Employees work at a Jimmy John's location. (Photo used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Alan Light.)
By Ryan Denham
Five Things You Should Know for Friday, Sept. 28, 2012:
The founder of the Champaign-based Jimmy John's sandwich chain, Jimmy John Liautaud, says he's moving his company's licensing division to Florida, apparently making (partial) good on his threat to flee Illinois' poor business climate. Liautaud made that threat back in 2011 after Illinois lawmakers raised the corporate tax rate. Crain's Chicago Business reports that Liautaud said during a Sept. 18 panel discussion in Chicago that the licensing division would be headed south -- and that wouldn't be the end of it. "That's what we're going to do to start, but I think you'll probably see us out of Illinois in the next four years and probably see us in Indiana or Austin (Texas), if I was to guess," he said in a video from the Sept. 18 discussion. For some strange reason, Liautaud declined to comment Thursday when reached by Crain's, and he snubbed the Champaign News-Gazette too. Unless there's a scheduling conflict, when making very public political statements about one's very well known business, I might be prepared to offer up an explanation for myself later on.
One Bloomington alderman already has an opponent for the April 2013 election. Matthew Koetters from Bloomington, who works in the McLean County public defender's office, said he plans to run against Ward 5 Alderman Jennifer McDade. This is Koetters' first run for public office. It's early, but so far he's talking about city spending, city debt, and economic development. That third one is a key issue for McDade, a State Farmer who has served with the Economic Development Council of the Bloomington-Normal Area. "Right now we have $80 million in general fund debt, we have over $120 million in pensions that we owe," Koetters told WJBC. "If we just keep going about it that way, it's going to snowball on us." (Full disclosure: I sat next to Koetters' wife, Michelle, while we both worked at The Pantagraph as reporters a few years ago.)
We've all heard about the Dixon embezzlement scandal, the one in which former Comptroller Rita Crundwell is accused of making off with $53 million in taxpayer money. But Chicago Magazine has a great slow-burn piece that dives into the full story, opening with the day that Mayor Jim Burke welcomed three FBI agents into his office in Dixon (about 40 miles southwest of Rockford) and asked Crundwell to step inside. The piece, by Bryan Smith, recounts how the city clerk made the discovery that lead to the scheme's unraveling, and how the clerk and mayor had to awkwardly fake like nothing was wrong in the hallways of City Hall while the FBI investigated. The big question, of course, is one that Smith asks early on: "How could no one have noticed? How was it possible for a small town not to miss that much money?"
This is a story weird enough that you're sure to hear it at least three times today on the radio or evening news or whereever. In New Fairfield, Conn., a woman called her brother in the middle of the night when she heard an intruder. The brother came over, and when (police say) the masked intruder pointed a weapon at the brother, the brother shot and killed him. The brother didn't realize the intruder was, in fact, his own adopted son until the ski mask came off. "Everybody is just shaking their heads over it," said First Selectman (like a village board president) John Hodge, according to NewsTimes.com. "We're hoping the police can get to the bottom of it."
I love, love, love this story. Back in August, Malcolm Burnley wrote a piece for The Atlantic with the headline “For the Amish, Big Agribusiness Is Destroying A Way of Life," focusing on a complex socioeconomic issue in upstate New York. Well, that ticked off the staff at the Watertown Daily Times, the local newspaper, who didn't think that big agribusiness was destroying a way of life for the Amish in St. Lawrence County, N.Y. So that newspaper staff has essentially written an entire story torching The Atlantic piece, debunking his narrative and portraying The Atlantic as out-of-touch at best and biased at worst. “The writer didn't know the difference between bail and bale, teats and udders, DePeyster and Canton, and wrote that huge agribusinesses have moved into St. Lawrence County, which is simply not true,” said Watertown Daily Times Managing Editor Robert D. Gorman. “Despite acknowledging Mr. Burnley's factual errors, his editors are still convinced he methodically unraveled an incredibly complex socioeconomic trend in regional farming. I have told them Mr. Burnley got that wrong, too, but to no avail.”
Ryan Denham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.