Evanston aldermen hold a closed-door meeting tonight to review the performance of City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

And while a small number of residents — who may or may not have been aware of the upcoming review session — complained about the job the manager is doing during public comment at last week’s public City Council meeting — there’s no indication that Bobkiewicz has lost the support of any of the City Council members who will determine whether he gets to keep his job.

Bobkiewicz, who is scheduled to earn more than $208,000 this year, up from $175,000 during his first full year on the job in 2010, has generally received strongly positive assessments from the aldermen, at least in public settings.

He’s gotten credit for successfully guiding the city through difficult financial times and helping the aldermen achieve broad consensus on priority goals for the city.

But with disarray in Springfield leading to uncertainty about how much state aid the city will receive next year, budget cuts — which led to layoffs early in the manager’s tenure — are back on the table now and creating fresh worries among city employees.

Bobkiewicz has launched a review aimed at possible consolidation or reorganization of the city’s Utilities and Public Works departments.

With long-standing differences in the racial composition of staffs in the two departments — Utilities with proportionately more white workers, Public Works more black ones — concerns were voiced last week that a reorganization might have a greater impact on one group than the other.

The manager’s focus on economic development has generally won praise from aldermen, but some residents concerned about density, parking, changes in the traditional look of the city — and the costs of incentives offered new and expanding businesses — have objected strongly.

And his suggestions to try to control costs by potentially disposing of some city assets — from the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion to the former Recyling Center on Oakton Street — have also drawn sharp criticism.

The review tonight is part of a regular annual process established by the council to evaluate the manager’s performance.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. City Council performance review
    Too bad the voters of Evanston cannot review the City Council’s performance on an annual basis, or every other year. Used to be, when the Council had 18 aldermen, the voters could affect change every 2 years. Cutting the Council size was a smart move, but the terms should have been reduced to 2 years as well.

    1. Well then,  I hope the voters

      Well then,  I hope the voters who elect aldermen to represent them use their power to vote same aldermen out of office should they approve Bobkowicz, whose only interests seem to be a hefty salary and cutting our services. I say get rid of the entire city governing group and start over with people who appreciate Evanston's architecture and don't wish to overcrowd us with schlock buildings and trendy overpriced restaurants or a shooting range,  people who truly want to remedy the racial/sociopolitical divide, and with people trustworthy enough not to abuse their power. 

    2. Voters cannot review performance

      "Too bad the voters of Evanston cannot review the City Council's performance on an annual basis"

      So you want the city manager – who is supposed to be a career administrator, not a political hack  – to be subject to the annual whims of the tiny proportion of voters who come out during elections in April of odd-numbered years.     I'm sure that Evanston would have no trouble attracting competent administrators to accept these terms.

      This would also mean that the city manager would be afraid to antagonize any well-organized group of NIMBYs on issues like cutting spending, getting rid of the Harley Clarke mansion, or anything related to zoning.

      The city manager is hired by the elected representatives  – the City Council. Having the city manager report to the NIMBYs would weaken the power of the legislature, and increase the power of the NIMBYs.  This is anti-democratic.

      1. Political

        Totally agree!  If the voters of Evanston had authority to elect a city manager, we would see more deals like the EAC rip off at Harkey Clark.  The leftist ideology would trump basic economic development advances thwarting for profit entities the ability, favoring every arts group and grievance non profit entity.

        The result, again, great emotional intentions to social engineer Evanston resulting in a bankrupt ghost town.

  2. Wally’s performance and the Council Performance

    Wally's performance is really a reflection of the council and Mayor, Harley Clarke, and many of these issues are not Wally acting on his own.  But Council members who sit up there quietly, discuss in private their votes and tell Wally what to do.

    Wally performance, is middle of the road some good, some bad.  The Mayor at one point stated he was getting an A+, while this is not a performance measure,  Wally is meeting average performance.

    The next election will give us a chance to rate the council, if not sooner.


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