415 or $761,500.

Alternative No. 3 adds more parking. I mean, after all, the new Food Bank (with the addition of perishable goods in the new giant outdoor refrigerator) will serve more Kenner residents, right? The cost of more parking is only $36,330, so, added to Alternatives 1 and 2 we’re at $696,745 or $797,830.

$700,000 – 800,000 for a new Food Bank because the EJLD wants the land that the current Food Bank is on (but isn’t giving Kenner the money to build a new Food Bank).

And, that’s before the inevitable Change Orders (just look at The Jefferson Performing Arts Center’s budget – and it’s still not built).

Did I mention that the current Food Bank (which is in really bad shape) is only worth $84,000?

Now, to be fair, Alternative Nos. 1 and 2 are required if the City is to take advantage of a very generous offer from Crossroad Center for “regular tractor-trailer loads of food” per Quigley.

In addition, Quigley gushes, “That will ensure that the new Food Bank shelves will be fully stocked.”

Later in the letter, Quigley makes an even more audacious claim: “Because of the generosity of Crossroads Center, our new and larger Food Bank will be fully stocked with food – more so than ever in the past. The alternates will allow us to handle and distribute that food more efficiently, ultimately allowing the Kenner Food Bank to serve more members of our community.”

Quigley didn’t mention it but that also means ending the need for the phony Mayor’s Prayer Breakfasts that were supposed to raise money for the Food Bank.

While I, for one, would certainly be happy to end the hypocrisy of Yenni’s Prayer Breakfasts, it might be cheaper to open a grocery store, stock it once a week, and give away the products inside.

“Everybody form a single line and the first 100 customers get to keep everything you can fit into a basket”.

So, if the money isn’t coming from the EJLD (which can’t, by law, contribute to something that only benefits the residents of one community, in this case, Kenner), where is the money coming from for a new Food Bank?

Ahh, here’s where it gets really interesting.

Quigley spells it all out in his letter.

By using old money from 2007 CDBG grants that were for land for the Annie Washington Center, taking money from the 2010 CDBG fund that was supposed to go to “Neighborhood Revitalization and Rental Housing Improvements”, and taking more money from the 2013 CDBG fund that was supposed to go to the “Regular Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Program”, the City can come up with $179,122.

Now, mind you, most, if not all of this money was intended to go to low income Kenner residents anyway which are disproportionately in District 1 – meaning that District 1 residents were supposed to get this money anyway.

“But wait – there’s more!” Quigley says.

“Another source of funding would come from the sale of streets to the EJLD.”

Excuse me?

What about the compromise that the EJLD made with Councilman Carroll to not purchase more streets in 
South Kenner?

Why is the City of Kenner selling ANYTHING to a government entity that will provide no economic impact or property taxes to the City of Kenner, but use our roads and streets (the ones that they don’t purchase anyway) and cause more expense to Kenner taxpayers?

"But wait - there's more!"

After all of his financial machinations, Quigley miraculously finds a way to get the new Food Bank funded without any of the Millions hoarded by Yenni or any money from any other District.

“There are two other sources of revenue that could be applied to the Food Bank. One is the $91,000 received from the sale of Blair Street. The second is $180,000 from the proceeds of the sale of the Toy Train Museum. That brings the subtotal to $704,240 – just above the goal of $695,835, and just enough to pay for the Food Bank and all three alternates, after the cost savings from the proposed Change Order No. 1 are taken into account.”

And, without touching the 2030 Plan stockpile – imagine that?

The key takeaway here is that Quigley is spending money that could and should go to District 1 projects, on a Food Bank that will serve ALL of Kenner (and more of Kenner, by the way).

Shouldn’t money designated for District 1 go to projects that benefit District 1 and not a single project that benefits all of Kenner? Isn’t that what the 2030 Plan money should be for? The City just spent $512,000 renovating the Code Enforcement office and is spending another $1Million on some flower beds on Williams Blvd. leading into the Treasure Chest Casino but Mayor Yenni can’t find the money for a new Food Bank without shaking down the residents of South Kenner again and selling more of our city to a government entity that provides little economic benefit to the city?

District 1, like most of Kenner, has severe drainage and sewerage issues. The unemployment rate is higher than other Kenner Council Districts, yet Yenni is putting ZERO Dollars into creating new jobs in South Kenner or training the under and unemployed.

Rather than spend District 1 money on District 1, Yenni wants to shakedown District 1 residents for every Nickel. If you live in District 1, it’s not “Your Money” it’s “Yenni’s Money”.

Other District Councilmen get to spend their dedicated money on their Districts, often getting even more money from the At-Large Councilmen.

Yet, Yenni and Quigley believe that District 1 Councilman Carroll should just give the city a blank check and be happy that Kenner is getting a new Food Bank, whether it’s a Chevy, Cadillac, Hyundai, or Toyota. 

Residents in other Districts would never stand by and let Yenni scam them time and time again like he does to District 1 residents. From trying to close the Lincoln Manor Playground to blocking access to cemeteries housing their departed loved ones, and now using their money for a Food Bank that gives any deserving Kenner resident food.

I’d say that “I’m shocked” but I think you know my sarcasm by now.

Before someone writes in and tells me that I’m “bitter” or “cynical”, the truth is that I think it’s great that Kenner is getting a new Food Bank and, if we can afford it, a “Cadillac” Food Bank at that.

But it isn’t great that the burden for this “Cadillac” is being put squarely on the shoulders of District 1 residents when South Kenner badly needs every available dollar the City can spare and, while the need may be greater in District 1, the Food Bank serves all Kenner residents, not just South Kenner residents.

That being said, since the 2030 Plan budget has ballooned from $29 Million in new projects to $37 Million, and since the State and Federal Governments (along with the Regional Planning Commission) are paying for improvements on Williams Blvd., improvements that Yenni sold to the people of Kenner as a reason for taking on the largest debt in Kenner’s history, shouldn’t the City shoulder the cost of a ‘Kenner’ Food Bank?

The cynic in me says that this proposal by Yenni and Quigley is about 2 things: taking money from other projects that could benefit District 1 residents and more contracts for Yenni's campaign contributors (who, thanks to Yenni, are all driving Cadillacs and Mercedes and not Chevys by the way). 

But, I am smiling that now the proceeds from Yenni’s Prayer Breakfasts and Sippin’ With Santa can hopefully go to another worthy cause since the Food Bank will be stocked to the brim.

Perhaps a sign at the corner of Williams and Airline saying, “Rivertown Is This Way ------>”.

Well, it’s just a thought…

And, everyone knows how Mike Yenni loves my suggestions.

The Yenni/Quigley “Screw District 1 Residents Plan” will be voted on at Thursday’s Council Meeting.