Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni talks about his education task force at the Parish President's office in Elmwood, La. Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. 

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

Three months ago, Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni broke with 12 years of tradition and passed on giving a State of the Parish address at the Jefferson Chamber's annual November luncheon.

On Saturday, he delivered the presentation in the form of a 15-minute pre-recorded video posted to the administration’s YouTube channel to coincide with the parish's 192nd birthday.

Yenni said in November that he didn’t believe a speech then would be properly timed, but he denied it had anything to do with his keeping a low profile because of a sexting scandal that had engulfed his administration.

Anticipating questions about why the address wasn’t delivered in person, Yenni said in an interview Monday that he felt the video presentation — backed by upbeat instrumental music and filled with video footage of the various projects mentioned — would be more engaging for residents than a video of him standing at a lectern.

“I could have read the whole speech in front of a group of people, but this shows video of what we’ve accomplished … and gives a full perspective of what’s going on in the parish,” he said.

Videos promoting parish accomplishments have been posted by past parish presidents, and Yenni noted that he produced some when he was mayor of Kenner. He also noted he attended a press conference last month about the creation of an education task force.

“I’m doing everything I need to do and going anyplace I need to go,” he said.

Yenni’s administration has been dogged by a scandal since late September, when WWL-TV reported that Yenni — a married father — sent sexually explicit texts and made overtures to a 17-year-old boy while campaigning for parish president. A petition to trigger a recall election is about halfway to its goal of 90,000 signatures, though its April deadline is fast approaching.

Yenni admitted sending "improper" texts to the youth but has declined to elaborate, refused calls to resign and dismissed critics who say his ability to govern has been compromised, even as he has kept a lower public profile than usual.

The State of the Parish video had been viewed 104 times by Monday afternoon.

By comparison, “Wastewater: From Flush to Finish” — billed as “a look into the unique nature of the Jefferson Parish wastewater treatment process” — had been viewed only 13 times since it was posted almost a month ago.

In the annual assessment, Yenni highlights his administration’s work to find tenants for the former Avondale Shipyard and other property ripe for development along the West Bank of the Mississippi River.

He lauds the Jefferson Economic Development Commission for helping to secure a $1 billion ammonia plant expansion project in Waggaman, which was completed in September, adding “dozens” of jobs and retaining 400 others.

He notes a $30 million Carmax facility is about to get underway in Kenner, a project expected to create 350 jobs.

And he credits the Parish Council with ensuring numbers were properly crunched on the massive hospital lease deal for West Jefferson Medical Center.


Yenni also detailed the following as signs of progress: 

  • East Jefferson General Hospital is about to build two free-standing emergency rooms in Metairie and Kenner, and Ochsner has launched a major expansion of its main campus along Jefferson Highway.
  • The council has worked to accommodate app-based ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft into the parish’s transportation ordinance and has created an administrative post to help the parish capture and properly allocate $90 million in federal coastal restoration funds.
  • Voters in December agreed to renew a sales tax for infrastructure projects and property taxes for recreation, drainage and public schools.
  • The parish passed a $613 million balanced budget — fully funding the District Attorney’s Office — despite roughly $10 million in unfunded mandates from the council.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.