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The dog days of summer often make for sluggish and lazy City Council meetings. Council generally meets just once in August, matching the summer camp and vacation schedule of residents with its built in time off. Previews of issues on the horizon are often more of a theme than actual business getting done.
The Aug. 14 meeting was a bit of an anomaly, as 2017 presents different, more pressing challenges, and a new Council and Mayor are trying to get their collective feet beneath themselves. Add a looming budget crunch and vacationing City staff, and rather than a lazy, sleepy summer meeting, the result is a sometimes bitter, sometimes scattered gathering.
Police Arresting Kids
Ridgeville Board member and former Eighth Ward candidate Rob Bady appeared before Council with two of his children to speak about the arrest of one of them, 12-year-old Ian Bady, for disrupting traffic from the pegs of a bicycle on July 14. “Now I look at the police differently,” said young Ian. “They put me in a paddy wagon, where I couldn’t even stand up.”
Rob Bady said he met with Chief of Police Richard Eddington, but he was not satisfied with the outcome. “It’s not cool to arrest 12-year-olds. It’s just not a good thing,” he said. “After reviewing the video, what did [Ian] do wrong? … What a hazard it is to be a black person, especially a black man, today.” Mr. Bady and his son are African American. “What would it look like if we had a police that would make an apology?” he asked, referencing the Devon Reid, Diwani Greenwell, and Lawrence Crosby cases, all involving young black men arrested or detained but either released without charges or found to be innocent.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, speaking for himself, addressed the Bady family as they filed out of Council Chambers. “I would like to offer an apology to your son,” he said. “Under no circumstances” does his retention and transport to the police station “begin to live up to Evanston as a community.”
Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, also spoke up, “extending my personal apology to the Bady family” while calling for a thorough investigation of the incident.
The rest of Council remained silent, perhaps waiting for the results of the thorough investigation already underway.
Under a program that has been going on for about eight years, said Public Works Director Dave Stoneback, the City provides dumpsters on streets near primarily student apartments to allow students to empty their rooms without filling up Evanston alleys. By agreement, Northwestern pays half the cost of the dumpster, the City the other half. This year, the cost amounted to a little under $7,000.
Council agreed to pay the current $6,898 bill, since the dumpsters were delivered and hauled away already. The matter was referred to the City-Northwestern Committee for further study. Meanwhile,
Council approved the widening of Callan Avenue, a project pushed forward a year at the special request of Ald. Rainey. Because an alley is being paved in the area this year, and capital project funds were available, staff agreed. The alley paving meant equipment was already near Callan Avenue, hinting at better pricing; and, since the project was already on the schedule for 2018, moving it up made sence to Ald. Rainey and staff.
The measure did not sail through easily, though. Ald. Fleming said that when capital project money is available because a project comes in under budget, the “next project up” should be moved forward a year, not a project pushed by a particular alderman.
“If we’re going to have plans and budgets, we should stick with them,” said Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward. He, Ald. Fleming, and Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, voted against the project.
Ald. Rainey encouraged all aldermen to fight for projects in their respective wards.
Also in the Eighth Ward, on Howard Street, Council voted to provide assistance to “Coralie South,” a new restaurant going into the former police outpost. The business owner will get a $50,000 loan for equipment and build out, as well as a $50,000 grant from the Economic Development fund also toward build out. Again, the item did not pass unopposed.
“Get out of here with the City loaning money,” said Ald. Suffredin. “Go to a bank.” Nonetheless, both measures passed easily.