Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, Sept. 18

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Thumbs up to the battle for 'The Rock.' Friday's match-up between Janesville Parker and Craig football teams marked the 50th anniversary of the east-west rivalry. The first game in 1967 included a dinner afterward with the families of the two head coaches, Dave Kumlien and Mike McDaniels. Though competitors on the field, they recognized we're ultimately one community. Many sports rivalries have a similar dynamic, and regardless of how fierce they fight on the field, they smile and shake hands when the game is over. It would be great if communities and our nation could do the same in other aspects of life. Politics, in particular, wasn't always such a tribal enterprise. Democrats and Republicans fought for their positions on the floors of capitols, but they didn't carry that rivalry into their personal lives. They didn't allow political beliefs to determine whether they should interact with each other outside of work. The world could use more of that good-natured spirit that kicked off the Parker-Craig rivalry in 1967.

Thumbs down to whining over Court Street conversion. Just as complaints over converting Milwaukee Street into a two-way began to wane, now we must endure the whining over converting Court Street. Here's a preview of what's to come, courtesy of comments posted to Facebook last week about an upcoming Court Street forum: “Just leave downtown alone!” “This seems like a stupid idea.” “The town is basically dying so who cares.” “They ruined the city by changing Milwaukee Street.” Lost amid the indignation is any acknowledgement of the city's reason for converting Court and Milwaukee streets to two-way traffic. The planners' intention is to slow down traffic, making the downtown more pedestrian friendly. The idea is to create a more intimate connection between residents and the downtown. Many critics think the downtown is an obstacle, and that's their fundamental problem. They don't view the downtown as a destination.

Thumbs down to labor shortage. Wisconsin employers are complaining about a lack of skilled and responsible employees, and the problem is expected to only worsen as more baby boomers retire. “The labor market is so wonky right now that there's no consequence to being a bad employee,” Johnny Hunter, owner of a Madison restaurant, Forequarter, told the Associated Press. “People will just quit because they want two weeks off. They can go to another restaurant and get hired right way.” The shortage, being blamed on low unemployment, an aging population and Wisconsin not attracting enough college graduates, gives employers an unpleasant choice: Keep pay down and lose good employees or raise wages and lose a competitive edge.

Thumbs up to giving $583,000 to Janesville. The proposed addition to the state budget isn't a handout. It's compensation for the flawed state-aid formula that has shortchanged Janesville for years. A long-term solution would be to fix the formula so that Janesville gets more than $81 per resident in shared revenue, versus $179 for the average Wisconsin municipality. Beloit gets a whopping $459 per resident. Credit local legislators, namely Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, for working into the state budget the $583,000 to be allocated to Janesville annually for five years. The city has found ways to survive, despite the flawed formula, but services are stretched thin. The money could pay for new staff to operate a fifth ambulance, which the Janesville Fire Department has said is needed.

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