For those that didn’t know: We’ve got us a Mayor’s race in Kenna! (Brah)

In one corner is incumbent Mayor Mike Yenni. Having the occasion to speak with Mayor Mike on a couple of different occasions he is definitely Type A.

In the other corner is blogger Walt Bennetti.  This is Walt’s second try at public office in Kenner if memory serves.

A few links are now in order:

Kenner mayor candidates talk trash in NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune debate ~ Ben Myers

Kenner political forum set for candidates for mayor, two City Council seats ~  Drew Broach

The Mayor’s race has all the makings of a classic Louisiana style bare knuckle brawl and I’ve got a ringside seat.  Fresh off a run for juvenile court judge Connie Montgomery is speaking out on the Mayor’s race and she is not mincing words:*

My name is Connie Montgomery, I am a general practice and family law attorney in Kenner, LA.

First of all I want to be clear that this is not really about me, or lifting up any of the other candidates who are running for Mayor, but I am sure that Mr. Walt Bennetti will not be the answer. As a former judicial candidate, I have learned a lot about the election process and what I’ve learned is alarming. Based on my legal practice, I feel as though I can spot a person who is not dealing with the public in an honest and direct manner. I’ve reviewed much of Mr. Bennetti’s history and have become more and more concerned with what I’ve found through this process. Through the course of the posts that follow, I’ll detail the information I’ve discovered.

Point of disclosure: Slabbed has offered both Mayoral candidates right sidebar advertising space.

Those wanting additional background on Joe Stagni and the “local wiener” series should click here and here.

* Ms. Montgomery is currently providing legal services to myself and Slabbed New Media.

28 thoughts on “For those that didn’t know: We’ve got us a Mayor’s race in Kenna! (Brah)”

  1. I hope Walt will be given an opportunity on this blog to defend himself and if he wishes throw some below the belt punches back without buying political ads. A person who changes his name for political name recognition and gets appointed to a political, summer college job supposively as a certified, but in realiy just another faux, law clerk when he had no professional education or degree to do so certainly has no ethical standing to throw ethical stones himself or benefit from others throwing stones for him.

    It seems like the candidates are addressing the proper issues in public forums before NOLA.com and the TP so why should anyone start throwing dirt when they personally are not doing so. Such practice just encourages them to start throwing dirt and avoid the real civic issues.

    Whether Walt is the answer or not is not the most meritorious argument to set up a personal, anti-Bennetti website as there is enough voter disapproval ( failed tax increase) to warrant an opposing candidate. And throwing mud on Walt’s candidancy can only deter future, more qualified candidates from running in Kenner and keeping incumbunts on their toes.

    1. I posted the this because it is topical. No promotional consideration exchanged.

      These topics came up in the NOLA mayors race and are fair game. Walt is welcome to respond in comments here or directly to Connie. If he posts something to click Jefferson on this topic I will give it equal time.

  2. The fact that Walt’s platform advocates NO non-emergency, no-bid contracts and contracting thru the Jefferson parish Inspector general office ( I assume for surprise audits/ investigations) addresses two vast areas of voter concern. By advocating same he is protecting the parish against any possible character malfeasance in office and those of others.

    Consider that the” M&M Sistas”, sitting on their good government chair and dressed in red-white- blue shorts ( successful in winning the inspector general’s office battle) is currently fighting for the title against ” No-bid Contractman”, dressed in Geico- type, $100 dollar bill shorts and seated on his 4G toilet…..

  3. Locke,

    I’ve read your stuff here before and generally you are usually down for the mud slinging, but you seem to have a connection to Mr. Bennetti that is clouding your judgement. Nonetheless, I spent an hour today reading this site and if you’ve read it, and the documentation associated with it, you couldn’t truly be defending Mr. Bennetti without some deeper connection or personal motivation. If SOP presented this as a hypothetical based on another race, you would be clamoring for an investigation and further coverage.

