Bad Faith Betrays Hispanics in a Milwaukee Primary Race

Update: “While the executive director of Esperanza Unida was traveling in Turkey, some 11 workers at the south side job training agency signed a petition saying they had not been paid in four weeks and that some checks had bounced. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, July 17 , 2008)”
via Global Girl – Madison, Wisconsin – When I received a ring from a friend calling from the Government Accountability Board (GAB) informing me that the GAB had unanimously ruled against Laura Manriquez’€™ effort to knock both of her Democratic primary opponents, Jose Guzman and state Rep. Pedro Cola³n, off the ballot for a Milwaukee assembly seat, I felt true schadenfreude.

Call me old-fashioned, but shouldn’€™t we let the voters decide at the ballot box, Laura, what Rove is your last name?Word I hear is that the grandiloquent Robert Miranda, executive director of Esperanza Unida, a non-profit community organization, reportedly had a hand in this scheme executed by among others’€”Laura Manriquez, chairperson of Esperanza Unida, and Narciso Aleman (a controversial former Esperanza Unida Board member, who has been accused, per the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, of conspiring in political power plays within the non-profit Board, and who has represented Miranda as counsel in past legal cases, authoring this one with Manriquez).

But maybe the Esperanza Unida Board chair, the former Board member and Miranda’€™s former counsel just cooked this one up without the executive director’€™s, Miranda, input and knowledge; it could be.

One thing Miranda does know is that his candidate, Manriquez, cannot win in a fair election at the ballot box against Cola³n and Guzman.

So, in a bad-faith effort, Manriquez tries to disqualify both Cola³n and Guzman from appearing on the ballot by challenging [unanimously shot down though she challenged everyone of the 33 nomination sheets, save one] the validity of the signatures on Cola³n’€™s nomination papers’€”signatures representing the very constituents that Manriquez hopes she will represent, and, get this, tries to knock off Guzman in a challenge that the GAB staff calls so ‘€œwholly insufficient,’€ that the challenge does not even make it past the staff of the GAB.

Bad day for the Miranda-Manriquez-Aleman Folks

Two challenges: One wholly insufficient and the other unanimously denied.
Well, I looked up the results of the last five election results in the eighth assembly district, and obviously the voters of the eighth are hoping for Laura Manriquez to come and save their day ) from our state’€™s only Hispanic representative in the legislature:

Just look:
Election Year ‘€“ Pedro Cola³n’€™s Vote Share

2006 – Cola³n gets 98 percent
2004 – Cola³n gets 99 percent
2002 – Cola³n gets 99 percent
2000 – Cola³n gets 99 percent
1998 – Cola³n gets 75 percent

Well, at least Laura Manriquez is not Tom Reynolds’€™ candidate challenging Cola³n, the yet-as-identified contender whom Reynolds said he had worked to get on the Democratic primary ballot. But that is little consolation.

Scaring Hispanics

Manriquez, with the help of attorney Aleman endeavored to disqualify Cola³n by using Hispanic residents’€™ fear of racism and anti-immigrant fervor. Ironic and sad.

It’€™s like this. In Milwaukee’€™s eight assembly district’€”known for its low turn-outs in elections’€”there is a profound hesitancy to connect to the economic and political process by name and public record of residence.

This relatively isolated manner of community co-exists comfortably, residents report, with a deep display of Catholic faith in which many constituents find solace, protection and fellowship.

The citizens’€™ reluctance to call attention to themselves by putting their names and addresses on nomination papers, for example, stems from fear and suspicion that this information will somehow be used against them by parties hostile to their ethnicity and religion.

Now, Manriquez and Aleman have made that fear a reality. They know perfectly well that verification of nomination signatures can often be difficult in this situation, and they tried to use that reality to knock both of their opponents off the ballot. Fortunately, they failed miserably.

We can dispense with the nonsense used against Guzman, [‘€œThe challenger (Manriquez ) provides no legal or factual basis for disqualifying any signature obtained by Candidate Guzman.’€

Worse is that Manriquez sought to prove that Cola³n’€™s signatories are not valid voting citizens; not authentic members of society, less than a welcoming gesture for a community seeking empowerment.

The repercussions of intimidation of the Aleman-Manriquez scheme are appalling, and that the scheme is hatched by top members of a non-profit that sees itself as empowering Hispanics is nothing less than hypocritical.

