John Dickert, Kurt S. Wahlen, Joseph G. Legath, Mary Osterman and Devin P. Sutherland
By H. Nelson Goodson
February 26, 2014
Racine, WI - On Tuesday, Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) broke the story when it learned that both law firms, Kohler and Hart S.C. from Milwaukee and Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney Ltd. from Chicago had filed a federal civil discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. District Court of Eastern Wisconsin against the City of Racine and city officials including Mayor John Dickert, the city's former and current members of the Common Council and former Racine Police Department Chief Kurt S. Wahlen. The lawsuit claims, that Mayor Dickert conspired with former and current city Common Council members, former Police Chief Wahlen and other influencial (powerful) individuals, including the Racine Tavern League to clear or "rehabilitate, cleanup" the downtown of Afro-American (Black), Hispanic and Thai tavern owners and their patrons to allow the proliferation of White tavern establishments and their patrons by promoting White owned taverns and businesses in the downtown area.
Some of the plaintiffs were forced to close due to "a pattern and practice of discriminatory treatment on the basis of race has deprived the Plaintiffs of their right to equal protection of the law and their right to equal privileges and immunities under the law," according to the 50-page lawsuit.
The lawsuit allegedly claims, that Mayor Dickert took illegal contributions from the Racine Tavern League and in return awarded White members with liquor licenses taken away from minority tavern owners that had been revoked in the downtown area. Dickert also hired some members of the tavern league to work for the City of Racine, according to the lawsuit.
In 2009, Dickert ran for Racine Mayor on a campaign to revitalize or clean up the downtown area. When elected, Dickert began to conspire with city Common Council members to create city policies to eventually get rid of minority tavern own businesses from the downtown area and replace them with White owned tavern or nightclub establishments. Dickert was instrumental in attracting more White patrons to the area at the cost of closing down minority establishments.
The Plaintiffs include, Cerafin C. Davalos from Cera's Tequila Bar, Jose and Maria Maldonado from the Cruise Inn, former Racine Alderman Otha Keith Fair prior owner of Place on Sixth, Pythaphone Khampane and Omjai Nueakeaw from Ginger's Lounge, Wilbur Jones from Viper's Lounge and Thomas J. Holmes, the former owner of Park 6.
The Defendants include, current Mayor John Dickert, former Mayor Gary E. Becker; Racine Downtown Corporation, including its executive director Davin P. Sutherland and manager of the Racine Downtown Business Improvement District 1; the Racine City Tavern League, Inc.; Kurt S. Wahlen, former Racine Police Chief; the following Racine Aldermen, Jeffrey A. Coe, James Kaplan, Raymond Dehahn, Gregory T. Helding, David L. Maack II, Aron M. Wisneski and Robert E. Mozol; Mark L. Levine, chairman of the Downtown Business Improvement District 1; Joseph G. Legath, member of the Racine City Tavern League and board member of the Downtown Business Improvement District 1; Douglas E. Nicholson, member of the Racine City Tavern League; Monte G. Osterman; Mary Osterman, Treasurer of Mayor John Dickert's election campaign; and Gregory S. Bach, Assistant to Mayor John Dickert.