Evanston’s Board of Ethics has issued a written opinion reporting that board members split 2 to 2 on the question of whether Alderman Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, violated the city ethics code by voting to pave the alley behind her condominium.

Because of the tie vote the allegation of a violation was not sustained.

The alley paving program, in which the city pays half the cost of the paving and neighbors whose properties adjoin the alley pay the other half, is available on the same terms to all residents, and Ald. Wollin’s attorney argued that it doesn’t amount to the sort of negotiated business transaction with the city prohibited by the ethics code.

He also noted that Ald. Wollin had disclosed her interest in the alley project at the Administration and Public Works Committee meeting before the council vote.

The board’s opinion states that even the board members who voted to find a violation believed it would have been a de minimis, or minor one.

However, they said the alderman should have disclosed her financial interest as an abutting property owner at the council meeting and refrained from voting.

The value of the city share of the paving project to Ald. Wollin has been estimated at $780. The paving project was approved the the council unanimously.

The ethics board previously voted unanimously to dismiss charges that Ald. Wollin had improperly accepted post-election campaign contributions.

The ethics complaints were filed last September by Margaret Kelly of 828 Colfax St., a backer of Wollin’s opponent in last year’s aldermanic election.

Related story
Ethics panel dismisses complaint against Wollin – March 28, 2006

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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