Evanston RoundTable

Good Friday morning, Evanston!

It is going to be a wet day, likely filled with thunderstorm this morning and afternoon, so the National Weather Service tells us. It will be cloudy with a high near 73. (We are also still under a Hazardous Weather Outlook warning, too.) So, please be careful out there, Evanston.

Aside from the weather, it was a stormy afternoon and evening in Evanston as the Evanston Police Department reported around 9 p.m. that there were about 10 shots fired and a man found dead near the canal on the 2100 block of McCormick Blvd. The EPD stressed it was not an “active shooter” situation. There was also another violent, and unrelated, death earlier yesterday. A woman was struck and killed by a Metra commuter train a little after 2 p.m. on the tracks just north of the Central Street station on the Union Pacific/North Line. We will have updates via our website on both situations as they become available. Now, on to other news.

Evanston’s Redistricting Committee kicked off its public process of redrawing the city’s ward boundaries. The committee, formed earlier this year, is charged with updating Evanston’s ward boundaries to ensure residents have equal council representation. “Our ward populations have grown out of whack over the years and our total population deviation right now is 20%,” said Fourth Ward Council member Jonathan Nieuwsma, who moderating the meeting where about 30 people logged in online. One speaker, attorney and longtime Evanston activist Jeff Smith, argued that the ward remap should be done before, not after, municipal elections.

The city is also looking for your opinion on changing plastic bag rules. They will be scheduling several town halls about changing the current ordinance, approved in 2014, which prohibits stores 10,000-square feet or larger from distributing disposable plastic bags to customers. But the Economic Development Committee members and city staff last month expressed support for lifting the current ban and replacing it with a 10-cent tax on all point-of-sale bags. Dates to come.

COVID-19 by the numbers: 33 cases were reported on Wednesday, July 13, the last day the city updated case totals. The seven-day average is 41.3 cases per day.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

City Government 101: Pros and cons of council-manager form of government. Over the last year, with an interim city manager in place, Evanston has heard a lot of talk about the local government structure in the town. On Monday, the city and the RoundTable hosted a town hall with Mayor Daniel Biss about the current third search in 14 months, during which a discussion of the elected mayor and strong city manager form of government came up. In this story, the RoundTable offers a simple history of that form of government and how it operates in Evanston.

COVID-19 update as of July 14: Cook County drops to ‘medium’ community risk level, Evanston remains ‘medium’. The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 289 for the week ending July 13, compared to 223 for the week ending July 7. The number of new cases in the state increased by about 27%. Hospitalizations in the state increased by 10%.

Credit: Jane Fulton Alt

How does your garden grow? As the sustainable gardening movement continues to grow, static yards with tightly trimmed turf and knife-edged boxwoods are giving way to wilder spaces where bees thrum, butterflies flutter and insects wriggle beneath a musk-scented carpet of decaying leaves.

Letter to the Editor: Open Illinois’ rivers and waterways. “I am sad to say the vast majority of the rivers in our state are NOT accessible to Illinois paddlers as was confirmed in last month’s ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court, where the court sided with landowners, saying they can block off waterways to paddlers and fishing enthusiasts,” Sigrid Pilgrim writes.

At This Time: Thursday at 4:48 p.m. Emily Guthrie and John Kennedy show petitions they and others are circulating that would ask if Evanston should maintain the Lorraine Morton Civic Center. They believe it is cost effective to keep city offices in the building at 2100 Ridge Ave. They ran a successful campaign in 2007 to preserve the building. Their new group is Save the Civic Center (Again)! They need 3,200 signatures to get the question on the November ballot. Officials say it will cost $23 million to make needed improvements. The city hired consultants to study the issue. Their report is due soon. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

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Around the web

With abortion nearly banned in their state, Wisconsin doctors head to Illinois. Planned Parenthood chapters in Wisconsin and Illinois announced a partnership Thursday to operate jointly out of a clinic in Waukegan. Jennifer Welch, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the organization opened the location in 2020 in anticipation of Roe v. Wade falling and an increased demand for abortions in Illinois among Wisconsin residents.

Highland Park mayor leads residents in vigil at City Hall. More than 1,000 people gathered at Highland Park City Hall Wednesday night to light candles in honor of the seven people who were killed in the Fourth of July parade shooting. “My goal forevermore in my life is gonna be to get these combat weapons out of my country,” Mayor Nancy Rotering told the crowd.

Awarded time with the James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers from Northwestern and University of Chicago are over the moon. The $10 billion telescope launched Christmas Day, traveled a million miles and, just this week, released its first images of the universe to the public. Now, several researchers at Northwestern and the University of Chicago will get access to photos and data collected by the giant device, which is currently orbiting the sun from a space parking lot known as L2.

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Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...