Monday, December 12, 2011

VDLF Action Endorsement For Pérez In The 12th Aldermanic District Draws Allegations Of Racism

Robert Miranda

Pérez in early December claimed in Facebook that Voces de la Frontera Action, a political branch of Voces de la Frontera had endorsed him for alderman.

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 12, 2011

Milwaukee - Since last week, José Pérez, a declared candidate for the 12th Aldermanic District has drawn criticism about an early December endorsement by Voces de la Frontera (VDLF) Action. VDLF Action, a political branch of Voces de la Frontera, a non-profit workers and immigrant rights organization has been labeled and accused as a racist organization for not supporting the current Alderman James N. Witkowiak. The allegations of racism were raised by outspoken Robert Miranda, the current Executive Director of Esperanza Unida, Inc., who has a column by line in the Spanish Journal "Taking Sides," an editor as well and who also airs a Sunday talk show on WJTI 1460 AM radio.
Miranda claimed that the Latino leadership had started to abandon Alderman Witkowiak. He didn't mention any names of who were the supposed called leaders of the Latino community. Some of them had sent a bad "bigoted kind of message," especially VDLF Action who endorsed Pérez, according to Miranda. Pérez on December 1st, posted on his Facebook that VDLF Action had endorsed him and thanked them.
Miranda became outraged that Voces endorsed Pérez who hasn't yet been placed on the ballot, but had declared his candidacy and is circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot.
Miranda asked, How is it that a group so dedicated to fighting racism seems to be practicing racism themselves? "But for the fact that Witkowiak is the White candidate in this election, racism is the only logical conclusion," Miranda wrote.
Miranda believes, that Witkowiak has done an honorable service for the community and hasn't done anything against the community or immigrants. Witkowiak has stood and supported Voces on workers and immigrant rights issues and now is being thrown under a bus by Voces and some unnamed Latino leaders, according to Miranda.
On the other hand people are asking, what has Pérez actually done for the community?, to get an endorsement by VDLF Action. Who knows?, but the community will have to wait and see how the election proceeds and turns out in the 12th Aldermanic District.
The Pérez campaign has been accused of posting up Pérez posters at several dozen places in the southside before December 1st. Susan Edman, the Executive Director for the City of Milwaukee Election Commission confirmed, that it was an election violation to post campaign signs before December. Edman failed to mention, if any penalties exist for candidates who violate posting rules.
Neither Pérez or Witkowiak could be reached for comment regarding Miranda's claim of racism.
Miranda in a second article published on Dec. 14, got too personal and called Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera "a hypocrite." VDLF Action "had no real intention of holding an honest endorsement of candidates," Miranda wrote. Witkowiak never received any notice about the VDLF Action endorsement process, thus disrespecting Witkowiak after he has actually stood by and helped Voces for the last four years as an proven alderman and has also shown his allegiance to the Latino community. Which Pérez has yet to achieve as an elected official. Which is "shameful" and Voces has practiced racism against Witkowiak, who is White, according to Miranda.
Joe Shansky, Communications Coordinator for Voces de la Frontera released the following statement concerning recent allegations that VDLF Action was racist. In behalf of VDLF Action, the Spanish Journal's claim that our decision to endorse José Peréz in Milwaukee's 12th Aldermanic District reflects racism is patently ridiculous. On the contrary, Spanish Journal editor Robert Miranda is racist to assume there are not qualified Latinos to run for elected office in the 12th aldermanic district, a majority Latino district.
Both Alderman James Witkowiak and José Pérez are allies of VDLF Action (c4 arm of Voces de la Frontera), and both are qualified candidates who would represent Voces' positions well.
VDLF Action has made the decision to endorse Pérez in this race because he is a long-time Voces member, has strong leadership qualities, and is qualified to move the city forward based on his many years of work with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, as a small business owner, community and labor organizer.
In addition, we believe that representation matters, and electing a Latino candidate is important to ensure that Milwaukee’s Common Council reflects our city’s diversity. VDLF Action is not interested in tokens or Latinos that do not support the civil rights of immigrants or the needs of working class families of all races and ethnicities.
Ultimately, we judge candidates based on their qualifications and whether they support Voces' in fighting for immigrant and worker rights. Pérez fits these criteria. He is a viable candidate, which is part of our criteria we use when we make an endorsement. Voces has endorsed Pérez because we believe he can best represent our community on the Common Council.
Finally, it is tiring to read Miranda's continuing, unprincipled and obsessive attacks on Voces in the Spanish Journal. Before publishing his most recent article, Mr. Miranda did not speak to Voces, which is odd since Voces is the focus of the article.  And he continues to refuse to provide Voces with access to the paper he runs to respond to the many allegations in his publication. Is Miranda’s attack really about Voces’ position on the 12th aldermanic race?  Or is it in response to Voces recently supporting and winning a settlement agreement for Esperanza Unida workers, who have long-standing grievances against Mr. Miranda? Miranda is the Executive Director of Esperanza Unida. Esperanza Unida failed to pay some its employees on a timely basis, and fired them for seeking assistance from Voces on wage and hour violations. The mistreatment of Esperanza’s workers has been a chronic problem under Mr. Miranda's stewardship of Esperanza Unida.  
Our doors are always open and we encourage anyone who wants to learn more about our endorsements to speak directly to us. VDLF Action will continue to focus on uniting, not dividing the community, in our fight for jobs and justice.

Miranda's Taking Sides article at link:

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