9News Investigators: Councilman Delgado requests city to withhold payments to Miss USA Pageant

9News Investigators: Councilman Delgado requests city to withhold payments to Miss USA Pageant

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - At least one East Baton Rouge Metro councilman wants the city-parish to withhold any payments left to the Miss USA/Universe organization.

This comes after NBC announced it would not air the pageant after cutting business ties with one of the organization's owners, Donald Trump. The network cited Trump's recent remarks concerning Mexican immigrants as a reason for no longer wanting to do business with him.

In response, Councilman John Delgado sent a letter Tuesday afternoon to Mayor Kip Holden's office asking that the payments be withheld because he believes pageant officials have breached the agreements in the contract.

"In light of the failure of Miss USA to broadcast the pageant nationally (and internationally) through NBC, I believe that it would be a misuse of tax payer funds to further subsidize this event," said Delgado in the letter.

City and state officials are scrambling to find a television home for the Miss USA pageant originally scheduled to air Sunday, July 12 at 7 p.m. on NBC.

Much of the city-parish's financial support of the pageant was tied to the fact that the city of Baton Rouge would receive a priceless amount of exposure with the pageant being televised to a world-wide audience.

Mayor Kip Holden and his team used that fact more than any other in a bid to get council members to approve the subsidies.

Delgado was one of the council members who voted under that assumption.

"It's obviously very disappointing," Delgado said. "We are not going to get what we had anticipated in terms of the national publicity and the international publicity that the pageant brought to Baton Rouge last year."

Delgado said he feels for the young contestants, some of whom are already in Baton Rouge ready to compete on a national stage.

Mayor-President Kip Holden, who normally enjoys talking about all the pageant has to offer, refused to be interviewed on the subject following NBC's announcement. In fact, he suddenly canceled an appearance on WAFB's 9 News This Morning where he was scheduled to talk about the Miss USA pageant.

A public relations firm released a joint statement on behalf of Holden and Visit Baton Rouge saying they were "disappointed with the recent events."

Visit Baton Rouge also made a pledge of $200,000 to lure the pageant to Baton Rouge. Visit BR CEO Paul Arrigo admitted NBC pulling the plug will likely have an affect on the impact to Baton Rouge.

"I'm not sure who or what may still step up," Arrigo said. "Do we wish we had a national or international exposure? Absolutely and are we confident that that's going to happen? We don't know."

Delgado said while it's easy to "armchair quarterback" now, everyone should learn a lesson from this.

"I think going forward if we are going to do another pageant or something like this, that's intended to be televised, we probably should include specific language in the contract which says it will be televised on this network, shown this many times," Delgado said.

Statement from Mayor Holden and Visit Baton Rouge Regarding the Miss USA Pageant:

"While we are disappointed with recent events, we want to make sure the Miss USA contestants, their families and visitors from all over experience Baton Rouge in the best way possible. We know all of our locals will roll out the red carpet for our guests as they visit the unique attractions throughout the region. We want them to be welcomed with the warm southern hospitality that Baton Rouge is known for."

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