Friday, May 23, 2014

Milwaukee's Southside Esperanza Unida Non-profit Facing $1.2 Million Debt

Manuel "Manny" Perez

Perez working to cap a $1.2 to $1.3M deficit incurred by prior executives of the non-profit Esperanza Unida organization.

By H. Nelson Goodson
May 23, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - On Friday, Manuel "Manny" Perez, the newly appointed executive director of Esperanza Unida, Inc., a non-profit Southside organization stated that he is working to cap a $1.2 million debt incurred by prior directors. Perez says, since he has been at Esperanza Unida, five businesses have opened and including several entities are expanding their services. 
Perez said, "We are seeking to bring prosperity to Milwaukee's Southside. We are doing it in three matters, helping entrepreneurs grow and we have five new businesses that are expanding or developing their operations at Esperanza Unida. One of them is Reynas Events, its owner is Alfonso Morales from Reynas Bakery; Zumba Training, owner Sandra Alizondo; an Insurance Company (with Liberty Mutual) owned by Bernie Gonzalez; the Bridge Clinic that focuses on alcohol and drug rehabilitation is expanding their clinic at Esperanza Unida and we are also helping Dr. Manuel Thomas from Viva Health Care to expand and continue operations at Esperanza Unida. The idea is that by helping entrepreneurs grow, we also help the community because employment increases, but part of the agreement with them is to provide top quality services to the community at large. In this way, Esperanza Unida completes its mission by helping entrepreneurs to become self sufficient. As an executive director, my position is to ensure the financial viability of the organization and at the same time maximize the benefits to the community," Perez stated.
Last year, Esperanza Unida ended with $495,000 in gross revenue and for 2014, Perez projected about $900,000 in gross revenue. But in terms of net income, Esperanza owes $50,000 to CD, it owes $388,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and $70,000 to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development employment insurance. He also confirmed that several "inappropriate loans were made during former Richard Oulahan or right after, which a $600,000 loan was made before former executive director Robert F. Miranda took over, also a loan of $100,000 was made and we have no idea where it is. So, the total debt for Esperanza Unida is beteen $1.2 to $1.3 million," according to Perez.
Perez has been working to get community support and says, Esperanza Unida welcomes any community help as a joint venture to bring prosperity to the area.
On July 26, Esperanza Unida will hold a two day lobby expansion opening day.
The retouching of the Esperanza Unida "Mural of Peace" is now stalled until a later date, according to Perez. Since, the City of Milwaukee Art Council (CMAC) funding of $4,500 was returned to the City Attorney's Office.
Perez says, that former executive director Miranda is no longer associated with Esperanza Unida and is not a board member.
Steed Welch, is the current Chair for the Esperanza Unida Board of Directors and is Vice-President of the Spanish Journal Operations. Miranda is the current Editor in Chief of the Spanish Journal. 
Perez became the general manager of Esperanza Unida in March 2013. He was the former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and resigned just four months into his four year appointment by Governor Scott Walker (R). Perez also owned the now defunct JNA Temperary Employment Agency and formerly worked at the ManPower agency.
Late last month, Miranda was replaced by Perez, according to a decision rendered by the six current Board of Directors. Miranda was charged on April 24, 2014 with one misdemeanor count for resisting or obstructing an officer. He posted a signature bond of $250. If convicted, Miranda is facing up to nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines. Miranda pled not guilty.
Miranda is accused of making false statements concerning a matching fund from the CMAC, which agreed to grant $4,500 geared for a mural repair in 2011, if Miranda would provide another $5,000. Miranda claimed he had a matching fund and the CMAC released their funding. It was later discovered that Miranda didn't get a matching fund until months later, according to the allegations. 

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