RACINE — We Energies has begun taking down 530 streetlights and alley lights designated for removal by the city’s Department of Public Works.

Utility crews began removing lights on Tuesday, Public Works Commissioner Mark Yehlen said Wednesday.

Yehlen had hoped to publish maps on the city’s website showing the lights slated for removal before crews showed up to take them down, but he said delays in getting the data he needed from We Energies prevented him from doing so.

The idea was to have the maps posted at least two weeks before We Energies starting removing lights so residents could contact the city if, for instance, the maps showed that a street had more or fewer lights than actually existed.

On Wednesday, those maps were still not ready, but Yehlen did have a list of the lights the city told the utility to remove.

“To be able to have the leases end at the end of the August, I had to agree to let them just move ahead. I was hoping to get the list back from them in the middle of August,” he said. “I didn’t get the list back from them until the beginning of September.”

He added that the utility also wanted to get the work done while the weather is mild.

We Energies Spokesman Brian Manthey said Wednesday said it will likely take utility crews about two months, or until mid-November, to remove all the lights if the weather stays good.

Yehlen chose the lights to be removed using a spacing policy dictating that streets between 350 and 699 feet long only have one mid-block streetlight, and streets between 700 and 1,049 feet have only two mid-block lights.

Because he didn’t have time to verify the data he received from We Energies, he said there will likely be instances where a light that shouldn’t be removed is pegged for removal.

The hope is that residents will contact his department, as a man on Summit Avenue did on Wednesday, if they see We Energies taking out a light or lights that they shouldn’t be taking down based on the streetlight spacing policy.

“Moving ahead, I am not going say they’re isn’t going to be a little breakage, but we’ll fix it,” he said.

Of the 530 lights selected for removal, 122 are alley lights.

The removals are expected to save the city $84,085 a year in electricity charges, Yehlen said.

Yehlen first approached the City Council about his plan to remove streetlights during last fall’s budget hearings. At the time he told aldermen the move was the only feasible way to absorb a $90,000 cut to his department.

After coming up with a final spacing plan, the number of lights selected for removal was further reduced after Racine Police Chief Art Howell requested that “recovering” sections of the city be exempt from having lights removed. The “decision to ‘carve out’ certain neighborhoods” was motivated by a number of factors, Howell said in July, including the need to ensure that officers making traffic stops in high crime areas have proper lighting.

The only areas that could have lights removed in the future would be those in the areas that the police asked be exempted from the current cuts, Yehlen said.

“I really don’t want to do this ever again,” he said.

(35) comments


If the lights are being removed from areas are predominately white, that is racist. I demand an investigation.


Cut Yehlens job and we could add lights instead of taking them down. this city has been a disaster since he's been here with the road construction blunders or anything else he has his hands on.

Number 6
Number 6

Dickert's lawsuits and legal fees far surpass the $90K needed to keep these lights up. Lying John's own malfeasance has cost us millions of dollars, but he keeps blaming the state for budget shortfalls. An honest mayor and honest administration would lead to what is happening in Kenosha: growth. Instead ,Racine sinks deeper and deeper into a morass while lying John's downtown pals loot the taxpayers.

Lying John's racism is also on display in the disparity of lights removed. Poor black neighborhoods are targeted for the most removals. Alderman Shield's district is slated for 84 removals, more than twice what other districts are losing. Once the federal civil rights investigation begins, we're toast. The fines will make even lying John's larceny look like child's play.

I Come In Peace

"And the takers? Where do they think their freebies come from? The top 1% pay 80% of taxes, 50% of the population pay no taxes and the middle class pays the rest. Give it up - the day of the freeloader must come to an end. I come in peace - I am done with you, you are dismissed."
I know you thought were clever and throwing out numbers I've never seen before, but your breakdown is something I"m very familiar with, even though your stats are incorrect. The 50% you are referring to is actually 43%. Next your conclusion that they don't pay taxes is a joke. Most of the population does pay taxes, but the 43% doesn't make enough to pay a federal income tax. I suggest you try to understand what the stats you posted actually mean.

First, the top 1% owns 40% of the wealth, then next 4% owns 27%, the next 5% owns 11%, the 10% owns 12%, and the bottom 80% owns 7%. Who do you think is going to pay the most in dollars when it comes to takes? Even though many in the middle class pay a higher percentage in taxes than the 1%... you know "Walkers wanna be buddies". Class dismissed!!

Help Racine

Relax folks we just gave $150,000 of our tax dollars to that bozo Kurt Wahlen in Mt. Pleasant to open a firing range. I guess giving handouts to our old buddies is more important than streetlights in the city.


