John Fournier addressed the Council after his contract was approved Monday night.

In an email to Evanston Now Saturday morning, John Fournier challenges the version presented by city officials of events leading to his decision to decline appointment as Evanston’s next city manager.

A city press release issued Friday afternoon said that after Monday’s 9-1 vote to approve his contract Fournier on Tuesday “sought to reopen contract negotiations, requesting additional compensation.”

Fournier provided a copy of a letter he sent to Mayor Biss declining the job offer.

Fournier says that after learning more about the cost of housing in Evanston he sought to have the City Council restructure the contract provision giving him relocation assistance.

The contract approved by the City Council structured that assistance in the form of an interest-free loan of $225,000 toward the purchase of a home here that would have been forgivable in eight annual increments if he remained employed as city manager.

Fournier’s letter says he had sought to have the Council consider “restructuring some of the compensation (without increasing it) to facilitate down payment assistance on a house and relocation costs.”

According to the website Zillow, the typical home in Ann Arbor is valued at $480,410, only slightly less than the $502,872 typical value Zillow claims for Evanston.

With mortgage interest rates currently around 5%, the interest-free loan effectively would have added about $11,000 to his annual compensation, and the forgiveness provision would have added another $28,125 a year.

With the forgivable interest-free loan and other benefits, Fournier would have earned about 25% more a year than the former city manager, Erika Storlie.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The city has edited its press release, without mentioning either the original error or the substance of that error — that Fournier was requesting “additional compensation”. Yet another example of the all-too-frequent need for damage control in City of Evanston operations (in my opinion).

    The press release on the City’s website now reads that Fournier’s request to re-open contract negotiations was to “restructure the contract to include part of his compensation in advance.”

  2. I am very sorry Mr. Fournier will not be our new City Manager. Though I also liked Mr. Poche, Fournier was more experienced in some of the areas he would also be addressing for Evanston. Ann Arbor, like Evanston, is a great college town. And at his younger age, I felt he could have spent many productive years here. I think this is a big loss for our community. What a shame.

  3. How many votes does it now take for Council to fire a City Manager? I remember it discussed a few years ago. My theory: perhaps after seeing the way some Council members behave and how poorly he was welcomed by some people, he didn’t want his compensation stretched over 8 years in case he is fired soon without true cause (as happened to Manager Storlie). Until residents and some Council members behave better and act on behalf of all residents, our ability to attract talented professionals will continue to be limited. Changing search firms will not change the attractiveness of the job.

  4. Wow. I was so thrilled to see that the City Council actually voted for my preference for city manager. Mr. Fournier was obviously so skilled, articulate, and experienced, at such a young age, that he could have made a great contribution to our community. The fact that he even had started coming up with ideas to address the parking conundrum here in Evanston was especially impressive, in my opinion.
    I’m a bit surprised that it seems he somehow wasn’t quite as familiar with the realities of our overheated housing market, since he was so well versed on so many other aspects of Evanston life.
    Nevertheless, I’m puzzled as to why his compensation couldn’t have been restructured a bit more in order to have this talented, enthusiastic guy as a leader in our city, hopefully for a long tenure.
    It is a huge loss, and two such losses in a row do not bode well for the future chances of finding a new city manager who is competent and visionary. What a bummer!
    This city really needs to get its act together,and quickly!

  5. Who does this guy think he is? Never has been a city manager and has no other offers out there. Good luck finding a gravy train job like the one you were just offered that pays a quarter million dollars a year.

  6. This is kind of scary. A professional seeking employment in another city didn’t check out the cost of buying a new home. Doesn’t appear he did any real research before committing to the job. The city should be real concerned about that, as it maybe indicators of future problems. I spent over 30 years there as a police officer and the city of Evanston fails more often, than it succeeds.

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