By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
April 1, 2016
Milwaukee, WI - On Friday, the political campaign to elect former Alderman Angel Sánchez to the 12th Aldermanic District has posted a controversial political sign at the 900 block of W. Greenfield Ave. claiming that the current Alderman José G. Pérez has turned into a Pinocchio. The elect Sánchez sign reads, "No voten por Alderman Pinocchio "Pérez" Se levanto y se olvido" (Don't vote for Alderman Pinocchio "Pérez" he got up and forgot).
The movie character Pinocchio is based on a wooden boy who lied and every time he lied his nose got longer. Alderman Pérez is not new to smear campaign tactics himself.
The Pérez campaign in 2012 allegedly was associated with the late community activist Juan Carlos Ruiz who Milwaukee police questioned after several people working for Ruiz were busted for distributing a smearing flyer accusing Alderman James Witkowiak of extorting bar owners to get liquor licenses. The allegations by Ruiz and his group who supported Pérez at the time were false. Ruiz was never cited for passing the smearing Witkowiak flyer, according to an open records request by Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA). Pérez defeated Alderman Witkowiak by 86 votes. Pérez never admitted that he or his campaign manager were involved with Ruiz and his CSSS group.
Milwaukee police in 2012 temperarily detained several people for passing out flyers from a group called Citizens for a Stronger South Side (CSSS) at the 1300 block of W. Greenfield Ave. The flyer contained false and misleading information against Witkowiak and even alleged corruption. The flyer contained a disclaimer for the CSSS and had an address that indicated a parking lot that Witkowiak owned at the time. The suspects told police that José Pérez and his campaign had authorized the distribution of the flyer. A Witkowiak supporter who busted the suspects passing out the flyers in the area said, that the suspects had called Juan Carlos Ruiz, a Pérez campaign supporter to the scene. Police did not issue any citations to Ruiz or the suspects for passing out flyers. The CSSS was created for the sole purpose of passing out misleading and false information about Witkowiak.
In February 2012, Pérez and his campaign manager Sachin Chheda initiated a negative campaign, which included making false allegations that Witkowiak was shaking down bar owners, misinformation and targeted Witkowiak for being White. Pérez is of Puerto Rican descent and his campaign focused on race, which became an issue to get elected.
Pérez is also credited for the Esperanza Unida, Inc. failure to get tenants to generate funds to pay off its tax debt to the City of Milwaukee. Former Esperanza Unida executive director, Robert Miranda claimed that Pérez had wanted to buy the building before being elected alderman, but on recommendation by Miranda, the Esperanza Unida Board decided not to sell the building. Soon after Pérez was elected alderman, he began to work against Esperanza Unida's efforts to stay afloat.
When Miranda was later replaced by Manuel "Manny" Perez as the new executive director at Esperanza Unida, he sent an ethics complaint to the City claiming that Alderman Pérez was interfering with business operations. Manuel wrote in the ethics complaint, "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." The Ethics Board never acted or investigated Manuel's ethics complaint against Alderman Pérez.
Alderman Pérez also failed to represent and speak on behalf of the El Rey owners in favor of establishing a Cesár E. Châvez library on S. Cesár E. Châvez Drive as well during a public library hearing meeting about relocating the Forest Home Library. The Forest Home Library will be moved to the Hills Buildings on W. Historic Mitchell Street.
HNNUSA attempted numerous times to get a comment about the allegations previously raised against Alderman Pérez, but he would never respond or comment.
Alderman Pérez is now facing former Alderman Sánchez in the April 5, General election.