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City official criticizes Fiesta Council, calls it unprofessional

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By David Giuliani

City Councilwoman Diane Moore is calling for the city to take over Fiestas de Las Vegas, saying the group that runs the annual event is plagued with problems.

At last week’s City Council meeting, Moore told her colleagues that she felt the current Fiesta Council had been unprofessional. She requested that the city bring Fiesta Council leaders to the next council meeting to discuss the group’s finances.

“The Fiesta Council isn’t some Mickey Mouse club. It needs to be held in high respect. It’s not personally owned; it’s owned by Las Vegas as a whole,” she said.  

She recommended the city take over Fiestas until the group regains stability. The Fiestas occur around the Fourth of July every year.

Recently, Moore showed up for a Fiesta Council meeting. After it started more than a half hour late, the members voted to go into closed session, asking Moore, former Fiesta queen Carmela Montoya and an Optic reporter to leave.

Moore said she was at the meeting to support Montoya. The council had removed Montoya’s title as queen without telling her until two days before this year’s Fiestas and later halved her scholarship. The council maintained that Montoya missed required appearances, but she contended that those absences were the result of miscommunication or her tending to her sick grandfather, who raised her. He later died.

Moore said the Fiesta Council had robbed Montoya of her dignity.

Mayor Alfonso Ortiz said the Fiesta Council is an independent body but that the city should have a more active role. He noted that the Fiesta Council’s bylaws don’t allow for a voting city member.

“We can’t legally question their finances,” the mayor said.

However, City Manager Timothy Dodge said the city is the Fiestas’ permitting and funding agency.

“The administration is willing to step in to make sure the event is sustained,” he said.

During the Fiestas, Fiesta Council President Mathew Martinez terminated six council members — a third of the membership. The council turned in a late permit to the city, and Martinez said he forgot to ask for an annual contribution from the city.

The Fiesta Council also had numerous problems with its entertainment schedule.

Martinez said last week he will no longer comment on Fiesta Council issues with the Optic, saying the newspaper isn’t giving the organization a fair shake. All other members are barred from speaking with the media.

 

At a glance

What: Fiesta Council monthly meeting.

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Where: Alta Vista Regional Hospital conference room.

Note: It’s not clear whether the meeting will be open to the public.