In the seemingly unending battle to escape from the Civic Center at a reasonable hour on council meeting nights, Evanston aldermen Monday agreed to rearrange their meeting schedule.

After looking over a report from city staff that outlined how ten similar towns around the country arrange their meetings, the aldermen decided to try to shorten their regular second and fourth Monday meetings each month moving some business to other nights.

They plan to lengthen the first Monday council Rules Committee meetings and turn the occasional “special” council meetings on the third Monday into a regular event.

The aldermen resisted making any change to the current pattern of holding committee meetings on council agenda items immediately before the regular City Council meeting, although the staff report noted that none of the other communities follow that practice.

The report said most of the other communities start their regular City Council meetings around 7 p.m.

In Evanston, the regular council meetings often start closer to 9 p.m. because the committee meetings, the first of which starts at 5:45 p.m., run long.

The aldermen decided that staff presentations on various city programs and most public presentations from civic groups that now often fill the early minutes of regular city council meetings could be moved to the third Monday “special” meetings, and that other presentations plus the annual reviews they hope to have of the work of the city’s nearly 40 boards and commissions could be moved to Rules Committee meeting nights.

However, that will require lengthening the Rules Committee meetings from their current one hour length to at least 90 minutes — which will in turn mean a later start for the Human Services Committee meeting that now follows the Rules Committee.

Aldermen have frequently said that they have difficulty concentrating on business when meetings last past 10 p.m., but despite that, Evanston City Council meetings now frequently run as late as 11 p.m. or midnight.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Meetings

    There's an old truism which says that any meeting lasting longer than one hour ceases to be productive!

  2. Meeting length

    Decades ago the founder of Avis Car Rental said the way to shorten meetings was to eliminate chairs.

  3. City operations and meetings

    There numerous problems with the meetings

    1) Too many useless presentations have been added -that are of no value to operations –  adding items such as windmills or the Levy center to regular meetings increase the time with no results.  Promotions are a waste of time, other than they show us how they are bumping up  the pension costs!

    The public does not need to be informed about programs. Put this information a web site if anyone wants to look for it.

    2) They need to move APW and PD to another night and start them later. All council members need to attend APW since its main focus is on bills.   The council should start to review and discuss them there. Far more discussion needs to occur on staff doing large programs that are spending over 1 million dollars – most of the time the council members are just passing these programs with little real discussion or review.

    Staff in some cases is screwing up and wasting money and the council needs to act more responsibly. It is clear that the council members are mostly clueless on what is going on with some of these expenditures, so they just approve them, claiming staff knows what they are doing.

    3) Far too little time is spent on city operations. The assumption that staff is performing the work OK is not acceptable.  There appear to be many issues with the management of the departments and those who manage the employees.

    More accountability needs to be added into the meetings. Of course the council and the mayor do not understand the operations. Review of the departments needs to be done more often at APW, and what they are actually doing.

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