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Evanston City Council

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council meeting.

Meeting called to order at 8:01 p.m.

Mayor moves citizen comment to first position on agenda .. .because of large number of people wishing to comment …including students, who she says need to get home early.

Citizen Comment

Ava Greenwell, 1600 block of Kirk St., says family deserves a formal written apology from the city, regarding the police stop of her 13 year old son, Diwani, on Aug. 30.

Dale Greenwell,1600 block of Kirk St., father of Diwani, says wants to prevent what happened to his son from happening to others. Says it's not acceptable to round up the innocent in search for the guilty.

Says complaint was primarily about the lack of discretion shown by the police. Says wouldn't be here if a sincere apology was offered.

Rev. Mark Dennis, pastor of 2nd Baptist Church, says the experience with police may tarnish Diwani's life.

Says church stands tall for righteousness. Says stands with Diwani and his mother and his father. Says the city does have a problem, says it's bigger than he thought. Says too many people of color have known since childhood that they would be misjudged.

Says profiling has happened to him and his son and his father. Says at age 63 he's been profiled walking through a store.

George Mitchell, NAACP branch president, says the description of the suspect in the burglary would have applied to a lot of people in Evanston.

Says youngster has never been in trouble, yet was detained and handcuffed.

Says demands a real police apology to the family.

Jackie Newsome says it's not her position that police shouldn't do their job — but should do it in a sensitive way.

Priscilla Giles, 1829 Ashland Ave. complains about demolition work at Bishop Freeman site. Says also wants to support Diwani Greenwell who was her student in Sunday school.

Martha Moser, 929 Washington St., complains about Revolution Spin located at 904 Sherman Ave. next to her sewing business. Says owner of the Spin business has refused to install soundproofing and the landlord hasn't been any help.

Says she called the police, but they said she had no right to complain because the city had issued a business license for the business. Says city has a noise ordinance and it's violating that.

Says landlord has refused to renew her lease and that Revolution Spin plans to expand into the soon-to-be-vacated space.

Wants the city to pull the business license of Revolution Spin. Says an online petition has drawn at least 100 signatures.

Peggy Tarr, 907 Sherman Ave. also complains about the noise from Revolution Spin.

Adam Howarth, general manager of Revolution Spin, says business is trying to limit noise levels. Says have never been cited for noise by the police. Says are actively pursuing ways to put in sound proofing. Says would like to increase the size of business. Says employs 10 instructors and wants to be a better business.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says the Human Services Committee will look at the Greenwell situation as soon as the police report is available.

Also makes a reference to the Rules Committee to try to see what the city can do to come up with incentives to have police and firefighters live in Evanston.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says city has been dealing with the issue for years, offers apology to the Greenwells and their son. Says it's unfortunate that it happened. But also applauds the police chief, says he's a good chief and serves the community well.

Says wants to take a close look at police statistics, wants to look at ofifcers who have most frequent complaints. Says spend thousands of dollars to train police to shoot effectively, want them to also be trained in community relations. Says may be a budget issue that will need to tackle later.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl says police department tries hard, says also needs to remember that the police did a fabulous job with the young children who were being forced to burglarize homes by older youths. Says also need to be concerned about the fear of the woman who was the victim of the burglary on Aug. 30.

9:05 p.m. … Mayor's public announcement … "No Text On Board Pledge Day… 9/19/12.

Mayor says she plans to put funding for the Technology Innovation Center on the council agenda for 9/24/12. (It was not supported by the Economic Development Committee last month.)

City Manager's announcements…

  • Paint Evanston Purple … leading up to Evanston Day at Ryan Field on 9/29/12 … 11 a.m. kickoff. Ticket discounts available for Evanston residents.
  • Roadmap for the Arts public meetings.
  • Citizen Budget Outreach process. Details here.

City Clerk announces that petitions for city elections can be taken out by would-be candidates starting Sept. 25, and are due no later than Dec. 24.

Consent agenda

Information on agenda items can be found here.

Off the consent agenda:

  • Central Street streetscape.
  • Pension actuarial report.
  • Sump pump ordinance.
  • Compensation for aldermen, mayor and city clerk.
  • Chicago-Main Tax Increment Financing District.
  • Loan agreement with Nomad Dreams LLC for Heartwood Center expansion.

Consent agenda (minus those items) approved.

Central Street streetscape. Proposal amended to take the money from the capital improvement program fund rather than the economic development fund. Approved 8-1. Holmes votes no.

Police and Fire Pension report. Wilson asks whether approving the report commits the city to the funding level. Rainey says believes it is commiting to the levy recommended in the report. Mayor notes that the levy is a little less than last year. Mayor says it's a good goal to be trying to get the pensions funded at at least 50 percent. To do that would like to put in as much money as did last year.

