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Another plan to end midnight meetings

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.

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