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December 18, 2018

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Posted: Friday, December 14, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Craig McClure

That was quite a vote on the Harley Clarke Monday night. While it initially appeared based on their comments that at least a few Council members might vote “Yes” to appeal the Preservation Commission’s decision on the Harley Clarke, once Alderman Simmons cast her “No” vote, everyone else voted “No”. Some were voting “No” perhaps just to avoid the fury that the Save Harley Clarke folks were promising.

Thank you Alderman Simmons for making it very clear when you cast your “No” vote that you were not voting to spend city dollars on the mansion. And thank you to Alderman Fleming for making it clear that the Harley Clarke is not an equity issue. Some of the Alderman were also very candid in sharing some of the fury that was directed at them by the Save Harley Clarke folks. And let’s not forget about how Jenner & Block sent one of their junior associates to threaten City Council with the full power of his firm behind a lawsuit should the Council have voted “Yes” to appeal.

As a “no” voter on the referendum, I am concerned that the $15,000 per year being talked about for mothballing costs will be woefully inadequate. I’m also concerned that a meaningful, self-sustaining use of that property will not emerge and a few years from now, Evanston will be having the same debate about what to do with it – except the HC will be that much older and in poorer condition.

Even if a use of the property is decided upon, there is a good chance we will wind up with “Poorly Funded Non-Profit in the Harley Clarke – Version 2”. Version 1 was the Evanston Arts Center while they occupied that structure and allowed it to deteriorate into what it is today.

Now let’s see what the Save Harley Clarke folks do. As Mayor Hagerty alluded to in a comment he made, you folks may be united at the moment, but chances are good that you will split into different competing factions. Whatever you do, some of us are going to be working to make sure that absolutely no city dollars are involved in the Harley Clarke.

Following the meeting, some of the Alderman were gracious enough to quietly thank those of us in the Evanston Lighthouse Dunes Group for offering a solution and being willing to fund it. As a contributor to ELD, I count myself as being in good company when I learned that former Alderman Delores Holmes, who also spoke Monday night, identified herself as a contributor. Thanks to Jeff Coney, Nicole Kustok, and others for leading ELD.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Nancy Sreenan

Lack of Confidence in City Council
Our elected officials can use their office to advance the interests of one group over another – giving Alderman Rainey a pass on her behavior establishes that precedent. It also establishes my lack of confidence in Evanston City Council’s Rules Committee.
The Rules Committee justified their motion “to accept and file” the Ethics Board’s report by suggesting the Ethics code “lacked clarity.” To all the aldermen who observed that advocating for a position is “part of their job” and thus precludes being impartial, I say, really? What is so unclear about the distinction between advocating and colluding? What is so unclear about the difference between “having an opinion” and fundraising on behalf of your favored group in order to falsely claim support “in all wards”? It’s not the Ethics code that lacks “clarity.” What the Ethics code lacks is strength enough to prohibit Rainey from voting to approve of her own violations. How about addressing that in a code rewrite?
Furthermore, the Ethics code assumes that the only way to run afoul of ethics is to profit personally. It fails to anticipate that elected officials might improperly accommodate quid pro quo threats made by wealthy and entitled “benefactors” – Alderman Rainey’s favorite kind of citizen. This “accept and file” decision only encourages the weaponized philanthropy that has driven the demolition of Harley Clarke this far. It only encourages the demolition donors’ collusion with at least this one member of the council. How about rewriting the code to foster a role for philanthropy that doesn’t corrode democracy?
As a bonus, maybe it will help aldermen distinguish between what is doing their job and what is corruption between working on behalf of what the 99% wants vs. what the 1% wants, and, in the context of the Harley Clarke referendum, between what 80% want vs. what 20% want.
However, I’m not holding my breath. It didn’t inspire confidence to hear several aldermen later focus on regulating the use of profanity in a code rewrite. Again I say “Really? Style is more important than substance? Profanity concerns you more than good government and democracy? Duly noted. That also establishes my lack of confidence in Evanston City Council.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Betty Ester, Citizens’ Network of Protection

