WEST NEW YORK – Myra Dominguez held El Festival de la Pupusa (a specialty tortilla dish from El Salvador) last year and it was a success. This year she will hold it again, but the banner she used to advertise last year that hung on 60th Street has not yet been put up, she told the West New York Board of Commissioners during their monthly meeting Wednesday.
Dominguez said she had been calling for a month to have it done, and has not received an answer. The lack of advertising is harmful to her festival because vendors don’t know how to sign up and the residents will not know to show up, she said.
The explanation given to her by Town Attorney Gilberto Garcia was that a law – one they had been unaware of last year – prohibits the advertisement of an event not sponsored by the town on town property.
Dominguez said she was confused because a portion of the festival’s proceeds was supposed to go to Mayor Felix Roque’s civic association, West New York Forever. She said she had a meeting in March with Commissioner FiorD’Aliza Frias and Roque to discuss this.
“I was there,” David Rivera, a former town employee who worked under Frias said as he pushed his way to the front of the meeting. Rivera was fired two weeks ago, three days after he was allegedly assaulted by town employees for handing out Commissioner Count Wiley’s business cards at a town event.
Wiley has announced his intention to run a recall election to remove Roque and to run for mayor himself.
“They said [Dominguez] had to give 50 percent of the proceeds to West New York Forever,” Rivera said, before he was told to return to his seat. “So now that she wants to put up a banner, she can’t do it?”
While neither Roque nor Frias substantiated Dominguez’s claim that she was asked to donate to the civic association in March during the meeting, he responded during a phone call placed later that day.
“West New York Forever was going to be working in conjunction with them to make their event successful, and we did discuss it that day,” Roque said, “But it didn’t happen.”
Dominguez, Roque, and Assistant Town Attorney Joe DeMarco set up a time to meet Friday to discuss her needs.
“We’re going to work within the guidelines of the law to put up the sign,” Roque added. “There are 1,500 Salvadorians in West New York with a lot of tradition rooted in the town’s culture. I’m very happy to encourage them to grow their culture and their business.” -- Gennarose Pope