Evanston RoundTable

Happy Friday morning, Evanston!

This week, after new Evanston City Manager Luke Stowe announced in an email that the city’s controversial anti-panhandling signs would be removed, crews started taking down the “Have a heart” signs. In the photo above, city crew member Kevin Lasauskas removes one of the signs on Wednesday at Chicago Avenue and Dempster Street. Now, here are today’s top stories.

Later today, Evanston will announce the names of three final police chief candidates, City Manager Luke Stowe said during an Eighth Ward meeting Thursday night. Evanston has not had a permanent police chief in place since June 2021. The candidates, two of whom are women, will participate in a public forum at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8. Each finalist will answer questions for an hour.

Credit: Richard Cahan

Coach Alex Thomas left his mark on the hearts of many at ETHS. Thomas, 42, died Aug. 12 of a heart attack. He left a legacy of service to Evanston Township High School, where he was a safety supervisor and coach. On Wednesday, an overflow crowd gathered at Second Baptist Church to celebrate his life and comfort his family.

In response to the RoundTable’s article this week about a prayer at an event held Monday for District 65 teachers, the Rev. Dr. Michael Nabors, pastor at the Second Baptist Church and the president of the Evanston North Shore NAACP, has written a guest essay with his thoughts on the invocation, which he wrote, that was delivered by his daughter, Minister Spencer Nabors.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

Residents and business displaced on Howard Street. A fire and a building condemnation on Howard have forced Evanston residents out of their homes as well as destroying a businesses, Ashley Beauty Supply. Council Member Devon Reid, 8th Ward, discussed the situation at a ward meeting Thursday night.

The city’s new Participatory Budgeting Committee and its related democratic process is now off the ground. New resident-led steering and leadership committees will be formed that are representative across wards, gender, race, age and income, among other factors. The participatory budgeting process will determine how the city will spend $3 million in federal pandemic-relief funds.

Forum for 2nd Ward candidates set for Sept. 6. The names of the nine candidates who are seeking to fill the vacant Second Ward seat have been disclosed and the hopefuls will be interviewed by Mayor Daniel Biss at a forum that will be conducted in person and virtually at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6 at Morton Civic Center. The vacancy was created July 15 when Council Member Peter Braithwaite retired.

COVID-19 update as of Aug. 25: Cook County stays in ‘medium’ community risk level, Evanston remains ‘low’. The total number of new cases of COVID-19 in Evanston was 52 for the week ending Aug. 24, compared with 99 for the week ending Aug. 18, a decrease of 28%. The seven-day average of new cases in the state increased by 6%; hospitalizations decreased by 4%.   

Movie review: ‘Mack and Rita’ misses the mark. “This film might have been more interesting if screenwriters Madeline Walter and Paul Welsh (Killing It, TV series, 2020) hadn’t beat us over the head with Mack’s longings for her fantasy senior life. Perhaps if the action of the film had shown us this side of Mack, we might have been more willing to follow,” critic Doris Popovich writes.

Week in photos: Aug. 18-25. RoundTable writer and photographer Heidi Randhava took a number of great pictures at Walker Elementary School on Wednesday, Aug. 24, as students came for the first day of classes. Pictured above are Gilo and Ali Logan on Ali’s first day of kindergarten at Walker.

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Around the web

Bloomingdale’s to close store at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center. The anchor store at the Old Orchard mall in Skokie will be closing later this year. Clearance sales will begin Sept. 6.

‘It’s going to help me live a little bit better’: Relief from some student loan debt could lift ‘burden on everyone’. More than 1.7 million Illinois residents are in student debt, owing an average of $38,000. University of Illinois Chicago students told WBEZ on Wednesday that Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student debt per borrower will help them get married sooner, buy a home and more.

Football Preview: Northwestern seeks redemption in season opener against Nebraska. Northwestern will face Nebraska on Saturday in Dublin. When the two teams met last year, the Wildcats fell to the Cornhuskers by 49 points. The game, televised nationally by Fox, begins at 11:30 a.m. Chicago time.

California is poised to phase out sales of new gas-powered cars. California is set to ban the sale of all new gas-powered cars by 2035. New York, Washington and Massachusetts are expected to follow suit, and Illinois could soon become the latest state to commit to a full phase-out of gas-powered vehicles.

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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...