An Evanston aldermen pushed to have a Northwestern University official and a local landlord excluded from a city committee considering plans to license rental properties.

The Daily Northwestern reports that, in an email message to Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Alderman Judy Fiske, whose 1st Ward includes part of the NU campus, objected to the selection of NU’s assistant dean of students, Betsi Burns, for the committee.

“She certainly hasn’t done us any favors in the media,” Fiske wrote, adding “I hope someone can assure me that this isn’t going to turn into another media feeding frenzy.”

Burns apparently drew Fiske’s ire for suggesting that students might choose to move out of the city and ride the CTA to campus to avoid a city ordinance limiting apartment occupancy to no more than three unrelated individuals.

The emails also reveal that Fiske was the alderman who had objected to the appointment of local landlord Joshua Braun to the panel.

Braun publicly objected to his exclusion from the panel and his complaints led Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, in mid-February to ask the council’s Rules Committee to review the longstanding practice that effectively gives any alderman the opportunity to blackball any person nominated to any appointed city committee.

The Rules Committee has yet to hold that discussion.

Nominees to advisory committees are reviewed by the mayor, whose choices, when they finally emerge for a public vote by the City Council, are generally approved without debate or opposition.

Related stories

Alderman blocked appointment to licensing committee (Daily Northwestern)

Council to rethink aldermanic blackball

The email exchange


Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Redactions?

    What about this email exchange needs to be redacted? It is just a discussion about the relative merits of the proposed candidates for this board, no salary information, etc. This would be the same as an aldermaniac debate, open to the public, after all.

  2. A good ordinance

    "Burns apparently drew Fiske's ire for suggesting that students might choose to move out of the city and ride the CTA to campus to avoid a city ordinance limiting apartment occupancy to no more than three unrelated individuals."

    I'm surprised that even comes up in the conversation. That "three unrelated people" rental ordinance has been on the books for at least 35 years, and probably longer. It's a sound and sensible ordinance.

    NU students choose housing based on money and time, in that order. Multiply the number of bedrooms in an apartment times the amount per month the university charges for on-campus housing, and that's market rent for an apartment that is walking distance from NU. It's the rare undergrad student who would spend extra time and money riding the el or a bus to campus.

  3. The other ordinance—

    What about what seems to be a bigger issue—the City Code that "no case shall the total occupancy of the dwelling unit exceed two (2) persons per bedroom."  6-18-3: – DEFINITIONS

    It would seem that would be a stricter ordinance than the Brothel Law.

    Of course this applies under 'Family' which would be even more restrictive than what would apply for students, i.e. if families can't have more than two, certainly students could not have more than two.   But also a couple in a 1B could not have a child nor in a 2B more than two childeren.

  4. Just to clarify…

    Burns NEVER suggested that students live outside of the city of Evanston in their quest for afforable housing. She simply suggested that students consider living in other parts of Evanston, if they were concerned about finding housing in their price ranges, and that they could easily use public transportation to commute to class if they did not have a vehicle and were outside of easy walking distance.

    She has been consistent in her message since day one…!

    I wish that the local media 'echo chamber', would get the facts right, as it was the media who shaped the impressions of the alderman, as she was never present for discussions that involved NU students.

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