New Yard Waste Charges Are Shabby Policy

Editor:

I was disappointed to read of the City’s new policy of charging piecemeal for yard waste and refuse collection. While I am not unsympathetic to the budget crunch, this is a very shortsighted response. It will likely result in …

• Residents failing to clean up their properties properly.

• People dumping refuse in other people’s carts.

• More clandestine trash dumps in alleys and other out-of-the-way places.

• More people raking their fall leaves into the streets instead of bagging them.

All of this will cause our City to appear shabby and raise tensions at a time when we need to attract a better tax base and encourage everyone to work together. Appearances do count and affect public morale. That’s why we remove graffiti immediately. Let it go, and pretty soon the whole neighborhood goes downhill. Make it hard to dispose of trash, and pretty soon we’ll be living in a dump.

The new policies are also bound to breed ill will toward City workers. When I called about downsizing from a 95-gallon cart to a 65-gallon cart, I was warned that if I ever put too much in the cart so that the lid didn’t close completely, I would get permanently upgraded to the higher fee. (He didn’t say if I’d also get a larger cart.) But what if I just threw out an old broomstick that held the lid up? What if someone else put something in my cart without carefully closing the lid? Such a policy invites yelling matches with the sanitation guys who work so hard and are not the source of such draconian rules. We don’t need that.

It wouldn’t do much for the budget, but issuing more citations for violations of existing laws would bring in a little income. There are alleys where residents habitually allow trash to spill out of their carts and dispose of large items like sofas without getting cited or having them removed for months.

I hope the City Council reconsiders before we all regret it.

— Dave Jackson

Editorial Rebuttal

An editorial in the March 17 Evanston RoundTable raised legal concerns about the District 65 School Board’s decision to use a cap and transfer strategy to manage school overcrowding. The editorial stated that the registration process under the cap and transfer strategy would have to be “modified to eliminate the disparate impact” on minority and low-income students. The only explanation given in the editorial as to why minorities and low-income students should be treated any differently than equally is the stereotyping of minorities and low-income families as “historically late.”

I, for one, from personal experience, can tell you that not all minority and low-income families believe that they deserve more than the equal treatment given to everyone else. There are many of us who believe that low-income and minority families are able to accomplish tasks such as early registration when they are given the equal chance to do so. To imply that low-income and minority families are less capable of a task when given the equal chance to do it is discrimination. If minority and low-income students were “historically late” to their classes then I don’t think it would be a good message to teach them it is their right to be late because of their class or income.

 The Title VI (Civil Rights Act) concerns in the editorial use the wording “disparate impact” when the wording of Title VI refers to “disparate treatment” given. Disparate means different. When four people are given $100, three of them may use the money, but they were all given an equal amount. Just because one person saved their money doesn’t mean the rest are now required to receive another $100 in the name of equal opportunity.

Equal opportunity does not also guarantee equal outcome of the opportunity. Also, to quote Title VI: “To prove intentional discrimination, one must show that ‘a challenged action (early registration) was motivated by an intent to discriminate.’” I believe you’ll have a hard time finding that the cap and transfer strategy was put in place by the School Board to intentionally discriminate against low-income and minority families.

 To put it in perspective again: Disparate treatment would be along the lines of asking one class or group to take valuable time off work for early registration while allowing an exemption for another class or group. Disparate impact would be the five hours in line and lost work that one class or group would have to experience and not the other class or group that was exempted. Those who did not play by the rules are getting special treatment above those who played by the rules.

 Let’s hope that our schools don’t operate with our children in this fashion. If cap and transfer is not a good idea then applying it to only specific groups or classes is an even worse idea.

n       Andrew Fay

Editor’s Note: Our March 17 editorial quoted language from a regulation adopted by the U.S. Department of Education to implement Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The regulation provides in part that a government body that receives federal aid or benefits may not “utilize criteria or methods of administration which have the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin.” On March 8, Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary of education for civil rights, said the Department of Education plans to look at “seemingly neutral policies and practices that have a disparate impact in terms of access and results for students of color.” She added, “the Supreme Court in Sandoval held that there was no longer a private right of action to enforce disparate impact standards. It left it to the federal agencies with jurisdiction over statutes to employ that disparate impact analysis and we will be doing just that.” Under a disparate impact approach, discriminatory intent is not needed (and we do not suggest there was any discriminatory intent.)

As stated in our editorial, if the cap and transfer procedures and policy have a disparate impact on low-income, minority students (and the administration does not believe they will), we think it would raise a question about both the fairness and legality of the procedures and policy. Whether all families had equal notice of the registration period and the implications of the cap and transfer strategy and whether all families had an equal opportunity (including the ability to take off work) to register their children during the Feb. 23-25 period is in our minds an open question. 

Look Hard at Google

Editor:

I try my best to lead a Google-free life. Therefore I am vehemently opposed to the further Googlization of Evanston. I regard Google as an insidious big brother in benevolent clothing. He who owns the information rules the world.
   It is frustrating when any objection to anything regarding Google is seen as the crazy blatherings of a fringe wacko. This fact is testimony to how effectively and thoroughly Google has insinuated itself into our psyches. It is precisely the benign public face Google presents that makes it so dangerous.
   Should Evanston allow Google to sink its talons any deeper into the fiber of our day-to-day life, I will work tirelessly to unseat any public official who sanctions this invasion.
   It is a telling confirmation of my concerns about Google that merely expressing an opinion about the prospect of becoming a “Google Fiber Community,” through the only sanctioned channel we are offered, requires opening a Google account. Of course it does. Google never misses an opportunity to sink another digital harpoon into our brains.

–Jim Morris

Rose Garden Promises, Summer Beauty

Editor:

I live a short distance from the Merrick Rose Garden and go there frequently. Earlier this week, I took my customary walk. The rose bushes in their dormant state were hardly picturesque. I spruced up the garden a bit by picking up some debris and thought ahead to summer.

Today, the first day of spring, I visited again. What a difference. The bushes and the paths were dressed up with a layer of newly fallen snow and looked lovely.

I was reminded of A.E. Housman’s poem about his going into the woodlands to see the cherry trees “hung with snow.”

— Augusta Bloom

Evanston Public Library Friends Membership Drive

Editor:

We invite the Evanston community to join the newly formed Evanston Public Library Friends, an independent, community-based organization dedicated to strengthening Evanston Public Library’s innovation, leadership and neighborhood outreach.

A membership drive has begun at all three libraries; charter membership is free through the end of National Library Week, April 17 – a $25 savings. Forms are also available online at www.eplfriends.org. With a $200,000 fundraising goal, planning for various events has begun: Read-a-Thon for school children, Battle of the Book Clubs, a day-long Library Fest for families during the day and adults at night; a book sale in July; a concert provided by ETHS sophomores in July; a poetry slam in August; “Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast” in the fall.

Donations are being accepted and pledges can be fulfilled online through Paypal at www.eplfriends.org.

–Emily Guthrie, president