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Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Community forum entry by: Elizabeth Clarke, Patrick Keenan-Devlin, and David Reed

Kudos to Robyn Gabel
We want to commend State Representative Robyn Gabel for her diligent and effective legislative work to safeguard the rights of children at risk of pre-trial detention. Over the past several years, Rep. Gabel has steadily advocated to ensure the use of pre-trial detention of children is a last resort for as short a time as possible – and to make sure that children who are 10, 11, or 12 years old are kept out of detention centers.
Keeping children out of detention is important because research documents that detention is harmful. Economists from Brown University and M.I.T. studied similarly situated children in Chicago – some sentenced to incarceration and others given alternatives – and concluded that persons incarcerated as juveniles are 39 % less likely to graduate from high school and 41% more likely to enter an adult prison by age 25. Another longitudinal study by Dr. Linda Teplin of Northwestern University examined 1,895 children between ages 10 and 18 who were detained in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center between 1995 and 1998, and found that five years after the first interview, more than 45% of male juveniles and 30% of female juveniles had one or more psychiatric disorders, and four times the mortality rate of their counterparts in the general population.
The U.S. incarcerates more children at a higher rate than any other nation. Thankfully, cognizant of the research showing poor outcomes from detention, the stakeholders in Cook County have dramatically reduced the use of detention through a multi-prong strategy involving the development of a range of alternatives, including 24/7 court review of the initial screen into detention, adjustments to the detention screening instrument, and improved public defender services that involve holistic team advocacy. In addition, Cook County stakeholders have diminished – indeed nearly eliminated – detention of elementary- and middle-school agedd children. The result – lower detention numbers (and lower detention costs), along with lower arrest rates.
Rep. Gabel has effectively legislated to extend these positive outcomes statewide. She passed legislation two years ago to limit the use of detention for young children, requiring a call to community providers to find alternatives to detention for children ages 10, 11 or 12. As a result, the number of young children in detention has decreased statewide.
Over the past two years, Rep. Gabel has tried to extend basic due process protections to children facing detention over the weekend. Her legislative advocacy, along with a court challenge, led to development of daily court detention review in Cook County. The detention hearings over the weekend have resulted so far in the release of 37% of the children initially approved for detention. Some children are sent home on home confinement/electronic monitoring, and others are simply sent home. Some of the cases have been thrown out altogether. Rep. Gabel has worked to extend the same protections to children across Illinois. Downstate, resource issues present challenges to reform, but Rep. Gabel has patiently and courageously kept negotiations moving forward to ensure all our children receive the same basic protections.
Children in Illinois are safer today, thanks to her leadership.

Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Community forum entry by: Stephen Hagerty, Mayor

President Trump has announced that he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. Under the agreement, signed by 195 nations, the U.S. had pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Despite actions from the White House, Evanston remains committed to the goals of the agreement.
Global climate action begins at the local level, and Evanston has long been a leader. Since the City Council’s unanimous decision to support participation in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement in 2006, Evanston has implemented two climate action plans, received a 4-STAR Community Rating as a sustainable city, and been named the U.S. Earth Hour City Capital, among other achievements.
In 2013, Evanston became one of only a few communities in the nation to achieve its commitment to the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 13% relative to 2005 baseline levels. The City is currently evaluating its efforts to reduce emissions by 20% relative to 2005 baseline levels by 2016, as laid out in the 2014 Evanston Livability Plan. Still, there’s more work to be done.
As the Trump administration steps aside in the fight against climate change, it’s more important than ever that cities like Evanston lead. I’m proud to be a part of the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of 648 city leaders representing 486 million people worldwide dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making their communities more resilient to climate change, and regularly reporting their progress publicly.
In addition, I am proud to follow former Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl as a member of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda (Climate Mayors), a network of 92 U.S. mayors working together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting efforts for binding federal and global-level policy making. Today, I’ve joined with my Climate Mayors colleagues committing to uphold the commitments included in the Paris Agreement.
There’s no finish line when it comes to protecting the environment. As Mayor, I’m committed to continuous action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our city, encourage energy efficiency, and work toward a sustainable future for all.

Posted: Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Community forum entry by: Nina Kavin


For a number of years now, many Evanston community members and leaders have been focusing on increasing racial equity in our public institutions to better address historic barriers to access and inclusion.

