Perhaps the least eventful City Council meeting in months occurred Monday night, Feb. 11. Acting City Manager and City CFO Marty Lyons stood in for City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz who was unable to attend, though no conclusion can be drawn from the temporary substitution as to the brevity of the meeting. Still, City business continued.
It costs the City over $100,000 to maintain its elevators in the Civic Center and parking garages. Council approved maintenance and service agreements with Otis for the Civic Center and the Maple and Church garages for about $67,400, and with ThyssenKrupp for the Sherman garage at about $38,000. May the elevators continue to run smoothly.
A tweak in the motor vehicle ordinances will now allow Evanston Police to write more tickets for what Parking and Revenue Manager (and retired Police Sergeant) Ricky Voss called “equipment violations” such as taillights out, headlights out, not wearing seat belts and playing loud music. Mr. Voss said missing-light tickets are routinely dismissed at Skokie when a motorist provides proof that the light has been replaced.
Changing the ordinance means Evanston can keep tickets here and assure that fines are paid. Such tickets will be treated as parking tickets, that is, when a motorist collects five, he or she is “then eligible for immobilization,” said Mr. Voss. The boot can go on, and the City collects more revenue.
Director of Economic Development Steve Griffin provided a brief update on the progress of the City Lit theater project on Howard Street. Discussions now include the possibility of the theater group leasing the space from the City rather than immediately entering into a purchase agreement. Plans for a bar within the facility, leading to collection of liquor taxes, as well as the charging of an amusement tax for tickets sold were also discussed as possible revenue generators. “We continue to make a little bit of progress each week,” Mr. Griffin said. “We hope to come back to you soon.”
The light Council agenda included only one item under Planning and Development, and it carried over from last meeting. As a result, there was no Planning and Development meeting held. The sole item, the relocation of Starbucks 100 yards north of its present site on Sherman, passed without discussion.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said at call of the wards that she made a resolution this year to “not be a bystander to bullying.” Her comments were directed at Padma Rao, who for two years has berated Council at every meeting for their vote to allow the subdivision of the former Kendall College lot on Sheridan.
Ms. Rao this week began her comments by shouting, “And don’t interrupt me!”, then accused Council and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl of “intense ignorance or abysmal arrogance” as she laid out the same complaint about trees on the lot that she has made at every single Council meeting for two years.
Ald. Grover said she has made overtures to Ms. Rao, who, she said, told her “’I don’t want to talk to you. Please leave me alone.’” Ald. Grover continued, remarking, “You have to wonder what her purpose is when speaking at every single meeting. I say this in hopes that we can push the reset button at some point.” Ald. Grover said Ms. Rao’s behavior amounts to bullying, and called for “some minimal level of civility and politeness.”
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, agreed with Ald. Grover. She described a City Council meeting she and Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, recently attended in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. She said they face the same issues that Evanston does, even though they are a community of only 4,000. Evanston can take some comfort in that, one supposes.