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Commentary by Ald. Henry Perez: In Racine, we are trampling the Constitution
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Commentary by Ald. Henry Perez: In Racine, we are trampling the Constitution

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“Congress shall make no law respecting … the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

The day I turned 18, I stood in line at a park at 3 in the morning to be able to get a packet with an application to become a citizen of the United States of America. My mother had brought me to Florida while fleeing communism and a parent who was a communist. I grew up in the inner city of Miami and was extremely grateful for what this great country had done in general and specifically for me and my family.

In order to become a citizen, I had to take a test, which at the time was mostly about the Constitution of the United States of America. I distinctly remember this because it was on the day I graduated from high school.

I have learned to respect the Constitution and what it stands for. I took an oath to protect it when I became a bailiff, deputy clerk of the court, a deputy sheriff, a state’s attorney investigator, a police officer and an alderman.

It appears to me that we are trampling the Constitution.

We recently had a declaration saying that this pandemic is a health emergency. I agree. I have about a half-dozen friends who have been infected and/or have died. I know this is serious.

I do not deny it, but I believe that we have to have a balance between safety and guaranteed rights. When you go out or visit an establishment or business, follow the prescribed guidelines.

The Safer at Home Order and the Racine order are important, but let us not infringe on people’s rights, either. How is it that the city can have different rules for different organizations and close different shops with no redress available?

This has been extremely difficult for our businesses, since the order only applied to the city and some local towns or villages. I know of several businesses that had to close because of the arbitrary regulations and will not be returning to our city. This is a tragedy. The Downtown area where most businesses are located needs to be the gem in our community. Now we will most likely see more empty shops again.

The court ruled against the city, and the city turned around and passed an ordinance that appears to be an end-around to the court’s decision. Their announcement for a special City Council meeting was announced on a Sunday afternoon, 24 hours and some minutes, to be able to technically comply with the law. There was no public comment and some shaming for those did not agree.

This is not good government, nor does it appear to be transparent, as we agreed it should be when the mayor’s term began.

Today, I learned that the senior business Downtown (Dimples) was denied a loan or a grant because one of the owners participated in a rally in Madison. When I originally talked to the mayor, he assured me that it was hard to give everyone funding and that there was need elsewhere. I was satisfied with his answer. Now I see differently.

He never mentioned to me that his nonstandard screening process involved activities that people did outside of his jurisdiction or scope of authority.

I see his want to protect our community. But let us not do it in what appears to be a power grab, shirking the law, secret meetings, and nonstandard screening processes.

Let us get back to respecting people’s rights and opinions, and being honest as to how we do business in this amazing city where we live, work and play.

Henry Perez reprsents the 12th District on the Racine City Council.

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