Hispanic Chamber suing city of Milwaukee over minority contracts

MILWAUKEE -- The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin is suing the city of Milwaukee for what it calls unfair business practices.

An ordinance that went into effect this year is designed to award a certain amount of business contracts to minority-owned and women-owned businesses, but the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce claims it excludes Hispanic-owned businesses. The group filed suit to have the ordinance removed.

"Our intent is not to attack the city. It's not to attack any other of our minority brothers and sisters. Our intent is simply equal opportunity for all," Maria Monreal-Cameron, president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Wisconsin said.

A couple of Milwaukee city aldermen have spoken out against the lawsuit.

Milwaukee Alderman Ashanti Hamilton released the following statement: "It’s disappointing that the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin is suing the City of Milwaukee over Chapter 370.  The ordinance was crafted to allow for greater participation by women and minority-owned contractors and companies in city-involved projects. I am confident that the ordinance meets all constitutional requirements to be legal and enforceable, and I believe it will be upheld in a court of law." 

Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez issued this statement: The pending lawsuit against the city by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin with regard to Chapter 370 of the Code of Ordinances (which provides for the creation of women and minority enterprise programs) is a very serious matter for me, because it is an area of great concern to the people I represent. 

Although I do not support the lawsuit, I do support many of the goals of the HCCW, and I believe that we can work successfully toward a future that embraces inclusiveness. One of my key goals is to work diligently with my colleagues on the Common Council to find solutions and to make laws that bring all members of our community to the table, so all voices are heard and everyone has a stake and a chance to be included.

Where once I was working as an organizer and activist to bring about change, I now look forward to working internally in city government as a member of the legislative body to bring about those positive changes that will help all of our citizens."