Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mike Sigur: “Detail Whore”



Around the Kenner Police Department, there is a small group of retired KPD Officers who are now Reservists and are friends with Chief Glaser.

As they did under former Chief Steve Caraway, these Reservists do little more than paid detail work. 

You will see them at nearly every event at The City Park Pavillion; at the Chateau Golf & Country Club (run my Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s wife); and at private weddings and events throughout Kenner as well as retail stores and establishments like Wal-Mart.

Paid details normally go to current officers to help supplement their pay. Especially, the lucrative and regular details like Wal-Mart.

In other jurisdictions, the Reserve Officers are just that – Reserve Officers. They assist at parades, traffic accidents, etc. giving the Police Department additional coverage.They do this for the sole purpose of helping their Police Departments and their cities- with no compensation or expectation of compensation.

But, not in Kenner. Here Reserve Officers earn tens of thousands annually, drive take-home vehicles with gas and maintenance at taxpayer expense, and receive other benefits including weapons, uniforms and insurance coverage all while doing little to no none-paid work.

These Reserve Officers essentially take money that could be used by hard-working officers to make ends meet or pay for extras for their families.

Paid details are often paid in cash and can be several hundred dollars a day depending upon the event.

Within the Kenner PD, these Reserve Officers are called “The Detail Whores”.

And Kenner District 2 City Councilman Mike Sigur is one of the leading “Detail Whores”.

Since our post about Sigur, several current and former KPD Officers have contacted me regarding the unfair treatment given to the “Detail Whores”, the lack of oversight by Chief Glaser, and the growing resentment and poor morale within KPD.

While none want to go on the record for fear of retribution, all are outraged.

Despite rules regarding the amount of volunteer hours a Reserve Officer must perform to even qualify for paid detail work, if there is any left that current KPD officers don’t want, those rules don’t apply to Sigur and the other “Detail Whores” favored by Chief Glaser.

Details are passed out to Sigur and the “Detail Whores” without regular officers even having the opportunity to request them.

Some of these “Detail Whores” routinely sign up for 2-3 details at the same time. Show up, collect their money and leave all the while stopping current KPD Officers from earning extra money.

And, while Chief Glaser claimed ignorance of Sigur’s detail work to Nola.com, the detail log book is kept a few short steps from Glaser’s office in the Roll Call room.

The Chief may be able to pull the wool over Nola.com’s eyes, but we know better than that.

Sigur, who was appointed to the City Council last year, routinely works a minimum of a full week’s worth of paid details or more each month while volunteering little or no hours.

In addition to his paid reserve work, Sigur also owns an internet business.

Where does he find time to represent the citizens of District 2?

He doesn’t.

Sigur is widely known around City Hall as being one of the least informed members of the Council, next to At-Large Councilwoman Maria DeFranchesch. In fact, even his fellow Councilmen have complained about Sigur's lack of knowledge and attention to detail.

In addition, Sigur is also right up there as the most inarticulate Councilman along with District 3 Councilman Keith Reynaud and District 4 Councilman Lenny Cline. If you include Yenni and CAO Mike Quigley, Kenner could easily support its own Dale Carnegie Public Speaking class.

But this post isn’t about Sigur’s personal foibles, although there are many. This post is about Sigur and others essentially taking money from the pockets of deserving KPD Officers while Chief Glaser looks the other way.

Shouldn’t a sitting City Councilman use better judgement than to continue depriving hard-working KPD Officers of money that they could use to supplement their income?

Shouldn’t a sitting City Councilman spend more time as a Councilman than greeting people at Wal-Mart or “guarding” a wedding or other event?

Don’t the people of Kenner and District 2 deserve better from their Councilman, the Police Chief and the Mayor?

Perhaps instead of seeking a Dale Carnegie Class Sigur should attend a “Detail Whores Anonymous” meeting.

I can see it now…

“I’m Mike Sigur and I’m a ‘Detail Whore’.

“Hi Mike – we already know.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ethics Questions Dog Kenner City Councilman



It has been a very inauspicious first year for Kenner District 2 Councilman Mike Sigur.

In addition to doing nothing for his District except riding the coattails of his predecessor, Joe Stagni, and claiming credit for projects initiated by Stagni, Sigur has been plagued by continuous ethics issues and questionable judgement.

