Remember, We Voted for You
I continue to be amazed at the conduct of many on our present Evanston City Council. The citizens -- the very people who voted for the Council -- continue to be treated as though we are not as intelligent as many of the council members.
Aldermen Moran, Rainey, and Jean-Baptiste continue to tell us that they know the 708 Church Street proposal will be a success. Why? Because they said so and the developers are wonderful people.
Alderman Moran stood before us at the last council meeting and told us that.
Then, to add insult to injury, when Alderman Moran was attempting to introduce a few pro-developer amendments to the 708 Church proposal, he forgot how to word the amendments and had to look at the developer (sitting in the audience) and ensure that the words coming out of his mouth were the words the developers wanted him to say.
The bottom line is that the citizens of Evanston have had the wool pulled over their eyes. In spite of overwhelming opposition to this project, backed up by indisputable facts, six aldermen are not listening. We are giving away the store and getting nothing in return other than empty promises - and $1 million donated to Fountain Square that will be worth about $250,000 by the time the City gets it.
And, by the way, why is this proposal being called the Fountain Square project when it is on the opposite block? Shades of the developers' rendering showing the beautiful plaza without the Fountain Square building, when they had no intention of doing anything at that time other than build a 49 story tower! One has to wonder what the real agenda is and why the pro-tower cabal is so intent on driving this project down the throats of its citizens.
I only hope that the next Council will listen to its citizens and make prudent decisions that are for the benefit of all.
The Promise of a 5-Year
Despite the enormous time and energy invested in the D65 strategic plan, it is unlikely to yield much positive impact. Achieving the stated "goals" is completely dependent on annually establishing specific metrics and measuring progress against those targets, a task that neither the Board nor administration has demonstrated the willingness or ability to do.
One exception: Hardy Murphy pushed for the adoption of a goal to "ensure [that] by the end of third grade, [100 percent of] students enrolled in the District for four continuous years are reading at grade level." As tepid as this goal may seem, our "School Board actually considered adopting a similar goal on four different occasions during the period 2000-03, but each time declined to do so because some Board members felt it was not achievable." (RoundTable, March 18) Instead, we had no measurable goal.
The strategic plan should guide the development of measurable-outcome-focused targets, to which the Board and administration are held accountable. Absent this step, the value of a strategic plan is negligible.
During this election season, we see and hear slogans like, "Every child, every school." What does that mean? What can the District 65 community count on the Board and Superintendent delivering? Grandiose and eloquent is no substitute for commitment to specific student-performance outcomes. Other districts, including Glenview (D34), establish and track measurable outcomes/results. Why can't we? Why aren't we demanding more?
-- Carolyn Laughlin
For the Sake of All
Amidst the hoopla over much more grandiose issues that Evanston faces right now, I would like to present a much simpler, but important one: the need to keep your dog on a leash as the warm weather approaches.
Title 9, Chapter 4, Section 7 of our Evanston City Code requires that dogs be kept on leashes when walking with their owners in Evanston. It's the law, it's not just a courtesy.
Consider that your dog not on a leash, especially a medium- or large-sized dog, is intimidating to children and older people or others who have been bitten - no matter how friendly it may be with you.
The most domesticated, tamed dog is still - please bear with me - an animal. The sight of a certain type of person or color of clothing, a siren or a particular scent may trigger something in his dog mind such that he may bite someone.
I myself have been the victim of a dog-bite by a dog I was told reassuringly "does not bite." I find people tend to forget that, as much as they may feel their dogs are part of their family, dogs are animals and may act as such to others.
At the very least, out of respect for your fellow Evanstonians, no one should have to be intimidated by an unleashed dog when walking along the lakefront. And it seems people tend to think that in the parks along the lake, which are natural areas, they have the right to not use a leash. They don't. The "doggie park" at Church Street and the lake was created by the City so that your dog can enjoy running wild and free in a sheltered environment. Once they leave that, the Evanston Code applies throughout all of Evanston.
