Thursday, March 1, 2012

Monreal-Cameron Confirmed HCCW Planning To Filed Lawsuit Over Milwaukee City Construction Ordinance 370

Maria Monreal-Cameron

Misinformation draws debate to challenge Ordinance 370, which provides 25% more access for minorities to bid for city contracts.

By H. Nelson Goodson
March 1, 2012

Milwaukee - On Thursday, Maria Monreal-Cameron, CEO and Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce of Wisconsin (HCCW) during the morning Nfoque Latino 1460 AM radio program confirmed that the HCCW is working and planning to file a class action lawsuit against Milwaukee City Ordinance 370 and the City of Milwaukee. Monreal-Cameron said, the study that was based, used to draft and approve the 370 ordinance "is flawed and wrong." HCCW has hired an independent consulting firm from California to re-evaluate the 370 study and is working to get an attorney to challenge the ordinance once the findings indicate the study was flawed.
Juan Carlos Ruiz, a host in Nfoque Latino and Monreal-Cameron agreed that the Ordinance 370 takes out Hispanic construction contractors as minorities to bid for city construction contracts.
In contrast, Alderman James Witkowiak from the 12th Aldermanic District told Nfoque Latino and Monreal-Cameron that the Ordinance 370 actually opens the doors for more Hispanics to bid for city contracts. Despite misinformation being spread in the Latino community that Hispanics weren't considered as minorities under 370, Witkowiak offered his services and time to explain to Hispanic construction businesses that there are more opportunities for them to bid for city contracts. Under the 370 ordinance, Hispanics are considered minorities and the ordinance will be evaluated every year by the city, according to Alderman Witkowiak.
Witkowiak explained that under the old version the most the Latino contractors achieved was only 8% from 18% available, but Hispanics are still considered a minority status under the revised version and their share of the pot increased to 12.5%, which includes Native Americans. The rest of the percentage is reserved for Asians, Blacks and women totaling 25% and is not a cap, but a goal. If, more Hispanic contractors come forth and exceed the goal of 12.5%, they will still be awarded contracts under the revised version.
Witkowiak said, those not clear about the revised 370 ordinance, interested parties should contact Alderman Ashanti Hamilton or Alderman Witkowiak and they will be glad to explain the process further.
Witkowiak said, that he supported the 370 ordinance that increased minority accessibilty to public work contracts from 18% to 25%. Which, José Pérez as a City Development worker, including the HCCW failed to say anything when the 370 ordinance was being discussed, debated and passed, according to Witkowiak.
Witkowiak said, neither the HCCW or Pérez, who is currently running for Alderman in the 12th District never opposed the 370 after the study report was completed and an advisory committee was created to provide input, which included both HCCW and Pérez. Pérez in the last south side public aldermanic debate before the Primary Election said, that he opposed the ordinance and would like a higher percentage of minorities participating for city contracts. Any construction buisness when bidding have to show they can actually do the work and have the neccessary equipment and resources to do so.
Monreal-Cameron admitted to "opposing the ordinance from day one" and letting Mayor Tom Barrett know that it was a mistake for him to approve it, after he signed into law.

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