Some say JP tax renewals are at-risk because of the Mike Yenni controversy; Yenni responds

Some say JP tax renewals are at-risk because of the Mike Yenni controversy; Yenni responds

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni may be dug in on his decision not to step down, but those who want him out of office are keeping up the pressure.

"We feel like he betrayed the public trust and it just is counter-productive for parish government for him to remain," said Westwego City Councilman Glenn Green.

Monday evening the Westwego City Council voted to join a chorus of other elected officials who have asked Yenni to resign. Yenni, in a commercial that aired on television last week, admitted that he sent improper text messages to a young man.

On Monday Yenni returned to work for the first time since releasing the commercial and apologizing, and after a brief out-of-town military assignment for Hurricane Matthew.

He said he had not violated any laws.

"There are just some things that are very difficult to move beyond. How in the world can you have a parish president that is not welcome a school, an archdiocesan school, the Archdiocese has made that clear, the school board's considering a measure tonight," said Councilman-at-Large, Chris Roberts.

The school board was to discuss a proposed measure Tuesday evening that would bar Yenni from school campuses and athletic events.

Councilman Ricky Templet said he was disappointed in Yenni's decision not to heed requests to resign.

"Some of the very same people who voted him into office are asking him to resign now," said Templet.

"If he was truly someone who put the best interest of Jefferson Parish first then he would resign already and not make this into a long and protracted ordeal," said Councilwoman-at-Large Cynthia Lee-Sheng.

They believe Yenni will be ineffective in pushing for tax renewals that will appear on the December ballot. They include millages for drainage, recreation, the parish's library system and a sales tax renewal.

"I think they're all at risk. I think the longer he stays, they're all at-risk," said Roberts.

"The parish president is the face of the parish, so we have to be concerned and worry that he might be ineffective in passing millages," said Templet.

Yenni issued a statement to FOX 8 News:

"The renewal of millages are very important toward protecting and improving our quality of life in Jefferson Parish.  I think the people of Jefferson will get it right.  They know the difference between what's right and needed, and what's politically expedient.  The focus is to make sure this administration, with the help of the council, will continue to meet with every civic association, every business group, and any individual that would like to know more about the millages and how it affects them. It would be a shame if anyone were to use the recent controversy to attempt to derail the renewals.  There's no place for retaliatory politics."

Roberts said his motives in wanting Yenni to step down are not political.

"I am not running for parish president, I don't have any interest in running for parish president. If I would have wanted to run I would have done that last year," said Roberts.

While a recall effort is always an option, even some of those who are most vocal about wanting Yenni to step down concede that recalling an elected official is not easy to do.

"Recalls are very difficult, very difficult.  If he was a man with integrity he would step down," said Rev. Green. "He is the face of the parish, he follows a long tradition, Joe Yenni, the original Mike Yenni, and these were people we trusted. He's betraying that trust…I don't think any of this is doing any good to the entire legacy which was created there, which he ran his race on to begin with."

Mike Yenni is the grandson of the late Joe Yenni, and the nephew of the late Michael Yenni, both of whom served as Jefferson Parish President.

"Joe Yenni was a respected man, and coach and public servant, his son Mike Yenni was a respected public servant. This is not something that I believe that they would have agreed with then, it's not something that they laid a foundation for in this parish… I don't think any of this is doing any good to the entire legacy which was created there, which he ran his race on to begin with."said Roberts.

One member of the Jefferson Parish Library Board told FOX 8 News she does not believe Yenni's controversy will affect whether the millage for libraries passes.  But another member said she would bring up the issue at their next board meeting.

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