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October 22, 2019

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Linda Schneider

Central Street is one of the best neighborhoods in the country, as recognized by the American Planning Commission in 2013. Why in the world would the Evanston City Council consider risking the tremendous appeal and success of the Central Street neighborhood by changing the zoning to allow Northwestern to host commercial events at Welsh-Ryan?

The additional burden to the neighborhood is likely to be significant, particularly if Northwestern’s application to serve liquor is granted. The neighborhood already shoulders the burden of football, basketball, and baseball games as well as graduations and other activities this burden includes the congestion, unruliness, parking, and safety concerns that go along with thousands – and in the case of Ryan Field, tens of thousands – of people coming to an event.

And, we, the residents in the neighborhood, accept that burden as part of the responsibility of living in this area. We bought our homes knowing that we share the neighborhood with Northwestern University athletics games and education-related events, just as Northwestern shares the neighborhood with us. Both sides of this equation have made compromises.

Commercial events at Northwestern’s facilities are another matter altogether. In fact, this issue has been fought before and settled by the courts: Northwestern has no entitlement to host commercial events. That Northwestern has chosen to raise this issue once again challenges the hard-won equilibrium that has been reached. Evanstonians have every right to feel disappointed by, and resentful of, Northwestern’s latest push.

I am sorry that Northwestern is experiencing serious financial problems, presumably as a result of overspending. But hosting commercial events, and burdening the neighborhood beyond its reasonable expectations and capacity, is not the right solution.

The Central Street neighborhood is a sought-after area, and as such, attracts homebuyers and interesting businesses, and maintains strong housing values which in turn generate tax revenues for the City of Evanston. The City Council should place more importance on maintaining such a desirable neighborhood, and reaping the attendant benefits, than on accommodating Northwestern’s wish to hold money-making events that are entirely unrelated to the university’s not-for-profit mission.

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Stephen Miller

Opposes Closing CAMS
As a senior, without my own car and with increasing difficulty in walking, it is not easy for me to get to the main library. The proposal to close CAMS (Chicago Avenue Main Street branch is most disturbing to me, as it has become an essential part of my life, providing me with much valued community contact and access to books I love to read.
Needless to say, there are many others in the neighborhood in similar situations – elders, school children, mothers with strollers, those with disabilities – and just locals who patronize CAMS. Its loss will be felt by many. Considering the cost of the Robert Crown Center compared to the ongoing expenses of CAMS, I find the decision to close it egregious. The issue now is, what could be done to ameliorate the situation? Here is a modest proposal which may prove helpful to many in the neighborhood.
Most people have access to the internet, though closing CAMS will seriously reduce this number. The computers in the facility serve as their only internet connection.
Designate a neighborhood drop off/pickup location where books can be left/retrieved. It could be a retail establishment, bank lobby for example.
One could connect to the library to reserve material which could be dropped off at this location and at the same time returning material to be picked up. Several people have already, volunteered to be the delivery driver.
It is not ideal there are many details to be worked out. The neighborhood would lose the services of a librarian, but it would provide some librarian services to the many residents in Southeast Evanston.
I would hope you consider my proposal to maximize library services to this neighborhood.

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Chris White

Concern Over Ethics Complaint Against Alderman
Open Letter to City Officials:
I was shocked and concerned to see the RoundTable’s article about the ethics complaint against my Alderman, Peter Brathwaite, for making straight forward comments about his experience of race as an African American.
As with the horrific investigation of Clerk Reid, Evanston seems to engage in disparate over the top punitive investigations of African-American officials, and I wish it would end.
Alderman Brathwaite has been consistent and principled in his defense of affordable housing in our ward, and I do not appreciate this baseless attack on him.

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Sally Wildman

Ping Pong It Is
You may be surprised as I was that my letter to the editor got great results. I recently received this email, showing that the RoundTable can “spread the word.”
Here is part of the letter I received from the City:
Hello Ms. Wildman, I am happy to inform you that the department will provide ping pong programming at the new facility. Schedule hasn’t been finalized, but once it is I’ll be happy to let you know so that you can help spread the word. Thanks for your support. -- Lawrence C. Hemingway, CPRP, Director Parks, Recreation and Community Services, City of Evanston

Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Guestbook entry by: John Foley

Reparations Can Be Divisive
I thought Evanston was an Inclusive Community.
Alderman Robin Rue Simmons states, “… we have demonstrable evidence of damages done specifically, intentionally to black Evanston residents and targeted neighborhoods in Evanston.” What specific examples can Ald. Rue Simmons provide – especially in the last 30 years? From 1993-2009 the revered Lorraine Morton was our mayor. How did she fail our community? How have our longstanding Aldermen who served alongside Mayor Morton allowed this damage to neighborhoods to continue?
Ald Wilson states that, “we have existing problems now – educational opportunities…” Is Ald. Wilson aware that annual per pupil expenditure at Oakton School is $17,095 compared to $12,509 at Lincolnwood School – a 36% differential?
Further, Oakton’s population is 65% URM (underrepresented minorities), Lincolnwood, 33%. At Oakton, 4% of their students exceeded state PARCC assessments in Mathematics. At Lincolnwood, this number was 17%. We are already spending 36% more per student at Oakton than Lincolnwood with disappointing results – what more needs to be done?
Why was Hardy Murphy allowed to be superintendent for 13 years (2000-2013) if he was failing our community?
The notion of reparations perpetuates the mistake of prior generations by giving an advantage to one group of people over another group of people. This only divides us instead of uniting us.
We can’t change the past. The Great Society initiated by Lyndon Johnson in 1965 made substantial steps towards addressing the mistakes of the past.
We are Evanstonians. Not hyphenated Evanstonians. Evanston provides an open hand to help those in need – this is our tradition as shown by our commitment to additional resources for Oakton School (among many examples that could be cited).
Racially targeted assistance that pits one group of people against another is not how we maintain our Evanstonian culture.
If Council feels reparations is appropriate, voluntary contributions to a City reparations fund is a start.

Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Lewis Walker

Reparations Can Include More Than Money
Perhaps the City Council’s pursuit of reparations will combine a sheer financial accounting, toward a payment schedule, with service programs, which are accounted for both in monies paid for their operation and greater-than-otherwise monies coming to their beneficiaries.
Perhaps the question of whether certain parties are exempt from paying out monies can be addressed to everyone’s satisfaction. The unanimity of the Council’s vote could be a sign that a way will be made past logistical challenges.
Perhaps the plan will include a built-in mechanism to address the future, assuming that reparations is not viewed as a final fix and that it includes ongoing expectation. That institutions and their structures tend to be slow to change and to meet “targets” can be accounted for financially well into the future.
“Writing a check” to address a problem, whether in a family or by a city – especially if it is expected to absolve the writer of further personal responsibility – has a negative connotation popularly but is hardly novel.
Addressing that connotation in the Council’s reparations plan would be challenging, because, regardless of governmental encouragement of voluntary efforts, its authority must rest upon force. Voluntary efforts spring from “unaccountable” sources, but they tap power to which financial models pale in comparison perhaps such initiatives – ideally from diverse places – can supplement reparations as pursued here.

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