    As for your assertion that there’s been no mud slinging, please closely look at Bennetti’s facebook page. I get you like the guy, but the number of issues and failed businesses are hardly benign.

    1. Hillie’s Date:
      For your personal information I’ve never met Walt Bennetti nor do I necessary have a personal like or dislike for him. And about you saying I should investigate his personal business dealings, as per Ms. Mongomery’s blog ,I could care less as long as Mr. Bennetti sincerely proposes and implements the political reforms in his platform if elected.

      That said what I do like about him is he has the honesty and political balls to advocate NO non-emergency no-bid contracts and contracting with Jefferson Parish’s Inspector General to audit/monitor/investigate Kenner’s government – PERIOD. Those are two reforms the M&M Sistas have been fighting for many years despite strong, consistent politico opposition.

      Hillie, when was the last time a candidate advocated such political reforms in Jefferson? Answer: NEVER

      If he is such a faux candidate as Ms. Mongomery says then by actually advocating reform policies he would be setting things in motion to counter any of his possible future, unsound financial activities and leaving himself open for intense reticule if he doesn’t follow thru with his good government platform. Besides, Ms.Mongomery has proved she is not a good judge of character as she unfortunately got hoodwinked recently by a political adviser when she ran for Judge.

      (Note): I defended her character in that situation and recommended voting for her based on Doug’s evaluation of her character. But her personal blog activities directed against only one of the three candidates bother me greatly. In fact, just as much as her political adviser’s allegations about her character bothered me when she was a candidate. I would suggest if she wants to establish a good government blog she needs to equally blow her whistle on all the negatives of all the candidates.

      In summary, I do not believe a candidate’s personality or private business life is as important as what he sincerely proposes and brings to the political table in terms of political reforms.

  4. When a friend sent me this link, I actually thought that I would read something regarding the Kenner Mayor’s race – not a promotion piece for the ramblings, lies and misinformation spewed by Mike Yenni and Greg Buisson through their rube, Connie Montgomery.

    If Ms. Montgomery (or Slabbed, for that matter) bothered to do their homework (or actually read), they would note that there are at least 15 lies put forth by Ms. Montgomery with no documentation. I’m not going to address them here as I have better things to, like campaign. As an attorney, and a former judicial candidate, Ms. Montgomery should know the difference between facts and innuendo. As a candidate, I realize that I am putting myself out there to scrutiny and I’ve written about, and accepted, the mistakes that I’ve made in my life. That being said, the First Amendment or the Public Figure law, does not extend to malicious slander, and Ms. Montgomery should know that distinction. Since she is providing Slabbed with legal advice (and, in return, no doubt) Slabbed is trying to send traffic to her page, Slabbed is a witting or unwitting accomplish. In any event, hopefully, Slabbed is getting better legal advice than Ms. Montgomery can offer.

    If the people of Kenner don’t want me as there Mayor and would rather have a corrupt man who gives no-bid contracts to his friends, tried to double property taxes, has more political appointees than at any time in Kenner history, gave those political appointees $200,000 a year in allowances to drive back and forth from their homes to city hall and to pay their cell phones, who opposed 2 Good Government Charter Changes that were approved by 70% of the voters in Kenner, and used semantics to take on the largest debt in Kenner’s history without a voter referendum, that’s fine. At least, there will be a vote and the people will decide – not Mike Yenni’s Millionaire Friends.

    I’ve offered plans to turnaround the Esplanade Mall; reinvigorate Williams Blvd, West Esplanade and Airline Highway without new taxes or new debt; provide real economic development in Kenner as opposed to window dressing; turn the Old Kenner High School into a South Kenner Library and computer resource center/job training center to afford members of our community to learn new skills and get higher paying jobs in the new economy (Yenni wants to turn it into more City offices); fully fund our Fire Department and get up to the National standard of 4-men on a truck; and bring openness and transparency to Kenner and end the “pay to play” mentality of the Yenni Administration.

