Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kenosha's snow job

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian is lucky he isn't running for another term because voters could justifiably turn him out on his ear over the city's lame performance this winter in snow removal and ice control -- and his patronizing indifference.

Yes, we've had one of the worst winters in recent memory.

Yes, salt used for ice control is in short supply.

Yes, snow removal and ice control is taxing municipal budgets.

But that's not the whole story.

Antamarian, interviewed by the Kenosha News, called for city residents to "be patient" and now that the city is about out of salt, says only a fraction of intersections will be salted (and then it'll be mixed with sand).

For a guy who was in the legislature and served 16 years as mayor, Antaramian should know that politicians take the credit when things go well (even if they weren't responsible, as in the case of Bill Clinton basking in Ronald Reagan's economy) and get the heat when they don't. Of course, they duck and deceive when the latter wolf appears at their doorstep. So let's howl out the rest of the story.

This isn't the worst winter we've had. There have been a lot of snowfalls but we've had worse, especially in years where there were blizzards with massive blowing and drifting snow.

Even in other bad winters the city has done a better job -- and so have surrounding municipalities. Apart from the potholes, Milwaukee's streets are generally nowhere near as bad as Kenosha's. Wauwatosa's are virtually pristine, including bare pavement on side streets. It can be done.

As for the thin salt supply and drained budgets, the flip side to those stories is that we had numerous unusually mild winters for several years in which only a fraction of the allocated budget was spent for snow removal and ice control. While the salt may have been used up, what happened to the surplus money?

In other words, there should have been money left over from prior years to ease the financial burden of this winter. (And the city has reserves for a rainy -- er, snowy -- day!)

Other communities seem to be able to make it through the winter -- and even some that are having trouble are at least trying to do so.

Gurnee, for example, ordered more salt but the barge it's on is stuck in the frozen Illinois River. Kenosha could get more salt from Ohio, and, there's nothing necessarily wrong with mixing it with sand to make it last longer. What we haven't seen is a concerted effort by the mayor and city administration to address the problem.

True, even on a good day the Kenosha's performance with snow removal and ice control lags far behind most neighboring communities. But the latest snow job from city hall insults the intelligence of Kenoshans and evades the responsibility of elected and appointed officials to provide good service.

Even more disturbing is the silence of the mayoral candidates on this issue. In particular Pat Moran, a former mayor, would justifiably have an arsenal of cannon fodder here and he hasn't said a peep. He can flap his jaws and spew hot air when city hall is doing the right thing but is remarkably silent when it isn't. Amazing.


sascha said...

Good point -- how come the mayoral candidates are so quiet about this? Moran should have been screaming!

RAG said...


1. Barter wants to make a video about it with narration by Dr. Demento.

2. Bell will simply buy everyone in the city their own snow plow with his own money.

3. Moran will promise that the plows will operate in a new direction but won't say what direction it will be.

4. Butler will take no position.

5. Bosman will say that anything city hall says is fine with him.

6. Perri will need to study it.