Whose President? What Image?

Editor:

The May 11 letter from Ann C. Dienner brought a smile to my face. Ms. Dienner writes “…where was Rep. Schakowsky’s president …” (I thought he was the president of all of us) “…when folks in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee were killed and their homes and towns ground up in tornado after tornado?”

Here’s the picture I get: Ms. Dienner would have preferred that President Obama don a Superman suit and go out to tackle those tornadoes head-on. Don’t you love the image of a man with arms raised against the elements, cape flying behind him (if not airlifted entirely), perhaps imploring Mother Nature to cease and desist?

Or – just exactly what picture do you suppose was on Ms. Dienner’s mind?

— Bindy Bitterman

The Common Good

Editor:

Interesting letter in the May 11 RoundTable, signed by Ann C. Dienner. It would seem that our president is, in fact, only Jan Schakowsky’s president. Who then, I wonder, is mine?  It would also seem that Jan’s remarkable president is supposed to have amazing powers – to prevent tornadoes, to resurrect homes and towns and even the dead.  Presumably he is supposed to be able to do all those things with no support from those who oppose everything he says or tries to do.  To be quite honest, I don’t know what the Royal Society is, but perhaps they have on board a miracle worker who can give my president a hand.

Oh yes, it is no doubt true that $250,000 per annum is no longer the
fortune that it once was, but it probably sounds like quite a lot of money to the average working person, or perhaps someone who is out of work and no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.  It would seem
somewhat logical that the person with the income of $250,000 or $2,500,000, or $25,000,000, should be smart enough to recognize their responsibility for helping to get our economy back on its feet.  How
about the incentive of recognizing one’s responsibility to the common good?

If it is immoral to scare seniors, I hereby declare that I am a certified senior, and Ms. Dienner scares me to the marrow of my bones.

— Frances R. Seidman

Black Hawk Not a ‘Terrorist’

Editor:

I am as big a booster of Illinois tourism as the next guy (“The Getaway Guys Go West to Oregon, Illinois”), but Black Hawk, the Sauk leader who was chased from Illinois by local militiamen armed with a fraudulent treaty, deserved better than to be described in your May 11 issue  as someone who “terrorized” northern Illinois.

Returning to his cornfields in 1832 Black Hawk and his band were attacked by drunken soldiers at Stillman’s Run and then pursued all the way to the Mississippi.  As his followers (mostly women and children) attempted to cross the river they were assaulted by soldiers firing cannon mounted on a steamboat.  The Sauks responded in kind throughout that summer but the “terrorizing” didn’t start with them.

— Fred Hoxie

Resident Disapproves of Presbyterian Home ReDo

Editor: 

I continue to be shocked and appalled at the condescending attitude and demeanor officials running the Presbyterian Home Corp. take toward myself and my neighbor residents of Evanston who have repeatedly expressed strong objections to the corporation’s plans to build 5,000-square-foot new structures on its Northwest Evanston campus.

Their remarks at the recent four-and-a-half hour planning commission meeting basically boiled down to two themes:

Residents should be thankful that the corporation isn’t building something even more hideous on the property, because apparently R-4 zoning there (which is in dispute by neighbors) allows the corporation to completely disregard the concerns of the majority of neighbors. Oh yes, thanks so much for only building 33-foot- high massive structures instead of 35 feet high as you claim you can. Those two feet will certainly keep me calm during your unspecified construction period, which in the meeting varied from two years to 20 during your own remarks.

The corporation knows what’s best. It can somehow build a house in two months, even though recent construction on my Lawndale block took a year and a half. It can build a wall of houses that will somehow shield all of us from dirt, dust and likely asbestos particles that will waft in the air for two decades as the corporation tears down structures built in an era when asbestos and other carcinogens were common in building materials.

If the corporation is so all-knowing, why does its 2009 tax filing show it lost $10 million in 2008 on total revenue of $86 million, following a $6 million loss the prior year on total revenue of $90.5 million? The same report shows its assets declining by $46 million over a one-year period.

Rather than all-knowing, I would contend this ill-conceived $40 million construction plan is the corporation’s long-shot attempt to right itself financially.

I again urge all my neighbors and all Evanston residents to voice opposition to this massive, endless building project. The Northwest Evanston Neighbors group detailed the City zoning laws this violates for the plan commission on May 11. Should the commission, which meets again June 8, pass this monstrosity on to the City Council, I urge everyone concerned to attend. Hopefully at that level, the voices of Evanston voters will matter and will be not just listened to condescendingly, but heard loud and clear so this can finally be stopped.

— John N. Frank

Thanks for the Legacies

To the Evanston Community:

Many thanks to Evanston Chamber of Commerce members and guests for this year’s Community Leadership Award event and for the warm reception at your annual meeting.  Receiving this award is an honor that the Foundation and I will treasure, and accepting it is our pledge to continue serving Evanston.

One reason why the Evanston Community Foundation is so strong is because we have so many past board chairs and former board members who remain actively engaged – and they are actively involved because the Foundation is both holding fast to their visions as founders and extending the spirit of their early ideas to new ways of helping Evanston thrive now and forever as a vibrant, inclusive and just community. 

In the past decade, we have grown our endowment from $3 million spread across 10 funds to $14 million in 60 funds. And thanks to the thousands of people who have pooled their gifts here, we now offer several types of grants and have forged partnerships with other foundations, donor advisors and Northwestern University Dance Marathon to grow our annual grantmaking from $100,000 to upwards of $700,000. As one part of this, we are collaborating with our schools and community organizations serving families of children from birth to 5 years old, so that every Evanston child will be ready for kindergarten and will leave high school ready for success in the workforce and in further training and education. We are delighted to continue building the fund for these purposes with a 1:1 matching gift challenge from the Grand Victoria Foundation.

Today’s board is continuing to build, connect, and distribute resources and knowledge for the common good, starting from the strong base that the founders provided.  I omitted some names in my expression of appreciation and want to set the record straight.  Ken Lehman was the first board chair in 1986, followed by Tasha Deutsch in 1989, Ralph Segall in 1993, and Betty Papangelis in 1996.  We’re proud to acknowledge the continuing involvement and support of these founding chairs along with their more recent successors, Jay Lytle in 1997, Karl Berolzheimer in 1999, Mary Anne Cappo in 2001, Eleanor Revelle in 2003, Kirk Hoopingarner in 2005, and Kendal Gladish in 2007. Judy Kemp was board chair from 2009 until May of 2011, and Penelope Sachs has now succeeded her as ECF’s 12th board chair. The individual and collective legacies of these leaders set a strong example for all of us to follow. 

— Sara Schastok, President and CEO 

The Evanston Community Foundation