Mayor says that if falls to the 30 percent funding range, it may become impossible to ever make it financially healthy. Says hopes for resolution to the issue in the legislature, but is not optimistic. Says believes should put in as much as did before.

Rainey says what the the actuary is recommending is the highest of the three options, but could actually appropriate more if desired.

Mayor says, OK, but when do budget would like the city to fund the pensions at the same level as did this year.

Burrus says she agrees with the mayor, wants to try to get to 50 percent funding level.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz , in response to question from Burrus, says staff hasn't made a recommendation about what the actual funding level should be.

Bobkiewicz says under state law need to receive and approvve the report. Says that if want to fund pension at a higher level, would like to know that as soon as possible. Says budget proposal from staff will come out Oct. 12 … only a month away.

Bobkiewicz says need advice within next couple of weeks of how much want to spend on pensions — because if have to add $750K to the pension payments, would be difficult to do that without doing  layoffs, and don't want to have to issue layoff notices unless absolutely necessary.

Wilson says he wants to spend at least as much as last year. Supports mayor's desire to get to 50% funding target. Doesn't see any relief coming from the state. Need to make hard but responsible decisions at the council

Tendam says he wants to look at maintaining the pension funding level. Suggests aren't being quite aggressive enough in funding pensions.

Rainey says she disagrees with Tendam, thinks this year's actuarial report is the most agrresive have seen.  Wants to know how will pay for that increase in pension funding. Says actuary's proposal is not that much less than last year.

Mayor says the sooner we put more money in, the less we have to spend in the long term.

Actuarial report is approved unanimously.

City manager asks and council agrees to put the pension issue on the council agenda for meeting at 7 p.m. on next Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Pay increase for council

Wilson says he can't support the increase. Doesn't believe anybody does the job for the money. Rainey says she couldn't do it if she didn't get paid. (2 percent annual increase over four years.)

Pay hike approved 7-2. Tendam and Wilson vote no.

Pay increase for city clerk

City Clerk Rodney Greene says he believes he deserves a raise, but given the economy, he doesn't think he should take it. After aldermen note that the increase is for the next city clerk, which might not be him, he withdraws that idea and the aldermen vote unanimously to approve the 2 percent annual pay increase.

Pay increase for mayor

Mayor says maybe the two percent will encourage someone else to run, but thinks she's well enough compensated. Approved unanimously.

Chicago-Main TIF

Wilson says he doesn't believe the proposal meets the standards for a TIF and doesn't believe its appropriate for the city to provide financing for the private office building.

Rainey says aren't approving financing for the office building tonight — that it's just proposed as a possible legitimate expense.

Bobkiewicz says Rainey is correct on that issue.

Wynne says she favors the TIF. Says the Main-Chicago southeast corner has been vacant for a long time. TIF can provide infrastructure repair that the city otherwise doesn't have funding for. Says that will provide a tremendous economic engine for the neighborhood.

Approved 7-2. Wilson and Burrus vote no.

Lionel & Irma Carter Drive

Approved (final action).

555 Howard convenience store hours expansion

Approved (final action).

Nomad Dream LLC … Heartwood Center expansion

Burrus raises questions about the financial viability of the project — says the proposal would allow the owner to take out mortgages that couldn't afford — like with home loans during the last decade.

Says economic development needs stricter criteria on information provided in requests for loans.

Wilson says Heartwood is a known commodity, has provided a positive impact to the community. It's been a pioneer in the neighborhood. Says its disingenuous to toss the devleoper across the corner $2M to spruce up a shopping center, and give a hard time to this business owner with a $100K loan.

Braithwaite thanks staff for hard work in gathering information on the proposal and thanks residents who've come out in support of Heartwood.

Says property is appraised at over $1M and debt on the property will be about $500K — thinks the city's investment is well secured.

Fiske says she shares Burrus' concerns. Says as small business owner she understands that potential success for a business is very risky. Says she's going to vote for the proposal, but with strong reservations. Says she was in real estate for years, and is skeptical about validity of appraisals.

Tendam says he supports the loan. Says Heartwood is already contributing to improvement of the neighborhood.

Rainey says she's very confident of the project — says expects the city will be using it as advertising for future economic development projects.

Mayor says she supports the project and is impressed with what Heartwood has done.

Approved 8-1. Burrus votes no.

Call of the wards

Braithwaite…2nd ward meeting at Hill Center Thursday.

Holmes… police and fire memorial for 9/11 tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. at Fireman's Park

Grover … ward meeting oct. 11, 7p, at ecology center

Meeting adjourned at 10:22 p.m.

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