We’ve never seen a situation like this before: a chief executive who has lost so much support that just about everyone wants him to leave office. (In fact, those who want him to stay, if they exist, have not identified themselves.) Even Richard Nixon in the bad days of Watergate had his supporters. Bill Clinton survived his impeachment with more damage being done to his prosecutors (i.e. Louisiana Representative Bob Livingston) than to himself, and his wife is currently on the verge of being elected president. Even Livingston, once his dalliances were exposed, heard from those who did not want him to leave Congress. David Vitter’s digressions had been well known yet he made the runoff for governor.  

       In the case of Yenni, who has not been accused of a crime, the situation is different. What he has been accused of, a sexual relationship with a teen age male, and which he has admitted to, is so out of bounds with community standards that no one dares support him.

       Recall petition drives are hard to pull off; and to be successful in Jefferson Parish will require the verified signatures of about 90,000 of the parish’s voters (one third of the total registration). There is no doubt that many people would be willing to sign such a petition, the problem is getting it to them.

       What, however, if Yenni is able to hold onto his office for the rest of his four year term? There will still be career staff members in the office who can handle the day to day clerical, maintenance and administrative routines. Missing will be a leader to rally support for causes, to generate new ideas or to sell the parish to investors. Imagine having a chief executive who will not even be allowed on the grounds of churches and schools.

       Recalls have been designed to be difficult for good reason. If the process were too simple special interest groups would be able to bully their way and intimidate elected officials. Making the process hard requires widespread participation.

       There have been many recall efforts in the state's history; few have succeeded. The last person to be kicked out of office was Port Allen Mayor Deedy Slaughter, who was sent packing in 2013. Investigations had shown that, besides giving herself a raise that was deemed to be illegal, she had inappropriately used public funds for a trip to Washington (which turned out to be more of a private vacation) and then fired the chief financial officer who confirmed the misappropriation. (When Slaughter said she went to Washington to meet with then Senator Mary Landrieu about economic development, Landrieu replied that she did not recall ever meeting with her.)

       Unlike Slaughter, most politicians are bright enough to resign once they see a petition has been successful rather than having to face the inevitable from the voters. If Yenni stays in office that might be the way his term will end.

       Meanwhile, Kenner has still yet to elect the mayor who is to replace Yenni after having been elected parish president last year. There was a time when Yenni’s endorsement might have been prized. This week, the Kenner council is expected to join under city councils asking Yenni to resign.

       Sometimes politics can get very lonely.    





 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 websites.