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February 18, 2019

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Margarita Matlis

Don’t Segregate Minorities Further. A group of parents want a STEM school in Evanston's 5th ward, which has been without a community school since Foster School was eliminated in the 60’s.

Jerome Summers, Foster school student and D65 board member said, “the lack of a neighborhood school has destroyed the neighborhood.”

“Children who lived in the same block and walked together to the same school holding their mom’s hands are now bused, separately, to 15 different schools. When children don’t know each other, their parents don’t know each other. And everybody is a stranger in their own neighborhood. And it shows up as…McDonald’s bags in your sidewalk. Or kids who cursed in front of you now might curse at you. (or) fights in the high school. So what caused all that? Desegregation. It seems we paid a heavy toll…..a very high price.”

When D65 student population dropped several schools were closed. Foster was closed rather than Orrington or Willard, to avoid busing more white students.

For years Black organizations, including the NAACP called for reestablishment of a 5th Ward school and “the burden of racial busing to be shared by white students.” (Ev.Roundtable)
In 1979, the Evanston Human Relations Commission said that closing Foster School eliminates “a primary keystone of Community integrity” and for children in that area to walk to school, placing an “overwhelming burden of busing” on them. “This area’s children were sent to at least ten other schools. The key ingredient or prerequisite of the 1967 desegregation plan was the partial destruction of the integrity of the West-Central Area.” (Ev Roundtable)

A STEM school is a solid alternative to unproven programs for both Black and Hispanic students. Especially as early as Kindergarten using a “focus on fun” approach. It inspires and educates kids in the science and technology revolution, delivering skills needed to develop critical thinking, creativity, engineering design and problem solving which must be inculcated from very early.

Black and Hispanic students are bright and should be part of this STEM revolution. But instead they have scored way back in academic achievement for years!

District 65 board member Judy Sirinsky said in 1991, “I walked through that door 12 years ago, with a 40% gap and I'm walking out 12 years later and we still got that same darn gap. We've got a lot of highly paid professional educators in this district… We haven't done anything about it."

Pres. Obama said, “The United States has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators in a world that’s becoming increasingly complex.”
Complex indeed: From Bloomberg’s index of world innovations, the US for the first time fell out of the top 10, outperformed by , Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Denmark, France and Israel. The evaluation was based on R&D intensity, manufacturing value added, tertiary efficiency, the concentration of researchers, patent activity, high-tech density and productivity.

Tiny Israel, 1/10 of 1% of the world population is world leader in cancer research. Germany has the most advanced laser and particle research facilities. China, wants to be the greatest power in the world.

But we…. don’t have enough graduates from STEM to fill 2.4M vacancies.

A Hispanic myself, watching the statistics of Hispanics students in our superbly equipped and expensive schools I ask, what is D65 doing to help Hispanics join the STEM revolution?
They are segregating them in TWI, a program where supposedly 50% Hispanics, and 50% native English speakers (who parents say are mostly other Hispanics) should be taught 50% of the time in each language.
Astonishingly, D65 teaches kindergartners 90% in Spanish, 80% 1st graders etc, when capacity to learn is at its peak and they should be immersed in English to later enroll in Honors courses to later join the innovators that will keep America in the lead.

But, as an ETHS administrator told me in 2007, “Our Hispanics don’t have what it takes.” Or as a Latino liaison at ETHS asked recently, “What is wrong with becoming a landscaper….?’”

While in most of the world, Europe, India, Japan, Argentina, Uruguay…, people who want to succeed learn fluent English as a matter of course, “our Hispanics don’t have what it takes.”

Hispanics don’t come to this country to perfect their own language! But unperturbably, TWI now has expanded to 36 classes in 5 schools and all of Bessie Rhodes. With plans to expand into middle school as well!
 Margarita Matlis

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Lucia Miller

To the editor, re. uses for Harley Clarke

I understand how difficult it is to figure out next steps for the Lakehouse (Harley Clarke) Mansion, and I'd like to suggest a few ideas

1. It is a beautiful building, boasting three magnificent first floor spaces (octagon room, living and dining rooms), and the incredible winding staircase. If those spaces alone were restored to pristine condition, and the kitchen brought up to code, it would become a great source of revenue for weddings, memorial services, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, etc. It would be available to anyone in the Community who wished to rent it for a fairy-tale event.

Spring, summer and fall would likely be the most desirable times…in fact, in order to postpone the necessity of replacing the windows with double panes (saving huge sums of money) and to save on heating, the rental season might be limited to those seasons. The Evanston Art Center, now located in a non-glamorous spot on Central Street is constantly in demand for receptions of all kinds and receives $30,000 annually from rentals, but not so much in summer. And they don’t even have a kitchen of any kind! Everything has to be carried in by a caterer.

2. Museum, history, literary, exhibit spaces, all compatible with Rentals. Having exciting things to look at on the walls and halls and in adjacent spaces only makes any space more desirable for events.

3. Education: I believe that a biology lab has been proposed for the basement by Northwestern, in which the relationship between lake and dune growth, for classes and and research. Bingo! What a great idea. Another rental of space, this time by Northwestern, which I understand they want to be open to the public.

