Evanston’s Interim City Manager Erika Storlie has denied Community Services Manager Kevin Brown’s appeal for reinstatement in a case over staff parking tickets which has been the focus of strong community attention.
In a message to supporters Dec. 12 and a follow-up phone interview with the RoundTable, Mr. Brown said that he had received word from Ms. Storlie that his appeal for reinstatement had been denied.
“I am disappointed by the decision and find it unfortunate,” he said.
Mr. Brown had been placed on administrative leave on Oct. 31. and was officially terminated on Nov. 15 over allegations he allowed staff to incur parking tickets without permission.
Mr. Brown, through his attorney Shawn Jones, had filed an appeal with Ms. Storlie, citing testimony from a former employee that all of the transactions had been signed off by Mr. Brown’s superiors.
In addition, Mr. Brown has maintained that it was standard practice for many years in the Recreation Department to either get tickets voided or paid with the City card when vehicles were ticketed in the Civic Center parking lot.
After hearing the news of his firing, supporters launched a campaign over social media for reinstatement.
In addition, residents packed three City Council meeting, citing the work of Mr. Brown’s Youth and Young Adult Division with at risk youth and their families, as well as noting the minor nature of the alleged infractions.
Meanwhile, Council members and Mayor Stephen Hagerty have said little on the issue, maintaining it falls under the staff’s purview.
Ms. Storlie could not be reached for comment in a phone call to her office early afternoon Dec. 13.
In a phone interview after he received the news, Mr. Brown said, “What can I say? I did everything I could do to get them to really look at the situation for what it was. Unfortunately, they kind of remained stuck on the parking tickets.
“Basically, they just didn’t believe me, they just didn’t believe me,” he repeated.
In a Facebook message to supporters, Mr. Brown said:
“I want to take this time to say how profoundly grateful I am to this community for allowing me the opportunity to serve you. To this point, serving the youth, young adults and their families has been the highest honor of my life. I am a better man today, because of my encounters with them and each of you.
“In nearly eight years, working with a small but talented team, along with a supremely talented and creative array of leaders within the nonprofit sector, education and business community and multiple community and religious organizations, we were able to create positive change and significant upward impact for thousands of Evanston youth, young adults and their families.
“Thank you so much.
“Between 2012 and 2018 arrests for young people ages 16 to 24 declined by 219%. At the same time, our community rallied to help increase youth employment in the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program by 246% to now routinely employ 600 or more young people in pre-career pathways job opportunities.
“We partnered with Northwestern University to create the COE/Northwestern University Skilled Trades Program that provided full-time skilled trade union positions to Evanston residents.
“We partnered with the Youth Job Center to Create the Building Career Pathways to Sustainable Employment Program to give young people paid training opportunities and experiences to obtain living wages. We developed the Evanston version of the Manufacturing Careers Internship Program that provides young adults with careers in the manufacturing sector.
“In addition to our partnerships with Curt’s Cafe, Mr. David’s Flooring, the Chicago Urban League and Oakton Community College, we created other paid training opportunities to help young and old succeed in our community.
“In addition to workforce development and training, we partnered with School Districts 65 and 202 to establish mentoring and life skills one-on-one training for our highest at-risk young people.
“To address violence interdiction and reduction, our team worked with the University of Illinois to receive violence interruption training and partnered with the Addie Wyatt Center for Nonviolence Training to become certified in Kingian Nonviolence.
“We established the Kingian Nonviolence Summer Training Institute to teach our children that there are better and peaceful ways to resolve disputes and planted the idea of the beloved community.
“Other partnerships include the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy Certificate of Rehabilitation Program to help seal and expunge criminal records for community members so they can obtain both jobs and housing. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Program with Youth & Opportunity United to provide more supports for youth on the streets.
“And to address youth mental health we partnered with the Northwestern University Family Institute, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute for Mental Health.
“Space does not permit me to list all of the programs and services developed in eight years with the help of our partners, but I am very proud of the work, proud of our team, and grateful for the accomplishments of service to this community. Many, many lives have been made better by this service. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
“Finally, let me say thank you publicly to my beautiful wife Cheryl Logan Brown of 32 years. She supports me and encourages me and has remained steadfast during the injustice we have encountered. All of this, in the face of family trials and tribulations, we remain a great team, ready to continue the work that God has called us to do. God has never failed us, so we will move forward enthusiastically with our next steps.
“Although the climate in our nation and even locally reflect a tolerance for racism and injustice, we continue to believe that the arc of the universe bends toward justice. Hope remains alive, and we will continue to press forward.
“Thank you, Evanston.
“In peace, love, hope, and faith,
“We remain yours and committed to our neighbors to advance with you toward the beloved community.”