Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alderman Pérez Opposed Liquor License For Business At Esperanza Unida Building

José G. Pérez, Alfonso Morales and Manuel Pérez

Alderman Pérez on Tuesday during a Licenses Committee meeting opposed a liquor license for Reynas Events at the Esperanza Unida building at 611 W. National Ave. because the city is taking action to foreclose it due to taxes owed.

By H. Nelson Goodson
September 10, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council Licenses Committee denied a liquor license to Reynas Events after Alderman José Pérez opposed and publicly disclosed that the city is taking action to foreclose the International Esperanza Unida building at 611 W. National Ave. in Milwaukee's Southside. The Licenses Committee Chair Alderman T. Anthony Zielinski told Ald. Pérez that the disclosure of the expected foreclosure of the Esperanza Unida had no influence in the committee and was not an issue during the hearing. Ald. Zielinski said, that a citation was given to Morales in August, but had not been included in the agenda or Morales had been notified that it would be an issue that Committee members wanted to discuss.
The Committee members moved to deny and hold the matter of granting a Class-B Tavern liquor licenses until the citation issue is resolved. Reyna Morales and Manuel "Manny" Pérez,  the executive director of Esperanza Unida were present at the hearing.
Ald. Pérez opposed the issuing of the liquor license until the ownership of the Esperanza Unida building was clarified. The building is currently owned by the Esperanza Board of Directors.
Ald. Pérez had previously withheld any action on a request and filing for a restaurant license by Reyna and Alfonso Morales from Reynas Events and Mexican Restaurant who recently negotiated a 10-year contract with an Oshkosh developer to operate a restaurant and hall establishment at the Esperanza building main floor.
In June, Callan Shultz,  of North Pointe Holdings ll LLC and President of Keystone Development from Oshkosh offered the Esperanza Unida Board $1.3M to purchase the building and the offer was accepted by the Board.
Morales had received an occupancy permit and was recently cited for having a family private party at the establishment. Alfonso Morales said, that someone had complained that a party was held in the building and 2nd District Milwaukee Police Officer Guadalupe Velasquez with the Community Prosecution Unit mailed him a $600 citation. Velasquez citation was also discussed at the Licenses Committee. The most interesting part of the issuing of the citation by Officer Velasquez was, that the officer was not actually present or investigated the matter when the family party was happening. Velasquez issued the citation eight days later on just hearsay, according to Morales.
Morales also told Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) that Alderman Pérez set a meeting on August 21 at 10:00 a.m. in City Hall.  When Morales arrived at the meeting with Ald. Pérez, there were at least 15 people including Ald. Pérez's administrative assistant. Apparently, Officer Velasquez and Erica Lewandowski, Special Enforcement Supervisor with the Department of Neighborhood Services were also present.
HNNUSA has sent an e-mail request to Ald. Pérez to explain the purpose of the meeting with the 14 city employees and Morales and to provide any information in discussion. HNNUSA also would like to know, if it is a common practice by an alderman or Common Council members to hold such meetings with every potential business owner seeking a license from the city before the actual official Licenses Committee meeting.
Ald. Pérez hasn't responded to HNNUSA request about the August 21 meeting. Why wasn't Morales told by Ald. Pérez during the August meeting that he was going to oppose a liquor license for Morales at the 611 building.
HNNUSA has also sent an e-mail request to Spencer Coggs, the Milwaukee City Treasurer regarding Ald. Pérez public disclosure that the city was taking action by Wednesday to move forward to foreclose the Esperanza Unida building after recently passing city building inspections to reopen after a 14-day shut down by the city.
When contacted on Tuesday, Manuel Pérez, the executive director of Esperanza Unida told HNNUSA that Coggs, the City Treasurer knows of the $1.3M purchase offer by an Oshkosh developer. The Oshkosh developer is planning to invest more than $7M to convert the 611 building into a 55-unit apartment complex.
Manuel stated, that Esperanza Unida will owe at least $210K in city taxes, about $150K for the 2011 and 2012 tax period and the rest for 2013. Why would the city move on a foreclosure when there is a bona fide offer by a developer to purchase the building for $1.3M, which would create jobs and tax revenue for the city?, Manuel questioned. The Esperanza Unida Board has not been notified of the foreclosure move by the city that Ald. Pérez disclosed on Tuesday.
Coggs has not responded to HNNUSA request concerning the expected city foreclosure of the Esperanza Unida building that Ald. Pérez disclosed during the Licenses Committee meeting.
HNNUSA learned that Ald. Pérez had attempted to buy the 611 building for some investors before he was elected Alderman. Ald. Pérez has not responded to repeated requests to comment about the allegation that he tried to purchase the building. The Esperanza Board and former executive director Robert Miranda had refused to sell it to José G. Pérez or his investors. Since then, Ald. Pérez seems to flex his influence to make sure the 611 building is closed. His opposition on Tuesday to Morales getting a liquor license at the 611 building is just unprecedented, since prior liquor licenses have been granted to other prior operators.
Morales operates the Reyna's Bakery and Ice Cream establishment on Chavez Drive for at least 10 years.
Manuel Pérez filed a complaint with the Ethics Board against Ald. Pérez through an e-mail, but the Board failed to act because it wasn't notarized. The Ethics Board and the City Attorney's Office has denied an open records request to release the Ethics Board complaint that Manuel filed.
The Ethics Board is also located in the same office section where the Aldermen have their offices indicating a conflict of interest.

Reynas Events Milwaukee Licenses Committee Hearing 9/9/2014:

No comments: