Fiesta group won’t release finances

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By David Giuliani

The Las Vegas Fiesta Council is not releasing its finances to the public, its leader says.

“Our financial records are proprietary at this point,” council President Mathew Martinez said in an e-mail last week to the Optic. “We will not furnish this information to you.”

The finances became an issue after Martinez terminated a third of the council’s 18 members in July, following the annual Fiestas de Las Vegas. Many of those members said the group hadn’t opened its books to the membership in months.

In a mass e-mail a couple of weeks ago, the Fiesta Council maintained that it had provided financial information to members monthly. It also said that it offered its complete financial records to City Manager Timothy Dodge during the city’s negotiations with the council.

Dodge said he didn’t recall such an offer and that the Fiesta Council said it wouldn’t release the documents to the city unless the two sides reached an agreement. But they failed to do so. As such, the City Council last month voted unanimously to set up a city-run fiesta committee, using the argument that the festivities take place on city property, the Plaza and Bridge Street.

Martinez confirmed that his group wouldn’t unveil its finances unless there was an agreement. But he questioned why the finances were still a story.

“This is overkill on an issue that pretty much was addressed at the most recent City Council meeting,” he said in an e-mail to a reporter. “Your reporting has been basically rumors, nothing factual. That is why we call your type of journalism ‘tabloid style.’”

Now that the city has taken over Fiestas, the status of the Fiesta Council is unclear.

Since July, the Fiesta Council has been embroiled in controversy. The group botched this year’s schedule, forgot to seek an annual donation from the city, turned in a late event permit and never publicly recognized the winners of the Fiesta parade.

Probably the issue that got the most attention was the group’s public fight with Carmela Montoya, the 2009 Fiesta queen.

The group contended she missed required appearances; she said she had to tend to her dying grandfather, who raised her.

Martinez has blamed the group’s problems on the six terminated members, whom he accused of trying to conspire against him.