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Thumbs Up/Down for Monday, July 14, 2014

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July 14, 2014

Thumbs up to Christmas in July bell ringers and donors. Red kettles and generous donations to the Salvation Army are a Christmas tradition in Janesville. The poor, however, don't vanish or reap riches come summertime. Many needs rise with the temperature, and the Salvation Army's summer expenses always top the season's income. Besides, even more people are counting on the Salvation Army's services this year. In recent Junes, the charity helped feed about 600 families. This year, it helped more than 800. Volunteers started ringing bells Friday and will continue through Saturday at 15 local stores. Countertop kettles are at more than 50 other spots. Your generosity will help the Salvation Army with its meal program, food pantry, summer youth programs and camp.

Thumbs down to cronyism at the state Capitol. The Walker administration's hiring of Cindy Archer stinks of cronyism. She was among Scott Walker's top aides when he served as Milwaukee County executive. She followed Gov. Walker to Madison, filling state agency jobs. In 2011, the FBI raided her home as part of the now-closed John Doe probe into illegal campaign work in Walker's county office. She was part of an inner circle of campaign staffers who traded messages using private emails through a secret router set up in Walker's office to skirt the open records law. Though six people were convicted, Archer was not charged. Now, she has landed a job as chief information technology officer at the State Public Defender's Office. She wasn't among the seven candidates interviewed, nor the two named finalists. She didn't even apply for the job. She's due to earn $113,459 a year, or $54.34 per hour, an 11.7 percent raise from her previous role in the office. Maybe she had the experience needed and was most qualified, but that salary is 31 percent higher than what her predecessor earned. Walker wouldn't comment when asked about the hiring Tuesday. Maybe the stench is getting to him.

Thumbs down to bad driving habits. Traffic experts say drinking, speeding and lack of seat belt use are three of the most likely routes to tragedy. Fortunately, statistics suggest safety education and law enforcement are getting through to drivers and improving travel safety. The Department of Transportation said Wisconsin had the fewest fatalities last month for any June since the end of World War II. As of June 30, 215 people died in accidents, compared to 226 on that date in 2013. Last year, 527 died on Wisconsin roads, a big decline from the 601 in 2012. Donald Lyden, safety research analyst, told Post-Crescent Media that safety campaigns, law enforcement and improvements to highways and intersections are all factors in the decline. He said fatalities usually spike in summer because people tend to drive faster, but if June stats are an indication, that surge might not materialize. Keep all this in mind the next time you get behind the wheel.

Thumbs up to a dog park in Edgerton. A city Edgerton's size should have a designated dog park. Neighboring Milton has two. Edgerton's ordinance bans dogs from parks, though pooches are permitted to roam off Interstate Boulevard in the north business park. That city land, however, could be developed. Yes, a centralized location would be ideal, but no one wants kids playing around dog feces. It's good to hear that the parks and recreation committee is open to exploring options. The best bet might be a proposed fenced dog park, which the committee endorsed two years ago, on semi-wooded city land off Winston Drive on the west side. David Kotwitz is among organizers hoping to raise $20,000. They have $4,000 in pledges and hope to reinvigorate fundraising efforts. Dog lovers should get behind it.



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