A technology management company is building a data center in Downtown Bloomington. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012:
It’s nice to hear that technology systems company A5 plans to rehab the old Illinois Healthcare Insurance Co. building in downtown Bloomington. That’s a very visible building there on Washington Street, not far from another high-profile site (the Coachman property) the city is targeting for redevelopment. A5 says the project will cost about $2 million, turning the building into primarily a data center, with some additional office space available to rent. The Bloomington City Council recently voted to stretch an enterprise zone (a special area where tax breaks are available for developers) through downtown. "The enterprise zone that the city has talked to us about was an enticing aspect of it, but to be honest, we haven't seen anything because of that yet," A5 president and CEO Steve Hope said. "I don't think it has gone through all the way yet.”
Republican Rodney Davis has picked up the endorsement of the Chicago Tribune in his 13th Congressional District race against Democrat David Gill and independent John Hartman. That district includes portions of Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, Springfield, and other cities. In what the Tribune calls a “barn-burner” of a race due to Rep. Tim Johnson’s retirement, the newspaper’s editorial board cites Davis’ priorities of balancing the budget and cutting down on debt. “We think he has the experience and outlook to be effective in Congress, and the relationships he built while working for (Rep. John Shimkus as a longtime aide) give him a strong head start.” The Tribune acknowledges Gill’s promise to not just tow the Democratic Party line if elected. “Good for him. But we can't get behind his embrace of a single-payer health care system,” the editorial board writes.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says there are “more than 1,100 inmates who they believe improperly collected unemployment benefits totaling more than $2 million while jailed in Illinois sometime in about the last year,” The Associated Press reports. Most of the inmates fraudulently getting benefits were housed in Cook County jails, but 21 inmates just down the road in Peoria County collected $72,350. If you’re in jail, as it turns out, you don’t have the ability to certify every two weeks that you’re still available to work and looking for work – the conditions to get benefits. IDES said back in July it would be double-checking inmate lists with unemployment benefit lists, looking for matches, after a lawmaker raised concerns. “When a branch of government sees potential fraud and uses existing resources to investigate it and ferret it out with the potential to save any amount of tax dollars, that’s a good thing,” said Andy Shaw with the Better Government Association. “Government all too often turns its back on these things and ignores them. The fraud and inefficiency and abuse adds up.”
The Central Illinois Small Animal Rescue shelter, or CISAR, is having financial problems, WMBD 31's Kim Behrens reports. The shelter, located just east of Bloomington-Normal, is facing foreclosure, though an attorney for Heartland Bank says negotiations are ongoing and there are hopes of resolving the situation without booting the shelter’s owners off the property. The shelter houses up to 300 animals, and creator Pat Burr is concerned about what will happen to them if the bank takes the property. "They want possession of this property," said Burr. "I don't know what they're going to do with over 300 animals." (Full disclosure: CISAR is where my wife and I, like so many in the Twin Cities, got our youngest dog, Luna. Other than her being the stupidest creature to ever walk the earth, I was quite happy with CISAR and wish them the best.)
My favorite story of the day comes from Grantland. Writer Tom Breihan humorously visits with Asylum, a low-budget production company based in California that makes terrible movies. But they make those terrible straight-to-video movies and release them at the right time – when their big-budget inspirations are released into traditional theaters. For example, Asylum sent “American Battleship” to video stores exactly when the Liam Neeson movie “Battleship” was released in theaters. In that case, Asylum was hit with a copyright-infringement and false-advertising lawsuit by “Battleship” distributor Universal. But Asylum has put out such well-titled hits as “Transmorphers,” “Snakes On a Train,” and “The Da Vince Treasure.” And who stars in these movies? "We know not to go after Johnny Depp," says Asylum co-founder David Michael Latt. "But we'll go after Johnny Depp's cousin. That's fair game."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.