This is an unsolicited letter regarding the recent debacle concerning the Las Vegas Fiesta Council. There are those who would say I should stay quiet: that I’m too close to the situation and have a personal agenda. I would say just the opposite! Because of my closeness to the situation, I have relevant insight into many of the issues.
For many years, I have witnessed the early morning and late night hours of intense effort(s) in preparing for and conducting the annual fiestas. I have witnessed the long weekends spent, with personal sacrifice, escorting the queen and court to the New Mexico State Fair, Fiestas in Santa Fe, Taos, and Española, and other activities. I have witnessed new members and new officers on the council come aboard with an “I’ll fix this” attitude, only to burn out and disappear after a year or two. I have witnessed the frustration with unanswered calls and e-mails to the council president; lack of enthusiasm by members; missed deadlines; prolonged waiting periods for approval of paperwork, signatures by officers, and submission of required requests and applications; lack of interest by community youth in participating in the Fiesta Queen process; violation of the council bylaws, repeatedly; recurring unilateral decisions by the council president without involvement of the council as a whole; a complete subversion of the democratic process; and on and on.
I cannot believe the president’s answer for every criticism is “it’s the fault of the ‘six’.”They did not fail to submit requests for funds. They did not fail to follow up on certain entertainment opportunities. They did not omit other officers and committee chairpersons from crucial decisions and processes, reducing the authority of the council to two individuals. They did not fail to update required records with the Public Regulatory Commission. They did not decide to have council meetings at a private residence in order to nullify the “open to the public” aspect of those meetings.
Having read the Las Vegas Fiesta Council bylaws, I can say, without reservation, there is no provision therein that allows the president, or the whole council for that matter, to “dismiss,” “fire,” or “oust” any member. There is a provision for “suspension,” nothing more. Now, the president would like to update, amend, or otherwise change the bylaws, which is a valid activity. However, those changes should not be used retroactively to justify his recent actions.
Hundreds of citizens enjoy and look forward to the annual fiestas. Most do not realize the amount of work involved by a relatively small group of volunteers required to make that celebration a reality. It takes a really special type of individual to become involved as a volunteer in that process; and it takes an even more special type individual to want to continue to be involved, after the public embarrassment and humiliation of being “fired” by the council president.