Mike Yenni has announced he will not resign as president of Jefferson Parish. The statement comes about 10 days after a WWL-TV investigative report that revealed that the FBI was investigating allegations of improper texts sent to a then 17-year-old young man.
"I have read with humility your request for my resignation. While I understand your position and your concerns, I have and will continue to dutifully perform the obligations of the Office of Parish President," said Yenni in the statement.
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"As I noted in my statement, my actions are regrettable, and I am penitent. I have accepted responsibility for my poor judgment, and I apologized publicly to all parties involved." Yenni reiterated "I did not violate any laws, I have not been contacted by any investigatory agency, especially the FBI, regarding this allegation."
"I want to put this in the proper perspective. I have been true to the oath that I have taken. I stated clearly that I never abused or misused my powers as a public official and there has been no misuse of tax dollars or public assets. And, I will work harder than ever to prove that good can rise from a bad decision. Because out of struggle comes strength, and I am prepared to prove how strong I will be when fighting for Jefferson Parish. Therefore, while I respect your concern, I am not resigning from the Office of Parish President. The allegations in no way impact my ability to effectively govern or manage the day-to-day operations of Parish government."
Since the report, Yenni aired a TV commercial in which he admitted that he had made 'improper texts' and had otherwise stayed mostly silent while a litany of parish officials called for him to step down.
Monday, he defiantly decided not to heed the call to step down after returning from a brief naval reserve assignment in relation to Hurricane Matthew, which struck the southeastern coast of the United States last week and over the weekend.
"Simply unfortunate," said a very short statement via email from Councilman Chris Roberts. "I am going to reserve any comment until I have the opportunity to speak with my colleagues."
WATCH Paul Murphy's live report just after Yenni's announcement
Yenni called a 5 p.m. meeting of his staff Monday. Earlier in the day, three prominent Jefferson Parish officials - Assessor Tom Capella, Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich and Court Clerk Jon Gegenheimer - joined the entire parish council and Sheriff Newell Normand, who had previously called for Yenni to step aside.
"We issue this plea with heavy hearts, as Mr. Yenni has done some good things on behalf of his constituents," said their joint statement. "His future was bright and promising. However, Mr. Yenni's recent admissions of transgression and his refusal to address other disturbing allegations have compromised his ability to lead. For the sake of the parish we all love, Mr. Yenni should resign."
The decision to stay and fight rather than heed the call to step down, came as somewhat of a shock to many who figured he could not ignore the overwhelming sentiment.
"If you are the face man of the parish and nobody wants you to show your face, how can you effectively serve?" asked WWL-TV political analyst Clancy DuBos.
Yenni’s decision to remain in office raises the possibility of a recall effort.
“I would be shocked if there is not a very serious effort to recall him,” DuBos said. “A recall is not easy… it can happen.”
Many people living in Jefferson Parish believe Yenni must go.
"Ofcourse I think he should resign. It's the people's choice and whatever the public opinion is he's a public official and he should comply with what the public thinks," Jefferson Parish resident Gordon Ward said.
"I mean how many chances do politicians need. Seems like they're automatically getting chances since they get into office. So, yeah, everybody has their chance, let somebody else, you know take over," Jefferson Parish resident Jennifer Brodie said.
(© 2016 WWL)