Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni and Council Chairman Chris Roberts — often political foes — teamed up Tuesday to deliver a "state of the parish" presentation to the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.
For Yenni, it was his first trip to the annual luncheon as parish president.
Last year, with Yenni mired in a scandal that revolved around "improper" texts he sent to a teenager, the chamber opted to have a panel discussion rather than the usual presentation by the parish president.
Tuesday, Yenni and Roberts stressed infrastructure, pointing to road projects like those on Lapalco Boulevard and Earhart Expressway as well as initiatives like coastal restoration projects and efforts to work with the Port of New Orleans to improve Jefferson Parish.
Specifically, Yenni cited parish voters' overwhelming approval in December of an extension of a 7/8-cent sales tax as crucial to the parish's infrastructure plans. That tax generates about $48 million a year to help fund roadwork and drainage or sewerage upgrades or repairs.
Yenni also showed a video that covered efforts to rehab the parish's sewer system and improve its housing stock, as well as to improve the reliability of Pump Station No. 6, which serves both Orleans and Jefferson parishes but has been plagued this year by numerous problems.
Roberts pointed to council efforts to conclude the complex lease of West Jefferson Medical Center to LCMC, the entity that also operates Children's Hospital in New Orleans, University Medical Center and other local hospitals. He also noted that the council recently entered into an agreement to lease East Jefferson General Hospital to HCA.
Roberts said that parish leaders must look for ways to improve the parish's retail environment, citing the internet as a threat to local businesses.
A heated disagreement has broken out over what distance people gathering signatures for a petition aiming at forcing Jefferson Parish Presiden…
Both spoke with anticipation about the opening of the new terminal at Louis Armstrong International Airport, which could see an increase in flights and resulting traffic through Kenner and Metairie, and said the parish needs to be proactive about capitalizing on the new terminal while not allowing the current terminal to fall into disrepair.
Yenni and Roberts also praised the work of the parish's code enforcement and permitting departments, which they said are cracking down on scofflaws and helping to streamline the process of permitting for legitimate builders and contractors.
After the meeting, Yenni insisted that even though he did not appear at last year's Chamber meeting because of the texting scandal, he was still operating as normal. "We've never stopped doing our jobs," he said.
He also acknowledged holding fundraisers, including a $500-per-person reception Tuesday night for the "current election cycle," but denied that he has definitely decided to run for re-election.