Of Felonies, the First Amendment, and Franks

A successful small business in Chicago has ruffled some feathers in a neighborhood grappling with crime and poverty. Why? Because Felony Franks is too unsavory a name, even for a hot dog stand that employs ex-convicts.
October 14, 2009, 8am PDT | Alek Miller
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"Felony Franks encountered friction even before it opened in July. Last year, after securing building permits from the city, Mr. Andrews visited Robert Fioretti, the alderman who represents the area around Felony Franks. 'I don't like the name,' Mr. Andrews recalls the alderman saying."

"Later the alderman proposed a city ordinance that would prohibit signs extending 7 inches or more from a building's facade on a small stretch of street where Felony Franks is located. The City Council has yet to vote on the proposal. Mr. Andrews calls it a 'direct attack' on his business. Mr. Fioretti says it's part of a beautification project and 'has nothing to do' with the hot-dog stand."

"Kevin Jones, 42, who works at Felony Franks, says he doesn't feel exploited. 'Working here allows me to provide for myself and my family,' says Mr. Jones, who says he used to sell crack and served two years' probation for possession of a controlled substance. 'I've lived in this neighborhood for 15 years and there's gunfire every other day and you never hear anything about that, but all of a sudden there's all this hoopla about a hot-dog stand?'"

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Published on Tuesday, October 13, 2009 in The Wall Street Journal
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