City of Eagle Pass Withholds Crucial Information on $2.35 Million Loss from 57 South Music Festival Contract with Just 1 Management LLC

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The City of Eagle Pass has taken the unprecedented step of redacting information that could provide critical insights into the awarding of the contract to Just 1 Management LLC. The missing committee scoring sheets may hold the key to understanding the decision-making process behind this controversial award. This move has cast a shadow over the city’s transparency, as it denies access to documents that could explain the substantial financial loss incurred during the 57 South Music Festival.

In a recent investigative effort, The Maverick Times News sought to uncover the selection process behind the 57 South Music Festival, which resulted in a significant $2.35 million loss for the City of Eagle Pass. Our attempt to obtain full transparency through a public information request was met with partial disclosures and a refusal to release complete documents, citing confidentiality under email exceptions. This lack of transparency raises significant concerns about the fairness and integrity of the selection process and what the city might be hiding. The City cited an opinion from the Texas General Attorney.

READ: Texas Public Information Act Request for 57 South Music Festival Submitted

READ: New Insights Suggest Eagle Pass Could Have Saved Over $1M by Cancelling 57 South Music Festival

The Selection Process

Under the Local Government Code, professional services contracts are awarded based on qualifications rather than on competitive bid process, usually there is a committee’s scoring and ranking of proposals. Typically, such a committee includes multiple members, often five, to ensure a broad and fair assessment of candidates. However, for the 57 South Music Festival, the selection committee allegedly consisted of only three individuals: Ricky Gutierrez, Arturo Marquez, and Aide Castano. This limited involvement deviates from the norm, where the finance director and other relevant personnel usually participate to provide a more comprehensive review. This alone has raised red flags.

READ: Eagle Pass Initiates Forensic Audit for 57 South Music Festival Following Financial Shortfalls

Comparison of Qualifications

The resumes of the candidates vying for the 57 South Music Festival contract reveal notable differences in qualifications and experience:

  • Jesse Minton (awarded the contract): Over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing, managing key artist/music activations for major brands such as Rebecca Creek Whiskey and Jack Daniels. His roles have included sales and marketing management at various distilleries, focusing on increasing brand awareness and sales volume​​.
  • Fernando Sanchez Flores: Experienced in marketing and promotion within the entertainment industry, working with prominent bands and artists, and managing music festivals. His extensive background includes roles such as President & CEO at Fersa Music since January 2011, and Manager at Grupo El Duelo since February 2010. He has also worked as VP of the Regional Mexican Division at EMI Music and VP of Regional Mexican at DISA, LLC​​.
  • Yvette Cantu: Extensive experience as a booking agent and manager, coordinating performances and managing sales and marketing efforts for major artists and events. Since 2015, she has been the exclusive booking agent at Tesoro Music Entertainment, helping numerous high-net-worth individuals, corporations, and promoters with event coordination. Her work spans major singers, bands, DJs, speakers, and comedians for various events​​.

Despite these varied qualifications, the selection committee’s decision process remains opaque due to the city’s refusal to release full scoring sheets.

READ: Controversy Surrounds Award of 57 South Music Festival Contract to Just 1 Management LLC

Lack of Transparency

The City of Eagle Pass cited an email exception as the reason for not releasing the full scoring sheets​​. However, an example of an organizational RFP review sheet provided to The Maverick Times News shows no requirement for confidential email information, suggesting that the city’s justification for withholding these documents is questionable​​. The scoring sheets filled out by the three employees listed do not necessitate an email address, further undermining the city’s reasoning and raising suspicions about what might be concealed.

Note: This is an example of what a Request For Proposals Review Scoring Sheet. Not an actual sheet from the City of Eagle Pass.

Committee Members’ Roles and Controversy

The three committee members involved in the selection process—Ricky Gutierrez, Arturo Marquez, and Aide Castano—played a crucial role in determining the outcome. Arturo Marquez, the former economic development director, resigned shortly after the controversy surrounding the selection process began to stir​​. His resignation has only heightened suspicions about the fairness and transparency of the selection process. The involvement of such a small group in a significant decision-making process deviates from standard practices, which typically ensure broader participation to avoid potential biases.

READ: Committee Connected to 57 South Music Festival Surfaces Following Financial Shortfalls

The Broader Impact

The Maverick Times News’ investigation into the 57 South Music Festival’s selection process reveals troubling signs of a lack of transparency and potential unfairness. The refusal to release full public information, combined with the limited and potentially biased selection committee, calls for a thorough review and greater transparency in future processes. The city’s financial loss of $2.35 million on this festival, coupled with the secrecy surrounding the procurement process, demands immediate public scrutiny and accountability.

As we continue to seek the truth and advocate for fairness, it is essential for the City of Eagle Pass to address these issues and restore public confidence in their operations. The Maverick Times News remains committed to uncovering the facts and ensuring accountability in our community. The residents of Eagle Pass deserve transparency and an honest explanation of how their funds are being utilized, especially when significant financial losses are involved.

READ: Eagle Pass City Council Reveals Financial Outcome of 57 South Music Festival

We urge the public and local officials to demand full transparency in the procurement process for professional services. The integrity of our city’s operations depends on it. We will continue to pursue this investigation and keep the community informed of any developments.

READ: Eagle Pass City Council Approves 57 South Festival in Collaboration with Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas

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