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April 25, 2018

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Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Steve Weiskirch

Re: Mr. Cohen's Take the Pledge comments. According to CNN (2018) 4% of private sector workers are covered by a defined benefit plan. There is nothing Orwellian about defined contribution plans.
The Roundtable published online a longer version of Mr. Foley's Take the Pledge that acknowledged a dimunition of services to the public. Finally, in the private sector, if a company is performing poorly, there are layoffs to keep the company solvent. To shrink the state payroll via attrition is nowhere as draconian as the thought of 20,000 Carson employees losing their jobs.

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Karen Singer, President and Eileen Hogan Heineman, YWCA

Crain’s Op-Ed Piece‘Disturbing.’We were deeply disturbed to read an opinion piece in Crain’s Chicago Business last week that misrepresented the equity work being done in Evanston/Skokie District 65. Written by a Wilmette resident who was active in protesting New Trier High School’s Civil Rights Seminar Day, the piece complains about one aspect of the multi-faceted equity work being done in the district: the use of racial affinity groups.
YWCA Evanston/North Shore stands in support of the equity work being undertaken throughout D65, and supports efforts being made by organizations throughout our communities to identify and eliminate racist practices and intentionally become anti-racist institutions. Members of our own staff have participated in both the 2-Day Beyond Diversity workshop and ongoing SEED cohorts, and we know these are both challenging and rewarding experiences.
As a community resource for equity workshops and trainings, YWCA Evanston/North Shore knows that meeting in racial affinity groups is one tool through which participants can safely and deeply examine their own identity, and reflect honestly on their lived experiences. Like any good growth tool, it doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and trained facilitators lead the discussions that occur. Labeling the use of that tool as “forced segregation”, serves only to mischaracterize the work and fan the flames of racial division.
Eliminating racism is at the heart of our YWCA mission. We are committed to working as active allies with our community partners: listening, learning, educating, and transforming our institutions.
Ms. Singer, is President and CEO and Ms. Heineman, Director, Racial Justice Institute of the
YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Andrea Raila

Voter Choice Candidate Voice. The Cook County Assessor’s race in the March 20 Democratic primary was unlike any other race in recent memory, according to those who closely watch elections.

Voters came out to cast their votes for one of three Assessor candidates: Berrios, Kaegi and Raila. 719,899 voters mailed in their ballots or cast their ballots at polls. Some 176,000+ votes were cast during Early Voting –almost a 150% increase during those 25 days. About 543,000+ cast votes on Election Day and mail in ballots increased 380% to 40,072.

Total votes for the Cook County Assessor’s race were greater than three statewide races: Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Comptroller. Only three of the top ten races pulled in more votes than the Cook County Assessor’s race – Governor, Attorney General and Cook County President. On Election Day, Clerk Orr, who oversees all Cook County elections, called the Cook County Assessor’s race, “The mother of all races.”

In primary races that had voter choices---two or more candidates, those races drew the largest number of votes. It’s no secret that allowing qualified candidates to participate and freely campaign on their ideas brought more voters to the polls. Choice, the freedom to choose, is a fundamental human right that we all want and fight for, for ourselves, our families and our communities.

The intense media narrative of the so-called “on-and off-again” coined candidate, played relentlessly in the media became the theme song rattling inside the thoroughly confused public mind. The Assessor’s race splintered progressives, divided gender and race, and conjured up a frenzy of political whispers about dark backroom and unethical motives of each candidate.

Voter choice was grossly misshapen by the Cook County and Chicago electoral machine, coughing, spitting, and sputtering along a dishonorable and dismal performance to drastically limit voters’ rights to free, unbiased, unbought and uniformly fair elections. Well documented by the media, election judges and hundreds of voter’s testimonies have poured in about the mismanagement of the Assessor’s race both before and during Election Day.

After more than 100 letters and calls to the County Court Chief Justice, Cook County, Chicago, State Board of Elections and other elected officials, and testimony before the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, asking for a full and complete investigation, none agreed to take leadership or the responsibility to initiate an investigation of this election’s gross irregularities.

Voters have a right to know that there is integrity in their electoral system. Our Illinois and Federal Constitutions state that our elections must be free and equal. Our election authorities have a constitutional responsibility to ensure the integrity of the voting process. They have failed.

When votes are suppressed, when ballot access is denied by blatant abuse by county and city administrative election authorities, or condoned by our court systems, choice is denied to the voters. There should be consequences for the gross violation of voting rights when widespread voter suppression occurs throughout Cook County and its 135 municipalities. There should be a mandate that election authorities reform state election laws on ballot access, the petition challenge process and the Cook County and Chicago election administration that has done irreparable harm to voters in the March primary, to ensure that this does not happen to voters and other candidates in the future.

