Ethics Board complaint describes details how Alderman José G. Pérez engaged in conflict of interest, made derogatory comments, attempted to purchase the 611 building and canceled his presence to a grand opening for an insurance business at the Esperanza Unida International Building.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
February 16, 2015
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – On Monday, the Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) received a copy of the Ethics Board complaint that was filed in June 2014 against Alderman José G. Pérez at City Hall by Esperanza Unida, Inc. (EU) Executive Director Manuel “Manny” Pérez. Manny alleged that Alderman Pérez engaged in conflict of interest as an alderman, made derogatory comments against EU, attempted to purchase the 611 building and canceled his presence to a grand opening for an insurance business at the Esperanza Unida International Building.
Manny wrote, “This Ethics complaint is being pursued because Alderman José Pérez…intended to obstruct or interfere with the business operations of Esperanza Unida…using his position as Alderman to avoid working collaboratively with Esperanza Unida…Evidence that supports this complaint will show that Alderman José Pérez has: 1. A conflict of interest pertaining to Esperanza Unida; 2. Pérez is unable to make objective and impartial decisions regarding any matter Esperanza Unida is involved in that have to do with economic development in the area…; 3. Alderman Pérez has abused the duties of his office by improperly engaging in destructive and negative communications with agency tenants and perspective tenants…are reasons for an ethical investigation to be conducted around the activities of Alderman José Pérez and his interfering actions against Esperanza Unida Business endeavors.”
Evidence that Manny indicated showed filed statements, that Ald. Pérez approached a EU Board member before he became an alderman attempting to buy the 611 W. National Ave. EU building, made negative comments to a perspective tenant resulting in questioning whether to rent at EU, in 2013, that Damon Dorsey, a developer contacted EU and notified Manny that he won’t be doing any business with EU because Alderman Pérez offered a BID to Dorsey undermining any economic development project for EU without public imput, Manny requested a letter of support from Ald. Pérez for EU’s attempt to promote economic development and Ald. Pérez refused to grant a letter of support to EU until a lawyer received a statement from a EU Board member indicating he had requested to buy the EU building, Ald. Pérez found out and immediately released a letter of support to EU.
In June 1, 2014, Ald. Pérez abruptly canceled his commitment to speak and be present at a Grand Opening event for J&B Insurance when he discovered the event was being held at EU’s 611 building. Manny also requested in the EB complaint for Ald. Pérez to recused himself from any dealing or indirectly dealing with EU and asked for a public apology. Ald. Pérez who received a copy of the EB complaint by EU never apologized.
When contacted on Monday, Robert Miranda, the former Esperanza Unida Executive Director stated, “Jose G. Perez never bothered to lift a finger to help Esperanza Unida. Before he became alderman his only action was to come see me in order to ask me to sell the 611 building to developers he had lined up. I told him no. His actions as alderman, as it relates to Esperanza Unida tells the story exactly–his self-interest supersedes the community. A philosophy he again displayed during the matter of placing a library at Cesar E. Chavez Drive. It’s always about him getting something in return”.
“In addition, had EB investigated this compliant, EB would have found that Dorsey confirmed that Alderman Pérez committed an illegal act by offering Dorsey a BID position, which Dorsey confirmed in cross examination in court hearing proceedings during the Irene Correa v Manuel Pérez case against Manny,” Miranda stated.
The EB did not conduct an investigation to the allegations made against Ald. Pérez because the complaint filed by Manny was via e-mail and was not notarized. HNNUSA had requested the EB under a public records law to release any action taken by the EB, both the EB and the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office refused to comment and release any information, but confirmed the EU complaint was filed and no action was taken. The EB is housed in the same section where all the Milwaukee Common Council members have their offices and the EB’s personnel also work with the alderman/women during committee meetings or hearings questioning a conflict of interest to conduct any investigation concerning the Common Council.
The City of Milwaukee took ownership of the $1.7M EU 611 building for owing more than $300K in property taxes and is apparently selling the building to an Oshkosh developer who wants to convert it into a 55-unit apartment complex.
Both Manuel Pérez and Alderman Pérez were contacted by an e-mail request to comment about the EB complaint that was filed with the EB, but no response was returned by either party. Manny did not release the EB complaint, but had previously confirmed that he can back up the statement’s in the complaint.