Quantcast

Aldermen: ‘No names, please’ in public comment

Evanston aldermen Monday voted to bar citizens from criticizing city employees by name during the City Council’s public comment period.

The aldermen agreed with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl that she should gavel people out of order if they “attack anyone by name” during citizen comment.

The decision, at the council’s Rules Committee meeting, came in response to an incident at last week’s City Council meeting.

City Clerk Rodney Greene started to read a letter from an attorney representing the Jewish day school now suing the city over the council’s refusal to grant a special use permit that would allow the school to relocate to industrially-zoned property at 222 Hartrey Ave.

Before Greene got far into the letter, some aldermen insisted he stop reading it, saying it was inappropriate to be read at the council meeting. They objected to its three-page length, the fact the attorney wasn’t present to speak in person and to the fact the letter criticized a city employee by name.


Evanston aldermen Monday voted to bar citizens from criticizing city employees by name during the City Council’s public comment period.

The aldermen agreed with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl that she should gavel people out of order if they “attack anyone by name” during citizen comment.

The decision, at the council’s Rules Committee meeting, came in response to an incident at last week’s City Council meeting.

City Clerk Rodney Greene started to read a letter from an attorney representing the Jewish day school now suing the city over the council’s refusal to grant a special use permit that would allow the school to relocate to industrially-zoned property at 222 Hartrey Ave.

Before Greene got far into the letter, some aldermen insisted he stop reading it, saying it was inappropriate to be read at the council meeting. They objected to its three-page length, the fact the attorney wasn’t present to speak in person and to the fact the letter criticized a city employee by name.

The letter quotes statements by Zoning Administrator Bill Dunkley from the transcript of Plan Commission meeting in August to bolster the attorney’s argument that the city should not have adopted a zoning change that eliminates churches as a special use in industrial zones.

We have obtained a copy of the letter from attorney Mark R. Sargis and it’s available here (2.4MB .pdf file).

It was not clear from the discussion Monday how the aldermen might respond if a citizen criticized a city official’s actions without mentioning the official by name or mentioned the official’s title but not his or her name.

But Tisdahl said she planned to draft a policy statement on the issue to add to the public comment sign-up sheet at the council meetings.

Editors’ Picks