Well here I go, it is 2013 and we are all still alive !!!, it has to be because the guy that made the Mexican calender either died or was sacrificed at the alter, maybe buy his wife. Hey you know them Latina Women, you get them pissed and watch out.... So the guy never finished the calendar. then 2012 years later we all thought life was going to be over... LOL end of the world.. well we are still here so, like I said the calendar guy in Mexico either died or was sacrificed at the alter.
Okay enough of that, time for reflection - I write this to bring some truth at least from my point of view which is pretty much from the outside but with knowledge of what was happening from time of looking for artist to perform.
Bridgeport Connecticut back in July 7, of 2012
The PR Festival - Part I
Okay so let me tell you the story about a job in Bridgeport Connecticut back in July 7, of 2012 a Puerto Rican Festival which turn out a complete Disaster. I think enough time has pasted to tell this story, my buddy referred this person to me and told me he would call me soon. So I get a call about 3 months after from a guy that tells me a bit of the history about the PR organization in Bridgeport... You know the same old greed story about how for many years this festival was the crown on all Latinos in Bridgeport and how the old President and Board Members were stuffing their pockets and so the new Board got elected and fired all the crooks, great huh !!! except one problem, no one from the old crew wrote down a how to run or notes on how to do anything, just in-case they got hit by a Bus or had to run from an ex-wife etc... They did not teach anyone on how to get this festival up and running each year and how to get sponsors, money from the government etc... So when the new President Jackie (No Last Name to Protect myself ) and the other new Board Members stepped in, they knew zippo on how to run and produce a festival. So they go to a guy they trusted and hire him as the Festival producer, the middle man etc... and yeah he had some knowledge of doing these types of events but his problem was that he was burnt out already. They guy was a regular working guy who thought he could make a few bucks by getting hired to produce this festival, and why not, he has a family to support and he's been involved with some medium size festivals before... and so the problem, he was involved not that he ran a festival of this size (Hugh) and this important for the entire Bridgeport Connecticut Latino population.
When I say it was a disaster, trust me that is what it was a complete disaster, but again in all fairness not all of this guys fault. See when people Call me and start asking me a million in one questions I already know that this person is looking to learn how to pull this off with very little knowledge and if you ask him about it, they deny the don't know, because they are scared I will take advantage of them. The real is they also can't afford to hire me because they hire the coordinator / producer so why paid two people, and the new Board wants to show they are not robbing or spending money foolishly. That's great right !!! WRONG, Your old President and the old Board robbed everything and everyone and maybe took all the information on how to handle a festival and I understand now the radio people may have also been part of the problems since they were in with the old Board, they even help book artists for many years (what does that tell you). The thing is that the old Board and Radio left this new President and Board without a clue as to how to get funded, how much to spend and how to do anything period. Then the President tell the consultant you handle it, but yet she micro manages any and all issues that come up while also doing her day job as a busy Director for some Government type of office. So even though she interrupted to find out whatever the issue was, she starts to listen to the problem and never finishes fixing any issues, and then she gets pulled by her day job and so the guy they hired never finds out about the problem or has already made different arrangement for that issue and now the funds to pay for that issue has been spent by the President with someone else and the consultant is left with the problem and it now is getting worse and the other worse part is that he finds out the funds for that project has been spent on another vendor that screwed up the complete project and was okay-ed by the President. But don't just blame her lets look at the whole board who lets this happens again and again, but now it is with the consulting guy and the President, meanwhile the clock is ticking and everything is a mess.
So what happens - No one is stepping up to the plate to say STOP !!! or even ask what is happening, even Large corporations have meetings to see the progress and gather the troops. But this org. was so disorganize that at times it seems like those old slap stick movies. I could not believe so many people wanted this festival to tank. I was getting more involved because I saw the unfairness treatment from all the vendors and even the CITY, oh sure the Mayor show up to the Banquet (free meal, photo op etc) but I think back on this and say that the Mayor could have placed someone to watch over this, just to make sure it did not reflect badly on the CITY of Bridgeport. So lets see - it started with many things - the badly organized parade, the meetings with park people that failed to hire staff to man the gates, the fencing around the park, the accident of one of the main artist (Andy Montanez) weeks before the festival, the calls from the mysterious Mary of Boston (Andy Jr's Promotion person) who was trying to get Andy Jr to replace his fathers performance (an inside ploy to not have this festival be the first to have Andy Montanez perform - that's another story), the Fire Dept. issuing orders to not close off the part completely (weird) only because the City designated the park for this festival and the park in the past was always closed off for paid events but for this event the Fire Department did not allow full closure of the park, which sound like a payoff, they forced a 200 foot section to be un-gated along side the port-a-potty's which of course defeated the whole propose of having the entire park gated. Then another big error was advertizing of that the Festival was not free anymore and the entry fee was $5.00 a person, and because no meetings took place to organize this event well and the discussion of children door charge was never thought of.
