Thank You From New Mayor


I am writing to express my deep gratitude to the citizens of Evanston for your support in the April 7 mayoral election.  I was very moved and gratified by the results.

It is an extraordinary honor to be chosen to follow in Mayor Morton’s very large shoes.  I am thankful to her for her wonderful service to our community, and for the fantastic example she sets for all of us.

The election represented the culmination of a vigorous campaign of several months, during which we candidates had the opportunity to share our thoughts with the community in a number of forums and many published questionnaires.

I am grateful to the other three mayoral candidates for their energy and commitment to Evanston, and I hope to work with them in the coming four years.

I was also fortunate to hold dozens of intimate coffees where I discussed policy and received suggestions from hundreds of Evanstonians.  I am particularly thankful to the many people in our community who were so generous with their time and ideas.

Nearly every conversation in this long campaign was influenced by the difficult economic times that our country – and, indeed, the whole world – finds itself in.  Municipal governments have been hit particularly hard by the downturn, and Evanston is unfortunately no exception.

During the course of my candidacy, I proposed a number of ways to approach the difficult economic problems we face.  Many of these ideas focused on our City’s relationships with other entities, such as federal and state government, other municipalities, and Northwestern University.  I look forward to working to enact these and other measures to ensure our continued fiscal health.

Equally important, though, is the great wealth of human capital that Evanston itself contains.  Our community is absolutely full of caring, committed, talented and knowledgeable people.  If we come together and work collectively to address our challenges, I believe there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

For this reason, in spite of having not yet even assumed the office of mayor, I am already coming to the community with a request.  Please stay involved in municipal affairs in any way that you can, and please lend your ideas and energy to our joint efforts to improve our community.  I can always be reached via e-mail at, and I look forward to hearing from you and collaborating with you.

I am both humbled and energized by the magnitude of the tasks that lie ahead.  I know that our remarkable and diverse community is up to the task.

Thank you for your support, thank you for your help in the coming years and thank you, especially, for making Evanston such a wonderful home for all of us.

                            — Elizabeth Tisdahl


Bring Back Neighborhood Dumpster Weekends


Several years ago, an early spring Saturday morning was ushered in with the scraping sounds of dumpsters being dropped of at every block in my neighborhood.


These dumpsters were made available to all to clean their basements, garages and back yards – whatever – without regard to size, shape, material or weight of the objects discarded.

The entire weekend awaited us to make use of this resource. I would watch my neighbors retrieve items they thought were of use to them, but no longer to me. The metal man would fill his truck and head to the scrap yard for extra income.

Neighbors holed up all winter long would congregate at the hulking box and marvel at the junk being tossed out. It was one of the best perks ever implemented by our great alderman Dennis Drummer.

But, as is typical with most good ideas, it has been replaced with a bad one. Because bulk pickup days occur only on weekdays, we are now required to try and prepare during the middle of the week and place objects at the curb on the morning of pickup.

There are more rules attached to the bundling, stacking, length, size (6 cubic yards?) than can possibly be understood.

Virtually nothing is on my block for pickup on these days. I’m certain the minions at City Hall thought this a good idea – somewhere to save a few pennies. Well, it isn’t.

Bring back the dumpsters!

— Michael J. Molinaro



Thanks to Alderman Hansen For Her Vision


On behalf of the Network for Evanston’s Future and Citizens for a Greener Evanston, we want to acknowledge the foresight and wisdom of Ald. Anjana Hansen [9th Ward] in assuring that the tower at 708 Church St. will be an energy-efficient green building. 

First, Ald. Hansen at the special meeting March 3 sponsored an amendment to the proposed ordinance requiring that this building be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-Certified Silver. 

Then, when the ordinance appeared for final approval in the City Council’s packet on March 20 with some troubling wording regarding the LEED component, she proposed amendments to fix the errors.  We applaud the Council for their support of Ald. Hansen’s insightful leadership in passing her amendments unanimously.

A bit of background: The ordinance presented to the aldermen on March 20 had two flaws that could have potentially allowed the developer to avoid the LEED process. 

First, the ordinance indicated that the developer was to use standards in force as of the date of the ordinance. 

Ald. Hansen realized that, in fact, with the building possibly not being built until 2014 and with the U.S. Green Building Council continually updating their standards, it was almost certain that the USGBC would not accept a request for certification based upon 2009 standards.  Indeed, on March 24, the date after the ordinance was passed, the USGBC announced it will launch LEED, version 3, on April 27.

Second, the ordinance gave the developer only 90 days after obtaining a certificate of occupancy to receive his LEED certification or pay a penalty. 

