Editor’s note: This letter has been updated to alter a reference to the number of meetings.
My purpose for writing is to warn voters that sometimes relying on information in political mailers is not the best way to do your research before voting. I live in the Ninth Ward in Evanston and I received a mailer that included incorrect information about our current council member, Juan Geracaris. The mailer claimed that Juan has failed to host ward meetings and that he has denied residents access to “critical information on monumental decisions.”
This information is simply not true. Juan has held at least nine ward meetings since he was appointed to the council 12 months ago. Each meeting is held online, making it more accessible, and since last summer the meetings have also been recorded so that residents can watch them later on YouTube.
These Ninth Ward meetings usually include a special topic and guest speaker; the two that have been most helpful to me thus far were presentations on participatory budgeting and ranked-choice voting. Our ward meetings also always include real-time translation for Spanish speakers and I’m pretty sure that we are the only ward that has that feature.
So if you’re planning to do research before you vote please rely on good sources, like the extensive coverage in the RoundTable, and don’t rely on political mailers.
I have a conflict with Juan’s meetings. He does not post meeting minutes, but claims to post recordings of his meetings on the City’s YouTube channel. These recordings are buried amongst numerous city committee meeting recordings and are nearly impossible to find. The city recordings don’t appear to be organized in any fashion. I looked through 9 months of recordings and only found 2 of Juan’s meetings. Regardless, recordings are not the same as minutes and many will find it cumbersome to watch the full recording.
Juan announced his most recent meeting with only a day’s notice on his Facebook page, which has only 27 followers. I’ve heard the Ward has 8,000 residents. When I suggested it would be hard to find the meeting link in a buried Facebook announcement, he posted it through the city distribution with less than 8 hours notice.
I don’t find this to be a democratic process. Both Colleen Burris and Cicely Fleming took easy steps to keep residents informed.
May I suggest not relying on Facebook for, well, just about anything, but instead subscribing to the City of Evanston newsletters for the Ninth Ward and the weekly E-News?
Had you done that you would have known on March 2nd (!) that Council Member Geracaris was holding a virtual ward meeting at the end of the month. You would have received direct links to recaps and video of not only his last Ward 9 meeting but other relevant City meetings.
Here are the links to all the City newsletters. If you haven’t visited this page lately, you might be surprised how much information is available to deliver to your mailbox, no Google or Facebook needed!