4. Shelter for summer camp groups in case of inclement weather There are many appropriate spaces, including the 3rd floor ballroom for games of all kinds. If kids took their shoes off and washed their hands they could have treasure hunts on the first floor too. :-)

5. My special favorite a mid-day cafe on weekdays for one and all during good weather. Ideally, including a way outside so people could sit in front on a patio overlooking the lake. But at the beginning, the octagonal room, surrounded with glass windows, which opens from the lobby and is located between the dining room and the living room, would be a sweet, cozy spot. Maybe 4 or 5 tables? Menu, food pre-cooked from local restaurants? (The four steps down into this room make it inaccessible to wheelchairs, but there are handrails.)

6. The second floor has multiple large rooms, none very dressy now but if painted, useable, and many working bathrooms which need refurbishing (but not major overhauls, I’ve been told. The showers could await later attention.) All kinds of activities could move right in. The building was used year round until 4 years ago, and students might need warm sweaters and jackets in mid-winter, but as it all began to pay for itself the necessary new windows could be installed, a few rooms at a time. I’m told that the furnaces are fine.

And so on. It is worth trying to do a LOT of things there, not just one or two. It would be a more inviting and interesting space it it included food, fun, information, classes, the whole gamut of possibilities, in one spot. I’m not sure whether the upper floors would legally all have to become handicapped accessible certainly an electric chair could be added to the staircase without too much expense, and eventually an elevator. There are also three good first floor rooms, in addition the the spaces I just listed, which would be accessible right now.

There. I’ve listed all my dreams. I hope some may catch fire!

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Reverend Michael Nabors

Open Letter to Chicago Cubs and the Ricketts Family:
It never stops. It never stops, I tell you. I didn't immediately become a Cubs fan after relocating to Evanston. My family and I were diehard Tigers fans and had season tickets for at least 10 years during the time we served Detroit.
I loved a lot about the Tigers—but especially the fact that they were a gritty, blue-collar team in a gritty, blue-collar city.
I also loved that they were truly a microcosm of the world with an array of players from around the globe. Our heyday with the Tigers included Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Johnny Peralta, Ramon Santiago, Nick Castellanos, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello. We were happy to take our kids to the ballpark to see a rainbow-anointed team in the heart of the Motor City.
After a year in Evanston, I switched to the Cubs (the family has not changed). Then, I woke up this morning to find the Ricketts family (Cubs owners) embroiled in a racist-filled, messy, unseemly and wicked story.
It seems Joe Ricketts was fond of receiving racist emails and then sending off some of his own. The emails also included Islamophobic remarks and a smearing of former President Barack Obama.
Current owner Tom Ricketts is distancing himself and the Cubs organization, making his old dad appear senile and alone. But we have to look at the larger picture, Metro Chicago.
This racist verbiage is indicative of a deep, internal sickness that is unjust, discriminatory and downright evil. The racism discovered in Ricketts’ email is truly as American as Mom's apple pie and the game of baseball.
Joe Ricketts made his billions in securities by becoming a partner in TD Ameritrade. He went on to amass other business ventures, including High Plains Bison and The American Film Company and, a digital news service he shut down when employees voted to unionize. And of course, he purchased the Cubs in 2009.
So then, this racism is not just an isolated event (as racism never is) that is focused on a few emails. But it is a lethal octopus with tentacles spread throughout the nation and world. It seeps into securities and how finances and wealth possess the stain of racism that breeds generation after generation of racist economic policies and structures.
It seeps into the movie industry where stereotypes, false narratives and corrupted history are shown on the silver screen to the American public. And of course, it seeps into the good old game of baseball, where there is not a single Black team owner and where the game's hierarchical schematic is lily-white at the top and multi-colored at the bottom.
It is egregious that a wealthy white family carries these horrible, Neanderthal attitudes that surely influence their thinking, which influence their training, which influence their education, which influence their decision-making and work.
I am calling for the Ricketts family to 1) Confess to this awful and sordid racism, 2) Commit to change and 3) Actively pursue objectives and goals to fight racism, right here in Metro Chicago.
Having just come from teaching a workshop on Advocacy and Activism to a group of high school students about race, it is now time to act.
Let's do something.
Don't just keep giving free passes. If we are going to arrest racism, reverse its trend, bring it to a grinding halt and then destroy it, we have to start somewhere.
Why not now? Why not here?
Please join me in sending your email voices of concern regarding the Ricketts and Cubs organization to
I will gladly collect them all and forward them to the Ricketts family with an urgency that demands their attention. I'm tired of all this garbage. All I want to do is watch some great baseball this year. With a great team that represents our world.

Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors
Second Baptist Church
1717 Benson Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201
Evanston/North Shore NAACP Branch
2010 Dewey Street
Evanston, IL 60201

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Megan Hughes

Concerns About Robert Crown Costs
I am absolutely horrified at the extent of “tax-increase creep” that this has exposed, but grateful to know it. How on Earth did this project get so far with no citizen input?
Do we need to attend every meeting you have to prevent this kind of behind-the-scenes shenanigans? I know of several people who seem to ... I am sorry I am not able to do so but I’m reading this and I’ll be at the next meeting unless I get a five-day migraine! This is hideous. If the FOIA letters I read are still posted there are big-money donors in on this too. I think there must be more transparency and complete exposure on “no-bid contracts.” For shame. At least the whole Council isn’t in on this.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Mike Vasilko

Crown Center Debt
The cost of the Robert Crown Center (RCC) project skyrocketed from $30 million up to $53.4 million – $80 million including interest on the debt, taxpayers’ debt – for likely the next 25 years.

It looks like this enormous cost increase was driven by a narrow group of special interests. The Northwestern University Men’s Hockey Team calls Robert Crown Center its Home Rink. At least four other regional hockey organizations may be planning to use the two “professional-grade sheets of ice” and the grandstands for practice and games.

Lawrence Hemingway, Evanston’s Director of Parks and Recreation, acknowledges the RCC is projected to lose at least $500,000 each year. And yes, that’s our debt to pay, too.
We have heard that Beacon Academy, a private school, wants naming rights and the use of a new RCC gymnasium in Evanston’s public community center. And there are other private sports organizations lining up to use the indoor and outdoor facilities. I understand they will pay for the use of these facilities, but I am concerned about whether they will limit public use and enjoyment of the center.

Our benevolent nine aldermen voted for citizens to pay the cost of construction and financing the building, yet Northwestern University, Beacon Academy and other private organizations might also reap the benefit of using it. Even if they are paying something for it, is it enough?
Most groups will pay a “market rate” hourly fee. Our brilliant elected officials, however, fail to realize those fees will never, ever add up to pay us back for the construction, financing and maintenance of the building.

Private entities using public facilities for their home ice and home gym should pay their fair share for construction, financing and long-term maintenance costs.

Evanston citizens who want to use RCC for individual ice and gym time will still be able to use the facilities.

“Deals” are being negotiated by the Friends of Robert Crown Center (FRCC) with private organizations on behalf of Evanston Citizens. Who gave FRCC authority to do that? One such proposed deal reported on the online journal Northwestern Now:

“Northwestern will make its investment in the form of a programmatic partnership agreement, rather than a charitable gift, and will distribute the committed funds in three payments over three years. In exchange for this support package, the University will receive a slate of facility usage time slots and activities.”
We understand the City has not approved any of the “deals” offered by FRCC.

Council will discuss a Memorandum of Understanding and these “deals” for the first time on Feb. 25 at the Civic Center.

Concerned residents demanded and the City has agreed to conduct a community forum about the new Center to be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13 in the gym at Robert Crown, 1701 Main Street. Please come and voice your concerns about the tax increases, raising the City debt, and the sale of City property to help fund this project.

Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Mary Rosinski

Put the Brakes on the Crown Center Construction
Updating the existing RCC facility and child care center is a good idea, and that project is long overdue. But, expanding the scope to include two new state-of-the-art ice rinks that will accommodate a Big Ten university hockey team, two gyms, elevated running track, fitness facilities, offices, turf fields, and a 5,000-square-foot library is not justifiable at the cost of severely cutting much needed Citywide services. The annual costs could exceed $3 million a year in debt service alone and a minimum projected $500,000 yearly loss on operations.
Here is some not-so-fun information about the new Robert Crown Center. The City should stop the project and re-evaluate its purpose and the funding sources.
Residents need to be concerned about the lack of a financial plan. The $1 million budget hole we felt this year is going to escalate because there appears to be no plan to fill the yearly financial hole.
Anyone who looked at the Friends of Crown website in December 2018 would have seen a $30 million cost. Even today the City website says it is $40 million.
The Friends of Robert Crown Center website lists Northwestern University, Beacon Academy and other private entities as “Donors and Partners.” NU’s $1 million and Beacon Academy’s $500,000 are not charitable donations, though.
The agreements are still letters of intent. They have not been made fully public and have not been approved by City Council. We believe that ice time for Northwestern and naming rights and gym time for Beacon Academy could be expected in return for the funds. The timing of these agreements appears tied to breaking ground before the design was finished, and, most importantly, before the residents were informed and had the option to give input.
The City plans to sell an additional $18 million in bonds this year for the RCC and the Library branch. These will be back-ended, which means increased costs down the road.
We may not know who is leading the project, but we know who is paying for it: we, the taxpayers.
Unless the City intervenes in our favor, we might see: more property tax increases, the sale of more City assets (parking lots, buildings and the like), further reduction of public services, less public use of the new center due to private entity scheduling, potentially lowered bond ratings and increased borrowing rates because of excessive debt.
Elected officials can still put the brakes on this project. Should City leaders proceed with this overpriced grandiose plan, private entities should pick up their fair share of the tab, not the already overburdened property taxpayers.
We need a brilliant negotiator to help City staff get much more money from the private entities who are going to be using the RCC.
We need to be creative in revenue generation other than increasing property taxes, parking fees, selling assets, and cutting services.
We need to look at yearly naming rights, grants, corporate sponsors and other revenue sources.

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