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Thursday, February 23, 2012

 11:19 AM 

First witnesses testify on impact of map on Latino community

The first three witnesses in the redistricting trial testified on the racial makeup of two south side Milwaukee Assembly districts and the impact of the new plan on the Latino community.

John Bartkowski, executive director of the 16th St.Community Health Center, and Christine Neumann-Ortiz, director of Voces de la Frontera, testified to the growing Latino population in the area and what they said was the hostility of the dwindling white community.

A larger part of the Latino community was also moved into the district represented by Dem Sen. Tim Carpenter.

"We have been very disappointed with (his) representation," Neumann-Ortiz said.

She said a delegation approached Carpenter after he opposed in-state tuition and driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. She said Carpenter said that 90 percent of his constituents opposed the driver's license provision -- something she said the Latino community supported.

Neumann-Ortiz also said she thought the 2008 campaign in which former state Rep. Pedro Colon ran against incumbent Grant Langley for city attorney was "inflammatory and catered to the white vote," specifically when attention was drawn to Colon's support of a sanctuary city. Colon lost the election but was later appointed a Milwaukee County judge and won election to the seat.

Colon testified that he won the former 8th Assembly district in the race for city attorney, but a substantial number of votes there are lost under the new plan.

-- By Marie Rohde

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