So they started out by asking for Big name Latino Artists - Like Don Omar and Daddy Yankee - way over there budget, but again they really did not have a budget they worked on how much and lets get the sponsorship to pay for it. Well this idea is great but you need to plan out at least a year before and have sponsors on board and also look for govt local, state and federal matching fund grants for the arts type things to get the sponsors in the mood to give you money in a poor economy. I told the consultant everything I could to help, because after all the funds were going to pay for Artist will go through my office since I will be booking the Artist so I wanted to make sure this festival won. Well we got all the things out of the way, and my questions of who is at gates, the answer was oh I have my fraternity buddies, I knew at that point I basically was giving advise to the wall. It heard me but did not stick. So hey what can you do, and miracles do happen, but not in this case. Now we are down to the wire and Deposits are slow in coming, all target dates went out the window, if I pulled out they (Festival Committee) would have blamed the failure on me for not providing the talent they ordered even though they did not have full deposits in and airfares were not purchased per riders. So I spoke with the artists and they said do we have some of the deposit, I said yes we do but money is coming in so slowly and off target dates I was uncomfortable, but the Artist said go with it and so I did.
So now the Artist Manager calls me with a small problem, they artist are doing a show the night before they leave to NY and it's impossible for them to make the early flight, the tickets that were purchased by the Festival were sponsored and so non refundable and difficult to change and they were First Class seating. So now you say well that's the Artist fault, not so fast the riders states clearly to get refundable and changeable tickets for this very reason, something always happens, it is only human. So the festival have to find red eye tickets and the only airline was JetBlue who as we know have zippo First Class. Well the artist refused to go on the flights and in short I don't really blame Andy Montanez because he is an older gent and he was on crutches after all he was in a crash in Colombia and in bad condition, so he was doing this for the people and the festivals pride. Well the truth the airline stewards did the best they could to make Andy comfortable but he was not having it and so he took the Last flight out of San Juan on the sponsored Airline - yes the original airline which got him a first class seat but to JFK and arrival time was 2pm, festival closed at 6pm not to much time left to drive him from airport to hotel then wait for him to dress for the show and be at festival before closing. Now lets step back little just before that madness the day before when the date of leaving has arrived and wow they came up with some more deposit funds with promise that at and during the festival or before the Artist would get on stage they would have the balance of the money. Then Bam - the problem - about the airline and artist etc... okay so that's was all done and the morning of the festival I now need to collect balance due. Well I called the consultant and got voice mail, it is 6am and this guy has to be setting up this festival, the day before we ran through some of the details and all the answers from him was Yes.
Something in my gut told me to get a car and go to the festival site and so I did and when I got there he was the only one at the festival setting up things, stage, vendors everything, and I asked him where are the people for the gates his answer was they are coming, so is Christmas, but that still along time away. I then saw these guys in yellow tee shirts charging money as people drove into the park so I went up to them and asked them who they were. Well this group of 20 men worked for the City Parks dept and the Park Dept charges 20.00 to allow you to Park your car in the lot. I asked the supervisor if anyone spoke to them about manning the gates for the Festival and the answer was outrageous "oh yeah my boss went to a meeting and the organization did not want to pay for the men so they were told just to man the Main Park entrance and charge 20.00 for parking. Should I tell you who was backing them up, the Bridgeport Police. Are you putting the puzzle together. I asked the consultant and he told me about the meeting with the park dept. and it seems they wanted heavy duty money for these men to guard the gates and charge the extra 5.00 for the festival. And so the fraternity brothers were asked to do this for free I gather. What I was not told was that the Police was included in the Park Dept deal. So the Police could care less if people were walking in for free. Also it was now about 11:30 am and no one is at the gates and people are coming in by the hundreds and I start wondering how in the world is the organization going to collect these funds to pay these artist. I ask the consultant again where are your people his answer now was that the President pulled them away for the Parade - so he had zippo people to guard the gate, it was at this time I notice the 200 feet of open area and the funny thing was that the section of missing fence was erected across the street, I mean really the Fire Dept who works for the City gave the order not to close up that section but for all other events it's close. So the only thing that runs through my mind is that the old President of this organization paid or called in favors to guarantee this New Board and President failed. I blame the Mayor, the stupidity of the new President and the Board the radio station because I truly have a feeling they knew since I understand the old President had close ties with the radio and may have even worked at the radio station.
Well I knew I had to try something anything because this also reflected badly on me and my office, I could not believe it was this bad, I went to the consultant and demanded he hire some of the Yellow Tee-shirt guys (employees of the parks dept.) and then prayed no one would notice the opening next to the port-a-potty's - and so we started collecting funds the organization owed ($28,000.00) as balance, what finally came in was $7,000.00 and that was because I got the front gate manned and then when the President showed up I basically tore her head off because of no personnel was here since the morning, and she said I thought the consultant had his fraternity brother, and I told her you took them, and she said (like if she was surprised) who these guys? At which point, one of the guys said I thought since you called us we was only doing the parade since you (meaning the new President of the Bridgeport PR Org) told me to have all my guys meet you at the floats early this morning. .... continued Part II