Architect Michael Vasilko, on March 26, notified Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, that he was registering a bid challenge for the City of Evanston Howard Street Theatre RFP 17-07, a contract awarded to Ross Barney Architects.

Mr. Vasilko maintains that the scoring process the City utilized to measure bids was rigged. On March 13, City Council approved a contract for $150,000 to Ross Barney to design the space for the Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, and Mr. Vasilko testified publicly to that effect at the March 27 City Council meeting.

He said that the City accepted an incomplete bid from Ross Barney, which excluded two required professional services.

“City Staff knew of that omission prior to submission, and City Staff did not notify other bidders of the exclusion of those services, so it was an unfair bid in that regard,” said Mr. Vasilko, who added that the scoring on his own bid fluctuated throughout the bidding process, and that committee members who had developed the bidding short-list were unfairly biased against him.

“The City Council should not accept this kind of behavior by City Staff,” he added. “Staff should not be able to pick ‘winners and losers.’ RFP 17-07 should be reissued.”

Mr. Vasilko further called for the current bidding process to be dismantled to prevent future manipulation by Staff. The Council nevertheless voted 7-0 to push RFP 17-07 through as part of its consent agenda that evening.

Ald. Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who advocated for the deal, exchanged harsh words with Mr. Vasilko at a previous meeting and apologized March 27.

“I did react to him when he implied that I tried to interfere with the bid,” said Ald. Rainey, who maintained that she only looked at the bids after the scoring process was completed. “…So I wholeheartedly apologize to him and his family. I should not have reacted like that, but I really take myself very seriously when it comes to being honest. I’ve never taken anything from anybody in my 30 years on this Council. I’ve never done anything illegal, ever.”

Ald. Rainey added, “I only ask one thing of Mr. Vasilko: that he not destroy this beautiful, beautiful project.”

Ald. Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, also issued an apology at the March 27 meeting, addressing ethics complaints filed by residents Betty Ester and Madelyn Ducré, complaints held up because of issues getting a quorum for the City’s Ethics Board.

 Ald. Holmes was taken to task for using her official email address to send a mass email endorsing aldermanic candidate Robin Rue Simmons.

“I did write a request for response to residents of the Fifth Ward about who I was voting for,” Ald. Holmes said, adding that she waited until the ward’s political forums were over before she made any statement. But she said that she is not adept at online technology and did not know that her message – which laid out how she chose a candidate – would go out to several hundred people.

“I sent it out. It was not intentional. That was it,” said. Ald. Holmes. “Until Mrs. Ester sent it and said it was unethical, I did not consider it to be unethical. I was answering a question that people had asked me. … If it was, I do apologize for that – I’m sorry.”

on this Council. I’ve never done anything illegal, ever.”

Ald. Rainey added, “I only ask one thing of Mr. Vasilko: that he not destroy this beautiful, beautiful project.”

Ald. Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, also issued an apology at the March 27 meeting, addressing ethics complaints filed by residents Betty Ester and Madelyn Ducré, complaints held up because of issues getting a quorum for the City’s Ethics Board.

 Ald. Holmes was taken to task for using her official email address to send a mass email endorsing aldermanic candidate Robin Rue Simmons.

“I did write a request for response to residents of the Fifth Ward about who I was voting for,” Ald. Holmes said, adding that she waited until the ward’s political forums were over before she made any statement. But she said that she is not adept at online technology and did not know that her message – which laid out how she chose a candidate – would go out to several hundred people.

“I sent it out. It was not intentional. That was it,” said. Ald. Holmes. “Until Mrs. Ester sent it and said it was unethical, I did not consider it to be unethical. I was answering a question that people had asked me. … If it was, I do apologize for that – I’m sorry.”