Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, May 8

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Gazette Editorial Board
Monday, May 8, 2017

Thumbs down to the FBI. The federal agency offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Joseph Jakubowski’s capture, and Jeff Gorn is the only person that deserves the money. The FBI should have said so weeks ago, citing Gorn’s role in finding Jakubowski on his property and alerting authorities via a 911 call. Yet, an FBI spokesperson told The Gazette last week the “reward money is still being determined.” What’s left to determine? The spokesman, Leonard Peace, added that “there are no plans for a press release or other announcement” on whether Gorn will get the money. The FBI was happy to advertise the reward during the manhunt but now seems to think it has no obligation to confirm whether it plans to make good on its offer. The FBI is a secretive agency and often for good reason, but the FBI will lose credibility by continuing to act cagey about the $20k. Our advice to the agency’s PR team: “Show us the money!”

Thumbs down to Great Lakes Basin Transportation. This isn’t the 1800s, but the company seeking to run a railway through Rock County is living up to old stereotypes by being less-than-forthright about its financial backers. Great Lakes Basin asked the federal Surface Transportation Board last week to keep secret its shareholders, contending investors’ names should remain private. But last time we checked, a railway involves the public’s input and the government’s permission to operate. The public deserves to know the railway’s backers, along with the names of the freight lines expecting to run on the line. A railway is worthless without any trains using it, and Great Lakes Basin has yet to demonstrate freight companies believe this project is viable. Frank Patton, the company’s president, is taking a “trust me” approach with the public, and that doesn’t cut it.

Thumbs up to constructive online comments. Comments posted to The Gazette’s website range significantly in quality, with many of them made in an apparent effort to get in the last word. Once in a while, we spot a constructive comment, and that happened on at least one occasion last week. Kevin Goebel on May 3 at 2:45 a.m. (about the same time President Trump shot out his first tweet for the day) posted a comment on an editorial about infrastructure, stating he contacted Gov. Scott Walker’s office about an idea for a “sliding fuel tax.” Goebel noted the idea came from another GazetteXtra user, Rainman, who proposed allowing the gas tax to fluctuate with the price of gasoline. Goebel received a vague reply from Walker, but at least Goebel made an effort. At least he’s trying to find a solution for our state’s infrastructure challenges.

Thumbs up to avoiding last week’s phishing scam. Some members of The Gazette staff were bombarded with emails Wednesday, including from local officials, “inviting” them to view a Google Doc. We quickly confirmed the emails were scams but didn’t realize at the time just how big the scam was, affecting nearly 1 million Google users. The scam was unique in that it could penetrate people’s accounts without users disclosing their passwords. All they had to do was accept the senders’ invitation to view the Google Doc and—boom—their contact lists could be hijacked. Google quickly shut down the scam, but days like that are a humbling reminder that we remain vulnerable both to flaws in technology and our own judgment.


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