Sigur, who ironically is my City Councilman, is a member of Mayor Mike Yenni’s “Consensus Team”. His  campaign was managed by the equally ethically challenged Greg Buisson. Since beginning his campaign and taking office, Sigur has suffered a series of missteps, bouts of verbal diarrhea, and ridiculously indefensible statements every time he pops his head out from under Yenni’s skirt.

But ethical questions, rumors of impropriety and statements that have proven to be false are nothing new for Sigur and date back years prior to his taking office.

Now the din from the multitude of ethics questions surrounding Sigur is growing louder even as Sigur continues to defend his indefensible actions and statements.

Sigur, who was appointed to the Kenner City Council in 2014 after his runoff opponent dropped out of the race, was never truly elected to the Council, something he shares in common with the majority of Yenni’s “Consensus Team”.

Despite raising tens of thousands of dollars from Yenni’s contractor friends, while his opponents were largely self-funded amd a huge victory by Yenni and outspending his opponents 3-1, Sigur couldn’t even manage to garner 50.1% of the primary vote.

Prior to the campaign, rumors swirled about Sigur’s involvement in missing bathroom tile that managed to escape the Kenner Police Headquarters and wind up in Sigur’s home.

During Yenni’s failed attempt to double property taxes, Sigur was a leading proponent. However, in campaign flyers Sigur maintained that he was opposed to new taxes. He even had the audacity to send out recorded calls to voters in District 2 where he continued his attempt to deceive them. When photos proving that Sigur had yard signs supporting Yenni’s flawed tax scheme, Sigur back peddled and claimed that, he supported the tax increases but only for the Police Department.

Yet another Sigur lie.

After his appointment, and before he took office, I had a conversation with the District 2 Council Aide to Councilman Stagni, who happens to be Sigur’s wife. In addition to being a very nice woman and extremely helpful to constituents, Sigur’s wife was also more than competent and over qualified for the position of Council Aide.

I asked Mrs. Sigur if she planned to stay on as Council Aide to her husband and if it would be awkward. She expressed a desire to continue serving the residents of District 2 and said her remaining had already been cleared by the Yenni Administration and the State Attorney General.

Shortly after, Sigur asked for an opinion from the State AG regarding his wife’s continued employment. The letter seeking the opinion was crafted by one of Yenni’s City Attorneys expressly to remove Sigur’s wife from her position.

Not long after, Mrs. Sigur was terminated from her position as District 2 Council Aide.

So, in a matter of months and before he even took office, Councilman Sigur lied to the people of Kenner and to his own wife.

While the people of Kenner are used to their elected officials lying to their faces, Sigur’s arrogance takes lying to another level.

Recently, Sigur has been back in the news with more ethical questions, flawed statements, and outright lies.

Despite KPD rules regarding Reserve Officers and minimum requirements for obtaining lucrative detail work and his position on the City Council, Sigur has earned tens of thousands of dollars from paid details at Kenner Wal-Mart stores.

While those details should have gone to deserving KPD officers seeking extra income from the cushy detail, according to KPD Chief Glaser, Sigur was one of the select few “go-to” guys who would fill-in.

"He's one of the 3, 4 or 5 these guys call," Glaser said. "So you'll see he may only have one or two days a week, but he may work eight shifts. That's all people calling him saying 'can you cover for me.'"

Excuse me Chief Glaser but $100k is a lot of “fill-in” work.

In another flawed Attorney General opinion (is there any other kind when Kenner is involved?), the AG has opined that, despite Sigur voting on KPD budgetary matters and the inherent conflict and despite the fact that Sigur isn’t required to follow the rules laid out by his friend, Chief Glaser, there is no conflict of interest and Sigur can continue stealing money from KPD Officers while he acts as a glorified greeter at Wal-Mart earning $35/hr.

Some, including Rafael Goyeneche from the Metropolitan Crime Commission, still see a conflict, even if Glaser and Sigur don’t.


In addition to the lucrative pay for basically standing around, Sigur also receives a uniform stipend, paid medical insurance, short and long-term disability, and numerous other benefits.

Sigur works under a City Contract whereby Wal-Mart pays the City of Kenner and the City compensates Sigur. The City receives $47.50/hour and Sigur receives $35.50/hour.

Since this is “passed-thru” the City and included on Sigur’s Council paycheck, taxes are withheld from sigur’s detail work. Thus, City of Kenner taxpayers also are on the hook for this added cost.

