Evanston aldermen voted Tuesday to put proposed penalty increases for contractors who don’t hire city residents for city-funded construction projects on hold and try other approaches to make the program more effective.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, suggested contractors should be more involved in developing the local hiring program, citing the example of a program in Tacoma, Wash., which reportedly has been much more effective than Evanston’s in achieving hiring goals while imposing relatively small penalties.

The advisory board overseeing the Tacoma program includes construction companies doing business with Tacoma, as well as union leaders and representatives of educational institutions — a more targeted list than what’s required for the equivalent group in Evanston, the Minority, Women and Evanston Business Enterprise Development Committee

The Evanston committee had proposed what City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said would amount to a 10-fold increase in penalties — from $100 a day to 3 percent of the total contract value.

Wilson argued, “We shouldn’t pass the punishment until we know what the program is going to look like.”

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward.

The chair of the Evanston committee, Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, had pushed for the penalty increase at earlier meetings, but didn’t address the question Tuesday night.

Bobkiewicz had said he feared the sharp penalty increase could lead contractors to decline to bid on Evanston projects or raise their prices — which could sharply increase the cost of city construction projects.

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City may slam contractors over local hiring

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The real problem started decades ago

    How can the Council expect businesses to hire local [minority or not] when there have been decades of the city imposing high taxes [not just on business] fighting existing business, imposing meaningless rules [remember the "Sign Inspectors"] and in general letting [or ordaining] small businesses [the kind they say they want contractors to use] die or worse be pushed out.

    Just recall all the small businesses on Custer, Main and many other streets that long ago decided it was not worth fighting City Hall [and NIMBY neighbors] and left for more business friendly communities.

    You can't fine businesses for not being able to get water from a well the Council long ago forced to be dry.

  2. Do as I say, not as I do

    What percentage of city employees live in Evanston? Why doesn't the city council demand that only city residents can get city jobs (Chicago does it)? And please don't use the excuse that the cost of housing is a barrier because it is not. If you are good enough to work here, you should be good enough to live here.

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