Ald. Hansen learned that the USGBH was currently exceeding 90 days between application and certification.  Considering that this time lapse could increase as more buildings request LEED certification, she recognized that this could become a second reason for the developer to plead unachievable requirements and refuse to pay any fine. 

Thank you, Alderman Hansen, for your support of the environment and for your understanding the importance of inserting these small but important changes in this enabling ordinance.

— Gladys Bryer, Sue Carlson, Joel Freeman and Elliot Zashin


Why Hire Outside of Evanston?


A March 31 article in The Daily Northwestern discussing causes of the racial gap at ETHS states “… school paid $10,000 to the Pacific Educational Group….”

Has the Board never heard that Northwestern University has a School of Education and a Sociology Department, and National-Louis University is nearby? They should have been able to provide a study and keep the money flowing in Evanston.

Looking at the Pacific Educational Group site and seeing its specialization, it looks like the Board shopped for the conclusion they wanted. 

The Board and City Council seem opposed to using Northwestern. To “punish” it? To reward friends? 

On top of this study that the article notes has been questioned, “‘The school district may hire Pacific Educational Group to conduct that training,’ [Rachel] Hayman said.”

Why do the City and School Board not notice the resources already here instead of hiring outside consultants to make excuses for the real school problems?

                                      — John Fuqua


Enrich City Coffers; Enforce Parking Restrictions Downtown


The City of Evanston is strapped for cash inflow. They are missing a perfect opportunity to gain additional revenue with little effort on their part.

This situation was prevalent during the snowy season and not taken advantage of. Now, just driving down the side streets to the east of

Chicago Avenue

, it is obvious to me that again a golden opportunity for added revenue is being missed.

Yes, I am talking about the “no parking” on one side of the street for street cleaning. Cars are parked solid along both sides of each street without regard to this regulation because the City doesn’t do anything about it. Books of tickets could be written on each street during street cleaning days. 

Here is a case of easy money for the City and it is totally lost.

I’m sure that this situation is prevalent in other parts of the City of Evanston as well. With the simple enforcement of this regulation that is already on the books and is well posted on all the streets, revenue could be generated quickly. Granted, this would be a small contribution to the City’s coffers in contrast to their needs. But every bit counts and perhaps this will help to reduce the need to raise property taxes.

                               — Gordon Guth


ETHS Consultants May Have Found Social Disparity Rather Than Institutional Inequity

Open Letter to District 202 Board:

Students from wealthier homes do better in school.  According to the College Board (administrators of the SAT), household income level is a reliable predictor of academic performance in high school. 

While that statement may not be alarming and might even confirm what the reader may already suspect, the absoluteness of the correlation is rather shocking. The data is broken into income levels of $20,000 increments. In every instance, as income increases, test scores and Grade Point Averages improve.

As incomes increase above that level, the differential between the national average (i.e. mean) and the test score of the subject group increases.  Correspondingly, as income levels drop, test scores and academic performance drop significantly.

The performance “gap” between the lowest reported income group and the highest reported income group is 234 SAT points (Critical Reading + Math).  ( report.pdf) (Table 11)

While incomes correlate directly to academic performance, it would be a mistake to interpret the relationship as cause and effect.  The Pacific Educational Group’s (PEG) report on equity observes the relationship between race and academic performance that occurs at ETHS, as it does in every state of the nation, but misidentifies the correlation as causal and suggests that institutionalized racism is “the most devastating factor contributing to the lower achievement of African-American, Latino and American Indian children.”

They might as well conclude that the crowing rooster is what causes the sun to rise every morning.

Each school district that participates in the SAT test receives an individual summary of that district’s performance.

District 202 has received such a report. The national data from the College Board indicates that the mean SAT score of Asian students is demonstrably higher than that of white students.  I suspect that this statistic is supported by the ETHS results. If so, then PEG must also find that District 202 is institutionally biased in favor of Asian students over whites. 

The same data indicates a direct correlation between parents’ education-level and academic performance of students.  There are no anomalies in the data.

As parents’ educations increase from no high school diploma through graduate degrees, every level shows a significant improvement in students’ SAT scores.  The “achievement gap” between students whose parents have the lowest level of education and students whose parents have the highest level of education is 258 SAT points. If the report that College Board issued for District 202 confirms a similar trend, then PEG would have to conclude that ETHS is institutionally biased in favor of the children whose parents have Master’s Degrees over the children of parents with Bachelor’s Degrees.

What PEG has observed is societal disparity.  To lay the blame at the feet of the school district is more indicative of bias and agenda on the part of the report than it is a legitimate finding.  Nationally, the African-American children of high-income, highly educated parents perform equally with similarly advantaged white children.

