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November 17, 2018

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Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Patrick Keenan-Devlin Executive Director, Moran Center

We the undersigned urge the City Council to reject the $150,000 cut to the Mental Health Board Budget for 2019 and preserve 2018 funding levels. We recognize that many other critical services are being reduced within the proposed budget however, given our role as the social safety net within our community, we cannot tolerate any cuts. The proposed reduction to the Mental Health Board’s 2019 funding represents a 20% reduction in comparison to 2018 ($736,373). The City’s proposal to reduce the Mental Health Board’s funding lacks vision and is dangerous for those that rely on the services and programs we provide.

Our agencies drive equity, maintain diversity, and expand opportunities for vulnerable and disconnected residents. We keep community members out of broken institutions and systems, and in Evanston – working, living, and thriving.

We work together to:

• operate supportive programs and services for older adults, enriching their lives and maintaining connection with the community
• offer wrap-around, community-based housing solutions for adults with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and homeless youth, preventing vulnerable populations from being institutionalized while building a truly inclusive community
• counsel children, youth, and parents, managing crises, keeping families intact, and aiding in recovery
• feed kids breakfast and help with their homework, propelling their social-emotional and academic learning
• help residents access critical public benefits, helping maintain their financial stability
• screen children so they receive essential early interventions, setting them up for greater success
• deliver after school programming so children are learning in safe, nurturing environments outside of the classroom
• provide emergency shelters, ensuring that no one is pushed out of our community because of homelessness
• prepare free meals for struggling adults, allowing them to continue living in their homes and in our community and
• care for and educate infants and toddlers, while supporting their families' efforts to be self-sufficient providers and effective parents.

Collectively, we provide critical services that protect and promote the mental health and welfare of vulnerable children, youth, families, and seniors. Our impact is valued by the entire community. As reflected in the 2019 Priority-Based Budgeting Resident Survey, residents prioritized funding for the Mental Health Board over all other city services. The cut to the Mental Health Board is not only harmful to our residents, but also is not reflective of our community’s values, priorities, and commitment to equity.

The agencies currently funded by the Mental Health Board and who are presently seeking funding deliver comprehensive services and programs with minimal investment from the City – an incredible “return on investment.” Last year, we collectively served over 5,000 families with $736,373 from the Mental Health Board, providing complex services at only $147 per person. Furthermore, without these critical services, costs down the road will increase as older adults without support in their homes will require more expensive long-term care, young children who could benefit from early screening and intervention for developmental delays will be unprepared for kindergarten, and young people with untreated mental health issues or unaddressed special needs will fall behind in school, drop out, and will be more likely to end up entangled in the juvenile (in)justice system. These are long-term cost savings we cannot ignore if our community is to remain viable.

If you share our opposition to the Mental Health Board’s funding cuts, please contact your Alderman to express your disapproval. Tell your Alderman to reject cuts to Evanston’s social safety net!

Kim Hammock, Executive Director
Books & Breakfast
Carole Teske, Board Chair
Books & Breakfast

Ann Sickon, Executive Director
Center for Independent Futures
Dana La Chapelle, Board Chair
Center for Independent Futures

Patti Capouch, Chief Executive Officer
Impact Behavioral Health Partners
Renee Lanam, Board Chair
Impact Behavioral Health Partners

Carol Teske, Executive Director
Childcare Network of Evanston
Jonny Basofin, Board Chair
Childcare Network of Evanston

Colette Allen, Director
Family Focus-Evanston
Rose Johnson, Board Chair
Family Focus-Evanston

Susan Murphy, Executive Director
Interfaith Action of Evanston
Birch Burghardt, Board Chair
Interfaith Action of Evanston

Lindsay Percival, Executive Director
Learning Bridge Early Education Center
Laura Antolin, Board President
Learning Bridge Early Education Center

Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Executive Director
Moran Center for Youth Advocacy
Betsy Lehman, Board Chair
Moran Center for Youth Advocacy

Betty Bogg, Executive Director
Connections for the Homeless David Greer, Board President
Connections for the Homeless

Stephen Vick, Executive Director
Infant Welfare Society of Evanston
Marcia Richman, Board President
Infant Welfare Society of Evanston

Chantal Healey, Executive Director
Open Studio Project
Dayna Block, Board President
Open Studio Project

Kathy Honeywell, Director
Elizabeth Gordon, Managing Director
North Shore Senior Center
Stuart Smith, Board Chair
North Shore Senior Center

Maureen McDonnell, Executive Director
PEER Services

John Mayes, Executive Director
Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare
Stephen M. Fatum, Board Chair
Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare

Ann Fisher Raney, Chief Executive Officer
Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center
Scott Kaplan, Board President
Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center

Maggie Blinn DiNovi, Chief Executive Officer
Youth & Opportunity United
Cindy Wilson, Board President
Youth & Opportunity United

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.

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