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CVB head Kluge resigns

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Posted at 2:47 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 23:34:29-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Convention and Visitors' Bureau CEO Paulette Kluge submitted her resignation Thursday in a closed-session meeting with the organization's board of directors.

Her last day is Sept. 27.

The move comes more than a week after Kluge announced during an Aug. 13 city council Audit Committee meeting that she had made an unauthorized deal with Abraham Quintanilla, Selena's father, regarding Fiesta de la Flor profits. Fiesta de la Flor honors the slain Tejano star.

Kluge altered the original city-approved financial arrangement with Quintanilla that gave half of the event's profits to The Selena Foundation, when Fiesta de la Flor began in 2015.

"I agreed to pay them $35,000 last year," Kluge said at the recent Audit Committee meeting. "That was all of our profit."

She also committed to a flat rate of $50,000 to the foundation after every Fiesta de la Flor moving forward.

The approval of higher payments without anyone else's approval caught the attention of city leaders, including Mayor Joe McComb.

"The board and the CEO deal with each other, and that's why they're on the board, is to kind of oversee and direct and give guidance and set procedures and policies," he said.

Kluge's impending departure raises questions about the future of Fiesta de la Flor which Kluge says she helped get started by repeatedly meeting with the Quintanillas. It's unclear if the family will get the increased festival payout they arranged with Kluge, and it's possible that the Quintanillas will no longer support the festival, or move it elsewhere.

"That's always a possibility," Kluge said following her resignation today. "Cities are always looking to the Quintanillas wanting Fiesta de la Flor or a Selena event in their city. For years that's been going on."

The Convention and Visitor's Bureau receives partial funding from Corpus Christi's hotel-motel tax. Kluge told KRIS 6 News her salary is more than $100,000.

The board announced that it would appoint an interim chief executive officer in the next 30 days and then begin a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.

“The Board would like to sincerely thank Mrs. Kluge for her service, leadership and commitment to Visit Corpus Christi over the past five and a half years and we wish her the best in her future endeavors”, said Melody Nixon-Bice, chairwoman of Visit Corpus Christi Board of Directors.

McComb told KRIS 6 News last week that he doesn't believe the controversial increased Fiesta de la Flor payouts will lead to the festival's discontinuation or move out of Corpus Christi.

"I see no reason why it wouldn't stay here unless the Quintanillas decide they'd rather pack up their bag and move somewhere else," McComb said. "I hope they don't."

Kluge took charge of the CVB back in November of 2013 after Keith Arnold departed from that position.

Before working for the CVB, she was director of sales and marketing for the Omni Hotel in Corpus Christi for nine years. She has more than 40 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.