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Thumbs up/down for Monday, Nov. 13

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Thumbs down to lowering drinking age to 19. Did the legislators who advocated for eliminating age restrictions on hunting also devise this absurd proposal? The consequences of Wisconsin's booze culture appear in the pages of this newspaper on an almost-daily basis, while a 2013 study shows drinking-related problems cost the state $6.8 billion each year. The last thing the Legislature should be doing is minimizing these consequences and encouraging youth to indulge in drinking before they're 21. But perhaps the most practical reason for keeping the drinking age at 21 is lowering it would jeopardize federal funds contingent on states adopting the 21-year-old standard. Oddly enough, the proposal stipulates the drinking age would drop to 19 only if the state wouldn't lose federal highway money. So why bother with floating the proposal in the first place? That's a good question for one of the bill's backers, Rep. Rob Swearingen, the former president of the Tavern League of Wisconsin.

Thumbs down to leaves still on trees. The trees and their leaves need to realize the city of Janesville has started its annual leaf collection. The city even purchased a new leaf vacuum truck this year, but many trees continue to hold their leaves—even after a hard freeze last week. Some residents say the city is to blame for starting leaf collection too early, but the trees and their leaves share culpability. A reader commented on a Nov. 6 online story about the new leaf vacuum, wondering whether the truck might suck the leaves off trees limbs. Maybe the comment was a joke, but we're not kidding. Any tree that refuses to drop its leaves should be subjected to a leaf-stripping process, permitting the collection of every leaf from every tree. Let's send Mother Nature a message: You take down the leaves, or we'll take them down for you!

Thumbs up to North Beloit. The town of Beloit is soliciting ideas for renaming the municipality as it seeks to incorporate as a village. Some suggestions seem more fitting for a subdivision, such as Riverside, River Oaks or Turner Oaks. Why oak as opposed to ash or walnut trees? We have no idea, except some people might think “oak” sounds fancy, such as in, “Do you smell the oak aroma in this wine's bouquet?” The town of Beloit sits north of Beloit, and that's that. North Beloit is a logical name, if void of any hardwood sentiment. One other possibility is Alliantville because the municipality, in becoming a village, would receive a larger portion of the property taxes paid by the Alliant Energy Riverside plant. Any takers?

Thumbs up to new CrimeStoppers app. The Janesville Police Department has figured out how to reach youth: Give them an app. Police say a new app that allows people to send instantly and anonymously their tips to police is proving popular. Since the police unveiled the app, the number of crime tips received has nearly tripled—from 310 in 2015 to 822 this year. Officer Chad Sullivan said the app works so well in part because users don't have to speak with law enforcement, making the exchange feel more anonymous than traditional tip lines. Given that the average teenager sends 3,339 text messages a month, this app perfectly fits their lifestyles, and it has already resulted in police learning about possible threats at area schools. Sullivan went so far to say the app would someday prevent a school shooting. Sad to think an app is needed to keep kids safe, but welcome to the information age.



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