Evanston RoundTable

Good morning, Evanston.

In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

City News

New City Council members and City Clerk (Photo by Genie Lemieux, Evanston Photographic Studios)

New Council, Clerk Sworn In. Mayor Daniel Biss and members of the 81st Evanston City Council were officially sworn in to office in a special ceremony at the May 10 City Council meeting.

Biss’s First Act As Mayor Involves Reimagining Public Safety. Just hours before he was sworn in on May 10 as Evanston’s mayor, Daniel Biss announced the appointment of a Reimagining Public Safety Committee.

With Changeover, Big Contrasts Between 80th and 81st Evanston City Councils. City officials faced a tricky situation May 10, allowing the 80th Evanston City Council to finish its business and install the 81st City Council.

Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook (Submitted photo)

Police Department’s Use-of-Force Policy to Incorporate ‘Sanctity of Life,’ ‘Proportionality’ and Other Recommendations. The increased awareness of police shootings – particularly of unarmed Black and Brown people – would seem to make establishing trust between police and residents an uphill battle. It is, nonetheless, one that Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook says he sees as paramount to the department’s mission. “To establish a great relationship, we have to be in a position to hear – to listen to what the public wants in a police department that is here to serve them,” Chief Cook told the RoundTable in a recent interview.

Barely Seated, New Alderperson Devon Reid Places Proposals for Free Beach Tokens, Hazardous Pay Increase for Employees on Council’s Next Agenda. New Eighth Ward Alderperson Devon Reid wasted little time putting his agenda into action, asking officials at the City Council’s inaugural meeting May 10 to consider making beach tokens free and establishing hazardous pay for retail employees who have been working at the City’s larger retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Weighty Agenda and Some Potential Snags in the May 10 City Council Meetings. A Chicago attorney says new City Council members and City Clerk must be sworn in at 4:30 meeting. Evanston’s Corporation Counsel disagrees.

New Council Will Vote on Fate of Ethics Board. Members of the newly installed City Council will get the chance to make the call on staff recommended changes to the way ethics complaints are heard.

With the Dog Beach closed, officials are looking for a site for a second dog park in Evanston. (RoundTable photo)

Not Barking Up a Tree to Say Interest Is High in City’s Next Dog Park. Evanston’s recent municipal election may have received a rather tepid response, but in another area, there is no lack of interest in the winner of a contested process. More than 100 people were signed on to the virtual broadcast the City held May 5 to discuss progress on the selection of a site for Evanston’s second dog park.

COVID-19 Update on May 14: ­­­­­­­­­­­­Three New Cases in Evanston, 1,841 in the State. On May 13, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated its recommendations for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


Foster School, circa 1905 (Shorefront Legacy Center)

Fifth Ward STEM School Plan Promises Equity. The Fifth Ward of Evanston, the historic heart of the Black community in the west-central part of the City dating to the days of redlining, has not had a District 65 neighborhood school since Foster School was converted to a magnet in 1967 as part of the District’s then-novel desegregation plan.

School Districts Post Application Processes to Fill Board Vacancies. The two Evanston/Skokie School Boards each have an open position for which they are now taking applications. The vacancy on the District 202 School (Evanston Township High School) Board was the result of too few candidates in the April 6 general election. Four positions were open but only three candidates, all incumbents, filed for the position.

Arts & Life

Volunteers at the new Levy Center gardens. (Photo by Beth Reiman)

New Community Gardens at Levy Senior Center. The first week in May saw the fulfillment of a dream that had taken months to plan, negotiate, and build. The Garden Club of Evanston and the Levy Senior Center Foundation teamed up with representatives from the City of Evanston to plan and install four elevated vegetable garden beds at the entrance of the Levy Senior Center.

RoundTable Wins Lisagor Award for Best Neighborhood / Community News. The Chicago Headline Club announced the winners of 2020 Peter Lisagor Awards. An impartial Society of Professional Journalists chapter outside Illinois judged entries in more than 100 categories to single out some of the best journalism across the Chicago region over the past year. The RoundTable was honored with the award for Best Neighborhood/Community News, with mention of the following writers: Larry Gavin, Mary Gavin, Victoria Scott, Robert Seidenberg, Heidi Randhava, and Karen Young.

Northwestern Professor Teresa Horton hopes people will spend more time in nature. (Submitted photo)

A Prescribed Dose of Nature. After a 50-minute walk in the park, a person’s mood improves and their cognitive function increases, according to a 2019 study in a body of work called the Walking Green Project. And people who spend more time outside tend to have better mental health, recent research shows. However, these studies do not prove that regular exposure to nature directly leads to an improvement in heath conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. That’s what Northwestern professor Teresa Horton’s research is centered around. She is working to find data that shows the long-term benefits of spending time in nature, particularly when it comes to alleviating stress.

Just Wanna Watch Netflix and Eat Ice Cream. Dear Gabby, I’ve gone through all the stages of the pandemic: from being obsessed with COVID numbers to appreciating the slower simpler pace, from wearing the same pajama bottoms everyday on all my Zoom calls to going to the drive through at McDonald’s just to see another human being, from being restless, bored and irritable, to feeling full-on, happy-in-my-complete isolation. How should I start getting ready for the new reemergence, whenever that may happen? Do I have to wear makeup or stylish clothes again? Respond to ANY social overtures when I’d rather just watch Netflix and eat ice cream?

Patrick T. Reardon (Photo by Steve Kagan)

Local Author Patrick T. Reardon Discusses History of the Loop at Levy Lectures. Local author Patrick T. Reardon is an expert on many aspects of Chicago history. As an investigative reporter, feature writer, columnist, and editor with the Chicago Tribune for 32 years, he found his writing about the city took him to almost every neighborhood and suburb in Chicagoland. It was while researching one of those stories that he was asked by an editor when “the Loop” started being used to describe the downtown area. Finding the answer to that question became the subject of his most recently published book, “The Loop: The ‘L’ Tracks That Shaped and Saved Chicago.”

Social Justice

NAACP Evanston Branch Civic Engagement Chair Willie Shaw greets the crowd at ETHS, the end of the votercade route. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

NAACP Evanston Branch ‘Votercade’ Part of National John Lewis Voting Rights Action Day. The Evanston/North Shore NAACP hosted a John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Votercade and community engagement celebration from on May 8. Voting rights advocates in more than 150 cities across the country simultaneously took to the streets in voter motorcades, or “votercades” to raise awareness and create energy around protecting the right to vote.

Public Square

Les Jacobson: The Two Stevies in a Season of Growth and Hope. The other day I shared on my Facebook page the wonderfully infectious video of Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” synchronized to amazing clips from the Golden Era of Hollywood musicals. It’s not even five minutes, but it will radiate joy throughout your day and leave your jaw deeply askew. I mention “Uptown Funk” – the song and the video – for one reason: music, dance, and the arts in general help us get through the difficult years. We should patronize and support the arts as much as possible.

Peggy Tarr: ‘What’s Going On’* The month of May has several days designated for celebrating events and/or honoring individuals or groups of people, such as May Day, Cinco De Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day. The month itself is given titles that focus on specific interests or groups of people, such as Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. I, as well as many others, am concerned about the need for people with mental illness to get mental treatment.


ETHS Girls Water Polo Team Falls in Three Overtimes at CSL Tourney. Evanston’s girls water polo team inches closer to New Trier every time the two rivals meet this spring. Maybe the fifth time will be the charm for the Wildkits if they meet again next week. Bridget McKenna’s goal in the third overtime period preserved that upper hand for the Trevians again on Friday night at the Niles North pool as New Trier outscored ETHS 7-6 in the championship game of the Central Suburban League tournament.

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