Sunday, June 28, 2020

Downtown Racine business denied COVID grant after rally attendance, mayor confirms

From The Journal

RACINE — A longtime Downtown Racine business was denied municipal COVID relief, and Mayor Cory Mason has confirmed participation in a Madison Safer at Home protest led to the denial of the grant.

Dimple Navratil, co-owner of Dimple’s Fine Imports LLC, 416 Main St., who has owned the business in Downtown Racine for 21 years, applied twice for grants to receive city assistance through its Small Business Emergency Assistance Fund. When she didn’t receive the first grant she wasn’t that concerned. Not many businesses received grants. But when they denied a second time, she and her husband and co-owner, Denis Navratil, had questions.

At first, the Navratils said they were told that there were not enough funds. Upon further questioning, Dimple said Racine Mayor Cory Mason cited their “compliance” as the reason they did not receive the grant, specifically Denis attending a rally in Madison on April 24 in opposition to the state’s Safer at Home order where he was interviewed by two television stations, including WTMJ.

“There’s a way to reopen the state in a way that both protects us from the COVID-19 and helps small businesses stay afloat,” Denis said in the interview.

In a statement emailed to The Journal Times on Friday, Mason wrote: “Participating in mass gatherings outside of our community, such as the rally that was held at the State Capitol — such large gatherings have been linked to cases of COVID-19 around the state — and then returning to our City, only served to put our residents at unnecessary risk and, thus, factored into the funding consideration.”

The Navratils said they are surprised that Mason admitted the rally attendance was a factor in the funding consideration and they are exploring whether the denial of funding was legal and if their rights were infringed upon.

Upon being informed of Mason’s response, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty stated in an email: “We are greatly concerned that Racine officials are using government programs to discriminate and punish First Amendment protected speech. We will continue to investigate this matter.”

WILL is a a nonprofit public interest law firm which states on its website that it seeks “to advance the public interest in the rule of law, individual liberty, constitutional government, and a robust civil society.” The Navratils said they are in contact with the nonprofit.

“I think I’m being denied my First Amendment rights here by the mayor; I think that’s terrible,” Denis said.

The Journal Times learned, through an open records request, that a scoring system was not used to determine grant recipients, and that no minutes were taken during the decision-making process because it was done during internal staff meetings.

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Butterball can be very petty.  No scoring system to decide who gets the grants and no minutes kept of the decision-making process.  Obviously, Butterball runs the city as his own little empire.  I think that he's pissed off that a judge put him in his place and now he's taking it out on others.  What a fat child.


TSE said...

Mayor Butterball and his radical Antifa Politics are not a good fit for Racine Businesses and workers.

TSE said...

I spent about an hour around City Hall and Downtown with my sign - and calling for Butterball to resign. Got lots of thumbs up and positive reactions.

Butterball and his staff need to go NOW! And we only need 2 in the Administration Office - or Mayor's Office.