    Now, regarding some of Ms. Montgomery’s assertions and lies:

    As most people in Kenner (Ms. Montgomery not-withstanding) know, for the past two years, I’ve been undergoing extensive therapy to keep my left leg attached. In fact, I had my 15th operation on March 5th. While I was hospitalized and fighting to stay alive from the infection that had spread through my body, I shut down all of my businesses. Why would I keep inactive corporations active and on the tax roll? How does that make sense? But, it’s a common tactic by Greg Buisson to infer that someone is a “bad businessman”.

    Ms. Montgomery claims that I have a “war on women” because I’ve criticized the fact that a former secretary with no Purchasing or IT experience (and no government or management experience either) was promoted to Interim Purchasing Director and now, IT Director and given an almost $30,000 raise. Ms. Montgomery believes that I am attacking her because this person is a single mother (a fact that I was not aware of).

    Ms. Montgomery fails to note that I was raised by a single mother and have repeatedly called my mother “the strongest person that I know”. In fact, I wrote more about my life than probably any other candidate ever has and posted it warts and all, on my web site: http://www.electwaltmayor.com

    Ms. Montgomery asserts that there was an Attorney General’s investigation. A simple phone call to the AG’s office would have told her that never happened. A business claimed that “there should be” an investigation and that was printed by the Baton Rouge Business Report. There was never any investigation. The worst thing that happened with my failed magazine in Baton Rouge was that I had an overzealous salesperson who claimed to have sold some ads and didn’t. Those businesses received free advertising – they were never billed, and they obviously never paid. However, this action damaged the magazine’s reputation and we folded.

    Ms. Montgomery asserts that I printed 2 issues of Inside Jefferson Parish. We actually printed 4 – 3 of them are available online. The last issue was August 2011 and qualifying for JP Council (my other attempt at public office) was in September 2011. I injured my leg in January of 2012 which stopped me from relaunching the magazine after Mardi Gras 2012.

    Ms. Montgomery says that there is a 16-year gap between 1979 and 1995 that is unaccounted for. In fact, I wrote about my moving up the ladder in radio, moving from Tampa to Lansing to Toledo and back to Tampa, getting married and divorced, etc. Ms. Montgomery says that “sometime before 1998” I got divorced. My divorce was final in 1987, and I clearly wrote about that in the timeline.

    Ms. Montgomery drags up a legal disciplinary hearing that I attended as a witness for my stepfather to assert that I am somehow responsible for some decisions that he made with his business. My stepfather paid an attorney to represent him and the attorney disappeared. I was never an employee of my stepfather’s business, never drew a paycheck, never worked anything remotely associated with regular hours and had limited involvement in the business. Again, this disciplinary case has more to do with an attorney stealing money and misrepresenting my stepdad than it has anything to do with me.

    Ms. Montgomery makes several assertions regarding the portion of the building that I leased in Baton Rouge. When I was confronted with that information (12 years after the fact), I answered the questions posed truthfully. This “lawsuit” and “foreclosure” never appeared on my credit report, never came up in a background check and was never served on me. Ms. Montgomery asserts that I “dodged” service. If you look at the paperwork, despite having my home address, they were trying to serve me in the wrong parish. I never knew about this “lawsuit” until a manilla envelope was taped to my front door when I ran for office in 2011 and, then, a few days later, shown the information by a reporter.

    Again, I’m not going to defend myself here. I’ll save that for the courts after the election. I’ve probably already said too much. I just thought that Slabbed was better than this. Certainly, Doug knows my email address (probably my cell number too) and could have asked me to discuss this. Perhaps if he would have done even a modicum of actual reporting he would have fallen for this obvious political move. But hey, I guess I should be flattered knowing that Yenni, Buisson and Montgomery are pulling out all the stops to try to discredit me right? Slabbed readers should know that, just because someone says (or writes) something, that doesn’t make it true.