With Evanston’s history of racism, redlining, segregation, an exodus of more than 3,000 African Americans from the city in just the past 10 years, gun violence affecting our young black men almost exclusively, and a recent study that found large discrepancies in how our police department treats residents based on their race--achieving racial equity is critical if we are serious about righting past wrongs and becoming the city so many of us want to believe we already are.
The boards and superintendents of both school districts 65 and 202 have recognized this. They led the way several years ago by hiring professional consultants to conduct in-depth equity audits and developing detailed plans to guide their progress.

In 2015, the Evanston Police Department also hired an equity consultant, and continues to hold community meetings and conducts an ongoing--and often difficult--dialogue with residents.
Late last month, the head of Evanston's Public Health Department was named a 2017-2018 Health Equity Awakened Leadership Fellow by Human Impact Partners, and she will explore strategies that advance racial and social justice in public health.

The Evanston Public Library leadership has been asked for some time by many in our community, including the Library's embattled Head of Adult Services Lesley Williams, to embark on the same journey and examine how they address equity--or as many have recently alleged--failed to do so.
But unlike the other institutions, the library board remains “vehemently opposed” to an equity audit, as emails recently released in response to a FOIA request reveal.

In a May 7 email, Board President Michael Tannen told another board member that he is opposed to an equity audit for "lots of reasons which I can explain to you in person, and that "Margaret [Lurie, also a board member] is opposed too--so much so that she says she will leave the Board if we go down that path. (I may join her).”

Mr. Tannen has posited that library equity is a given--that it "is in the DNA" of the EPL and libraries in general--and that equity audits are more suited to school and healthcare systems with clearly defined benchmarks and desired outcomes. He has said he believes the library's current strategic plan and the EPL's recent adoption of the American Library Association's equity statement are sufficient proof that the library is committed to equity.

There's no question that the library offers a dizzying array of materials and creative programs and services within its walls and out in the community. It engages in solid and productive partnerships with local organizations. It works hard to address the needs of many of our diverse and underserved residents. And yes, both locally and nationally, hiring librarians of color is a challenge, and it is difficult to find a multitude of books by and about people of color for library shelves. The issues are not simple. The hurdles are huge. The answers are not black and white.

But if we ever hope to achieve racial equity in Evanston, we must each demand of ourselves, our leaders, and all our community organizations and institutions to look deeper, ask ever harder questions, and confront the fears and biases that are also inherent "in our DNA." Just as one's biological makeup is a given and may predispose us towards certain attributes or defects, our choices, behaviors, and habits still have enormous power to influence our outcomes for better or worse.

In their statement last month defending the library against the onslaught of anger about its handling of Lesley Williams and skepticism about its commitment to equity (these issues have become conflated since Williams' April suspension), the board asserted that "Collectively we have lived in Evanston for more than 200 years," and that "We were appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council," as though these qualifications alone should protect their policies and practices from criticism.

But there are too many people--particularly people of color--who have collectively lived in Evanston for far longer than 200 years who have been neither appointed nor approved, but instead have been overlooked, underrepresented, and excluded from much our city's bounty.

If the library is convinced that they are on the right path to full inclusion of these individuals, then why not hire an objective equity expert to confirm it? Evanston's historically underserved residents--in fact all of Evanston's residents--deserve a courageous library board that is willing to look inward in order to look outward with sharper vision for Evanston's future.

Posted: Monday, June 5, 2017
Community forum entry by: David Gordon

I read recently that the former mayor in her last visit to the council recognized individual aldermen by name and said a few words about them and their service. She pointedly omitted even naming Mark Tendam, alderman for the Sixth Ward.
She could not even say a single sentence commending him for his service to the city? No matter what their relationship may have been, I find it extraordinary that she could have the bad manners to completely ignore him and his service at the same time that she singled out his colleagues by name. This is the kind of basic manners that we teach our children.

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Community forum entry by: Mary Kay

Delete Dillo Day
I know you think you have covered all the bases on Armadillo Day. Yes there are a lot of police around but they can not be everywhere. I just encountered a belligerent drunken student in my alley, peeing in the neighbors yard. This disgusts me, so I said “Pee in your own yard.”
I can not even write the profanity that spewed from his mouth at me. I have been through this stupid day for 30 years, and I still was shocked. Yes, I did celebrate a day like this in college, but I can guarantee no one was yelling the F word at a 65 year old “neighbor.” Please do us all a favor, next year cancel “Dillo Day” and donate the money you shell out to the hospitals in the area as well as extra police and donate it to a worthy Evanston cause. Your students do not deserve a party.

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