Since this article on streetlight and alley light removal on Thursday 9/19 was followed by today's (9/21) news article on increased burglaries on the northside, there should be a ban on further removal of any lights north of Yout Street. The police chief himself said exceptions could be made in recovering neighborhoods or those at risk. What about those neighborhoods that are deteriorating? We've already had our mid-block streetlight on Jones Avenue removed last year. We don't need anymore darkness to cover crime. Current crimes may be committed in daylight, but I predict more will occur after sunset as lights are removed. Alleys are especially vulnerable since most homes have fences to keep wanderers out of their yards. But fences also conceal activities of gang wannabes and mischief makers since the line of sight is interrupted. You don't usually see 8 foot fences in front yards to block the view of neighbors keeping watch. Keep our lights on and replace them with energy efficient bulbs! Cut out the "nice-to-haves" and purely cosmetic but costly improvements that cater to outside visitors that don't have to live and work in this city. Concentrate on improving what's left of the city to keep the residents that pay taxes here. Keep our police, fire, and EMS strength up, improve our failing schools, and maintain streets, alleys, and parks. Those of us left in holding the bag in the city are losing hope that city priorities benefit the citizens themselves or just a select few. We can vote (but not comment) or just leave if it gets any worse.

City Hall Monitor

Who needs streetlights when you can give millions in corrupt back room deals to friends and family for marble bathrooms, the roundabout, CAR25, failed projects like Porters and Delta Hawk, or even grave sites on sacred Indian burial grounds?

This is another great accomplishment to add to the List!

- Poverty level has increased to make Racine one of the most impoverished cities in America while the mayor assumes no responsibility
- Substantial increase in local burglaries in both residential and commercial areas
- Creating new ordinances to specifically deter public comments and feedback
- Allowing friends to get another backdoor deal for half price grave sites on sacred Indian Burial Grounds (despite the cemetery commission saying no)
- Giving those same friends a real estate deal on a building downtown when a minority-owned business was discriminated against when they tried to buy it
- Competing as a city, connected to mayor's best friend's business no doubt, in headstone sales against long-standing local businesses
- Highest unemployment in the state for years running with no change in sight
- Bid rigging, discrimination and unfair business practices
- Unfair property taxes and assessments (and resulting lawsuits)
- Removing streetlights (still going through despite all the opposition)
- Cutting bus schedules and services to an absolute minimum
- Increased recycling and service fees (still going up despite promising it would not)
- Unnecessary cuts to essential services like Police & Fire (despite all the opposition)
- Porters $1.2 Million Giveaway (nothing to show for it)
- Giving more money to Porters without informing the community
- Delta Hawk Giveaway (nothing to show for it)
- CAR25 Giveaway and increased spending (see bid rigging)
- Giving friends that run CAR25 even more money than promised (another 30k)
- Uptown demolition and wasteful spending (more bid rigging)
- Unnecessary City Hall Bathrooms & Renovation (paying friends)
- Excessive Zoo subsidies while still increasing fees (paying more friends)
- Unnecessary City Hall roundabout (paying friends yet again)
- Excessive charges to residents for streets, sidewalks, and landscaping
- Failing school system (and failing school board)
- Suing local nonprofit organization Project New Life for issues created by the city
- Changing the rules for zoning and blight to rig real estate deals
- Unnecessary cuts to public transportation (where are bus ad revenues going?)
- Mass exodus of residents and businesses (with outdated population signs)
- Elitism and special rules to favor Aldermen (including guns in Council Chambers)
- Censorship, slander and libel against community members
- Suing our own city to cover personal legal expenses for the mayor
- Begging local churches and nonprofits to donate money to the city
- Excessive cronyism, favoritism, and back room deals
- No real plan for recovery (see bond rating downgrade)
- Hiring consultants for jobs that should be done by staff
- Incompetent City Administrator and Finance Director
- Pushed through union contracts (plus legal fees) without waiting for Act 10
- Lost potential contracts for water service due to arrogance
- Unnecessary hurdles for local businesses
- Violation of open meeting laws
- Violation of city ordinances and state statutes
- Complete lack of ethics, even by the Ethics Board itself
- Overpaid positions and benefits for City Staff, Mayor & Aldermen
- Continuous and excessive debt service (over 25 cents of every dollar)
- Excessive tax rates to deter any new residents and businesses
- No new development (besides liquor stores and discount shops)
- Massive amounts of foreclosures and pending foreclosures
- Free fall of home and property values toward ZERO for those that remain
- Rampant corruption and disregard for the community
- Lies

Vote for your favorites (or add to the list)!

