The complaint petitions the court to stop the City of Milwaukee from use and implementation of Ordinance 370 and the race-based preferences that it mandates in city contracting opportunities.
The complaint outlines that the Disparity Study on which Ordinance 370 was based is flawed both substantively and methodologically. Thus, the race-based preferences that the city is "forcing" on the business community are unfair and not good business in today's economy, according to the chamber.
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP is representing the Hispanic Chamber. Attorney Paul Benson said that prior to October 2011, under Ordinance 360, the city had an Emerging Business Enterprise system that required a certain percentage of contracting money to be spent with disadvantaged businesses. The law did not require projects go to any particular group — businesses just had to establish that they were operating at an economic disadvantage.
However, Ordinance 360 was repealed in favor of Ordinance 370 on Oct. 17. Based on an economic disparity study the city commissioned in June 2009, Ordinance 370 implemented a race and gender conscious EBE system. African-American, Asian-American and women-owned businesses are included, but Hispanics and other minorities are not.
"When the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin learned about Ordinance 370, we vowed to not let unfair business practices go unchallenged," said Maria Monreal-Cameron, president and CEO of the HCCW. "We know what (small businesses) want, and it's merely a chance to compete."
The HCCW is an advocate for Hispanic-owned businesses in Wisconsin.
In response to the filing, Linda Burke, Milwaukee deputy city attorney, said, "We are reviewing the matter with our consultant (D Wilson Consulting Group LLC), Other than that, we have no other comment."
Jacksonville, Fla.-based D Wilson does disparity studies for municipalities. The firm did a statistical study for the creation of the city of Milwaukee's city contract race-based preference ordinance.