With a packed agenda for what was to be the penultimate meeting for three aldermen and the mayor, the April 14 City Council meeting lasted until after 11 p.m. A meeting of the Rules Committee followed the Council meeting, and Council met in executive session after that, so many Council members burned the midnight oil.
Committee meetings and presentations took up the bulk of the evening, with most major items being approved on the consent agenda. Where there were differences, however, contentiousness sometimes arose.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she has appointed a task force to investigate ways to reduce arrests, particularly of young black males: Aldermen Peter Braithwaite, Don Wilson, and Eleanor Revelle; local attorney Shawn Jones; Moran Center Executive Director Patrick Keenan Devlin; Evanston Township High School student Jack Henry; a Northwestern University student and a student from the Moran Center. One way to reduce arrests, Mr. Jones said, would be to have police issue tickets rather make arrests for certain non-violent offenses.
Connect and Disconnect
High speed cable network RCN is making inroads – most of them below ground – in Evanston. The company has already constructed several nodes in the south part of the town, incorporating several hundred homes, and plans to be able to connect customers throughout the City by 2018. Representatives of RCN who spoke at the meeting described their progress and their product, which, they say, offers greater speed at lower prices.
Aldermen also approved a “disconnect” of some properties in northwest Evanston from the Skokie Park District. Although the properties fall within the proper City limits – and are not part of prestigious Evanston/Skokie – the proper owners had been paying taxes to the City and the Skokie Park District.
Lunch from ETHS
Children and young adults up to age 18 who qualify for the City’s Summer Food Service Program will have their free breakfasts and lunches prepared by staff at Evanston Township High School. The program is an entitlement program sponsored by USDA and administered by Illinois State Board of Education. The lunch program will be held Mondays through Fridays, June 12 – Aug. 18 at Robert Crown Center, Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, James Park, Kingsley School, McGaw YMCA, Mason Park and Oakton School. Breakfast meals are only served at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, Robert Crown Center, James Park and Oakton School.
The City estimates that 242 breakfasts and 862 lunches will be served per day. Under the contract with ETHS, the City will pay no more than $1.50 for breakfast and $3.25 per lunch.
Chief Scott moves to Evanston
Council members approved a $100,000 loan to new Fire Chief Brian Scott to facilitate his move to Evanston. The loan will be interest-free as long as Chief Scott is employed by the City, and it must be repaid within one year of his leaving the City.
Art on Display, Mostly
Annette Patko’s “Women of Substance,” a collection of black-and-white photographs of area women, is on display in Council Chambers.
The City also accepted a donation of two pieces of artwork from the Irvine Company. The two pieces, created by Keith Tyson and commissioned by Penny Pritzker for the Hyatt Building on Wacker Drive in Chicago, are each titled “Up Down East West.” Each “molecule,” as the pieces are called, was hung inside, but the City plans to hang one on the west wall of the Maple Avenue parking garage and store the other “until a suitable space has been identified for it.”
Council approved increases and decreases in liquor licenses: both a decrease and increase for the Hilton Garden Inn because of a change of ownership; a decrease for Whole Food South because the store closed; and a change in license for The Barn, so it can sell liquor for consumption on and off the premises. Aldermen also approved an amendment to the City code to allow on-site consumption of beer and wine for the Class K Liquor License. The amendment also included a change in the definition of “craft beer” to comply with State liquor laws.
No … Way
One of the items on the agenda involved the request by Pope John XXIII School to have the section of Washington Street between Asbury and Ridge avenues given the honorary street name “Pope John XXIII School Way.”
Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, placed the item on the agenda with a request that the matter be discussed and voted on the same night, so the school could have the designation in time for its 30th anniversary celebration. The matter was supposed to have been heard earlier by the City’s Parks and Recreation Board, but somehow did not make it onto the agenda, so Ald. Miller requested speedy approval, skipping the Parks and Recreation Board approval.
His colleagues did not support the request. Aldermen Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she would not approve the honorary title because the proper steps had not been followed. Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said honorary street names were meant for persons, not institutions. “Otherwise, Davis would be ‘Mather Way,’ and Sheridan would be ‘Northwestern Way,’” she said.
Ald. Miller said Council does not follow its own rules – for example, approving planned developments that do not comply with the City’s zoning code.
The school will not have an honorary street name but it may have a City proclamation in time for its anniversary celebration on April 29.