Fiesta leader blasts Optic, official

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By David Giuliani

Fiesta Council President Mathew Martinez last week accused the Las Vegas Optic of violating journalistic values in covering his group, saying the public needs to hold the newspaper accountable.

He also contended that City Councilwoman Diane Moore was grandstanding when she suggested the city take over the Fiesta Council until it regains its stability.

For three days last week, Martinez used his morning New Mexico music program on radio station KNMX to defend the Fiesta Council against recent criticism.

On Friday, he returned to the topic repeatedly between songs. KNMX has also included at least two regular recorded messages from Martinez it plays throughout the day — “We don’t whine to the local paper; we get things done” and “We get involved; we don’t just criticize.”

On his program Friday, Martinez encouraged listeners to share their opinions on the newspaper and the Fiestas. One person went on the air to praise the Fiesta Council; he said others also called and sent e-mails to express their support for what he was saying.

In particular, Martinez criticized David Giuliani, the newspaper’s managing editor, who has covered Fiesta Council issues, for not following journalistic ethics such as fairness, truthfulness and objectivity. Martinez said he had spoken with community leaders and “movers and shakers,” saying they agree with his view of the newspaper.

He said he believed the poor journalism was having an effect on the Optic’s business.

As for Councilwoman Moore, he encouraged her to contact the Fiesta Council to get the real story.

“Get informed before you start opening your mouth,” he said, adding that she was using the Optic as a “grandstanding medium.”

Moore has publicly defended the Fiesta Queen’s 2009 queen, Carmela Montoya. In July, the Fiesta Council reduced Montoya’s scholarship by half and removed her title before this year’s Fiestas de Las Vegas, so she couldn’t take part in the traditional ceremonies as the outgoing queen.

The Fiesta Council said it took the action against Montoya because she missed required appearances. But Montoya said she didn’t show up to some of them because her grandfather, who raised her, was sick and later died. She blamed the council’s miscommunication for other absences.

On Friday, Martinez said numerous times that the Optic wasn’t giving its readers the council’s side of the story on the recent controversies, which included the former queen, Martinez’s ouster of a third of the council’s membership, errors with this year’s Fiestas schedule and the late event permit to the city.

He provided one example in which he said the Optic fell short in its coverage. He said his e-mailed statement for a recent Optic story had said the Fiesta Council was conducting an audit to discover issues that were not addressed by those in charge of the council before he took charge last year. The Optic reported that statement, but Martinez noted that the newspaper incorrectly indicated that it was a financial audit.

“Nowhere did I mention a financial audit,” he said.

Martinez also said Giuliani interviewed him and a few other members of the Fiesta Council, but that their quotes were added to an already-written story based on the former council members’ grievances. He said that was unfair to the council.

On his program, he reported that one caller told him that he was the troublemaker, not the Optic or Moore. He disagreed.

“After seven weeks of being in the paper and taking all of this BS with our local paper and our local elected official, it’s time for us to strike back and stir the pot and hold these people accountable. I’m sorry you feel I’m being the troublemaker,” he said.

Martinez read an e-mail that Giuliani sent him last Wednesday, in which the reporter asked for an interview for another story. The radio show host had already informed the Optic that he didn’t want to comment for any other stories because of the newspaper’s unfairness. Other Fiesta members are barred from speaking with the media.

In the e-mail, Martinez was asked about the Fiesta Council’s recent closed meeting. The meeting started a half hour late, and as soon as it began, members voted to closed the doors to the public, saying they had to discuss litigation. That meant Moore, Montoya and an Optic reporter had to leave.

Later, council member Joselle DeMarco-Chandler resigned in protest, contending that the council never discussed litigation, instead going through its regular business agenda.

On air, Martinez didn’t answer whether the council discussed litigation in the closed session, as he had previously stated. He also didn’t address Moore’s concern that the Fiesta Council hadn’t seen a financial report in months.

Moore didn’t return a message for comment.