The City Council rejected Mayor Lorraine Morton’s appointment of a top Northwestern University official to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on a five to four vote Monday night.
Ald. Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said Northwestern is the city’s biggest landowner and Ronald Naylor, NU’s associate vice president for facilities management, would constantly be faced with conflicts of interest that should cause him to recuse himself from voting on issues before the board.
Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, said the vast majority of the issues the ZBA handles are approvals of decks, fences and additions to single family homes. The rest, she said, are special uses which ultimately are reviewed by the city council.
It’s exceedingly rare, she said, that any issue involving the university’s interests would come before the board.
Ald. Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, said he knows Mr. Naylor. â€œHe is eminently qualified for this position, and I consider him to be a person of the highest integrity,â€ Ald. Moran said.
He criticized what he called â€œaggressive, partisan and relentlessly negative peopleâ€ who attacked the appointment and said he feared the negative vote will seriously impair efforts by the city and university to work together.
Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said he doesn’t think Mr. Naylor would have done anything wrong if he were on the board, but suggested that if he were in Mr. Naylor’s situation he would have withdrawn his name from consideration to avoid any perception of wrongdoing.
Aldermen Holmes, Moran, Tisdahl and Wollin voted for Naylor, while Aldermen Bernstein, Hansen, Jean-Baptiste, Rainey and Wynne voted against the appointment.
The Evanston Review’s Bob Seidenberg also covered this story.