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Brand, if elected mayor: ‘Highly doubt’ there will be holiday parade in 2017

April 29, 2017

McALLEN — The three-year-old McAllen Holiday Parade, which has drawn tens of thousands of people as well as some controversy, may no longer happen if McAllen Mayoral Candidate Othal E. Brand Jr. is elected.

Brand said Friday that he “highly doubts” there will be a holiday parade in 2017 if he is elected mayor on May 6.

Brand made the statement in connection with questions posed to him late last week regarding whether he intends to release how much the city paid singer Enrique Iglesias for his performance at the 2015 holiday parade.

This comes in light of legislation that passed through committee Thursday in the Texas Legislature and is on its way to the House floor. House Bill 349, filed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, stemmed from the Iglesias contract. The bill prohibits governmental bodies from creating contracts with outside entities for parades, concerts and events that prevent the disclosure of the amount of governmental funds spent.

“Absolutely I would,” Brand said about releasing the concert cost. But when asked if he would do so knowing that such a revelation could expose the city to a lawsuit by those who manage Iglesias, Brand said he has not seen the city contract and does know what it says as far as disclosures.

City officials have long said the contract with Iglesias has a confidentiality clause prohibiting the city from disclosing how much the singer was paid. Releasing how much he was paid could potentially subject the city to a breach of contract lawsuit.

“I saw an interview with (city attorney) Kevin Pagan the other day that said they had a confidentiality thing on it that the city would get into a lawsuit if they released it,” Brand said. “I read another story that there isn’t (a confidentiality clause). I don’t really know what’s true and what isn’t.”

Brand said it is not his intent to get the city sued.

“Now I don’t want you to write how I’m wavering, because I’m not,” Brand said. “My desire is, if there’s any way humanly possible, I will release that contract. I would get a second opinion from outside counsel as well, for what could and couldn’t be done. But, I’m not believing that (the contract having a confidentiality clause) is the truth until I get a second opinion.

“Now will I get the city in a lawsuit? Absolutely not.”

Mayor Jim Darling, who is seeking re-election, said he, too, would like to release the payment information. “But under the advice of counsel, I’m not …,” Darling said.

Darling has been unapologetic about the city initiating a parade under his watch, saying it has quickly become a signature event for the region that has drawn more than 250,000 people and spurred economic activity. The 2016 parade had a $15.6 million economic impact, according to a UTRGV study.

“I’m very happy with the parade economically,” Darling said Friday. “It was very successful this year, and every year, it’s brought a lot of money to our city, even despite what happened with Iglesias.”

Brand said he had multiple problems, generally, with the parade and how the city has handled the event.

“Jim said this is to show the world McAllen is a safe city,” Brand said. “Well, violent crime is up 40 percent.”

While violent crime increased nearly 40 percent in 2016, there were no serious crimes during the parade, according to city officials.

“And this isn’t like the Fourth of July parade where everyone can participate,” Brand said. “You need money to have a float.”

Early voting began on April 24, and continues through Tuesday. There have been 2,248 early, in-person voting ballots cast as of Thursday, April 27, according to City Secretary Perla Lara. As of Monday, April 24, Lara said there were 529 mail-in ballots. Election Day is May 6.

mferman@themonitor.com