Racine needs an intervention if there is any hope for recovery.

granny grits

Your incisive logic, combined with your extensive documentation, and polished debating skills...The artful prose you employ.......

Yet, astoundingly, I fail to be entirely convinced.
Maybe if you'd used all CAPS.

That would have probably won me.

City Hall Monitor

I am sorry that your grandson is such a massive failure.

Please feel free to list out what you believe to be his accomplishments. We will all be anxiously waiting for a good laugh.


Yup Racine is turning Ghetto faster than ever! More Crime, More Poverty, Less Illumination. Yup Ghetto


I don't live in Racine, so I don't have any skin in the game, but does anybody else find what Wehlen is saying weird?

He made up a list of lights for removal, gave the list to WE energies, and was waiting for them to give the list back to him so that they could make a map.

Has this man not heard of the wonderful invention of copy machines? Heck, I hear that the same computer that his staffer used to make the list could also send a command to a printer and print out as many copies of the list as might be needed. Why, I've even heard of some new fangled things like email that would have sent the list to everybody in the city right after it was created, then people could make their own maps.

I've heard tell of these Computer whizzes that could even take the list and correlate the data onto a map within an hour.

Does anybody buy into his excuse for not getting the information out before the removal of lights started? It's nonsensical. He must believe that everybody in Racine are luddites that cannot even program a VCR.

The map was not made because he didn't want the people to know what lights were being removed before it was too late to do anything about it. If I were a Racine resident, I would be going to city hall and calling him on it. At the very least, the JT should call him on the stupid excuse he's trying to use.


We have a candidate who has run for office and won their election to unseat the current mayor, but we will need everyone's help in 2014 to get him out of office by the April 2015 election. This whole light situation is so racially biased that I would be ashamed to show my face anywhere in town let alone walking doors and handing out City of Racine business cards, as he is campaigning for re-election. Taking down 84 lights in any District is unacceptable.
If people are seriously interested in a new mayor for the City of Racine you may call me my phone number is in the phone book.

I can assure you that this candidate will never sue any taxpayer for their personal legal fees.
I have to agree with "Sleeping Ethics." Tom Eeg was a perfect candidate for the Superintendent of Public Works, but a guy from down south, who never had to navigate a snowplowing operation got the job? If we get a very bad snow storm the city doesn't have enough manpower to perform a major plowing operation.
This mayor is not a democrat because he isn't following the recorded issues of the state party. In a search engine type in DPW_2012_Platform.pdf read it for yourself.


I could have a map of these spots done in hours. How do sleep at night with such lame excuses?


Having some real concern for these neighborhoods. Darkness promotes crime and is not good for public safety.


I agree with you!

Unreal Racine

The related article's headline says "Maps...should be posted on city website in two weeks".

It has been over 9 weeks, and STILL NO MAP!

The lies and incompetence are astounding.

Way to go Mayor Dickert and yes man Yehlen!

I'll bet your streetlights are still on.

Unreal Racine

By the numbers (streetlight removal by district):

District 1: 13 - Coe - VERY LOW, is that fair?
District 2: 21 - Sarrazin - VERY LOW, is that fair?
District 3: 84 - Shields - EXTREMELY HIGH, is that safe?
District 4: 30 - Kaplan - VERY LOW, is that fair?
District 5: 43 - Kaprelian-Becker
District 6: 45 - Weidner
District 7: 24 - DeHahn - VERY LOW, is that fair?
District 8: 35 - Shakoor
District 9: 49 - McCarthy
District 10: 34 - Wiser
District 11: 28 - Helding - VERY LOW, is that fair?
District 12: 45 - Perez
District 13: 50 - Morgenroth
District 14: 53 - Hart
District 15: 15 - Diehl - VERY LOW, is that fair?

Why are these numbers so skewed? Why should one district have almost 6 times as many lights removed as another? Does Shields' district have any lights left? Why does downtown and District 15 need so many more lights than other districts?

Hmmm....and to think that all of their salaries and benefits dwarf the cost savings of this measure. If they just cut their salaries and benefits by a small percent like most people in the workforce have had to do, it would make this up in a year or two. What happened to shared sacrifice? Other city councils and mayors have proposed cutting their own pay and benefits to help save their communities, but not Racine. They need to GET PAID WITH BENEFITS TO REMOVE YOUR STREETLIGHTS and to approve rigged contracts for friends of the mayor of course.

This is absurd and, more importantly, DANGEROUS!

Number 6
Number 6

Dickert said he was going to take a pay cut about a year ago or so. Of course, it was just another lie.

I know, let's sue the city over the streetlights and then demand that the city legally represent us because we ARE the city. We can sue ourselves for $100,000. That's more than enough for the lights.

Hey, what's going on with the revision of Common Council meeting minutes? Not only does this administration lie and lie to us, but they're even rewriting history to conform to their lies.

us citizen

This is one of the many reasons I moved from Ratcine to Kenosha. Imagine this Kenosha is putting up street lights and doin road and land improvements. Ratcine is just heading down the sewer FAST!

but seriously

Great; anyone else notice that pretty much ALL of these lights to be removed are in the poorer sections of the city???? You know, the neighborhoods that already have high crime rates and roving packs of teenagers? Here's a nice challenge - let's keep track of the crime rate in these neighborhoods over the next year. Who wants to bet there will be an increase, and the city will say that they have no idea what to attribute it to?

Green Racinereal

My thanks to the Mayor for helping Racine to be IMHO unsafe after dark. In fact as I see it Downtown Racine may unsafe at anytime. Best to stay away from that area in particular I feel

Number 6
Number 6

Oh, and couldn't the millions of our dollars that lying John gave to the Porter's project be spent on the residents who pay the taxes? No. Lying John gives our money to his pals and takes down our streetlights.

Porter's project is supposed to start this month. Absolutely nothing is happening. Kiss our money goodbye

Number 6
Number 6

This is lying John's finest hour.


Too bad the Journal Times did not have a tech department that could print a Racine map showing where the street lights are being removed and where the mayor, aldermen, and department heads live, or own property. Might be real interesting.

I Come In Peace

Remember this next time you think you are over taxed or millionaires and billionaires should continue receiving huge tax breaks. Republicans always want services for free, like they just magically happen out of thin air.

Comment deleted.
I Come In Peace

@king - generally Red States take in more federal funding then they actually put in each year. Once again, Republicans think that public education, general services, and government just magically run themselves without any funding.

Comment deleted.
You Wish



Dickert is a Democrat. So you are saying that a Democrat who blasts Republicans like Walker with one cheek and then gives them big time money with the other? You still vote Democrat you get what you voted for.

By the way, Wall Street, big businesses, banks, unions, schools etc are all big democrat donors. You can look up their political donations by using google. I laugh when I hear stupid liberals say Republicans are for the rich when the rich are giving the big money to the Democrats! GE, Microsoft, Apple, AT&T and list goes on all to Democrats. The richest people Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the list goes on. The banks and Wall Street the list goes on.

All Democrats have in retort is people like You Wish and call people racist. When people cannot refute the facts they defame, attack and destroy the people with the facts, normally conservative Republicans. Liberals are basically children too immature to notice what is in front of their eyes because they want a sugar daddy aka government to handle their lives.

You Wish


Comment deleted.

Why do 95% of blacks vote (D)?...Usually the people that cry "racist" , are the worst racists

You Wish

Hostile Racist.


Mark Yehlen should be fired for incompetence. At the time he told aldermen "the move was the only feasible way to absorb a $90,000 cut to his department.?????" Do you people actually believe the only way this guy could save 90K from his DPW budget would be to remove residents streetlights??? There is Mark Yehlen- Director Of DPW, Tom Eeg- DPW Assistant Director, John Rooney-DPW Assistant Director, between the 3 people their total salaries is close to a HALF MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!! Do we need 2 assistants to do his job? Get serious! Get involved Racine, city hall is robbing you blind and laughing in your face!!!


Of course he didn't get the list posted online in time for residents to see because that would require him actually doing his job. I can think of a much better way to save a lot more than $90,000 year after year - remove our incompetent, overpaid, and corrupt department heads Mark Yehlen, Paul Ancona and Tom Molbeck, plus city administrator Tom Friedel. We would save millions and protect our city from further disasters under their corrupt leader, Lying John.

Of all the stupid ideas to save a buck, removing streetlights and jeopardizing the safety of everyone in the community could only have been conceived by the same people that just wasted hundreds of thousands on marble bathrooms in city hall, to pay the mayor's best friend in the process. Take from the community to pay off friends should be our city slogan.

Every day in Racine under this administration brings a new low and a new level of disgust.


This is so terribly short sighted. While most communities are adding energy efficient lighting for safety and appearance, Racine removes lights. Yet, they add decorative lighting in front of city hall?? Neighborhoods need lighting for safety. Did anyone consider energy efficient lighting from CREE?? What will the cost be of adding lights with increased crime?


OK, so you go to the base of the street light, and cut the two wires... the light stays out.... WHY remove the light? You might want the light back on someday....

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