  5. Sorry. I guess I was typing to fast and let slip some typos.

    One last point, why would a person that I’ve never met post a blog about me and then go to the extent of contacting businesses that I’ve had a relationship with to further discredit me? Doesn’t that point alone make this whole thing seem like stalking?

  6. “I’m not going to address them here as I have better things to(sic), like campaign. ”

    Dude, by my count, you took an inordinate amount of time to write 15 defensive paragraphs. Manuoir is a political opportunist, and very likely much worse than that. I don’t live in Kenna Brah, and I don’t wish I did. I would probably vote for you, but . . .

    1. I never vote for candidates that can’t run their own personal finances. If someone can’t take care of their own business how can the public expect any different when it’s tax money on the line.

      Chris Roberts is a classic example of that rule in action here. Just saying.

    1. So, you’re going to blame me for filling out a form 20 years and trying to help my disabled mother and my stepdad start a business? You need to get your head out of the sand.

      Mike Yenni tripled sewerage fees – I spoke out against it.

      Mike Yenni tried to double property taxes – I led the fight against him (and we won)

      Mike Yenni tried to close playgrounds instead of cutting his political appointees (of which he has more than at any time in Kenner’s history) – I worked to stop him and keep all Kenner playgrounds open

      Mike Yenni opposed 2 Good Government Charter Changes – I led the group that supported the changes and the people of Kenner approved them by 70-30% voting margins

      Mike Yenni says Kenner doesn’t need an IG – I want the JP IG to monitor Kenner

      Mike Yenni was blindsided when major retailers closed in the Esplanade – I have offered plans to turnaround the mall

      Mike Yenni borrowed $42 Million plus $17 Million in interest to fund public art and aesthetic projects – I filed a lawsuit to get more public input and force a vote of the people (we lost, unfortunately)

      I have offered plans to reinvigorate Williams Blvd, West Esplanade and Airline Highway WITHOUT new taxes or new debt. Mike Yenni wants to beautify the neutral grounds with borrowed money.

      Mike Yenni expanded the Executive Pay Plan giving free health insurance and life insurance for life to political appointees. I continued speaking out until, finally, the Attorney General ruled the plan was illegal.

      Mike Yenni gave his political appointees $200,000 in auto allowances to drive back and forth from their homes to City Hall and to pay their cell phone bills. I fought against this employee perk and I will remove it as Mayor (and remove the Council’s auto allowance too).

      You want to bash me for things that happened 20 years ago while ignoring what we’re fighting for in Kenner now? Keep hiding behind fake screen names and running away from debates like Yenni. You and he belong together.

  7. No Walt I’m not bashing you just pointing out the discrepancy in your saying: “I was never an employee of my stepfather’s business, never drew a paycheck, never worked anything remotely associated with regular hours and had limited involvement in the business.” When as you admit you filled out a public record naming yourself as the registered agent and as a director of said company. Aren’t public records supposed to be filled out truthfully?

    As for anonymous speech:

    Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A much-cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:

    “Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.”

    1. “He briefly broke down in tears several times during the interview, in which he said he still loves his estranged wife but also believes that her allegations have hurt the parish’s reputation.”

  8. I used to drink the kool-aid too until Bennetti and Citizens for a Better Kenner sued to stop renewal of bonds and cost the city of Kenner over $2,000,000.00! Once I started digging around some trying to figure out who this man was and where did he come from, I was floored by the way this guy has gotten over on everybody. Bennetti owes approximately $960.00 for a gasoline credit card he was sued over. That case is still open. He owes the court a little over $20.00 in that case. He was sued at least once in Shreveport, twice in Baton Rouge and twice in Jefferson Parish. I do not know who all is in Citizens for a Better Kenner, and I do not want to paint you with the same brush as Walt, but he filed a lawsuit against the city of Kenner and represented (!!) the group, lost that suit, cost the city over 2 million dollars, and still owes the clerk of court money for costs accrued. I would like for the city of Kenner try to recoup some of that money these irresponsible actions caused. Walt was not permitted by law to file “on behalf” of Citizen’s for a Better Kenner, but did so anyway.

