Thumbs up/down for Monday, Sept. 30, 2013

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Thumbs up to SMILES in the town of Darien. The nonprofit organization, established in 1985, offers equine-assisted programs for individuals with special needs. Clients of all ages ride horses to gain social, emotional, physical and personal rewards. These were on display Sept. 21 during an open house. Twenty-one clients showed onlookers how they build courage, confidence and self-esteem. Among them was Geoff Sugden, 28, who was one of SMILES’ first clients. Sugden has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair while serving customers at Best Buy and Home Depot in Janesville. “It’s given me something always to look forward to,” he told Gazette reporter Frank Schultz at the open house. “The horses and staff are very, very good at what they do.” SMILES is at N2666 County K, Darien. For more information or to donate, go to smilestherapeuticriding.org.

Thumbs up to Milwaukee Brewers fans. Baseball fans in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Oakland had something that Milwaukee fans lacked this season—winning teams. Yet with all those other teams either solidly in the playoffs or competing for spots, none could match Milwaukee in attendance. That’s remarkable in a season that went so wrong for Milwaukee, which won just six games in May and suffered through injuries and the Ryan Braun scandal. Attendance of more than 2.5 million shows Milwaukee is a baseball town and that Wisconsinites in general also love baseball—and tailgate parties. Credit also an inviting Miller Park with a roof that assures each game will go on. Credit Brewer owner Mark Attanasio for gaining credibility with investments in player payroll, stadium improvements and charitable causes. And credit the marketing staff with creative ideas that kept fans coming.

Thumbs down to not releasing John Doe probe records. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has filed a court brief demanding that thousands of Milwaukee County documents and emails seized in a John Doe investigation be unsealed. The newspaper is right to argue that the John Doe—Wisconsin’s version of a grand jury proceeding—ended seven months ago and the documents should get public scrutiny. The emails include those Milwaukee County employees made on a secret server used when Gov. Scott Walker served as county executive. That illegal server was set up in the executive’s office to keep communications secret and off the usual network. The inquiry led to convictions of six people, including three former Walker aides. Yes, the emails and documents could be politically sensitive, but because the inquiry is over, the public deserves a chance to review them. Not allowing that would tempt other government employees to resort to similar secrecy.

Thumbs up to halting underage alcohol purchases. Police and representatives from Janesville Mobilizing for Change recently teamed up for compliance checks at 19 stores in Janesville. To their credit, none of the stores violated the law against selling alcohol to people younger than 21. Strict compliance hasn’t always been the case. As recent as spring 2011, Rock County authorities and Partners in Prevention-Rock County conducted similar compliance checks at 43 Rock County businesses and found that nine, or more than 20 percent, sold to underage young adults. The latest results show that, at least in Janesville, owners and managers of places selling alcohol are properly training employees and emphasizing the need to check IDs.

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