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July 23, 2019

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Posted: Friday, July 12, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Joan Safford

At the City Council meeting on July 8, 2019, Alderman Judy Fiske once again again invoked the specter that "an 85 - foot apartment building, plus four floors of parking” could be built on the Library Parking Lot (LPL), if the City Council does not go along with her plan for an office building of the sort previously proposed for that site.

In fact:
1. R-6 limits apartment buildings to a total of 85 feet or 8 stories, whichever is less. Ch. 6-8-8-8. A planned development apartment building in an R-6 zone is limited to a height increase of no more than 12 feet (in exchange for community benefits) for a maximum height of 97 feet . Ch. 6-8-1-10 (C)1.
2. Any planned development would be subject to review and public hearing before the Plan Commission all variances sought would be subject to the the Zoning Code's standards and limits for planned developments, including the requirement that the developer provide significant public benefits that would justify the variances

3. The City owns and has no obligation to sell the Library Parking Lot: Council members hold the power to determine the appropriateness of use and/or design of any building proposed for this site.

4. Any sale of city land would require a super-majority (6) votes.

In sum, there is no basis for Alderman Fiske's statement unless one assumes that a super-majority of her colleagues on the City Council would buy into such a proposal in violation of Evanston’s zoning law's restrictions for R-6.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Robert Miller

Questions Park Litigation
The City of Evanston owes a detailed explanation to its residents of how it came to waste $8.2 million on the James Park litigation. The excellent reporting by the Evanston RoundTable disclosed that expert witnesses for Nicor and Commonwealth Edison produced clear and convincing scientific evidence that the old coal gas plant located at Oakton Street and McCormack Boulevard did not contaminate Evanston water pipes. That same chemical analysis and analysis of coal tar joint compound used in the 20th century to prevent rust could have been adduced by the City without litigation, had the City retained experts interested in investigating facts and mitigating the problem rather than building a case for litigation. The City’s evidence was so weak that it failed to meet its burden on every element required to obtain a preliminary injunction.
Three years later and $8.2 poorer, the City still hasn’t answered the two questions it should have answered before filing suit: 1) is there environmental contamination of City water pipes that requires remediation and 2) what is the cost of remediation? A third question to ask is whether the City is receiving wise counsel from its outside legal counsel? After $8.2 million wasted, the answer is no.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Linda Walker

Re: Peggy Tarr’s Article “Entertained,” June 27, 2019
There are not enough adjectives to describe the disrespect and ignorance Peggy Tarr displayed in her article about the woman singing the words to a Langston Hughes poem about black music. It is extremely rude and dehumanizing to speculate about anyone’s gender identity, at any time. It is never okay to do that. Peggy Tarr owes a deep apology to Evanston RoundTable readers. I’m angry and disappointed that this article was published without regard to these concerns.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Camille Blachowicz

Evanston Needs a Tree Policy
Remember Mr. T – The A Team actor who cut down hundreds of trees on his Jens Jensen designed grounds in 1986? Papers called this “The Lake Forest Chainsaw Massacre” and any Google search will fill you in on the gory details. The only good part of this travesty is the fact that public outrage enacted tree preservation ordinances to prevent developers and homeowners from similar behaviors. Lake Forest, Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Highland Park, Glenview and Skokie, among others, developed sensible permit processes to protect heritage trees while still providing lots of latitude for individual homeowner control.
Notice which town is missing from this list? Evanston. This issue was last raised in 2010 in the City Council, but no ordinance or plan emerged. All this was highlighted at a recent Preservation Committee Meeting where developers of the last packet on the former Kendall site requested approval of a plan that would remove a healthy 250-year-old oak tree smack dab in the middle of the bird migration flyway. The developer’s own arborist report noted that this removal would harm the two remaining oaks and that a stump would have to be retained to minimize the damage. What a selling point!
Also troubling was the fact that the Preservation Commission, while asking the developer to return for reasons not related to this request, noted that they “didn’t do trees,” something confirmed at that same meeting where another plan was approved after applicants had already removed oaks on their property. Since the commission’s mandate includes landscaping, this seems perplexing. Alderman Judy Fiske has requested that the City Council define and include protections for “heritage trees” in the City Code to become part of the Preservation Committee review process, this is a good first step in preserving our Tree City status and indicating we share the concerns of our North Shore neighbors. This is a move we can all support.
The City has finally filled the long vacant forestry/arborist position, so now would be a good time to revisit the issue of a tree preservation ordinance. We should be protecting, not removing, healthy legacy trees. Public action before public outrage is needed and could set a proactive stage for civil discourse surrounding these important community assets.

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Robert Miller

Wants New District Management Theory
Daenerys Stormborn’s goal, before she went bat- ... -crazy, was to break the Wheel in the Game of Thrones. It is time for District 65 to break its wheel now that Paul Goren is retiring as superintendent. Decades have come and gone since I attended District 65 schools in the ’60s and my children attended the same schools in the 2000s. Fashion changed, spicy food replaced ’50s cuisine and music moved from Motown to hip-hop, even baseball changed.
The only true constant in it all has been the continued disparity in minority achievement at District 65. Despite acknowledging for six decades the achievement gap as a significant problem, and setting the goal of reducing the gap, District 65 has failed. Changes in curriculum, instructional methods, bilingual education, and other programs have failed to solve the problem. Now the District embarks on another search for a superintendent using the same system of recruiters, who will offer the same candidates, all possessing the same backgrounds, who will ensure the same results for the next six decades. It is time to break the wheel and think anew.
A school system is a system. The fact that District 65 specializes in education does not change its nature. Sound management theory, the training of school board members, superintendent, staff, teachers, and students in systems thinking, continuous process improvement and proven methods to reduce variation are needed to break the wheel.
There are many qualified experts who train school systems in applying these theories and methods that can assist District 65 and possibly direct the District to superintendent candidates who are experts in the required management theory and methods. David P. Langford of Langford International, Inc., is one such expert District 65 can contact for guidance.
As Mr. Langford has stated, “The ability to perform quality improvement miracles in every learning system has always been available to us it is the power within. The processes and concepts have been developed and tested in business and education for decades. All we need to do is start.”
District 65 can also contact leaders at the Leander ISD school district in Texas that serves 39,000 students, of whom 20% are economically disadvantaged, for additional information and proof. Changing leaders at District 65 will not change the system or solve the gap. The School Board needs to decide upon a management theory required to run District 65 and then select a superintendent qualified to lead that change. Replacing a superintendent without replacing the management theory will only perpetuate the wheel and guarantee that minority students fail to reach their learning potential.

Posted: Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Guestbook entry by: John Foley

I find it curious that the neighbors around Welsh-Ryan arena and Ryan Field feel so strongly about allowing alcohol at NU events when there is so little outrage in our community when Senator Fine, Representative Gong-Gershowitz and Representative Gabel all voted to legalize marijuana.

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