    Locke, I appreciate the kind words and understand your concerns. I thought long and hard before I started trying to expose Walt Bennetti. I will not post anything I can not back up with documentation and identify what is opinion. It seems like Walt is insinuating that there may be legal action taken after the election. Truth is a defense and I plan on keeping it that way.

    1. Having had my share of disingenuous government defense of the indefensible (to paraphrase Wellington), whereby a situation is contrived so that the kleptos spend inordinate amounts in legal fees (often to pay back on campaign contributions), my interest is piqued in the claim that the bond challenge cost the city of Kenner $2,000,000. Even in the litigation that I have experienced where governmental bodies ran two/three millions an year on a suit or two, two million on bond attorneys is still rather hefty. I personally would like to know a bit on this!

        1. Thank you, Doug, that would make sense for a 20-30 year bond. The way presented, though, in “costing” appeared as if some bond counsel firm made off their year’s earnings on one case. You are aware that with bond counsel their “signature” on a bond of any significance is at least $50k!

          1. Bond lawyers make $$$$$$ but in this case the numbers deal with time and leverage which are also very real costs, just not the kind that goes into the pockets of the bond counsel.

            1. Understood, Doug, and even better clarified by the comments and article. Having handled a number of bond issues for government entities, I am quite aware of the problem with timeliness, and moreso conversant with LSA Const. Article 7, Section 8 pre-emption of challenges. Indeed, this is an area of the law where failure to dot the i and cross the t properly within 30 days is permanently fatal.

    2. Connie Montgomery:

      With all due respect to your civic interest in protecting JP and Kenner from a potential bad politician I can’t see how you can blame the 2 million increase in interest rates on one citizen of Kenner exercising a constitutional guaranteed right of suing to stop an unpopular bond issue. Just ask Al Copland’s children how their father was raped and robbed by Wall street investment bankers in interest rates and ultimate forfeiture after he bought Church’s Chicken.

      Unfortunately, it sometimes cost society money to change longstanding immoral social practices. How much did Mandela cost South Africa or Martin Luther King’s intentional, civil disobedience cost the civil governments in the U.S in police and judicial expenses. Were all the hundreds of said millions worth the effort? Unfortunately it had to be so in an attempt to correct racial injustice.

      Well, I deem politics in Louisiana and lately in Jefferson parish to be in such a state of moral turpitude and decay as to justify and embrace all political platforms of change and indeed needed radical change no matter who advocates them. If political platforms do not advocate good government political change then you are left with the same stagnant status quo and even more of the same.

      If you want to use your blog to create voter rebellion against bad politicians who do un-American things consider that the Jefferson Parish Council hoodwinked La.Rep. Joseph Lopinto to sponsor a bill removing Jefferson citizens’ right to vote on who was going to lease their citizen owed hospitals. Why? Because we the voters were not smart enough and would cause a financial catastrophe if all the details of the various prospective suitors were revealed . Well, the last time I read The Advocate the value of the bonds on East Jefferson Hospital were on the precipice of devaluation causing Children’s Hospital to decrease its proposed lease contract by 75 million !!! Now thats 40 times the amount you claim private citizen Bennetti caused legally exercising his civil rights of opposing an unpopular tax. Would you have opposed and blamed the revolutionists of the Boston Tea Party for destroying hundreds of dollars worth of tea?

      I would suggest that we amicably agree to disagree unless you can get Mr.Yenni to advocate the same platform as Mr. Bennetti then we both could possibly be on the same page. However, I fear the chance of that happening would be greater then me moving to Huey Long’s old district and changing my name to Lockie Long.

      1. Locke,

        I’ll take you at your word that you are just advocating for good government, but I think Connie’s point is accurate. Look at the dates that would have transpired according to the Council/City’s timetable prior to the CFBK filing suit and the dates that the bonds were ultimately sold once the judges opinions were handed down.