Comments re: CPCAC Recommendations
On Dec. 5, the Citizen Police Complaint Assessment Committee (CPCAC) submitted its final Report and Recommendations to the Human Services Committee. The report details the work they put into the recommendation for handling civilian police complaints and a Civilian Review Board.
The Citizens’ Network of Protection (CNP) did a cursory review of the recommendations. CNP sees them as a step back beyond what was put in place on June 9, 2008. Citizens made a compromise in the Citizens Police Advisory Committee. We got the agreement that all formal and informal complaints be reported and investigated. All of the other requests laid out in the motion authorizing the formulation of the committee were not carried out to their fullest.
CNP hoped that this would have lead to a better handling of the citizen’s complaints. It did not. As the Chief saw fit not to follow the memo of April 7, 2008, approved on June 9, 2008.
During the intake process, the complainant is subject to removal from the process when the intake person and the auditor work with OPS to identify those suitable for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), no investigation of the complaint. The Auditor is no more than a supervisor over the OPS the same job of the Deputy Chief. The Civilian Review Board like the Citizens Police Advisory Committee reviews the complaint after OPS has investigated and the Chief has made his decision.
The recommended complaint form give more information to the Police Department on the complainant than before. CNP will be doing a through review to see if this opinion hold true.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Jimmie McRaith

Due Process?
There is something very wrong with a government system that allows a majority of voters to take for themselves, and their special interests, as much as they want from the few. The constitution does not go far enough in protecting people from confiscation of their property because the definition of “due process” can be anything the majority wants it to be.
All levels of U.S. government are heavily weighted against the talented, the highly skilled, the innovators and entrepreneurs – those whose work often makes life safer, easier and happier for all the people. They pay the way for millions of us who pay little or nothing in taxes to support our country. In addition, they are usually very generous on a personal level. Last year charitable donations amounted to $400 billion.
Every time a governing body comes up short – usually because of its own incompetence, short-sightedness or corruption – it attacks again the few who already contribute the most. Many of us do not pay even our share of the cost of an election, yet we can vote ourselves a share of other people’s money. Representation without taxation can also be tyranny.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Harold Bordwell

At Fountain Square
Under a cotton-clouded sky
We stand at Fountain Square.
“Look,” I think I said, “as many died
In the First World War as in the Second.”
Hard to believe, we draw near
To read the names we do not know,
From Civil War to Vietnam.
Are we both thinking the same,
Remembering our dead is a way not to forget
Even the nameless enemies
Whose ghost lives are spelled out
In other haunted places?
In time – say 50 years or more –
Will others, as we did
That day, pulling up bright French
Bistro chairs like old friends,
Sitting beside a dry space,
Wait for a sudden exultation of water,
And for what it always promises?
Hope, the sky says, is why we are here.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Elliot Zashin

Change City Council System
I read with interest Ed Bryant’s letter, “Those We Elected Need to Make the Tough Decisions,” Roundtable Nov. 15. As someone who has followed the Council’s decisions, especially on affordable housing and Harley-Clarke, I have often felt that the Council (or at least a majority) have either made the wrong decision or have moved rather slowly to make any decision. But rather than ascribe this just to the failure of our aldermen to “step up,” I have decided that much of the problem lies in our Council system.
Our aldermen are not paid enough of a salary to give full-time attention to City business – unless they are independently wealthy – and as long as that situation persists, our Council will be made up largely of part-timers – however well-intentioned – who lack the time, experience, training, and knowledge to make the “tough” decisions.
Evanston’s issues are multiple and complex. As Bryant illustrates with the question of what is equity when making decisions about City resources, this requires serious consideration of how to define equity (there is much commentary on this concept) and then, how to apply an equity lens to the major areas of decision of the Council. At present, there is considerable feeling that the Council is reactive the City Manager sets the agenda and with his control of staff and information, it is difficult for members of the Council to challenge his proposals and propose alternatives – unless the voters are willing to voice their preferences in a powerful way.
This suggests another issue: the quality of communication between residents and aldermen it is often episodic and not always focused on the most important issues. Some aldermen do a lot better than others, but I can attest to the times that aldermen have told me or colleagues that they don’t really have the time to sit down for serious conversations with them. Moreover, the communication between the citizens and Council members at Council meetings leaves much to be desired. The comment period does not provide for real dialogue. If Council members had more time to devote to City business, other forums might be devised to improve the situation.
I propose (and I am not the first to broach this idea) that we pay each alderman a sufficient salary to require them to make City business their full-time business: probably at least $60,000 per year. This may seem an expensive proposition, and people will say we cannot afford it. There may be some other changes in the Council system that might make it somewhat more affordable in dollar-terms. However, unless we seriously consider this change, the City will continue to muddle through while our problems grow more intense. Moreover, paying a reasonable salary to aldermen will also enable people who are not well-to-do to serve without putting their own and their family’s welfare at risk.
Some may want a referendum to prove that citizens support such a change with the victory of the Harley-Clarke and real estate transfer tax referenda, I am encouraged to think that such a measure could be placed on the next City elections ballot and could win a majority of those voting.

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