Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, Nov. 20

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Thumbs up to geothermal at Edgerton hospital. The best way to turn people to green energy is to demonstrate how it helps their pocketbooks. Edgerton Hospital and Health Services paid about $800,000 for a geothermal system installed five years ago, and the system paid for itself faster than engineers had anticipated. The system works by drawing heat from the earth, slashing the hospital's natural gas bill by nearly 90 percent. If more people made saving money their main motive—and not so much saving the earth—green energy projects might encounter less political resistance and become more mainstream. Everybody wants a clean environment, but environmentalists might win more converts by playing down the guilt trips about a dying planet. A pragmatic pitch focusing on the amount of money saved, rather than the size of one's carbon footprint, is the smarter approach.

Thumbs up to Rock County suing opioid makers. We have advocated for state Attorney General Brad Schimel to sue opioid makers over their roles in perpetuating an addiction crisis throughout Wisconsin. While Schimel has said he's investigating the situation, Wisconsin hasn't filed a lawsuit. In a surprising twist, Schimel's dawdling may have benefited Rock County, which joined 27 other counties last month in filing their own lawsuits against the opioid makers. County Board Chairman Russ Podzilni said counties learned their lesson in the 1990s when the state refused to share settlement proceeds from a tobacco lawsuit. “We didn't have a seat at the table, and we got screwed,” Podzilni said. The opioid crisis is straining Rock County's budget in many ways, including an increased demand for child protection services. A settlement won't fix the crisis, but it could help the county cope.

Thumbs down to hedging over Roy Moore. Some state officials qualified their statements about embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who's accused of molesting and dating teenagers while he was in his 30s. Gov. Scott Walker initially compared the allegations to rumors he faced during Walker's 2012 recall campaign and said Moore should step aside only if the allegations are true. Walker later said Moore should quit the race, which is what Walker should have said in the first place. U.S. Senate candidates Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir made a similar mistake, and they both quickly backtracked, calling for Moore to get out of the race. House Speaker Paul Ryan handled the situation correctly by describing the allegations as “credible” and making clear Moore should exit the race. The Republican Party stands to gain nothing by defending Moore, and Ryan knows this.

Thumbs down to the next perpetrator exposed. Which lawmakers will be the next to have their careers destroyed amid allegations of sexual assault? With victims suddenly feeling empowered to tell their stories, high-profile officials across the nation have been forced to resign, though Wisconsin has managed to mostly avoid fallout from the #MeToo campaign. Meanwhile, women on Capitol Hill say they share a “creep list” to protect each other from lawmakers known for inappropriate behavior, though most of these names—at least for the moment—have been kept confidential. While the #MeToo campaign has put many influential people on edge, it's helping rectify a problem that's been allowed to fester for too long. To his credit, the House speaker responded to the controversy by mandating sexual harassment training for House members.

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