With Evanston half-way through the four year term of the current City Council, it’s time to take a look at what council members have accomplished so far.

We start the review with a look at how the council has addressed issues regarding personal behavior — what Evanstonians are, and are not, allowed to do under the law.

Evanston Now has reviewed the 195 referrals — proposals for legislation — that council members, plus the mayor and city manager, have made since the start of the council’s term in May 2021.

We identified 24 items that deal with regulation of personal behavior and found that measures to reduce governmental restraints on behavior exceeded measures to increase such restrictions by a five-to-one margin.

Of the measures proposed, eight that reduce restrictions have been adopted along with one that increases restrictions.

Of the remaining 12 measures to reduce restrictions, six have seen no action yet, one is before a council committee, one has been sent back to committee by the council and four have either been rejected by the council or a committee or withdrawn by the sponsor.

Of the remaining three measures to increase restrictions, one has been introduced at council and the other two have seen no action yet.

Here’s a searchable table that lists the various proposals.

Of these two dozen proposals, 19 were advanced by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), two by Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) and one each by Ald. Clare Kelly (1st), Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th).

Your evaluation of the merits of the various proposals may vary, but it’s clear that overall this Council has set a clear pattern of reducing restrictions on personal behavior.

Next in the series: Economic regulation

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Bill

    Very clever – reduce or increase restrictions, by an inert definition, without question, you are correct.

    Still, most every “reduction” looks to me like a reg that was a good idea for safety and quality of life.

    But wait, there’s more. Maybe the next accounting should “grade on a curve”.

    The Fair Work proposal and a Homeless Shelter without behavior requirements in a residential neighborhood, next to a new multi-million dollar museum, that is also an outstanding event and wedding reception venue, if passed, and the New Ryan Field if rejected, will ensure that clearly, Evanston is on the wrong track.

    Regardless, with two thirds of those enacted proposals by a first term alder, who was elected by 600+ votes, he is the virtual King of Evanston, who acts with impunity.

    Probably a situation not what any founders of any city, country, state, or nation envisioned.

    I find myself opposed to virtually every proposal he has made.

  2. “Repeal ban on publications inciting riots or physical violence.”

    As a scholar of the First Amendment know, these are not protected categories of speech.

    What could go wrong?

  3. Repeal ban on publications inciting riots or physical violence was APPROVED? WHAT?! Sorry, but I’m not sure how I understand that is a good idea and, in fact, seems like a very, very bad idea.

    A second proposal suggested is “Eliminate “obedience to police” requirement” is still being considered. Pure insanity!

  4. I would have responded to this sooner, but I was laughing too hard.

    Alderman Reid isn’t freeing us from the shackles of the Evanston government, he is making Evanston less safe. He is actively trying to repeal many of our public safety ordinances. Thankfully, his efforts have been mixed.

    Because of Mr. Reid we can now safely possess burglar’s tools, drink alcohol and smoke weed in the parks, and go topless on our beaches. Party in Evanston!
    There’s more though. He is trying to allow us to legally throw rocks at people and buildings, allow us to disobey the police in public places, have our parks open all night (so we can hang out there with our weed and burglar tools?), and legalize gambling (video poker anyone?).

    Thankfully, Mr. Reid has been unsuccessful in decriminalizing ALL drugs and his weird effort to decriminalize magic mushrooms. He tried to allow Evanston to have weed lounges (a very political, non-Evanston, dispensary owner wanted to open one in his ward).

    Evanston, led by Alderman Reid and followed by the mayor and his handpicked city council and city manager, is becoming the butt of jokes. Casinos? Weed? Magic mushrooms? What’s next, legalizing prostitution, open-air drug markets, and tents in our public parks? Is Evanston to become San Francisco?

    Evanston isn’t becoming freer. Evanston is becoming a city that people do not want to live in. Is this on purpose? Recent actions of the council would seem to say yes.

    When will one of our leaders rise and be the hero that our city needs? How about it, Alderman Clare Kelly?

  5. The wording of this study is very odd & misleading. In many cases, it seems that “reducing regulations on personal behavior” also often means “allowing more dangerous/less respectful behavior toward others”…
    What happened to expecting a modicum of civil behavior toward one another?
    Sounds like some alder persons do not understand civic duty nor civic responsibility. We citizens have both rights AND duties towards one another; that is the basis for what forms a just & safe society.
    In other words, what is being discussed is the fact that:
    – Obedience to police is unnecessary
    – Possession of criminal tools is allowed
    – Possession of alcohol & controlled substances on public property is allowed
    – Publications inciting riots or physical violence is allowed

    These are all examples of loosening the ways in which persons should behave toward one another. You can call it reducing personal freedom, but you can also call it increasing anti-social behavior. Anti-social behavior leads to criminal behavior. But those who have not studied the social science of civics would not understand the meaning of this.
    If these continue to be the issues our alder people focus on (and the choices they continue to make are the personal freedom/anti-social choices), then we in Evanston are headed in the wrong direction.

  6. I thought that Biss would try to put an end to this, but he is complicit. Very disappointing.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *