The portrait of Capt. Gilbert Knapp hanging in the City Council chambers may qualify as a "historic artifact" under a proposed ordinance. Will former Mayor Tom Friedel join him on City Hall's walls?
Here's an aside to last week's story about the Landmarks Preservation Commission's efforts to preserve city artifacts.
Portraits of Racine's former mayors are sitting in the basement of City Hall, waiting to be re-hung. The portraits, which used to hang on the second floor behind the City Council chambers, were taken down as part of extensive, multi-year remodeling at City Hall.
Given recent events in the Mayor's office, that process will come with some interesting choices for the city. City officials will have two big questions to consider for its portrait collection:
1. Should Tom Friedel's portrait be included? The current city administrator was officially Mayor of Racine for 91 days last year. He served after Gary Becker resigned until John Dickert was elected.
2. Should Becker's portrait be included? Becker served six years in the city's top office, but resigned after being arrested, and later convicted, of attempting to hook up with a 14-year-old girl at Brookfield Square Mall. The "girl" turned out to be an undercover state agent.
City officials will have some time to think about the portraits. The pictures of Racine's past leaders aren't scheduled to be re-hung for another year or two.
One city official said of the record they supported hanging both portraits. Friedel was mayor, they said, and, for better or worse, Becker is part of the city, they said. "We're not Stalinist Russia where we just make history disappear," the said.
As for the historic artifacts ordinance, it's heading to the Finance and Personnel Committee for further consideration. The thrust of the ordinance is OK, an official said, but a few more details need to be worked out.