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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

Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni boasts that his administration has introduced “a very thorough background screening process for our coaching staff” at playgrounds.

That must rule out any man who has made sexual advances to a 17-year-old boy. Parents wouldn't let their kids out of the house if such a pervert were on the loose.

The School Board is certainly keen to avert any such threat. It decided the best way to do that would to ban Yenni from all its premises.

Yenni certainly has some nerve to include playground background checks among the alleged accomplishments of his administration after admitting that he sent “improper texts to a young man.” Parish Councilman Chris Roberts in a letter to his colleagues revealed what sex acts Yenni offered to perform in those texts, and, if you want to be grossed out, you can find it online.

But Yenni did not have enough nerve to appear in person when casting himself as the protector of youth. Instead he chose to deliver the president's annual state of the parish address in person in a video. It starts by quoting a President George H.W. Bush platitude that the purpose of government is “to serve the people” and then reminds anyone who might have forgotten that his parish is named after Thomas Jefferson. Viewers can only wonder how much longer Yenni will besmirch the name.

The answer appears to be that he will remain in office until 2019, when he will surely lose, if he chooses to seek re-election. He is too shameless to resign, and the recall petition against him is highly unlikely to attract enough signatures before time runs out in April. Recall always proves an impossible task in Louisiana, where one third of registered voters have to sign before an election can be called on whether an office holder should get the heave-ho.

If Yenni cannot be recalled, it is hard to imagine that any politician ever would be. His video may, however, encourage a few more citizens to join the petition; it is a rodomontade that merely serves to underline his unfitness for office.

He seeks to impress, for instance, by announcing he has set up a task force for education. While that is not the parish presidents' responsibility, any contribution to the cause of improving the public schools would normally be welcome. But voters must scoff when Yenni sets up a task force to which he could not possibly be appointed himself. When he is not allowed to set foot in any public school in Jefferson Parish, and would not meet his own criteria for appointment as a playground coach, he cannot expect to be taken seriously as a promoter of youth welfare.

Still, there is plenty more for Yenni to do, much of it, as he points in the video, requiring close co-operation with the Parish Council. You'd think from watching that Yenni and the council work in total harmony as they progress from one economic triumph to another. The truth is widely known to be different. Roberts famously hates Yenni's guts, while the entire council has called on Yenni to resign. So have the City Councils of Kenner, Harahan, Gretna and Westwego.

Yenni, after propositioning the young man and buying him gifts, allegedly tried to keep him close at hand by offering a job. That his position is untenable is obvious to everyone save Yenni.

Indeed, Yenni insists the scandal has no bearing on his ability to perform the duties of his office. But his betrayal of that office has made him a pariah, as he implicitly concedes by resorting to video, when effective politicians need to be glad-handing and gregarious. If he really wanted to “serve the people,” he'd make way for someone capable of earning the respect of his colleagues.

Instead his concern is entirely for himself, so he has chosen to brazen it out, presumably hoping time will heal the disgrace to which he is subjecting his family. It won't and, if he ever does run in an election again, he can be sure the attack ads will be merciless. Opponents won't need to run a thorough background check to discredit this character.

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