Thumbs down to Cyber Monday. Feel free today to buy from Amazon and other e-commerce websites without any local ties—but then don’t complain about a lack of brick-and-mortar retail options in Janesville. Shopko became the latest Janesville retailer to succumb to the pressures of online retail, and it won’t be the last if residents fail to pay attention to how they spend their money. Nobody wants (or should want) to live in a city spotted with vacant buildings, but that’s the future Amazon and other e-commerce sites are creating. They’re sucking money out of the area along with the jobs that brick-and-mortar retailers provide. Shopping local means avoiding Cyber Monday (unless it’s for a local store).
Thumbs down to “Christmas” arguments. Please, not another debate over whether to say Christmas or holiday. Surely, the Legislature has more important things to do than argue with Gov. Tony Evers about whether the “holiday tree” at the Capitol is a “Christmas tree.” This is one of those cultural battles that wastes a lot of time and rarely results in people changing their minds. There’s a lot of unfinished business at the Capitol, and lawmakers aren’t pursuing it when they author resolutions as the Assembly did last month taking a position on the Capitol’s conifer. Let’s focus on important issues, such as legislation to help the homeless.
Thumbs up to a bipartisan legislative push. Fortunately, the great tree debate hasn't completely consumed state government. The Legislature passed and Evers signed last week legislation to help the homeless, though homeless advocates say much more needs to be done. The bill, co-authored by Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, will allow 17-year-olds to stay unaccompanied at homeless shelters. It’s a small step, but nonetheless a bipartisan one. The Assembly also passed a bipartisan bill to provide more grant funds to homeless shelters. Unfortunately, this bill remains stuck in the state Senate, where Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has held it up for partisan reasons. Fitzgerald is apparently more concerned about the holiday tree, calling it “PC garbage.”
Thumbs up to new YMCA Board of Directors member. The appointment of Janesville School District Superintendent Steve Pophal to the Y’s board is an encouraging sign that the YMCA has put behind it the reign of former CEO Tom Den Boer. As readers might recall, Den Boer sought to remove members who disagreed with him or asked too many questions, fostering distrust between the Y and community. Since Den Boer’s departure, the Y has worked to reclaim that lost trust. Bringing Pophal to the board was a smart move because many kids who use the YMCA also attend local schools. The two entities’ missions overlap, and we hope they continue to explore ways to work together.