Oops!’ Not Good Enough. ‘Sorry…’ Much Better.
Un-be-lievable. The City misses an opportunity to get $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for a feasibility study to convert the old Varsity Theatre into a performing arts center because a City staffer can’t put the right City identification number on the application form. This isn’t stop-the-oil-gusher-science folks; this is simply taking a minute or two to confirm an important piece of information. If such a careless mistake, costing a private company or a not-for-profit organization $50,000, had been made by an employee, you can bet that person would be immediately replaced.
And then there was the cavalier way in which it was handled: Not one person involved in the project, including the owner of the Varsity Theatre, Downtown Evanston, the Arts Council, the Public Art Committee, and the Arts & Business Committee was personally informed of the NEA rejection. We had to read it in the paper.
Those people who have been working on this project for two years deserve, at the very least, a personal apology from that City staffer.
‘Trashing’ a Memorial
To the City Manager:
On May 20, Craig Smith Jr., a young man from our neighborhood, was killed under tragic circumstances.
On May 21 friends of Craig’s built a small memorial site at the corner of Greenleaf and Darrow following his death. It was a way for these young people to express their grief and to find some way to understand and reconcile the senselessness of this tragedy. They created a memorial to honor his life, not his death.
On June 2, the day following Craig’s funeral, these same young adults intended to remove all of the items from this site, including a wooden cross, which they planned to give to his grandparents. Unfortunately, they were not given the opportunity to do so or to bring closure to this part of their grieving process. On June 2, hours before they arrived at the site, a City sanitation crew was directed to stop at that corner and “dispose” of all of the memorial items, including the cross, into a City garbage truck. This, despite assurances, which some of us gave to a City official, that this site would be broken down on that day by those who created it.
We believe that an injustice has been done to a group of young people from our City and that reconciliation is called for. The literal “trashing” of this memorial was insensitive and disrespectful of the grief experienced by these young people. It ultimately sends a message to them that their feelings are inconsequential and that they, our next generation, do not matter.
Several hundred young people from Evanston attended Craig’s funeral. Through the youth cultural grapevine, most knew of this memorial site and now also what the City chose to do with it.
If as adults and leaders in Evanston we are sincere in wanting to constructively engage our youth, then we need to model truth and accountability for the things that we sometimes do that serve to undermine our credibility and that damage their trust of us.
We hope that you will agree that this situation offers such an opportunity.
–Dickelle Fonda, Laura and Michael Montenegro, Jevoid Simmons and Mary Trujillo
Gabel’s ‘No’ Vote
Evanstonians may be surprised and dismayed to know that a few weeks ago their newly appointed state representative, Robyn Gabel (Dem. 18th Dist), helped kill bipartisan legislation (S.B. 2494) which, if enacted, would provide thousands of poor black children trapped in some of the worst public schools in Chicago a chance for a better education. The legislation passed by a wide margin in the Senate. Representative Gabel’s “no” vote demonstrates her allegiance to the teacher unions at the expense of disadvantaged minority children who, under the proposal, would be given vouchers worth $3,700 a year to attend private schools of their choice.
Clearly, any claim that Representative Gabel is independent, progressive and truly interested in education reform has been demolished by her vote against S.B. 2494.
Robyn Gabel’s Vote
Against SB 2494
Representative Robyn Gabel’s vote against Senate Bill 2494 to prevent the use of public funds to be directed to private schools was a fiscally sound and reasonable vote, considering the economic times and inability of many parents to afford private schools.
Based on the per-pupil cost in the school districts that the bill was intended to help (parents with students in low-performing schools), the only parents who could benefit from this bill would be those who already can afford private schools.
In those cases, these parents may live in a community where the property taxes contribute a significant amount to their K-12 school districts and they have access to private schools in their attendance area.
Today, with many middle-income and higher-income families experiencing lay-offs, job loss and mortgage foreclosures, those public funds may help keep their children in school, but they would not pay the total cost of their children’s private education.
Representative Gabel made a good decision to vote against SB 2494, based on the existing fiscal challenges of our state budget to fund education. Her role is to vote for the greater good of the whole community while considering the cost to the same community.
Her vote showed her independence to protect the infrastructure of our educational system, which benefits more students than fewer in the state of Illinois.
Thanks For Helping
I wish to publicly acknowledge and thank the following people for volunteering their time and energy to remove weeds from the Grady Bird Sanctuary in the Ladd Arboretum on June 13: Anthony Gibson, Virginia Beatty, Donna Cascarano, Carla La Rochelle, Mark Hubbard, Chris Hubbard, Tracy Hubbard, Ginny Tolford and Tina Seastrom. This group helped to make the bird sanctuary, the arboretum and Evanston a nicer place to visit and live.
Hopefully, we can do something like this again in the Fall.
–Jim La Rochelle, Chairman, Ladd Arboretum Committee