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Evanston aldermen Monday will consider several ideas for getting Monday night City Council meetings over while it’s still Monday night.

They are scheduled to consider at a Rules Committee meeting:

  • Eliminating the Administration and Public Works Committee meetings — which now lead off the Monday marathons at 6 p.m. The immediate past chair of that committee, Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, has suggested its business — mainly approving city contracts — could be folded into the main City Council meeting, where aldermen now vote on all those matters anyway. Five of the nine aldermen now serve on the Administration and Public Works Committee.
  • Starting Planning and Development Committee meetings earlier — at 6:30 rather than 7:15 p.m. The recent adoption of the use of a consent agenda by the Administration and Public Works Committee to shorten its sessions has opened up the possibility of an earlier start for Planning and Development. Seven of the nine aldermen serve on the Planning and Development Committee.
  • Setting an end time for City Council meetings. Last fall the aldermen considered, but didn’t act on a proposal to set an 11 p.m. end time for their meetings and received information about other communities that set end times at early as 9:30 or 10 p.m. and then require a majority vote of aldermen to continue a meeting beyond that point.

The aldermen are also scheduled to consider a proposal to set time limits for public comment at standing committee meetings.

In a letter last week, the Public Access Bureau of the state Attorney General’s Office applied the 45-minute limit for public comment in the City Council’s rules for City Council meetings to meetings of standing committees, in the absence of any separate time limit specified by the Council rules for commtitee meetings, and concluded that failure to provide that much time at a December meeting of the Rules Committee violated the state Open Meetings Act.

A memo from City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz suggests setting public comment time limits for committee meetings of 10 minutes if there there are five or fewer speakers, and a total of 20 minutes if there are more than five speakers and that no speaker would be allowed to speak for longer than two minutes.

His proposal would provide an additional 20 minutes of public comment at Planning and Development Committee meetings for each Planned Devleopment application.

Monday’s Rules Committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Cty Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. Alderman Hours

    With all due respect, it seems to me that our aldermen accomplish very little overall —whether it is working many hours or few.  This group is highly inefficient and the lack of basic business skills is astonishing.  For what we pay in taxes we are definitely not getting what we pay for.  

  2. They knew what they were in for
    I find it amusing that aldermen like Fleming campaign to be on the council and then complain that the meetings are too long.

    This has been the case for years and for good reason: governing is hard work. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!

    1. Long meetings

      It isn’t just aldermen who complain about long meetings — many members of the public — who show up to be heard on various issues or are interested in the outcome — complain about the length as well.

      And, as aldermen and others in previous stories on Evanston Now have suggested, people’s decision-making ability tends to decline toward the end of a very long day.

      The “it’s always been this way” argument seems to assume that there is no room for improvement in the processes of government. That seems pretty defeatist to me.

      — Bill

  3. Alderman stop buring the midnight oil

    How about if they change the meeting time from Monday evening to early Saturday morning?  Part of the issue is that once public discourse is finished on a subject and a vote is needed, the hour of the evening makes it less likely that those voting will use their best judgement.  Many of the Aldermen work at a job prior to the city council meeting.  If you add those 8 – 12 hours prior to the meeting, these Aldermen will be tired and unable to make a great decision. 

    Why not move the meetings to 7 AM on Saturday mornings and limit the discussion for each speaker and limit the number of speakers on either side of an issue.  The Alderman will be able to hear this information while they are not already tired from a full day.  This would allow all to have a much more effective meeting.  The decisions will be based more on logic than on the desire to just be finished which might take place during a late night discussion.

    1. One reason you already listed
      One reason you already listed..the work schedules of the council. Second the general public…7am is a bad time for public meetings.

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