Evanston’s City Council next week is scheduled to consider adopting a “civility pledge” developed by the Illinois Municipal League.

The gesture, proposed by City Manager Luke Stowe and supported by Mayor Daniel Biss and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) follows a tantrum thrown by Ald. Devon Reid (8th) toward the end of this month’s Human Services Committee meeting.

Reid, angered that the committee had just rejected his proposal to decriminalize possession of magic mushrooms, said another issue under discussion — an expansion of allowable hours for operation of electric leaf blowers — “has every chance of passing because wealthy mostly white folks who live on the north side of our town support this.” (Watch video.)

Before stalking out of the meeting he claimed his colleagues were “a status quo council that can only take up issues that impact our wealthy northern residents” and has “deaf ears” to the concerns of others.

The Civility Pledge language proposed by the Illinois Municipal League.

The Civility Pledge was announced at the IML’s board of directors meeting in April.

In promoting the need for the pledge, the IML cited a 2022 poll from the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service that reported 63% of voters believe that “the decreasing amount of respect and civility in our political systems is an extremely or very serious threat to democracy.”

This month’s incident is not the first for Reid. He also stalked out of a meeting after shouting “Shame on this Council” during his term as City Clerk during a dispute over the designation of Freedom of Information Act officials.

Other city officials have also been accused of uncivil behavior in the past, notably Ald. Ann Rainey, who preceded Reid in representing the 8th Ward.

The Board of Ethics in 2018 concluded Rainey had used “disparaging language” in referring to a resident who disagreed with her views about the Harley Clarke mansion.

Other claims of uncivil behavior have arisen involving Ald. Tom Suffredin and Ald. Clare Kelly.

Shortly before he resigned from the Council last year, Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) proposed that the city’s code of ethics be amended so that the city’s health workplace and anti-harassment policies would apply to elected officials, but it appears no action was ever taken on that request.

The civility pledge is scheduled for discussion at the Rules Committee meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 5.

Update 5/30/23: In an email message Tuesday morning, City Manager Stowe says he anticipates all city council members “will fully support the pledge.”

He says the proposal is in response to the IML’s action and “not in reaction to any one incident, or any one council member.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. His lack of civility seems to get a lot of his proposals passed. It seems all the council members are scared of this deadbeat.

  2. It seems clear that Reid has no business on the council. Too bad we can’t get the other council members to support a recall ordinance. Perhaps because they think it’s a dog that might come back to bite them?

  3. Seriously??? The pledge is so poorly written that it is unclear whether it applies to the City Council members communications with each other or with the broader community.

    How about a pledge to read the comments in Evanston Now to understand how out of touch the City Council is with their constituents. Maybe a pledge to consider the economic reality of ongoing moronic decisions. How about a pledge to stop indulging the Harley Clarke dreamers. I would be especially interested in a pledge to stop strangling the business opportunities that would benefit the downtown.

    1. Good points. Unfortunately, I think the only way to get someone who will fulfill all these “pledges” is to get someone new. It would be Einstein’s insane to expect our current council to change their direction because of a pledge even if the pledge were well written.

  4. I had forgotten that Ann Rainey was his predecessor. He makes me miss her, which I didn’t think possible.

    1. Ann Rainey was salty from time to time – and such an approach may have been a reaction to the political process, but she was smart, a planner, a doer, and she loved the city.

      She initiated great work including efforts against significant odds to start to bring back Howard Street (a street that 100% was destroyed in less than a decade by misdirected urban social engineering in Chicago – “Model Cities”).

      The councils that Ann was a member of, were often dysfunctional, but pursued a long standing positive direction together.

      Contrast this to today’s council whole members have little real world experience in projects that work, who appear to race to bring to Evanston each and every progressive talking point, every virtue signal, justice warrior position imaginable
      – because they can.

      In this small, city, of very smart people of very different backgrounds, one expects more, one deserves more.

      As to dysfunctionality, I certainly have never seen a council or body of any – more so.

      I have little faith – make that zero – that a pledge will bring about work toward a common goal, since no common goal has been articulated by this mayor and council, their planning sessions notwithstanding.

      But, initiating a pledge is positive, in that it can serve as a call for individual aldermen, the mayor to take a moment to self-evaluate their work and that of the overall body.

      I’ll be sending a copy of Peter Senge’s excellent book on creating and sustaining organizations that work:

      “The Fifth Dimension, The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization“

      to my alderman.

      Stay tuned.

      1. I wonder if our Evanston City Council might want to invite an organization like Braver Angels to come and hold a “Bridging Our Divides” workshop with our council members. Here is the website of the Illinois Braver Angels group:

      2. I agree with Bill’s comments about Ann Rainey. She was smart and got valuable work done. We should celebrate the revisions of Howard Street and some of the outstanding business that have succeeded because of those efforts. In addition, if you reached out to Ann with a concern she was always quick to respond. She was one of the best representatives I’ve ever seen in office.

  5. As if a toothless pledge can hold up against a tantrum. Yet another sign that our Council wastes our tax dollars, insults our intelligence, and panders to the fringe.

  6. If they take this up for a vote, he will probably throw a temper tantrum, stalk out of the chamber, not vote on it, and then refuse to follow it. It would be like a civility pledge for Donald Trump.

  7. I do not think that Reid has any business in government but he was elected. This is a ridiculous pledge, IMO. Politics is rough and tumble and a pledge is not going to fix this man’s problems. Get over it and get to work on important issues.

  8. And let’s not forget CM, then 1st ward resident, Kelly yelling at a city council meeting, while the Mayor asked her to repeatedly stop. And who thinks a civility pledge will matter to those who are uncivil?

    1. Kelly has the majority of the common sense and brain cells on the council. I would think it was nearly impossible to not get frustrated working with imbeciles.

  9. Yes, a pledge to be more civil is a good start for Reid. How about an ethics pledge, leadership pledge, adult pledge, morals pledge, and “focus on other than self” pledge? Or better yet would be for the Mayor and the rest of City Council to adopt a Reid censorship pledge?

    The fact that the City Manager and Mayor even think this to be warranted speaks to the sad state of affairs for Evanston government.

  10. Wait! Recognizing Reid as a civility threat but not a threat to our underlying society? Geez, Mayor get some lighting under your virtues!!

  11. While seemingly Reid focused, our Mayor could use a dose of objective civility juice right about now!!!

  12. The toothlessness of this so-called pledge renders the words meaningless. These “leaders” are amateurs — a laughingstock. Former Alderman Braithwaite had a good suggestion — why hasn’t there been movement on that? I’ll tell you why — because in the end, Mayor Biss and City Manager Stowe do not intend to do anything REAL to solve any of the obvious issues with the city council. But yes, please let’s re-elect all of these clowns again in the next election, like I’m sure Evanstonians will do lest they be called racists, mysoginists, whyte supremiscists, abelist, ant-LGBTQIA+ — or whatever name stings the most at the time. We get what we deserve, people. Plain & simple.

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