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Evanston Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings has been placed on paid administrative leave for a personnel matter since July 5, according to a city spokesperson.
“Nicholas Cummings is currently on Administrative Leave,” wrote Community & Employee Engagement Coordinator Jessie Mayo in a note to the RoundTable on Tuesday, Aug. 2. “Because this is a City personnel matter, we will not be sharing additional information at this time.”
Mayo said the leave has no designated duration, with attorneys from the firm Ancel Glink filling in as interim corporation counsel.
Cummings confirmed the leave as well in a phone call with the RoundTable. He declined to comment further.
When asked for comment, Mayor Daniel Biss wrote in a text: “Because this is a personnel matter, there’s nothing I can add at this time to information provided by the communication team.”
Cummings first joined the city’s Law Department as a deputy city attorney in January 2020, and was promoted to Corporation Counsel in April 2021 by former City Manager Erika Storlie. Before coming to Evanston, he was a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney for more than seven years and chief attorney of tort litigation for the Chicago Transit Authority for more than two years.
Cummings’ last appearance on the city’s website is in the July 5 Human Services Committee meeting packet, where he wrote an ordinance memo with the same date.
Less than a week later, at the July 11 City Council meeting, Ancel Glink attorney Derke Price was at the council dais where Cummings is usually seated. Other council members referred to him as “Interim Counsel Price.”
Price is an equity partner at Ancel Glink, a law firm with six offices across Illinois that specializes in representing local state governments, according to its website. Price’s profile page states he serves as corporate counsel for the villages of South Elgin and Millington and the cities of Monticello and Geneseo. He previously served as Evanston’s special counsel when the Village of Skokie sued Evanston over water rates in July 2018.
In an engagement letter dated July 6, Price and his partner Julie Tappendorf listed the agreed-upon terms for their services with the city. The two will jointly serve as corporation counsel for as long as the city manager’s office requires, with Price available to attend all city council meetings. They will each charge $240 per hour and Ancel Glink associates and paralegals who assist them will respectively charge $215 and $130 per hour.
The RoundTable will update this story as further information becomes available.