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A recent controversy returned to Council on May 27, when City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz delivered a brief report summarizing his contact with C.A.R.E., the organization that until recently operated the Evanston Animal Shelter.
Mr. Bobkiewicz said that, after meeting with C.A.R.E. and its lawyer, the organization “expressed interest in continued dialogue.” There were “no firm decisions or firm commitments,” he said, and no numbers were revealed.
At issue is C.A.R.E.’s building-fund bank account, which holds at least $1.3 million. That money, some residents argue, was collected for the purpose of either building a new Evanston animal shelter or improving the existing one.
C.A.R.E. officials have indicated that the organization plans to keep the building fund and use it either for operations or to build a new shelter somewhere on the north side of Chicago. Numerous donors, including three who spoke at the Council meeting, have protested, saying that they gave money for an Evanston shelter.
Grant Farrar, the City’s Corporation Counsel, has already opined, however, that he believes the City has no standing to sue on behalf of donors and that donors will have to pursue the fates of their donations individually.
Jeffrey Mallow expressed frustration with the lack of progress in obtaining the return of funds donated for the purpose of improving an animal shelter in Evanston, saying, “We are reduced to begging you.”
Mr. Mallow said that, because the City has already stated publicly that it has no standing to legally seek donated funds, C.A.R.E. has no reason to turn over funds. “I speak from my heart about the C.A.R.E. issue,” he said, adding that he and his wife donated money to Evanston’s animal shelter, not C.A.R.E.
Karen Strauss has repeatedly said that the City should have standing to sue based upon a City Council resolution naming C.A.R.E. the legally recognized body for accepting donations specifically for the Evanston animal shelter. She said she expected all of the money that was once in C.A.R.E.’s building fund to be returned to the City. “I worked hard for 14 years [at every C.A.R.E. fundraising event] so that we could have a better shelter here in Evanston,” she said.
Leslie Nathan also said that she donated money not to C.A.R.E. but to the Evanston shelter.
Mr. Bobkiewicz said he would return to Council in late June with another report, which will reveal whether the City and C.A.R.E. are “either moving forward or not.”