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June 26, 2019

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Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Mary Alice Off

Achievement Gap
Closing the achievement gap usually focuses on examining the “data” derived from testing.
If 33% of the Black students are deemed “college ready,” why not look at those students and see what they bring to the educational setting that makes them successful?
The same is true for the percentage of Latinx students.
What are they doing, practicing, using that is making them successful? That would be interesting data.

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Yvi Russell

Do Not Amend the City’s Zoning Ordinance
In 1978 the Illinois Supreme Court declared the City’s ordinance to be constitutional and Northwestern University lost its case against Evanston. Our zoning ordinance has withstood the test of time from 1971 to today.
In 1996 NU tried to circumvent the zoning ordinance in order to allow the professional Ameritech Tennis Tournament. Due to the insurgence of the residents and businesses opposed to that proposal, the Ameritech proposal was defeated by unanimous Council decision. Now NU is attempting, again, and even more drastically, just as in the 70’s, to up-end the Zoning Ordinance re U2 District, asking the City to eliminate any restriction to commercial events and professional athletic events at the U2 District. These types of events are now prohibited by the current zoning ordinance.
The residents again, as in years past, from the 70s to today, are mobilizing against this latest attack on our neighborhoods.

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Laura McFarlane

Alcohol at Welsh-Ryan Out of Bounds
An open letter to our Mayor and City Council:
I was stunned to learn recently that Northwestern is seeking an amendment to the Liquor Code that would allow it to sell alcohol during events at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.
This is a significant change that will have an enormous impact on Evanston as a whole, not just the surrounding neighborhoods. It would give Northwestern the ability to serve alcohol to 7,000 people at a time. That is probably more than the number of people who could be served alcohol by all the rest of Evanston’s bars and restaurants put together.
Those alcohol-imbibing patrons will then be driving home on routes that travel throughout Evanston. And as far as I can tell, the amendment would not require restrictions of any kind on the license – not on the total number of drinks that can be sold, and not on the time frame (even Wrigley stops selling alcohol well before the end of a game). Alcohol could be sold as early as 11 a.m. and as late as 2 a.m.
This will also further degrade the area around the arena. Before, alcohol-related problems arose largely from people tailgating – an activity almost wholly confined to home football games, of which there are about 10 per year. But Northwestern uses its athletic complex for about 170 events per year. And although the current application is for the arena only, Northwestern’s attorney candidly told the Liquor Commission that it has “an interest in extending this privilege to other venues on Northwestern’s campus in the future” – such as the 40,000-seat stadium, the Rocky Miller baseball park, and other parts of the athletic complex. The current application is just the tip of the iceberg.
This proposed amendment was approved by the Liquor Commission chaired by Mayor Hagerty (thanks for nothing, Mayor) and was introduced at the last City Council meeting.
It is currently designated for Action at the next City Council meeting on June 24. but it is far too large a change to be rushed through with so little discussion.
Considering the careful consideration that the Liquor Commission gives to far more limited liquor licenses, at the very least the City deserves a chance to consider the likely impact of this change.
If this proposal concerns you, please contact your alderperson to (1) request a postponement of the vote on this amendment, and (2) let them know of any concerns you have. Thank you.

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Steve Cohen

I cannot let the news that the Evanston City Council is considering an ordinance to limit public comment at council meetings pass without comment.

In my view public comment is already limited far too much. The public comment segment of a council meeting allows only for members of the public to make comments or ask questions that alderpersons are not obligated in any way to answer, and is usually met by stony silence, and often not discussion. That may be acceptable in many cases, but if one combines this with the recent practice of redacting entire memos in response to legitimate FOIA requests, the commitment of the City Council to democratic practices already comes under serious question.

Some citizens would like to see an explanation of how a projected $18 million improvement to the Crown Center ballooned to $70 million, funding for which will inevitably come out increased taxes on their property. How is keeping this information from them compatible with democratic governance? Why not submit it to referendum?
And if that's wrong, why not provide the correct explanation instead of hiding behind a wall of redactions? Many citizens fear the higher taxes will push them out of Evanston.

