Our Views: Thumbs up/down for Monday, Dec. 4

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Monday, December 4, 2017

Thumbs up to sale of the former Chase Bank. More important than the sale is the intentions of the developer, Johnson-Ryan Partnership. Jim Johnson, the firm's managing partner, said the plan is to lease the property on Milwaukee Street as soon as possible. That's great news for the downtown, which has too many vacant properties. Johnson said the family-owned company is cleaning out the former bank and working with local officials to prepare it for a new tenant. The Johnson-Ryan Partnership has an opportunity to show other developers how to profit on a downtown project while boosting the downtown's image. We like how quickly the firm is moving to get the property occupied. Other developers should take note: Buying properties cheap but then sitting on them for years without making improvements hurts all of downtown.

Thumbs up to Janesville Mall. The trend is to bash malls as examples of 20th century shopping culture, and many readers offered gloomy epithets in response to a Nov. 17 story about a possible sale of the Janesville Mall. Yes, the mall features some stores, such as Sears and Boston Store, struggling to compete, but not every retailer is tanking. Another mall anchor, Kohl's, has been reporting strong sales, and retailers as a whole reported decent Black Friday results, despite continued pressure from online sales. Brick-and-mortar stores offer something Amazon and other online retailers cannot—human interaction. If vinyl records can make a comeback, why not malls? There are, after all, many opportunities to engage other people at a mall. You can even touch the merchandise before buying it and ask employees questions, such as, “Can you tell me where to find the Chia Pets?”

Thumbs down to overreacting to creeper. The Janesville Police Department and Janesville School District were quick to alert the public about a registered sex offender suspected of offering rides to teenage girls. It's definitely creepy, and the public should know about this type of allegation. At the same time, it's important not to panic and prohibit kids from walking to school or engaging in their usual outdoor routines. None of the girls reportedly approached by Daryl W. Holloway accepted his offer, and they all reported feeling scared—a predictable response to a stranger's solicitation. Stranger danger is real but rare. The real danger is in losing perspective and becoming paranoid about public safety. Media exposure about isolated incidents can distort people's perceptions of risk. Creepers should be exposed, but let's not forget Janesville is a safe place.

Thumbs down to deer carcasses littering roadways. We're all for making government more efficient, which was likely the goal when legislators this year gave the state Department of Transportation responsibility for clearing deer carcasses from roadways. The job had belonged to the state Department of Natural Resources, but the two agencies appear to have botched the transition. The Wisconsin State Journal reported last week some carcasses look like they've been on the roadway for several days, though they're supposed to be removed within two business days of being reported. Poor communication between the two agencies and a failure to notify local governments about the switch appears partly to blame for the grisly pileup. In retrospect, officials should have given more thought to the transition, recognizing that any missteps would be on display.

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