Reading my home-town newspaper always gets my blood boiling. I’m from Milwaukee, Wisconsin — where the only thing more ridiculous than abuses by local law enforcement is the ineptitude of local politicians. (Not surprisingly, they’re almost exclusively Democrat Party members.)
Last September, I blogged about how the city of Milwaukee was going to confiscate a disabled man’s home for not paying a parking ticket from 2004.
That wasn’t good enough for city bureaucrats: now, according to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the city is planning to take the land of a family who dreamed of building a restaurant. “It’s been our livelihood and I have turned down two promotions at my job because this was my future with my family,” the land owner, Rafael Cetina, told the local newspaper.
If the land confiscation goes through via eminent domain, it will dash the dreams of Cetina, whose family bought the land in 2002 with visions of building a restaurant and club that would serve spicy Mayan flavors paying tribute to his heritage on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Why is the Cetina family land being confiscated? To expand a fruit stand.
You heard right.
But it gets worse: the family that owns and operates Pete’s Fruit Market would be empowered by the city to expand the fruit market. Pete Tsitiridis, owner of the fruit market, and his family made $2,000 in campaign contributions last year to Milwaukee Alderman Jim Witkowiak, the mover-and-shaker in the city’s plans to take the land from the Cetina family.
On Tuesday, the city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee, chaired by Witkowiak, voted to approve the land acquisition. The ultimate decision will rest with the Common Council.
The Cetinas bought the first parcel in 2002 and spent $200,000 on everything from steel framing to lighting fixtures to eventually build the restaurant and club. He is now weeks away from losing the land to the city.
The Cetina family property has no violations against it, and they put up the fence to abide by city ordinances.
Nonetheless, Assistant City Attorney Gregg Hagopian said the site’s location and the fact it has remained vacant for years is an issue. “It is vacant land that is impeding business growth and expansion and is unused or underutilized,” Hagopian said.
Please contact Milwaukee Common Council members and encourage them to save the Cetina family’s justly-aquired property.