The new push for "civility" only makes this worse. How is this not a weakening of the democratic nature of city government? Why wouldn't citizens hoping to change the direction of city policy view it as a weakening of their already limited power? It is said that many people don't want to attend because of the contentious nature of these meetings. I don't believe it. Those citizens who approve of the general direction of current Council policy have no reason to attend. They can get all the information they want from watching. It's hard to believe they'd get any less respect than the citizens opposing council action. Those who oppose policy have little option other than attending meetings to make their feelings even known, if not approved.

The main problem is not lack of civility from citizens, it is lack of responsiveness to citizen input from the Council.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Carolyn Laughlin

What Do We Seek in the Next D65 Superintendent? There is one, single, factor that must drive the selection of our next D65 superintendent: A proven track record of significantly raising the academic outcomes of low income students and students of color to the level of those achieved by affluent/white students.

Why should this single criterion trump all others? Why is it the most important of all that should be used to screen candidates? Three reasons:
1. Accomplishing this goal is paramount for many parents and voters of the District
2. This goal has proven to be the most challenging goal for D65 superintendents to achieve
3. The individual who meets this standard, who comes with this documented record of performance, will also bring a track record of demonstrating all of the following:
Racial/equity awareness and a commitment to social justice
The ability to:
Galvanize, substantively engage, and leverage the parents of low-income students and students of color n the education of their children
Recruit, manage, and hold accountable to high expectations an outstanding team of school leaders
Allocate resources effectively, to achieve a primary goal
Effectively communicate, which includes deep listening, as well as inspiring, clear, persuasive expression of vision, direction, expectations
Mitigate affluent/white parents’ potential concerns that raising the academic outcomes of low income students and students of color negatively impacts their children
In summary, this criterion, a proven track record of significantly raising the academic outcomes of low income students and students of color to the level of those achieved by affluent/white students, has embedded within it the critical elements of the successful leader D65 requires. It will be extraordinarily important that the Evanston/Skokie D65 community express clarity and precision about this criterion as the BOE begins the search for our next superintendent.

Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Yvi Russell

Salient passages from: Statement of Facts. Submitted to the Evanston City Zoning Amendment Committee on May 6, 1976 by Northwestern University.

Northwestern University, a not-for-profit educational institution located within the City of Evanston submits this statement of facts to support its contention that it is being unfairly, improperly and unconstitutionally restricted by the City zoning ordinance in the use of its property at 1501 Central Street, which includes Dyche Stadium and McGaw Hall.
For a number of years, there has been a continuing controversy with respect to the utilization of these facilities. The subject has come before the courts on six occasions, before the Zoning Board of Appeals on at least two occasions, and before the Evanston Zoning Amendment Committee on still two other occasions... The zoning ordinance ... enacted in 1971... [re.] permitted uses in U2 Districts...:
....not including the use of any building stadium or other facility for professional athletic, sports or games, or other commercial purposes.
The impact of the Evanston zoning ordinance has been to prevent Northwestern University from utilizing its property for the uses, similar to existing uses, for which it is unquestionably suited. As a result of the ordinance and its enforcement, however, Northwestern has been forced to cancel negotiations with promoters of Virginia Slims tennis tournament, which was to be held at McGaw hall in February, 1975, has had an exhibition basketball game between the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks at McGaw Hall on October 18, 1975 cancelled, has been prevented from hosting a professional soccer game involving the Chicago Sting Soccer Club at Dyche Stadium on June 13, 1976, and has been prevented from negotiating with other professional sports clubs, including the Chicago Bears football team and others.
The result of this restriction has been unreasonably to deprive Northwestern University of the ability to make a reasonable rate of return on its property, and thus to cause the University to suffer an unconscionable hardship.
Northwestern recognizes that increased frequency of use of its facilities will create some additional burden on the adjoining community. Nevertheless, it believes firmly that the fears of its neighbors as to the impact of these burdens are exaggerated, and that in any event, such burdens are easily outweighed by the immense burdens on Northwestern in having potentially revenue-producing facilities remain vacant well over 350 days a year and earning an unreasonably low rate of return...

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