Clarifications on Historic District Nomination

Editor:

Janet Messenger’s article describing the proposed WCTU Evanston Historic District conveys eloquently and accurately the historical significance of the WCTU property. As the author of the nomination I am very pleased to see the nomination summarized so well. I am yet again impressed with the depth of Ms. Messenger’s understanding of Evanston history and her ability to share that understanding with her readers.

I am, however, compelled to clarify some of the information about my involvement in the preparation of other historic-district nominations. Thirty-odd years of volunteering with the Preservation Commission and at the History Center have given me a deep well of experience and information from which I drew in preparing the WCTU Historic District nomination. But the article implies I had greater roles in preparing some other nominations than I actually had.

Five people prepared and presented the nomination for the Northeast Evanston Historic District: Mark Burnette, Judy Fiske, Jeanne Kamps Lindwall, Jim McGuire, and I were equally responsible for that document. My “hand in proposing the Lakeshore and Ridge Historic Districts” consisted of my sitting on the Preservation Commission’s Evaluation Committee, which identified the historic buildings that are the basis of all of Evanston’s historic districts.

While my role as a surveyor was important, I make no claim to authorship of the Lakeshore and Ridge Historic District Nominations.

Using the basic information compiled by the Evaluation Committee and approved by the Preservation Commission, a state employee wrote the Lakeshore nomination, and Anne O. Earle and Barbara Buchbinder Green wrote the Ridge nomination. Ms. Earle and Ms. Buchbinder Green, in particular, provided a wealth of historical information for the Ridge Historic District nomination.

One other correction: I was acting director of the History Center (then called the Historical Society), not president, while a search committee looked for a permanent director, in 1992. 

Finally, I am grateful to the excellent coverage the RoundTable and Janet Messenger have given the WCTU Historic District nomination. The site is important in American and women’s history and must be preserved. Articles like this one are necessary if the WCTU and the Frances Willard Historical Association (FWHA), stewards of the house, the collections, and the archives, are to succeed in saving the property for posterity. Thank you.

–Mary B. McWilliams

D65’s Geometry Idea Is Just Plane Bad

Editor:

One of the main topics at the D65 School Board meeting on Monday, April 5, was Honors Geometry, an enrichment course offered to Middle School students, that is taught at the [Evanston Township] High School by high school teachers.  

The course receives rave reviews from parents and students.  D65 has signed on to Sec. of Education Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top initiative, which seeks to effectively teach math and science.  High School Geometry is a stellar example of just such an effective, exciting and successful program.  Why then has D65, beginning two years ago, been trying to attract students away from this course, by instigating a second Honors Geometry taught at the middle schools, by middle school teachers?  

The major reason given by the School Board and the Administration is that it provides the “option” of taking geometry at a more convenient time than the early morning hours at the high school.  Though D65, according to their assessment, is “optimistic” that, at some time in the future, they can duplicate the excellence of the high school program, so far they have not.  

High School Geometry is the only well-established enrichment program for our middle school students.  Rather than trying to reproduce it, D65 should develop other enrichment courses.  That would provide our students with genuine options.

— Seth Lichter

Ban Even More Activities While Driving

Editor:

This is in response to the article by a certain H.W. Lungfellow (perhaps an actual person), informing us that the Evanston City Council has passed an ordinance that outlaws sneezing while driving.

Evanston is a City of very proper people, and, therefore I think the Council should go much further in protecting us form people who are driving irresponsibly. For example, people who are:

Snoring while they are sleeping at the wheel;

Groping a passenger in the back seat;

Groaning while hearing that the Cubs are losing;

Giggling while hearing that the White Sox are losing;

Howling like Brunhilde in Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”;

Cussing the spouse in the passenger’s seat who is telling the driver to go faster, change lanes, go around the truck, stay awake, etc.

Bill Friedlander

Editor’s Note: While the Traffic Guy columnist of this paper endorses all of the above – including the “last, most important” taboo suggested in your letter, it is critical for anyone driving in Evanston to note that the ordinance was approved on April 1 and will go into effect Feb. 30, 2011 – in other words, it was an April Fool story by the writer, not the City Council.

March Madness

Your sport limn about gymnasium

Is so like nixing Dyche Stadium

As Janes and Amanda

Dissed in memoranda

Patten name lost in fame vacuum.