In a letter to the State Ethics Board, which is truly an oxymoron, Sigur sought an opinion regarding continuing the Reserve detail work while also being a sitting Councilman.

One problem though: Sigur said that he wanted to do “volunteer” Reserve work, not paid detail work.

This same letter was also sent to the AG’s Office and used in their flawed opinion. The Attorney General has referred the matter to its Criminal Division for review. Let’s hope that they consider all the evidence and not just what Sigur tells them.

So, Sigur lied to the State Ethics Board and the Attorney General’s Office.

It is also alleged that, despite receiving a $500/month auto allowance afforded to Kenner City Councilmen, Sigur also has access to a takehome KPD vehicle and free gas and maintenance.

Yet, Sigur finds nothing wrong with any of this.

"In my mind, and the average person's mind, I'm not getting paid by the city. I'm getting paid by Wal-Mart. What difference does it make if it's passed through? There is no other cost," Sigur said. "I am not working any more hours for the city than what I'm paid as a councilman."

Yet, according to Chief Glaser, the average KPD Officer or even other Reserve Officers, couldn’t work the hours that Sigur has worked but we are led to believe by Glaser that this was simply an oversight.

Under Glaser’s “new” policy instituted in November after questions arose about Sigur’s continued Wal-Mart details after his election, Reserve Officers may not work more than 40 hours per month on details without written authorization.

According to Ben Myers at Nola.com, Sigur was paid for working at least 115 hours in December, January and February, including 51 in February. Glaser said he did not know whether Sigur is complying with the new policy.

So, despite proof and, obviously, not receiving written authorization from Glaser, the Chief “did not know” if Sigur followed the policy.

Another lapse of judgement by Sigur occurred at Kenner’s Italian Heritage Fesival last month.

The festival, led by former Police Chief Nick Congemi (who happens to be current Chief Glaser’s father-in-law), received work from a company owned by Sigur and provided Sigur’s company with a corporate sponsorship.

The Festival employs Kenner Officers to provide crowd control and a presence at the Festival.

Yes, you guessed it, Sigur was one of those paid to attend the Festival.

The bottom line is that Mike Sigur is a pathological liar who has misled the people of Kenner, the people of District 2, the news media, the State Ethics Board and the Attorney General’s Office.

How many more lies will he tell in the next 3 years?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Yenni Continues Playground Closing Crusade



It must be extremely difficult to lead the life of contradictions and hypocrisy that is Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni.

Without delving into his personal contradictions and demons, and there are many, the Mayor can’t figure out who he wants to be when he grows up. 

That is, if he ever does.

Despite repeated claims to be a “Conservative”, Yenni has attempted to double property taxes, grown the size of Kenner government by adding unqualified political appointees, failed to take any responsibility or provide any leadership as The Esplanade and other retail areas are vacant, took on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without voter approval, promoted the extension of the CCC toll for another 20 yearsand plowed through an ill-conceived 2030 Plan that has no basis to support his concept of a revitalized Kenner.

That doesn’t sound very “Conservative” to me.

Four years ago, after his property tax plan was trounced by Kenner voters, Yenni tried to hide behind his hand-picked “Streamlining Budget Committee”, led by his pal, former JP Assessor Lawrence Chehardy, as the Committee recommended closing 6 of Kenner’s playgrounds.

Yenni failed in his attempt to portray himself as the White Knight, or Good Witch if you prefer that analogy, by offering to close only 3 playgrounds, all in Districts 1 and 2 and serving predominantly minority neighborhoods.

The public blasted Yenni’s plan and the playgrounds were spared, although one was leased to a third-party.

Now, Yenni is at it again in his continued attempt to close more playgrounds.

This time, as before, Yenni is hiding. Only there's no committee. 

Yenni is hiding behind Freshman District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato, who Yenni supported and is a member of Yenni’s “Consensus Team”.

In doing so, Yenni spares himself of any community pushback. If there is pushback, it was Impastato’s idea. If there is none, Yenni will ultimately claim credit and the media will hail him for his “Progressive” idea.

As a candidate for Parish President, Yenni can't be known as the Mayor who demolished Kenner's Recreation Department in addition to being known as the Mayor who tried to double property taxes and took on the largest debt in Kenner's history. 

