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December 10, 2018

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Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Garrett Jochnau, Northwestern University

Increased Ridesharing Fees Endanger the Student Experience
It’s hard to quantify how important accessible ridesharing services are to students today.
For starters, most of us don’t have cars, and the modern-day demands placed on a student’s shoulders make accessible travel a necessity. For myself, covering Northwestern’s basketball team required back-and-forth travel between campus and the basketball arena – a 30-minute walk that’s difficult enough in the dead of winter, but made impossible when sandwiched between classes.
Or even worse was last year, when the team played in Rosemont. Sure, there were buses available, but they didn’t always work with our class schedules. It made traveling by car a necessity, and time and time again, Lyft and Uber were my savior.
I’m just one example. Every student has a busy schedule, and every student has the occasional-to-often need for a car. And for most, bringing your own isn’t an option, especially for those of us from out of state. Parking is limited and expensive – made more so by city taxes. Only a select few students can depend on their own car. The rest of us have our apps.
Ridesharing is essential to the student experience, both as a convenience and as a necessity. For some, access to these services is the only solution to time-sensitive calendar items. For others, it’s critical to their safety.
Any tax that makes ridesharing more inaccessible isn’t just inconvenient for today’s students. It can be downright crippling.
Ridesharing brings communities together. And for many, it’s a lifeline, whether that be the drivers who rely on consistent trips for income or the passengers who need to get from point A to point B safely.
There are far too many instances across the nation where outside pressures have chipped away at an essential service. For the sake of its students, Evanston can’t be next.

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Leslie Shad

Reject the Keefe Request
Open Letter to President Spyropoulos and MWRD Commissioners:
Thank you for your careful attention to this issue, and your accommodation of extensive public comment. This is to follow up on two issues raised at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) meeting.
At that meeting, some Commissioners voiced the misperception that they must approve this road because the request comes from Cook County. Any Commissioner who approves this sham cCounty request sullies his/her reputation, as well as that of MWRD.
MWRD has granted past easements for public purposes. However, it is patently obvious that the Highway Department is intervening (1) to work around Wilmette Park District’s leasehold right to approve private roads and (2) to sidestep MWRD’s own bylaw restrictions on granting private easements.
This easement request is a political favor to double the value of private property. As was made clear in a memo Senator John Cullerton provided to MWRD in November 2014, the easement requests to MWRD are purely for the purpose of doubling the value of the real estate that he and Keefe family members hold through the Dick Keefe Development Company. Sen. Cullerton has disclosed that he holds an ownership interest in the Keefe Development Company.
The Highway Department says this road is justified by the public benefit it will provide. But the Highway Department has not determined if there would be any net public benefit, has not determined how much in property taxes might be generated, what the road construction and maintenance would cost, what the loss in property values might be to the seven homes abutting the road or what the loss in value to the community golf course would be. It hasn’t determined that because public benefit is not pertinent to this request.
The Highway Department is asking MWRD to abandon its mission, commitment to managing stormwater and holding its property in the public trust.
While intergovernmental easement requests have been granted in the past, it is not credible for MWRD Commissioners to treat this as an ordinary request that would benefit the public. MWRD must grapple with the reality of what is at stake, or it is simply complicit in the political and private favors that are so thinly veiled.
Also, at the Nov. 1 meeting, concerns were voiced about the time consumed and elitist aspect of this agenda item.
I agree.
MWRD controls its agenda.
It first began entertaining this proposal in 2014. That this is both a bad idea and not above-board generates this overwhelming public opposition. It is clearly a request to benefit an elite, politically connected private party. Reject this request, speak up against elite private interests and put these Keefe road requests to rest.
Ed. Note: This letter is in response to a request that the Cook County Highway Department build a road to allow egress from a landlocked parcel of property in Wilmette that the Keefe real estate company would like to develop. Building the road would entail paving over part of the 10th hole of Canal Shores Golf Course. The course is operated by the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association on property leased from MWRD.

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Joe Rocheleau

Northwestern Students' Toxic Impact on Lake Michigan
I was dismayed to discover that the newly installed lake front barrier near the new Northwestern sports complex had already been vandalized by Northwestern students.
As I walk along the lake on Northwestern’s eastern campus border I wonder what the impact of all of the painted rocks is on Lake Michigan's inhabitants and those who rely on it for life.
Northwestern should stop enabling students who vandalize the lakefront with toxic paint. Some may call it a tradition, others may call it a “right,” and still others may feel entitled to leave their mark on campus.
It clearly isn’t art, and it certainly isn’t interesting to read nor great to look at. What if we all decided to paint rocks along the Lake Michigan shoreline?
The bottom line is that this can’t be good for Lake Michigan, a natural resource that faces enough challenges as it is.