— Robert Bagby

 Disagrees With Council’s
Action on Lighthouse Trust

Editor:

It has been a few weeks since the March 22 City Council meeting when aldermen rejected the Citizen’s Lighthouse Community Land Trust’s (CLCLT’s) request for an additional $20,000 in HOME funds.  The time has given me the opportunity to gather my thoughts about this decision and to voice my disappointment and displeasure with the Council’s denial of the request.

As far as I can tell, the only action that was a bit out of line by the CLCLT was their decision to obtain a $ 20,000 unsecured loan from North Shore Community Bank without gaining City approval for the very timely loan that enabled the real estate transfer to be completed at the time of closure.  But even in this regard, the CLCLT provided testimony at the Council meeting to the effect that City staff was aware of the need for the loan at or before the loan execution, suggesting some level of future approval action by the Council or anticipation thereof.  There has been no testimony by staff that would have refuted, clarified, or concurred with this awareness.

At both the Planning & Development Committee and Council meetings on

March 22, the discussions focused less on scolding the CLCLT for overstepping its boundaries and more on the City’s own policies that seemed not to have been  developed to guide both staff and CHDOs in dispensing HOME funds or the City’s affordable housing funds.

 Yet the CLCLT was effectively turned away and told to talk to the bank.  I can’t quite figure out exactly what the substantive value would be in talking to the bank, but that’s how it was left.  There is time until the loan is due in July, so I would hope that the time is used (1) for meaningful discussions between the City and CLCLT to resolve the situation favorably for the CLCLT, and (2) meaningful discussions between all CHDOs and the City that will result in livable policies that will enable the City to control its programs and its stewardship of HOME funds so that families might be able to move into affordable houses.

The business of rehabilitating affordable houses is not a profitable venture for the CHDOs, for sure, and we are blessed in Evanston for having several entities willing to act to make affordable housing happen.  Perhaps there are too many, as suggested by the Council. And they surely are in their infancy.  But the community land trust concept that forms the basis of the CLCLT appears to keep the housing stock affordable in perpetuity, unlike the other CHDO models.  So, the City will be rewarded many times over for its full support of the CLCLT for each of its homes, unlike the short-term (10-15 year) benefits of the other CHDOs’ models before the housing stock reverts back to the mainstream market, potentially losing its affordability.  So, with respect to the unapproved $ 20,000, the CLCLT’s use represents a very wise investment by the City.

I urge the City Council to approve this request when it appears on the agenda in the near future.  And, yes, do start working on policy development so that the awkward need for emergency loans at closing could be addressed, among other policy guidelines, by all means.

— Carl Bova

 Hamos Explains New Job

Open Letter to Residents of the 18th District:

You may have heard that I have resigned as the State Representative of the 18th District, effective April 15. I have accepted an appointment by Governor Quinn as the new Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

I would like to thank you for the support you have given me during my 11½ years as State Representative. Together, we have successfully advocated for many important issues that benefit

Illinois families – from consumer rights to public transit, environmental issues, affordable housing, local foods, disability rights, reproductive healthcare, and much more. Being a state legislator has been a fantastic experience and you’ve made our accomplishments possible.

I am excited and challenged by this new role. I support President Obama’s vision for the promise of an effective, quality healthcare system, accessible to all, and I’m thrilled to help lead the effort to implement healthcare reform in Illinois.

The Department of Healthcare and Family Services is the largest agency in state government, responsible for Medicaid and the child support system, with a budget of $18 billion (1/3 of the state budget) and a staff of 2,400.

My goals will be to create efficiencies in Medicaid, execute nursing home improvements, design the state structure for national healthcare changes that will be implemented over the next few years, and build public support for healthcare reform.

It is expected that Robyn Gabel will be appointed by the Committeemen on April 18 to replace me for the remainder of this legislative session. As you know, she won the spirited campaign for my seat in the February primary election. She will be a terrific State Representative, and I wish her the best, representing the wonderful, engaged constituents of the 18th District.

Thank you again for all of your support and assistance. If you would like to help make the Illinois healthcare system a showcase for the nation and help bring healthcare reform to Illinois, please email me at healthcareillinois@gmail.com.

Let’s continue to work together.

                              — Julie Hamos,

State Representative, 18th District

Editor’s Note: There will be a celebration  from 4 to 6 p.m. on April 18 at the Levy Center to honor Representative Hamos as she leaves the General Assembly to become Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services and to observe the appointment and swearing-in of Robyn Gabel as Rep. Hamos’ replacement in the Illinois House of Representatives.