One week ago, LatinTRENDS reported that a decision would soon be made regarding the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau probe into the financial handling and other issues regarding six board members of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade also known as the NPRDP.
While Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is still preparing to release the findings of the investigation, some disturbing news is coming out today regarding whether or not there will be Puerto Rican Day Parade this year.
According to State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, the prospects of the parade happening this year may be up in the air. Why? Well, the length of the investigation into the NPRDP.
“Last year after the parade [ Schneiderman] could have taken the whole board into receivership and allowed a new board to coordinate the parade,” said Diaz, seemingly questioning the handling of the investigation. “Now months before the parade he wants to remove the president?”
Senator Diaz Sr. added that he did not find anything wrong with the board members of the NPRDP being investigated. However, he believes the investigation and the recent resignation of the board’s chairwoman Madelyn Lugo would “destroy the parade and destroy the community” which is celebrated by an estimated 1 million of New Yorkers.
Although she resigned from her position as chairwoman, Madelyn Lugo is doing so as a sign of protest against Attorney General’s Charities Bureau and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. In a statement released yesterday, Lugo defended herself and the other board members who risk to lose their positions.
“I believe that this is injustice for me, to resign as a member of the board,” said Lugo, about the investigation. “I’ve been working with this board for a very, very, very long time.”
The spotlight fell on the NPRDP last year after the controversial dealing with MillerCoors which had Coors beer cans wrapped in the Puerto Rican flag. The sponsorship between the two set off questions regarding the board of the NPRDP’s sponsorship arrangements.
In-addition to sponsorships, the NPRDP finances also came under question. In tax documents, the NPRDP finances were in disorder and believed to be at the mishandling of the board members. A deficit at the end of 2011 was discovered to be around $880,000 despite having raised more than $2.4 million from the years 2007 to 2011. Also, in 2011 there were no traces of scholarships being distributed in said year’s tax filings. The deficit in the 2012 tax reports showed that the deficit grew to an estimated $1 million or so.
The tax documents of the NPRDP also revealed a relationship between the board and Carlos Velasquez, President of GALOS Corporation, who was the parade’s marketing agent. Velasquez’s company was paid an estimated $85,919 in 2011 for fundraising events held in the name of the NPRDP.
The relationship drew attention because of allegations that Velasquez was using the NPRDP to market other events for GALOS.
Lugo talked about the sponsorship handlings denying any allegations that she and the board had not “misappropriated any sponsorship monies,” and on the matter of Velasquez she felt, “disappointed and betrayed.”
Despite her resignation letter acknowledging there was no mishandling, Lugo did admit to failing to properly oversee the NPRDP finances. She points the finger at someone else concerning the finance issues of the NPRDP.
The blame, according to Lugo, goes to the NPRDP’s outside business and marketing agent who happens to be Velasquez. Velasquez is accused of having taken money from the NPRDP.
“We’re always at the table asking for documentation, but you receive a report and you receive some backup documentation to the report, you cannot go to a private company and look into the records,” said Lugo, trying to explain the issues regarding finances.
Before resigning, Lugo suggested she stay on as the chairwoman of the NPRDP board and commented that she repeatedly asked Schneiderman to remain on the board.
However, in her letter Lugo wrote: “He refused” and that “I have been informed by the Attorney General that I have no other choice.”
With the recent events unfolding, Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. said he will hold a press conference on Thursday in which Lugo will appear. While Senator Diaz Sr. has been outspoken about the investigation hindering the parade this year others are not as concerned.
Attorney for the Boricuas for a Positive Image, Ramon Jimenez finds the concern for the parade felt by Senator Diaz Sr. ridiculous.
“It’s a historical moment where we can reclaim our parade, which has become about the stereotyping of Puerto Ricans,” said Jimenez. “There is still enough time to hold a parade that highlights our history and culture but there might be less floats advertising beer and less naked women.”
Seeing the investigation as a chance to “better” the parade, Jimenez also added in his statement that he has been asked by the attorney general’s office for a list of candidates who might be able to sit on the board in the short amount of time remaining to help organize this year’s parade.
“We recommended people that have a long history of service to the community and integrity,” said Jimenez, about the list of candidates who could do the job of those exiting NRPDP. “This is not just about this year’s parade — it’s about the future.”
The Boricuas for a Positive Image is a group known for protesting the flag’s image on the cans of Coors and the dealing of NPRDP with MillerCoors which allowed it.
While Lugo is no longer apart of the NRPDP board, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s findings have yet to be released, the story is still developing on whether or not there will be a Puerto Rican Day Parade come this June.