Thumbs up/down for Monday, Nov. 11, 2013

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Thumbs down to hazards for Harmony School students. As parents do at many elementary schools, lots of Harmony parents drop off and pick up their kids, and area streets aren't conducive to easy access. Granted, it doesn't help that the Milton School District reduced busing for Harmony in recent years to save money. It likewise doesn't help parents that the school is on Rotamer Road, which doesn't allow parking. It's understandable that the school roped off its C-shaped drive to keep parents from jamming the fire lane. Still, parents need to consistently use common sense, courtesy and obey traffic and parking laws before a child gets hurt. No driver, for example, should block a crosswalk or someone's driveway or—worse yet—steer across the schoolyard. Perhaps officials from the district, the city of Janesville and the adjacent town of Harmony could hold a joint meeting with parents in the gym to discuss the dangers and possible solutions to this daily traffic jam and fraying of nerves.

Thumbs down to unscrupulous Medicare insurers. Seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan, can change insurers between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7 each year. This is important because coverage costs can vary widely, and the drug plan that suited you last year might no longer be best. The Wisconsin Newspaper Association is teaming up with the Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol to help seniors avoid fraudulent practices. Seniors should know that only your current insurer can call or email you unless you contacted the company first and gave it permission. Insurance companies cannot ask for financial or personal information. They cannot visit you at home or in a nursing home unless you've granted permission. They cannot give you gifts or prizes worth more than $15 to get you to enroll. Also, they cannot push life insurance when you've invited a representative to talk about a Medicare plan. The best way to evaluate price options is by using the Medicare “Plan Finder” at medicare.gov. To report unwanted solicitations or marketing rule violations, call Elizabeth Conrad, Wisconsin Senior Medicare Patrol director, at 800-488-2596, ext. 317.

Thumbs down to those who resort to “revenge porn.” Wednesday's Gazette story, about a failed relationship in which the man “got even” by posting nude pictures of his former girlfriend on Facebook, should serve as a cautionary tale for all in this era of taking and spreading risqué photos of partners. While it's not domestic violence, it is manipulative, controlling behavior and emotional abuse. Still, the man who posted pictures of this Janesville woman broke no law because they were taken with consent of willing partners. Sure, Facebook removed them within an hour, but by then the former couple's acquaintances had plenty of time to leer and post hurtful comments. The woman could file a civil suit, but then the onus is on her to prove damages. State lawmakers might be advised to catch up with this era of social media and enact a law—similar to ones in two other states—that prohibits unauthorized distribution of such images.

Thumbs up to donations toward the bike trail. Janesville's network of paths is well used, but public funding for expansion has its limits. Generosity is helping blaze a trail toward Beloit. This fall, Janesville has been improving that path, which follows a former railroad line, south to Eau Claire Road near Afton. From there, Beloit will handle improvements. Recently, Bjoin Limestone of Janesville donated 300 tons of limestone for a half-mile leg dubbed Peace Trail. Then, Bjoin and Michael's Cycles of Janesville each donated 300 tons and the Rock Trail Coalition funded 336 tons for another 1.33-mile segment. These donations followed the city's 2011 purchase of a half-mile slice from landowner Mike Morris. Funding for that came, in part, through $10,000 donations from the trail coalition and Janesville residents Bill and Sandy Graham. Morris offered time and equipment to help open the land for public use. The trail system is a Janesville gem that attracts residents and visitors alike. Those who enjoy it applaud this generosity.

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