  9. First of all, the “claim” that the lawsuit cost the city $2.1 Million is completely false. The bonds were priced and sold prior to the lawsuit being heard and before the City Council had given their final approval. They could have been priced and sold at any time as there was a disclaimer in the bond package regarding the law suit.

    While Ms. Montgomery can continue repeating Mayor Yenni’s lies and misinformation, the fact is that HE cost city residents $17 Million in interest. That interest is wasted money that could have been used to fund infrastructure, fire and police protection and other projects.

    Besides, even if Ms. Montgomery and Yenni are correct and I cost the city $2.1 Million, I helped save taxpayers $13 Million a year in new and increased taxes so, in the eyes of Kenner taxpayers, I’m still way ahead.

    Also, Ms. Montgomery is wrong in that I have NEVER been sued in Shreveport. I’ve never heard of GZA Environmental and I can find no record of an office in Shreveport. I was never served the lawsuit in Baton Rouge (one, not 2) and it obviously never went to court. Yes, I was sued twice in Jefferson Parish although Ms. Montgomery fails to note that I was sued by Ben Zahn (who lost both times). The lawsuits in Jefferson Parish were well documented with articles on Nola.com.

    When I’ve answered Ms. Montgomery’s assertions and lies she tries to spin and come up with other nonsense. I guess she can’t refute the fact that I was raised by a single mother and use that to point to my “war on women”.

    Can’t refute my leg injury and 15 operations over the past two years – let’s drag up an old gas credit card bill for $900. I challenged the debt, and they can’t prove that I owed it. Yeah, that’s earth shattering news. Before Ms. Montgomery alerts the media, I also have an outstanding debt with AT&T where someone opened an account with my name (I had Sprint for 10 years and never had an account with AT&T). But, you probably already know that and just don’t want to tell people the whole truth and would rather toss out your lies and hope that I don’t see them or have time to keep wasting refuting your pettiness.

    I still owe the court $20. The horror!

    As for the lawsuit against the city, it is my understanding that all fees have been paid (especially since we prepaid and the court issued us a refund – why would they give us a refund if we owed the court money?).

    I’m also curious as to why Ms. Montgomery claims that I was “not permitted” to file on behalf of CFBK. I filed as an individual and as President of CFBK. Any individual can file a claim regarding a bond debt sale. If I was “not permitted” to file on behalf of CFBK, that would have been grounds for the suit to be thrown out immediately. But, of course, I’m not the bond debt legal expert that Ms. Montgomery is.

    Now, the question still remains, why would a woman that I’ve never met or spoken to and wouldn’t know if she walked up to me on the street and introduced herself wearing a t-shirt that said “I’m Connie Montgomery” would take such an interest in me and my candidacy. Maybe I should have investigated her when she ran but, the voters obviously did. I’m also certain that we won’t be seeing any “investigative reporting” on Ms. Montgomery in Slabbed anytime soon.

    Hopefully Doug, you are getting better legal advice because, obviously, Ms. Montgomery’s judgement in choosing political consultants is not very good. At least, if I lose, I’ll only have myself to blame and not someone who gave me “bad advice” that cost me $4,000. Maybe she’ll do better next time because I’m sure she’s made a deal with Greg Buisson and Mike Yenni. Of course, coming in 4th in a 4 horse race, there really is nowhere to go but up, right? What is that old line – unless you’re the lead horse, your view never changes…

    Enjoy the view and your 15 minutes of fame Ms. Montgomery. As for the truth being a defense, you wouldn’t know the truth if it jumped up and bit you. Now, post away because I’m done with this, for now.

    http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/10/jefferson_parish_juvenile_cour_3.html

    1. On you costing the city over $2MM on that bond issue Walt, you’re problem is not Connie repeating anyone’s lies as the Times Picayune has printed it as a fact on at least two occasions. Are they are Yenni shills and Greg Buisson tools too?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *