Bobby Burns

The City Council’s Rules Committee is scheduled Monday to debate further changes the process for determining how an alder’s bright idea gets added to the city staff’s workload.

The latest proposal, from Ald. Bobby Burns (5th), would enlarge the size of the Referrals Committee from three to five members.

And — at least as drafted by city staff — the new proposal would gut a change approved by the Rules Committee just two weeks ago at the request of Mayor Daniel Biss.

That change would give the Referrals Committee the discretion to decline to advance a proposal for staff and committee work unless the council member had two co-sponsors for the idea.

Burns argues that expanding the committee’s size would make the committee more diverse. It’s not entirely clear whether he supports killing off the Mayor’s proposal to give the committee more discretion in handling referrals.

The changes Biss sought were approved by the Rules Committee on a 9-1 vote, with only Ald. Devon Reid (8th) in opposition.

Referrals by alder as of 10/1/22.

In the two weeks since that vote, the pace of referrals has continued unabated.

Since the referrals process was put into place just after the April 2021 election, council members have made a total of 157 referrals — or an average of more than two a week.

And five of those referrals were made in the past two weeks.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. “ It’s not entirely clear whether he supports killing off the Mayor’s proposal |or| to give the committee more discretion in handling referrals.”

    Oh, it’s clear.

  2. Throw as many ideas as you can approach. Some of them might pass because of the sheer volume & fatigue factor. It’s based on the idea that other people’s money can & should be spent freely & frequently. Free/reduced parking for some areas & increase parking fees elsewhere is just the latest iteration.

  3. Absurd proposals from 1 alderperson? Check. Never-ending debates in city council meetings? Check. Empty and depressing downtown? Check. High taxes for property owners? Check. Skyrocketing rent for small businesses? Check. Mass exodus of police officers? Check. Mass exodus of public school kids from Haven School? Check. Unsuccessful attempt to hire an outsider as City Manager? Check. Continuing issues at Margarita Inn and Albany Care? Check. Increased crime? Check. Same people blaming Northwestern’s? Check. Crumbling old mansion still empty and nowhere near it’s fundraising goal? Check. And when folks dare to criticize, often times they are told “if you don’t like it, move to Wilmette.”

  4. Bombarding the city council with ideas one after another, no matter how ludicrous, seems to be a great plan for guaranteeing that less of genuine import gets done. It also seems like a super way to get an alder’s name front & center (“there’s no such thing as bad publicity”).

    Any proposal which requires various alders to sign on before taking up valuable city council time seems like a great idea. A brief glance at the chart in article says it all. Furthermore, IMO, it would give the city council more credibility by not giving airtime to idiotic ideas; the council would be seen as doing the “peoples'” work, not just as a vehicle for giving publicity to specific alders.

    I’m definitely in favor of this idea.

  5. I am totally sick and tired of Council permitting Devon Reid to take up large amounts of Council time and energy. Reid is a gadfly whose single goal is to get attention for himself. Sadly, Mayor Biss’s sensible proposal to get Council out from Reid’s thumb has now been made more difficult by Bobby Burns’ recent proposal.

  6. It’s starting to feel like the city is entering a death spiral of increased costs for diminishing returns.

    Hey, but at least the death blows please the progressive extremists in town. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone with crazy ideas like a functional local government and places to buy stuff or safe streets.

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