Consider, too, that your dog may take a "bite" out of your pocket book if you have to pay for a mandatory tetanus shot and possibly medical attention (like stitches) for someone bitten by your dog.
I urge all dog owners to show respect for your fellow Evanstonians, take responsibility for your pets and follow the Evanston City Code - for the sake of others and, just as much, for yourself.
-- Michael Zucker
Senior Leadership Evanston A
I participated in Senior Leadership Evanston in the spring of 2005 and found the experience immensely rewarding. Since I spent most of my career commuting downtown from Evanston every day, I had not had a great deal of time to get involved in our community. I saw retirement as an opportunity to better understand Evanston and get involved with organizations and issues that I was passionate about locally.
As a Senior Leadership Evanston participant, I got the chance to meet informally with leaders addressing a variety of community issues. I made some great connections to local nonprofits, and these new friendships and my broadened knowledge of Evanston helped tremendously as I served as the McGaw YMCA board president.
I am still involved with the YMCA, and have become an active volunteer with the Evanston Community Foundation's Communityworks Initiative. I would recommend Encore Senior Leadership Evanston to anyone - not only for the people you meet and opportunities to get involved, but for the enormous amount that you learn about Evanston. I gained new insight and a fresh perspective on the City where I've lived for years.
For more information visit firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-492-0992.
-- Peter D. Morris
What Would King Do?
This Saturday, April 4, marks the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but also the anniversary of his "Beyond Vietnam" speech one year earlier. In that 1967 speech at the historic Riverside Church in New York City, King decried the "triple evils" plaguing our country - racism, militarism and economic exploitation.
Were he alive, I believe Dr. King would urge President Barack Obama to use his political and rhetorical skills to call on our citizenry to cure these ills, still so prevalent in our society, rather than to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq and send an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.
President Obama's domestic economic agenda - investing in resolving pressing problems in jobs, health care, education, housing and climate change - is put at grave risk by our exorbitant (possibly over $3 trillion) and seemingly endless wars. We can't afford to forego the crucial investments we need to make our communities stronger. We can't afford more war. We can't afford for the President to fail and risk returning our country to right-wing rule.
--Dickelle Fonda, North Shore Coalition for Peace, Justice and the Environment
Avoid 'Spoiler' Problem in
We all remember the 2000 presidential election, in which many argued that Ralph Nader siphoned votes from Al Gore, throwing the race to George W. Bush.
Suppose a different voting system had been in place: a system enabling Nader voters to simultaneously rank the more electable candidates. Such a system can produce a winner (perhaps Gore in this case) who has majority support -- which is, of course, the goal of the democratic process.
In Ward 9, where I live, as well as in wards 4, 6 and 7, three candidates are vying for one position. Once again we're faced with the prospect of a spoiler candidate. And we're forced to think in terms of electability, rather than freed to simply choose the candidate we favor. It's a serious problem. But it's largely solved with rank voting.
One simple rank voting method is Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), used successfully for years in Ireland, Australia, and in every major municipality in the United Kingdom. IRV is easy to understand. You just choose the candidate you favor, and you rank the others. If no candidate gets a majority in the first count, voters' second choices are tallied and allotted between the top two finishers. It's a straightforward "instant runoff," it requires no second round of voting, and it comes much closer to reflecting the people's will than the traditional system does.
In Evanston, implementing IRV wouldn't be very hard. Evanston's City Council would place a referendum on the ballot for voters to approve or reject, pursuant to Evanston's constitutional authority as a Home Rule municipality.
In Ward 9, we have three strong candidates -- Coleen Burrus, Mike Drennan and Mimi Peterson. I would like to make my choice freely, without weighing the question of electability. The candidates I've spoken to about rank voting agree it makes sense; Mike Drennan even agreed to champion the issue if elected. I thank Mike for that, and call on the new City Council to offer the necessary referendum at the next election.
-- Jeff Balch