Thumbs down to taking brick-and-mortar retailers for granted. While not unexpected, news of the Janesville Shopko closing still stung. For one, Shopko is based in Wisconsin, making its descent into bankruptcy all the more depressing. We knew the company was in trouble but had hoped this store would stay open because it was spared from a list of initial closings and was reportedly one of the company's more profitable outlets. While the Janesville area is on the economic upswing, the retail sector has been slumping. Our brick-and-mortar friends pay property taxes and contribute to the community in many other ways, such as through event sponsorships. It irritates us when people complain about stores closing, yet they're the ones causing the problem by shopping online and failing to visit local stores.
Thumbs up to YMCA reaching out to the Boys & Girls Club. A puzzling aspect of former YMCA of Northern Rock County CEO Tom Den Boer's reign was the lack of cooperation between the Y and the Boys & Girls Club. It made no sense because the Boys & Girls Club shares the same building. With Den Boer finally gone, the two organizations can begin working together as they should have been doing all along. Interim YMCA Director Jon Lange said last week Y board members and Janesville Boys & Girls Club officials plan to tour other Y branches with strong, in-house partnerships with Boys & Girls Clubs. Hopefully, Den Boer's exit signals an end to the strife and pettiness that had tainted some of the Y's relationships with other organizations.
Thumbs down to redistricting battles. Even as Gov. Tony Evers calls on the Legislature to create a nonpartisan commission to draw district lines, both Democrats and Republicans are preparing for war over redrawing district boundaries in 2021. Former Gov. Scott Walker has joined a Republican group to raise money for the redistricting effort, while former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is doing something similar for Democrats. Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is refusing to testify in a legal battle over the constitutionality of district lines Republicans created in 2011. All sides should drop their weapons and get behind a plan to remove the partisanship from the redistricting process. Enough is enough.
Thumbs up to hiring an athletic director for Janesville School District. Many school districts smaller than Janesville's have an athletic director, and we agree with Superintendent Steve Pophal that the school board should hire one. The current setup with part-time athletic directors at Craig and Parker high schools and the three middle schools seems like an invitation for confusion. A single director would ensure each school follows the same standard. We've heard complaints, too, about some schools making athletics a higher priority than others, creating disparities between athletic programs. Of course, academics should always come first, but the reality is parents and students care about the quality of a school's athletic teams.