Saturday, May 3, 2008

Thanking John Antaramian

Last month John Antaramian unceremoniously wrapped up 16 years of service as Kenosha's mayor. While his tenure hasn't been without controversy, some of it justified, the bottom line is that the city is a better place today than it was 16 years ago.

To be fair, Antaramian's predecessor, Pat Moran, got the ball rolling toward moving Kenosha away from a moribund community that could have been paralyzed when Chrysler pulled the plug on automobile production in 1988. (And it certainly seemed mysteriously disingenuous when Moran, who last month was defeated in an effort to get his old job back, was critical of the initiatives he helped set in motion.)

The truth is Kenosha's neighborhoods look a lot better than they did 16 years ago. So does the lakefront. There are more job opportunities. And of particular note is that Kenosha did something many cities haven't: the city not only expanded outward but renewed and redeveloped inner city neighborhoods. Imagine what Milwaukee or Racine would look like if those cities followed the same path.

It's not been perfect. Kenosha has the trolley to nowhere, bizarre support for the KRM rail fleece which doesn't benefit Kenosha, construction of a school across the street from a prison, reduced fire protection, potholes that could be filled with subcompacts and arguably some of the worst snowplowing and ice control in the nation.

But if folks like John Antaramian didn't fight the good fight, imagine how much worse things would be today. And that created a particular dilemma for new mayor Keith Bosman. He'll need to improve on Antaramian's track record or risk getting the boot at the next mayoral election.

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