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A festive atmosphere filled Council chambers as City Council, the mayor, and the City Clerk put on Auburn jerseys that were, in the words of Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, “very small,” on Monday night. A new Township assessor was sworn in, and the City honored a returning hero. A parade of branch library supporters followed, and then the business of the City got underway.

The meeting opened with the swearing in of Evanston Township’s new Township Assessor, Bonnie Wilson. Though elected in April, assessors begin their terms on Jan. 1. Ms. Wilson had therefore been “Assessor-elect” for nearly nine months. In addressing the Council (also, officially, the trustees of the Township), Ms. Wilson wondered briefly if she were in the right place, as nearly everyone on the dais sported unusual attire.

Honoring a friendly wager entered into by Mayor Tisdahl, all elected officials donned Auburn jerseys sent by the City of Auburn, Ala., as a result of Northwesterns’ overtime loss to Auburn in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. The jerseys did indeed appear to be smaller than expected, with City Clerk Rodney Greene’s frame, in particular, stretching the limits of the fabric. And it appeared that all elected officials, save one, participated, as Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, kept her jersey in her lap.

After Mayor Tisdahl finished reading a letter from the Mayor of Auburn, Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, requested a brief recess so that Council could escape their orange and blue confines. The jerseys have now been mailed back to Auburn, each with a Northwestern football sticker affixed upon it – Alderman Jan Grover, 7th Ward, provided everyone with a sticker and instructions.

When Council returned, breathing more easily, it was to honor the return of Officer Pat Wozniak, who recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. Officer Wozniak, of the Evanston Police, also serves in the National Guard and was stationed overseas. US Representative Jan Schakowsky was on hand to recognize Officer Wozniak’s service and welcome him home.

Efforts to save the branch libraries began even before Citizen Comment, as City Clerk Rodney Greene read a letter, one of dozens he received, from fourth-grader Catherine Campbell of Kingsley Elementary School supporting the North Branch. A parade of citizens followed, many wearing newly minted “Save the Branch Libraries” tee-shirts. Each had a similar response to City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s proposal, contained in his draft budget, to eliminate the branch libraries: Find a way to keep the branches open. They served as reminder to all on the Council how bruising a budget battle can be.