Recap: City Council

Devon Reid.

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council meeting. On the agenda is a special order of business to split the work of responding to Freedom of Information Act requests among four city staffers.

City Clerk Devon Reid, who now is the city's sole designated FOIA officer, recently sued the city to gain more control over the FOIA process.

The meeting is to begin shortly after the 6 p.m. Administration and Public Works Committee session ends. (Tonight's Planning and Development Committee meeting has been cancelled.)

A packet with information on tonight's agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:18 p.m. (Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, is absent ... at work in Springfield.)

Fire Chief Brian Scott discusses National CPR and AED Week and presents award to Sarah Agnew, a 13-year-old, who saved her father's life by performing CPR when he suffered a heart attack.

Mayor announces Nationla Senior Health and Fitness Day tomorrow and the 100th anniversary of the Canal Shores Golf Course today.

And he marks the upcoming 100th anniversary (on June 10) of Illinois becoming the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

City Manager announcements, from the deputy city manager, Kimberly Richardson.

Ike Ogbo, interim health director, announces launch of this year's edition of We're Out Walking on June 15.

Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway announces U.S. Lifesaving presentation -- certification of Evanston's program.

Chief Scott announces recent fire department promotions of ...

  • Paul Polep to deputy chief from division chief
  • Kim Kull promoted to division chief
  • Matt Smith promoted to division chief

City Clerk Devon Reid notes that Kull was the first female firefighter on the force ... now there are six.

Reid goes on to criticize the mayor for the proposal to add additional FOIA officers ... and for annoucing it on the Friday before a long holiday weekend.

Says the clerk's office has a deputy and additional part time staff as FOIA officers.

Public Comment

Harris Miller opposes change in FOIA officers. Says people smell corrumption and loss of democracy from machine politics.

Mike Vasilko says problem isn't the clerk's office or Devon Reid. Says he's the only city official devoted to doing the public's work.

Additional speakers object to the proposed FOIA change.

Public Comment ends at 8:53 pm.

Special order of business

SP1 - Designation of additonal Freedom of Information Act Officers

Mayor Hagerty explains his proposal to add additional FOIA officers in police and law departments.

Says FOIA requests have doubled over the past two years -- so in city's best interest to add additional FOIA officers.

Says there'll be no change in responses to FOIAs.

Says were only 19 complaints last year to the attorney general's office out of 1400 requests. Says none were found in favor of the requesters.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says if you read the resolution, the people who are designated are already involved in doing the work currently.

"Anybody who says the nine people up here are not committed to transparency is not correct," he says.

Says council debates in a very spirited way ... there's passion at all times, but do it with a commitment to what's best for the community.

Says doesn't agree that giving one person 100 percent control over anything is a good idea for good governance. Says need checks and balances.

Says the proposal does not take away the clerk's opportunity to advocate for something.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says he's been extremely supportive of the clerk in his role as a developing and emerging leaders.

Says former 2nd Ward alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste said, "None of us here are above reproach."

Says decisions are not made based on what someone said or what's written in the media.

Says it's his opinion that this does not take away any power from the clerk.

Says will support the proposed change.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, says we live in a time when people don't trust government.

No matter what you choose, somebody won't like it, she says. But her concern is that people see the clerk's office as the office of accountability for the city government. Says hasn't heard of people saying FOIAs are being processed to slowly. Says the FOIA process seems to be working. Suggests keeping things as they are. Says should wait until after the clerk's lawsuit is resolved before making any change.

Reid says people have trust in the system the way it is today. Says if additional FOIA officers are appointed he wouldn't have the opportunity to challenge denials from other departments.

Says his office has the staff to be able to handle the volume of requests

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, says she's advocated for additional FOIA officers in the past.

Michelle Masoncup, corporation counsel, says there are 19 requests overdue -- four are attorney client discussions.

Says there are 67 requests in a holding pattern in the Next Request system -- says many have been there for three weeks or more.

Says because they're in the holding pattern the city can't comply with them. Under the previous FOIA system requester has five days to respond or the request was closed.

Reid says some of the open requests are there because the police department has refused to provide him with a copy of the dash cam videos.

Motion approved 5-3 with Rue Simmons, Rainey and Fleming voting no.

Consent agenda

Off consent ...

A18, O1, O2

Consent agenda approved.

A18 - Sale of city-owned property at 2222 Oakton ... for climbing gym.

Rainey says doesn't think the property should be sold. Not happy with sale to a "big developer." Says use will generate no revenue other than property tax.

Says real estate tax will be around $100K ... of which city will get only $16K a year. Says city needs 30K SF of storage ... haven't found it yet... says will be spending more on the storage ... perhaps more than $100K a year. It's a bad deal.

Rue Simmons asks that the proposal be held. Revelle seconds. So the measure is held until the June 10th meeting.

Fleming says wants to know more about what the city actually needs to store that's now in the recycling center.

O1 - Evanston Animal Shelter Association agreement

Braithwaite thanks the shelter volunteers.

Approved 8-0

O2 - Administrative adjudication alternative for juveniles ... resolution and ordinance

Braithwaite says the change will have an impact for generations on the lives of black and brown children.

Approved 8-0.

Call of the wards

Rue Simmons ...says on Saturday had a couple of shootings ...and she awoke to a gunshot on Sunday morning. Says this not an acceptable opening to the summer. Says need every resource to stop gun crimes. Asking any residents who have information should contact police to get the guns off the street so can have safe streets in Evanston.

Says will have reception for all grads in the ward at ward meeting June 12 ... 7 p.m. in Room G300 at the Civic Center.

Makes referral to Equity and Empowerment Commission on a local reparations policy.

Rainey ... makes referral to Planning and Development Committee regarding inclusionary housing ordinance. Says if deconvert a condo to rental housing its subject to inclusionary housing ordinance -- says the deconversions are creating affordable rentals ... and ordinance is causing conversions to be abandoned. Really causing a problem, she says.

Fleming makes referral to Human Services Committee regarding the healthy workplace process.

Fiske ...1st Ward meeting next Tuesday 7p at Fountain Square .. bring your flip-flops.

Says there are several places in downtown that have R6 zoning but have more business uses. Says WCTU couldn't use the office building on their property given the current zoning.

Says should look at some places downtown where can have moderately sized office buildings. Would like to see more of those.

Braithwaite ... on last Crown meeting ... says hoped to provide clarity around financing and operations of Crown. Says a lot of questions are based on what people say and have heard -- nobody seems to be interested in reading the information. Says lack of civility was unfortunate. Says its very difficult to maintain order when everybody is yelling at the same time

Mayor ... thanks aldermen for professionalism despite the problems.

Council moves to go into executive session to discuss personnel issues.

Public meeting ends at 10:18 p.m.

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