That would certainly make an interesting campaign theme. Vote for me - I tried to double property taxes. This time, I will succeed!

But, we all know that anything that goes before the Kenner City Council for a vote that is not authored by District 1 Councilman Gregory Carroll, is really Yenni’s plan in drag.

Oops, did I just say that?

Well, you know what I mean.

Impastato is claiming that the playgrounds that he is seeking to “privatize” are under-utilized and can’t field teams. He also claims that because Kenner has so many playgrounds, and so many teams, that it can’t field a travel team.

While it may be true that not every playground can field a full football squad, that doesn’t mean that the teams of a few playgrounds couldn’t be merged.

And, the idea that Kenner couldn’t field a travel team is laughable.

Many cities Kenner’s size and smaller, have travel teams of All Star players in several sports from several playgrounds and neighborhoods.

Impastato wants Kenner to have a baseball travel team. And it should.

The problem is that it could without giving up city assets.

So, Impastato’s claim is false. Unfortunately, the media didn’t call him on his flawed premise.

No, in fact Ben Myers from Nola.com revealed that Kenner is already seeking to divest a “lagging” playground.

Recreation Director Ken Marroccoli, a former police officer with no governmental administration experience, would not disclose which playground the city wants to give up.

This is the same Ken Marroccoli who, as Recreation Director, sought to sell the naming rights to a playground that Kenner didn’t even own.

Yeah, that’s not fraud or anything.

Perhaps Yenni should move Marroccoli to the new position of “Director of Street and Median Naming Rights”. Marroccoli’s first task could be getting a snazzy sponsor to pony up the big bucks to rename I-10.

I-10 just sounds so, I don’t know, Federal.

While Marroccoli wouldn’t say which playground the Yenni Administration was seeking to divest, it’s a solid bet that it will be one serving a minority neighborhood.

Yenni would never close a playground in a non-minority area.

A question that needs to be answered is, if Yenni's closes/leases/sells playgrounds will he also cut Marriccoli's significant salary?

No, I don't think so either. 

Marroccoli cited declines in population as the reason for Kenner’s need to close playgrounds.

And here’s another of Mike Yenni’s contradictions.

At a time when Yenni is seeking to “transform” Kenner and bring in young families, he continues to want to close playgrounds and limit recreational opportunities.

When people select where they want to live or move to, there are several factors involved including how much house they can afford, the amount of property taxes, the age of housing stock available, public safety, recreation, employment opportunities, proximity to retail, etc.

Kenner has an old and aging housing stock; the Mayor is closing playgrounds; and he has done nothing to attract quality jobs or improve Kenner’s commercial blight problem.

And, let's not forget Yenni's frequently repeated statement that "Kenner is a dying city".

Who would want to move to a "dying city" with a dying mall and retail climate, and that is closing and selling/;easing city playgrounds?
I’d say it will take more that bike paths to the lake and some flowers in medians to attract young families to Kenner.

And, while Kenner is a relatively safe community, Kenner’s Fire Department requires significant investments in equipment, buildings and personnel. All have been neglected by Yenni.

But, if there’s no money in it for Yenni or his political contributors or the promise of more political appointees, the KFD like Kenner’s Recreation Department, will continue to languish.

And Yenni, who has already burdened Kenner residents with 30 years of debt tied to declining sales tax revenue, will continue selling off or leasing buildings and land that Kenner taxpayers own and use.

But, what does he care? 

He doesn’t want to be Kenner’s Mayor anyway.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mike Yenni: “I’m a Visionary”



No, that’s not a misprint or an April Fool’s joke. Those words actually came out of Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni’s mouth proving what an egotistical, delusional man he really is.

Less than a year after he was re-elected as Kenner Mayor, Yenni is already campaigning for the Parish President gig that is being vacated by John Young.

Aside from the fact that Jefferson Parish doesn’t need a “vision” or a "visionary" as Parish President, Yenni’s delusion of grandeur is laughably pathetic.

While his only other announced opponent, JP Councilman-At-Large Elton Lagasse, is hardly a visionary himself, at least Lagasse has significant administrative and government experience.

As the former head of JP’s School System, Lagasse oversaw a budget that was then only slightly smaller than the Parish budget he will oversee if elected. Lagasse has also spent 12 years on the Jefferson Parish Council giving him a significant leg up in the experience ladder.