Studies have shown that the cost of campaigns is the key barrier that keeps women from running for elective office. The second reason why women do not run for office is that they are not asked to run. Neither barrier prevented me from my choice to run in 2010 and 2018 as the first democratic woman candidate for Assessor.

Although I could not overcome the suppression of voters’ choice, I firmly believe we need to encourage and mentor women to run for office now more than ever before. There is too much at stake. As I join others who work to reform our electoral machinery, our options look strong and promising to regain our right of choice through our legislature and courts, for the next elections.

Andrea Raila, President The Ballot Democracy Project

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Gayle Allen

I would just Like to leave information regarding National Day of Prayer, being held at Fresh Anointing Worship Center , 1000 South Blvd
In Evanston on May 3, 2018 from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm. We are asking all churches to Join us as we bombard heaven in Unity for our Nation , Cities, Communities, Familes.

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Steve Cohen

I doubt many Evanston elected officials will be tempted to take John Foley's Koch Brothers-inflected "pledge".

On pensions, he endorses the Orwellian-speak "defined contribution" dodge - translation: get rid of pensions. Unlike "defined benefit" pensions where you know what you'll get when you retire, "defined contriubution" systems are 401K plans. Take your chances on the stock market.

Then he wants an 11.5% state workforce shrinkage, not specifying where these cuts will come from.. Where he gets that figure is unknown. It's based on the unspoken assumption that the state workforce contributes nothing of value, and is only a cost. Supposedly this will cut down the pension liability, but at the very next breath ...

he calls for repeal of the recent income tax increase, which, of course, will reduce the state's ability to fund pension liabilities.

And all the rest of the Koch Brother/Scott Walker laundry list. Cut state worker salaries, by something like 33%.

As in Wisconsin, the model is Mississippi. A race to the bottom.

And he has the audacity to claim, without a shred of evidence, that his proposals will not result in loss of public services to those in need. Does he think we're stupid?

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Heather Sweeney and nearly 100 more people

Support for Principal Harries: Open Letter to D65 Administration and School Board Members:
We write this letter in response to recent articles meant to sideline the critical equity work of District 65. We affirm our support of the bold ways you and many others in the district have led and embarked on justice and equity work.
Over the last two years, the district has taken courageous steps to address Evanston students’ racial gaps in opportunities to achieve. District data reveal this racial gap persists across income: low income white students score higher on achievement tests than middle and high income Black students.
The January 23, 2017 District 65 Hispanic Student Achievement Report stated, “[w]hen aggregate data show that members of a particular student subgroup score below benchmarks, these outcomes reflect a failure of the education and social systems that are intended to give every student the opportunity to succeed” Thus the district has entered into work to address these failings, recognizing that this is not a failure of individual students, families, or teachers, but of systems. We support the varied and extensive work on which the district has embarked.
Unfortunately, there are those outside Evanston who don’t show an understanding of the problem, who demonstrate less understanding of solutions, and who have written ideological and critical letters in the press.
The ideological stance expressed in the National Review and Crain’s Chicago Business articles are associated with discomfort with any conversation about people who are racially marginalized. It reflects a disbelief in the idea that institutions should acknowledge everyone’s human experience and that institutions should be responsive to lack of access. The writers’ lack of knowledge of intervention strategies is illustrated by their lack of an alternative framework.
The articles attempt to discredit affinity groups, implying that teachers are being harmfully segregated at Nichols. This is not what’s happening. Affinity groups are used nationally and are common practice for people to explore information. They are a part of differentiated learning and one of many useful tools to support people in their learning process.
The authors of these articles are a small group of individuals who are connected with each other. They are the same group who unsuccessfully tried to disrupt New Trier’s Seminar Day, an all-school event established “to help students better understand how the struggle for racial civil rights stretches across our nation’s history” [New Trier High School website]. They are a vocal minority and not representative of a large contingency.
District 65’s equity work advances within the context of Evanston-wide equity work. Evanston Township High School, Evanston Cradle to Career’s 35 Evanston partner organizations, and many other Evanston organizations, are engaged in equity and justice work.
Those outside of Evanston who don’t share our values of justice cannot have our community. We will not allow them to corrupt and influence our community. They don’t have a say.
We support and are with the Nichols principal and his staff, District 65 staff, the District 65 School Board, and the District 65 Administration who are all engaged in this challenging and essential work to create equitable and just systems in which all members of our community thrive, especially those with historically limited access to resources.

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