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Mayor weighs in on controversial Fiesta de la Flor payouts to Quintanillas

Posted at 8:29 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 23:21:38-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tx. — Mayor Joe McComb doesn't believe that controversial increased Fiesta de la Flor payouts to the family of Selena Quintanilla, who the festival honors, 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," Mayor McComb said. "I hope they don't."

The controversy centers around the CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the organization that puts on the yearly festival since it began in 2015.

Paulette Kluge answered questions in front of the City Audit Committee on Tuesday and her own organization's board of directors on Wednesday. She told both groups of city leaders that she didn't have board approval when she made a deal with the Quintanilla family following the 2018 Fiesta de la Flor.

"I agreed to pay them $35,000 last year," Kluge said at Tuesday's audit committee meeting. "That was all of our profit."

She then agreed to pay them a flat rate of $50,000 for every Fiesta de la Flor moving forward. Up until 2018, the family and the CVB split the festival's profits evenly, which has always been considerably lower than $50,000 or even $35,000. The approval of higher payments without anyone else's approval caught the attention of city leaders, including Mayor 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," Mayor McComb said.

While he expressed concerns about the way the deal went down, the mayor would not say whether Kluge should be fired or face other disciplinary action.

"That's a board decision," he said. "That's really not my decision."

If the board does decide to take action, they could announce it at their meeting Thursday night. But even if the board does make changes, some people are concerned that the CVB's relationship with the Quintanillas might be fractured to the point that Fiesta de la Flor becomes a thing of the past. Mayor McComb thinks the festival belongs here and should be here.

"I would certainly hope it would go forward just from the city's standpoint," he said. "I mean this is Selena's home. It's been a great success."