Many of Cola³n’€™s constituents feel politically disempowered, living in a manner not always amenable to generating ‘€œextrinsic sources of evidence‘€ (corroborating sources of information establishing residency outside of the nomination sheets)’€”often identifying themselves as little as possible through public information sources, as they work to make a living through participation in greater communities and extended families, working in cooperation and common cause.

Nice communities. But not good enough for Manriquez when her political ambition is in play.

For people like Aleman and Manriquez, who again who bill themselves as working for the Hispanic community, to use the anxiety in the Hispanic community against Hispanics for Aleman and Manriquez’€™ own selfish purposes is nothing less than Rovian and racist.

This strategy of erecting barriers and discouraging participation in the democratic process is nothing less than an assault on democracy.

And a similar line of attack against voters is being tried all over the country by the GOP: Voter ID laws.

Plotting Against Hispanics

The Manriquez’€™ scheme, involving past and current associates of the non-profit Esperanza Unida, challenging Cola³n’€™s constituents’€™ legal status and district residency is precisely what many fear from the government and from anti-Catholic and anti-Hispanic bigotry.

I think this is pretty hazardous behavior for people so closely associated with a non-profit to be playing racist, dirty electoral politics.

And it, arguably, puts Manriquez perilously close to violating election law. But the Miranda- Manriquez-Aleman plot is nothing so much as the back alley dealings of the political thug. And Miranda loves himself so much; one wonders what he would not do.

As Dan Bice (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, December 12, 2007) recounts a Miranda attack against Cola³n last year:

Earlier this year, Hispanic activist Robert Miranda sued Rep. Pedro Cola³n, who is running for city attorney, and his legislative staffer Andrew Janssen. The suit accused them of jeopardizing Miranda’s job as head of the nonprofit Esperanza Unida and causing him stress. Miranda asked for $100,000.

Judge John Franke recently threw out Miranda’s case, in part, because his side failed to properly serve Cola³n with the suit. Reached Wednesday, Miranda indicated he’s still in a litigious mood. He said he is thinking of filing the same suit against Cola³n’€”an option left open to him. He also said he may sue over comments made about his attorney in the weekly El Conquistador newspaper.

In that case thrown out by Judge John Franke, Miranda’€™s electoral entanglements as an agent of Esperanza Unida appear, arguably, to raise questions (as yet legally uninvestigated) of a non-profit status organization again coming close to engaging in electoral activity (Case number 07-cv-11109, Miranda v. Cola³n).

Can Robert Miranda sue his way to fame?

The unsuccessful ballot nomination complaint lodged against Cola³n and Guzman is typical Miranda litigiousness (the executive director and chair of Esperanza Unida have much in common), and it reveals more of their determination on wasting everyone’€™s time, to the detriment of the residents of the eighth assembly district.

Miranda reminds me of a liberal version of Bill O’€™Reilly, except O’€™Reilly doesn’€™t sue people as often as Miranda does.

Without-Merit Miranda and Wholly Insufficient Manriquez

I need not add much more about Robert Miranda’€™s reputation as a reckless, self-centered blowhard. Miranda is apparently adept at getting on community boards, running a flaky newspaper, filing willy-nilly lawsuits, and lodging baseless complaints, always promoting the true and just cause of Robert Miranda, with Manriquez apparently aping his SOP.

Few (at least among those with whom I have spoken) who have dealt with Miranda walk away attesting to his judicious analysis of issues or his respect for the people with whom he disagrees. I’€™ve run across this type, a rare breed, in the peace and justice community during my time in Vermont and in Madison; the type who has forgotten that peace and justice are the aims, and not their own personal aggrandizement.

Miranda’€™s short-on-fact legal accusations over the years are of little legal and political consequence, except this time Miranda’€™s colleague, Manriquez, chose to attack the Hispanic community in the eighth assembly district in a manner that would make Karl Rove proud.

Conservatives in Milwaukee hate the guy, except for the fact that he apparently supplies a lot of material for commentary and ridicule. Progressives see him as a blowhard.

Now, Hispanics see his true colors as well. He is a hostile and sickening narcissist, with Laura Manriquez along for the ride.

As for the plot to disqualify Cola³n’€™s and Guzman’€™s nomination papers, like a lot of Miranda’€™s best laid plans, this scheme [and hey, maybe Miranda didn’€™t know about it] went nowhere fast.

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