There are so many people demanding Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni to resign that, by now, to add to the call seems like piling on – though, in this case, piling on is not a penalty but a civic duty.
Voters are used to hearing about social deviations among people in high places. If a politician admits to adultery, many people are inclined to feel sorry for the betrayed spouse but to give the betrayer another chance, especially if the other person was of age and preferably of the opposite sex. Bill Clinton certainly opened that door wide.
If a person admits to having problems with drugs or alcohol the public is willing to be sympathetic – as long as the guilty party has checked himself in somewhere and is doing something about it.
Folks, however, are not willing to accept a sexual relationship with a teenager or younger, nor should they. This is a sin that reeks of being predatory, for which the victims are way too young.
Imagine having a head of government who is no longer allowed into schools and church groups. He admits to having made a mistake, but so have the inmates at Angola. He says he will work hard to prove his worth as parish president, but at what point do constituents say that the degree of hard work has compensated for the sin?
Yenni was not the only politician from whom resignation was demanded this past weekend. Some high ranking Republicans were wishing the same thing of Donald Trump after raunchy remarks he made about women 11 years ago were released. While groping for words he seriously misspoke. Still, although he was guilty of stupidity that is not a capital crime and his campaign lives on. Yenni’s error was far worse.
I remember Yenni’s grandfather, Joe, who was a popular reform mayor of Kenner and easily moved on to the parish presidency. When he died in office he was succeed by his son, Michael J Yenni, who was elected on the strength of his father’s name over more entrenched politicians. He was a good gentle man who died too young.
His nephew on his mother’s side, the current Mike Yenni (who had his last name legally changed), continues the legacy and ends it, at least until another Yenni comes along. It was a good run for the Yenni family. As mayor of Kenner the current Mike Yenni had a decent reputation and might have made a good parish president, but now his most civically responsible action would be to leave.
While society stands firm against his offense we can at least wish him a better day, but first there are questions to be answered and damages to be assessed. The Yenni legacy deserves better.
BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s book, “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2013), is available at local bookstores and at book web sites.
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