Out of the blue, the West New York Board of Commissioners terminated Pablo Fonseca, a close ally of Mayor Felix Roque, as town spokesman and replaced him with Vision Media Marketing.
“I’m gonna say no at this time out of courtesy to Mr. Fonseca’s firm. I would’ve liked to have been given a heads up on what was brewing. I believe this is very disrespectful to Mr. Fonseca and his firm,” Roque said this afternoon.
Roque argued that without a public relations firm or spokesman, it would be extremely difficult to get the word out on “all the good things the town is doing.”
The add-on resolution passed easily, with a 3-1 vote, with only Roque voting no and Commissioner Sue Colacurcio absent.
As luck would have it, Commissioners Cosmo Cirillo, Gabriel Rodriguez and Margarita Guzman had already considered the mayor’s concern, as they followed up with another add-on resolution to hire the Secaucus-based Vision Media – best known for their work in North Bergen.
“Vision Media: is that the North Bergen group?,” Roque questioned.
“They’re out of Secaucus,” Cirillo responded.
Roque was clearly not amused that Fonseca, also his campaign manager, got the axe with no prior notice.
“So now we’re trying to get the North Bergen marketing people to market in West New York, is that what we’re trying to do? It’s alleged that they’re making over a million dollars in North Bergen, so we’re trying to give them more money? Is that what we’re trying to do here?,” the mayor asked, becoming agitated.
Cirillo of course had a different perspective and was happy to give it.
“So you’re saying because they have a contract in another town they’re not permitted to have a contract with us? I mean, that would exclude many of the vendors here. Almost all the vendors we work with work with other municipalities,” he explained.
After Roque wanted to know how much Vision Media would cost the taxpayers, Cirillo said their six-month contract was for $17,500 – as opposed to $30,000 for Fonseca Consulting for the same time frame.
Despite that fact, Roque couldn’t resist taking a parting shot before the inevitable vote approving the change (which also passed 3-1).
” … which also makes us a little closer to North Bergen,” Roque said with a smile.
“That’s your opinion, mayor,” Cirillo stated, smiling back.
“Ok, great,” Roque responded before the vote.
The moment had to be a bitter one for Roque, given his icy relationship with state Senator (D-32)/North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco.
That relationship appears to be damaged beyond repair, given that Roque endorsed top Sacco nemesis Larry Wainstein to succeed him as mayor last month.
Vision Media Vice President Phil Swibinski expressed excitement about being able to work with West New York again – they used to partner with the municipality under Mayor Sal Vega, Roque’s predecessor.
“Our firm is excited to once again have the opportunity to work with the Town of West New York. We look forward to facilitating effective communication and helping the local government connect with constituents,” he said in an email.
Predictably, Fonseca had a much more grim perspective on what transpired earlier today.
“I left Cuba at the age of 3 with my mother who passed away 2 years ago and sacrificed for me and my dad was a political prisoner. I met my dad at the age of 18, political retaliation was the norm in Cuba and it is alive and well in West New York in 2018,” he told HCV.
“My loyalty to Mayor Roque and Senator Stack is my first amendment right.”
As only Hudson County View reported, Fonseca was re-hired as spokesman in January after 28 months away from the job, even though Vision Media and a smaller firm both bid lower.
At the time, Roque justified the hire by saying you get what you pay for.
“My opinion is you get what you pay for. I owe it to the taxpayers to promote West New York throughout New Jersey and throughout the world. I think he’ll do a great job for us, to know he’ll be promoting the town makes us feel good,” he previously said.