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Allie Harned, Save Harley Clarke

To the People of Evanston:
We at Save Harley Clarke are tremendously grateful to the people of Evanston for their extraordinary support of the referendum question asking if they believe the City of Evanston should preserve and protect from demolition OUR house on the lake: The Harley Clarke buildings and grounds.
We hope that the Council members will take seriously the results of the referendum, because they clearly show that a vocal majority supports finding a solution that does not result in demolition. We are excited about the results in all wards, because it reveals undeniable support across the city, in every ward, and in every precinct. Percent of yes votes cast per ward are as follows:
1st Ward: 80.6% YES
2nd Ward: 82.6% YES
3rd Ward: 83.62% YES
4th Ward: 80.5% YES
5th Ward: 83.63% YES
6th Ward: 73.9% YES
7th Ward: 76.4% YES
8th Ward: 82.7% YES
9th Ward: 82.0% YES
We recognize that Council members have been put in a difficult position of having to vote on the demolition plan in an extremely short time-frame.
Since the last time they voted about demolition, two very important new data points have entered the equation: The unanimous rejection by the Preservation Commission of the application for a certificate of appropriateness for demolition, plus the 80% Yes vote by their constituents across the City in favor of preserving and protecting the Harley Clarke buildings and grounds from demolition.
What you may not also know is that Save Harley Clarke has a subcommittee called the Save Harley Clarke Adaptive Reuse Task Force. They have been meeting for months and have a lot of exciting information to share about the possibilities for Harley Clarke to become a valuable public asset, representing economic growth, job creation, cultural tourism and lakefront equity for all.
We believe that the best course forward at this point would be that we STOP all discussion of demolition for now, as we have many more pressing things to work on in our City.
We urge the City Council to make an immediate resolution to mothball the Harley Clarke buildings and grounds for a reasonable period of time. During this time, the newly formed Friends of Harley Clarke group can build on the excellent work of the Save Harley Clarke Adaptive Reuse Task Force, begin fund-raising, and explore the endless possibilities for Evanston’s only public house on the lake. F
Friends of Harley Clarke will mindfully and proactively include the voices of all stakeholders across the city, so that this time around, all Evanstonians can have a seat at the table in deciding the future of Harley Clarke.
I personally remain hopeful about the possibility that Harley Clarke can be an issue that brings us together rather than divides us, in fact I think it already has – it was so inspiring to talk to voters on their way in and out of polls for the past two weeks, and to hear words of support and encouragement from Evanstonians in all wards, and from all backgrounds.
This has been an uplifting experience, and I have learned a lot about the possibilities in our democratic system, especially with the passionate people of our town. I love Evanston
Thank you so much, Evanston, for honoring Harley Clarke with your yes votes. The best is yet to come.

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Ed Bryant

Those We Elected Need To Make the Tough Decisions
The ongoing saga in this week’s Roundtable of Evanston’s efforts to provide “equity” to all Evanstonians without defining it first would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Evanston has employed a Chief Equity Officer (an “EO”),
Dr Patricia Efiom, for the past year and a half. Her job description apparently includes opining on whether the proposed City budget is or is not equitable. After much consideration, our EO’s opinion is that the budget “. . is both equitable and not equitable.” That’s right. It’s both.
“Because we have no understanding of what equity is, equity is defined very differently for all of us. . . There is no sense of what equity is,” our EO stated publicly to the city council. Considering she has served in her post for more than a year and a half, it seems odd that it is only now coming to light that equity – what our EO was hired to dispense or ensure – has not been defined by our City Council.
Alderperson Rue Simmons offered her own definition of equity when this issue came before the council, namely, all residents having the same quality of life, the same access to jobs and services and the same opportunities to own homes.
This sounds simple at first. But it becomes clear upon analysis that, for residents of Evanston who are not equally situated, “equal opportunity” may in fact require substantially different efforts and very different costs.
Does equity require the same dollar amount spent on everyone or the same outcome for everyone, regardless of the expense? School Districts 65 and 202 have been arguing this issue seemingly forever, and it still is not clear what is best, what is wise or what is equitable.
Unless a legal right is enforceable, it is hardly a legal right. It is just a stated hope. And if it cannot be defined, then it surely is not enforceable.
If I have the legal right to vote, to have a driver’s license, to own a gun or to speak my mind on politics or religion, that is a right which is enforceable.
If I cannot exercise such rights, I have clear legal recourse to enforce them in the courts. But granting vague hopes such as an undefined equity in the guise of legal rights serves only to provoke arguments on the extent of what was granted. That’s exactly where Evanston is today.
This is not to say that the City Council should ignore being equitable when it makes its tough budgetary decisions. Rather, it is to suggest that the City Council cannot, and therefore should not, delegate that undefined responsibility to anyone else.
Legislatures do unwise things when they delegate their obligations to someone else, however well intentioned that person is.
That appears to have happened in Evanston. We need our tough decisions to be made by those we elected to make tough decisions.

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Julie McBratney, Communications Director Karen Singer, CEO, YWCA Evanston-North Shore

YWCA Also Serves Men
In the article “OPAL Says Budget Cuts Target Most Vulnerable Residents,” Terrie Campbell is quoted as saying “The YWCA is set up currently to service only women.” Though we are and always have been an organization led by women, we serve both men and women, including survivors of domestic violence. This applies to all of our domestic violence services: crisis line, emergency shelter, longer-term housing, counseling and legal advocacy.
Between five and 10% of those we serve in our domestic violence program are men. All of our services are available to any person/family who needs them.

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