District 202 need only look within its own population to conclude whether or not its performance mirrors that trend.

I suspect that they do well on both counts. Unfortunately, poor children with badly educated parents perform poorly, no matter what color they are. Schools can only go so far in equalizing backgrounds. They cannot change the income or educational attainment of parents.

Finally, I would like to point out that statutes set the number of days that school is in session at just under half the number of days in the year. On days in which school is in session, students only attend for fewer than half the hours that they are awake and absorbing the influences and experiences that will shape who they are to become. It is too much to expect that schools, which only have influence on children for less than 25 percent of their conscious hours, should be held accountable for what those students absorb during the more than 75 percent of their time that they are outside of school.  It is the responsibility of parents and society to become positive partners if outcomes are to improve.

— Elliot Baron (ETHS class of 1973)


‘Day of Silence’ – Political

Agenda or Exercise of First Amendment?


I was at Nichols Middle School when members of the student council, through the loudspeakers, invited all to participate in the “Day of Silence” in support of gays’ and lesbians’ rights, and against injustices committed against them.

I asked them to explain. They spoke of laws against gays and lesbians: They don’t have any hospital visitation rights, they said.

I said I didn’t know of laws explicitly against gays and lesbians, but rather anyone not in legal partnership with the patient. For example, even as my hospitalized neighbor’s only friend in the world, I still wouldn’t have visiting rights.

Why should my tax dollars give exclusive support to gays’ and lesbians’ causes, as evil as society may be to them? What about Hispanic students who suffer bullying and discrimination in school – even by school officials – because they are different? Or Hispanic parents, viciously abused by their employers because they cannot defend themselves? Where is the “day of silence for them?” And why is this “day of silence” also used against California, who voted that “marriage” is between a man and a woman?

I called Nichols’ principal Gordon Hood because this truly looks like a specific group using our children and our tax dollars to further their exclusive cause, commendable as it might be. He said that the student council approached him asking permission to participate in this “day of silence.”

He said he believes in free speech and saw this as a learning opportunity and told them that this day of silence should address everybody’s rights and suffering. It should be a day of tolerance for all.

However, it is not what the students said over the loudspeakers; maybe they didn’t understand Mr. Hood.

Let’s proclaim a “day of tolerance for all,” yes, but “this” day of silence is not it. It was started by a lesbian couple at the University of Virginia as “a uniquely inclusive approach to calling attention to lesbian, gay and bisexual issues.”

Today’s event has been politically corrected, so the “lesbian couple” became a pair of “classmates,” and their cause, everybody’s cause.

— Margarita Matlis


Thank You, Evanston


I want to express my gratitude to all my neighbors, friends, and supporters who worked so hard in my re-election campaign. Evanston has such a diversity of people, resources, and opportunities that it has been an honor to serve this City and this community. The days ahead will be challenging – especially economically – and it will take hard work to accomplish our goals.  I have only the best wishes and highest hopes for the new Mayor, the new City Council, and our wonderful, hard-working staff. Public service should always be valued, and I appreciate the chance to have had that opportunity for the last four years. Thank you.

–Cheryl Wollin



Thank You, First Ward


I am writing to thank the residents of Evanston‘s First Ward for electing me on April 7 to a four-year term as their alderman.

With nearly 63 percent of the vote, I am genuinely grateful and thoroughly humbled by the passionate, broad-based support I received. The First Ward residents have entrusted me with great responsibility, and I am determined to live up to it. I have already been working on their behalf on a wide range of issues for more than two decades. Now I will be able to continue to do so as their representative on the City Council.

Although downtown development was perceived by many to be the defining issue in this campaign, I believe that the First Ward votes tell a bigger story.

Residents elected me because they are ready for an alderman who responds to concerns, solves problems and discusses decisions. They elected me because they are ready for an alderman who listens.

And I do intend to listen. Soon after I take office, I will invite all 1st Ward residents to the first of what will be a regular series of ward-wide meetings where they can ask questions and raise issues.

In the meantime, I suggest that residents visit the City of Evanston‘s website ( and sign up for Ward 1 e-mail updates. They may also wish to became a member of my new Facebook group, “Judy Fiske, Your Alderman,” which I also will use to keep First Ward residents informed. And soon, you also will be able to reach me via an e-mail address on the City’s website.

This is a challenging time for the First Ward and Evanston, and all of us will need to work together to move the City ahead. As I said throughout the campaign, I need input from First Ward residents so I can make the right – decisions and so I can serve effectively as their advocate.

Again, I thank First Ward voters for their support. And I look forward to hearing from all First Ward residents as we work together to make Evanston an even better place to live.

–Judy Fiske