Who is Alderman Jose G. Perez Working For?

By Robert Miranda: Editor, Wisconsin Spanish Journal

April 8, 2015

The Milwaukee Public Library (MPL) conducted a community survey in order to get an idea of what our community thought about the two competing proposals seeking to relocate the Forest Home Library to either the Hill Building on 9th & Mitchell St., and the proposal that sought to build on property located on South Cesar E. Chavez Drive.

The MPL survey, some argue was “unscientific”, but asked several questions. The two questions most telling about the community’s preference were:

Question #5: “Which proposal increases visibility and expands access to the library?”

The results to this question were as follows:

The Mitchell St.: Proposal: 16.1%
The Cesar E. Chavez Proposal: 83.9%

And question #7: “Which proposal do you prefer?”

The results to this question were as follows:

The Mitchell St.: Proposal: 16.7%
The Cesar E. Chavez Proposal: 83.3%

Over 83% of respondents preferred the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal over the Gorman Mitchell St. Proposal.

The rest of the survey clearly revealed that overwhelmingly the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal was the community preferred proposal.

Ignoring their survey MPL decided to go with the Mitchell St. proposal.

So what happened? Why ask for community input and then ignore that over 2/3 of the respondents to the survey preferred?

I had a telephone interview with MPL Trustee chairman, John Gurda who made it a point to tell me that Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (HCCW) CEO, Jorge Franco and the HCCW supported the Mitchell St. proposal.

HCCW supported the Mitchell St., proposal? Really!

To ignore the overwhelming support of the community to relocate the Forest Home Library on South Cesar E. Chavez Drive could not possibly just hinge on just Jorge Franco and the HCCW support for Mitchell St. I thought to myself.

Seeking more information as to who else supported the Mitchell St. site I submitted open records request to Alderman Jose Perez office, Mayor Tom Barrett’s office and MPL.

What I received from those request were letters signed by various leaders in our community and emails from residents of our community showing support for the Cesar E. Chavez proposal. There was NO document in the items I received from City Hall or MPL that indicated support for the Mitchell St., proposal. Not even a letter from Jorge Franco or the HCCW supporting the Mitchell St. proposal.

So I thought, well, the Alderman of the district; where did he stand on the matter? There was NO document of support for the Cesar E. Chavez proposal issued by Alderman Jose G. Perez. In fact, the minutes of the meetings in which this matter was addressed and discussed did not reflect any statement of support for the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal by Alderman Jose G. Perez. To be fair, Perez did not state support for the Gorman Mitchell St. proposal either.

Still, many in the community stated that Perez was vocal in his support for the Cesar E. Chavez Drive proposal. He stated his support for the proposal to individuals, but when it came time to make his support official and on the record at the December 2 Library Building & Development meeting, Alderman Jose G. Perez said nothing.

A subsequent meeting on December 9 was held and Alderman Perez did not show up at that meeting to voice support for what the community wanted.

Why did Alderman Jose G. Perez turn his back on the community? Why did Alderman Perez not speak on behalf of the community who overwhelmingly supported placing the library of Cesar E. Chavez Drive?

Several attempts to have Alderman Perez speak to this met with negative responses to emails sent to his office.

It is clear that transparency is not an Alderman Jose Perez concern.

If Alderman Perez is not listening to his constituents, like he did with the streetcar and Cesar E. Chavez Library proposal, then who is Alderman Perez working for?

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on April 09, 2015

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