Despite opposition from a Chicago newspaper and from two frequent speakers at public comment, Evanston alders moved unanimously toward adopting a “civility pledge” Monday night.

The Rules Committee vote came without any debate, except for a statement from City Manager Luke Stowe that the measure wasn’t directed at any one incident, or any one council member.

The “civility pledge” language was recommended by the Illinois Municipal League at its board of directors meeting in April.

The IML “civility pledge.”

That was followed in Evanston by an incident May 1 in which Ald. Devon Reid (8th) walked out of a Human Services Committee meeting after denouncing his colleagues as “a status quo council that only takes up issues that impact our wealthy northern residents.”

Stowe made his referral recommending adoption of the “civility pledge” on May 22.

The pledge contains no enforcement mechanism or penalty for refusing to sign, but three days after Evanston Now broke news of the pledge proposal on May 29, the Chicago Tribune published an editorial arguing Reid should not “have to sign a pledge,” and that “raucous debate is good for Evanston.” It also defended Reid’s “right to storm out of meetings.”

Those sentiments were echoed at public comment Monday night by residents Mike Vasilko and Trisha Connolly.

It will require another vote, likely at next Monday’s City Council meeting, to complete the “civility pledge” approval process.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I read and agreed with the Trib’s opinion. The Civility Pledge is not a good idea.

    Also, I would have a hard time agreeing that “all are striving to support our community” when they capitulate to the NIMBY’s in their ward in what is against the interest of Evanston as a whole. The decorum with which they do so really does not matter.

    1. >>they capitulate to the NIMBY’s in their ward in what is against the interest of Evanston as a whole

      What? In the 4th ward, I’ve only seen the capitulation towards an organization hell bent upon being the heralds of the failure of downtown Evanston and the city as a whole.

  2. Decorum and civility in politics does matter. Just look at the sad state of our entire country for an example of absence of both.

  3. The IML’s ‘Civility Pledge’ is exceptionally good guidance for government officials, business managers, educational institutions, community groups, etc. Problem is, it’s legally far too vague to be enforceable at any level. Another approach may be to simply display the Civility Pledge on a large marque and post within the Evanston City Hall – Council Chambers in order to reinforce the importance of civility in government and everywhere else people frequently interact.

    1. Well there is nothing to enforce. It appears that any alder can not sign the pledge, or sign it and then ignore it without consequence.

      Regarding Tim’s response to my earlier comment, the Margarita Inn issue is a one-off item where there is disagreement about what is best for the City. Note I am not defending the decision that was made. One of the things that makes it notable is that is is so rare. What is much more common is blocking or shrinking property development and downzoning to prevent increased density.

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