And while Yenni has presided over a Kenner budget roughly 1/10th the size of JP’s, Yenni has never held a private sector job in his life or run a business.

But, we’ll have more time to delve even deeper into Yenni’s “experience” as we move closer.

For now, let’s focus on Yenni’s “vision”.

For the past 5 years in Kenner, Yenni’s “vision” has included:

-          Attempting to double Kenner’s property taxes and throwing a fit when the people rejected his plan. 

-          Attempting to close at least 3 Kenner playgrounds.

-          Significantly increasing the number of Kenner Departments and the number of political appointees while simultaneously cutting back on non-politically appointed employees.  You know, the ones who actually do the work in Kenner and keep Kenner running.

-          Sitting on his hands and watched as The Esplanade has withered.

-          Watching as Academy Sports left Kenner. 

-          Lying about Kohl’s coming to Kenner – 5 years ago. 

-          Shifting funds from the Kenner Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, closing it down, and funneling the money to the Jefferson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau controlled by his political consultant. 

-          Siphoning money from the Kenner Fire Department for the Pontchartrain Center and reluctantly gave the KFD some of the money back when Katrina insurance proceeds came in. That money was promptly squandered by Yenni’s incompetent Fire Chief, John Hellmers. 

-          Hiring an IT Director with no IT experience who was his former Secretary. 

-          Promoting the extension of the Crescent City Toll for another 20 years. 

-          Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds from contractors receiving city work on personal items including lavish meals, gifts and Mardi Gras beads (purchased from another contributor’s company) to enhance his personal lifetyle. 

-          Actively campaigning against Good Government Charter Changes approved by more than 70% of Kenner voters. 

-          Setting up bogus Streamlining Budget, Economic Development and Charter Review Committees comprised of his friends and allies instead of a mix of Kenner citizens.

-          Repeatedly circumventing Kenner’s Department Head Residency rule specified in the City Charter and affirmed by Kenner voters by hiring “Interim” Directors who seemingly last forever. 

-          Taking on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without a vote of the people and without first seeking State and Federal grants. This debt will take over $3 million a year in Kenner tax dollars away from Kenner’s budget through 2033. 

Yeah, that’s some “vision” alright.

Enrich your contributors and friends while robbing the people who elected you, attempting to leave your term early and spending time campaigning when you should be governing and trying to strengthen Kenner so it can pay for the debt you forced down our throats.

Is that the kind of “vision” Yenni thinks Jefferson Parish needs?

In his announcement, Yenni made even more ignorant comments as Nola.com’s Ben Myers illustrates here:

He also said he would prioritize blight remediation. "People will comply with the rules and regulations of their neighborhood, or they will deal with the consequences of being carefree and careless," Yenni said.

 A quick drive around Kenner shows that it has more residential and commercial blight than ever before and even more than after Katrina.

Until they conveniently fudged the numbers and recatigorized blight, Kenner had several hundred houses considered “blighted” and on the way to be torn down. Unfortunately, until this year, the Yenni Administration only allocated about $50k per year for demolition, or enough to do about 5-6 houses per year.

At that rate, Kenner will still have blighted houses even after the taxpayers pay off Yenni’s 2033 Debt Plan.

What should really gall Kenner residents, aside from Yenni’s attempt to double property taxes and the mountain of debt he incurred, is that Yenni has been effectively jockeying for the JP Parish President job for at least a year.

The none too bright unlicensed florist turned Councilman, Ben Zahn, let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn, who previously served on the Kenner City Council, said in a text message he "committed to Mike well over a year ago."

So, even before he was re-elected, Yenni was plotting his next job. How much time has he wasted this past year campaigning, schmoozing supporters and reaching into their checkbooks when he should have been trying to grow business in Kenner, working to rehabilitate Kenner’s image, working to turnaround The Esplanade and brining jobs to Kenner?

And, if he didn’t want to be Mayor, why did he run again?

In his 2014 inauguration address, Yenni said,

“I pledge to every Kenner resident that we will remain a community of progress throughout these next four years. No resident or residential neighborhood will be ignored.”

How many lies can one man tell in a single sentence?

The only good thing about Mike Yenni becoming Parish President is that he won’t be Kenner’s Mayor.

But, the reality is, he’s already checked out.

Is that the kind of person and "vision" you want as Jefferson Parish President?