THUMBS DOWN: The Underage Substance Abuse Coalition has been doing a lot of good work in Brown County for the past five years, focusing attention on drug and alcohol use problems among young people, and working to change policies programs. USAC?has relied on government grants to fund their operations, but their application for the next five years was turned down, and their current grant funding runs out at the end of the month.
USAC's activities may be curtailed, but the group, which includes a lot of dedicated volunteers, will continue to do what it can.
It is unfortunate that so worthwhile a program has been denied further funding. We hope it is succesful in its next application for funding in February.
Abusing gov't data
THUMBS DOWN: The State of Minnesota maintains an extensive data base of information on the state's licensed drivers. It is essential that the state does this, of course, and that it keeps the data private except for the few times it needs to be accessed, by law enforcement, for example.
But there have been a lot of complaints that the data is being abused. One female police officer in the state complained that hundreds of officers from other agencies were looking up her file because she has an attractive face.
Now a lawsuit has been filed by 18 people in Wabasha County who claim their information has been accessed by public officials. They claim the information has been accessed because of political purposes - because they filed as candidates against incumbents, or wrote letters to the editor critical of county officials, or voiced criticism at public meetings.
The state is working on training and educating those who need to have access to such information on the proper and improper uses. The idea that such information might be used to intimidate political opponents is reprehensible.
District energy use
THUMBS UP: District 88 embarked on a big overhaul of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in district school buildings a few years ago, because the HVAC systems were allowing moisture to build up, causing mold to grow and threaten the health of district students and staff.
The project has delivered clean air, and more, according to information published this week. The new systems, and other energy efficiency measures taken in the district, have been saving the district a good bit of money as well. Facilities Director Scott Hogen reports that new boilers, triple paned windows and energy-efficient light fixtures are saving the district about $21,500 in utility spending per year, since 2007, when the project was completed.
Healthier air, more comfortable buildings and energy savings - that's a win-win-win.