Six vans loaded with 84 young adults left the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center in Evanston Thursday bound for temporary storm clean-up jobs on the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.

Chester Kirksey, a former Evanston resident who is project operations manager for the temporary hiring service Catstaff, arranged with city officials in his old home town to use the recreation center as the staging area for the trip and have city workers help with outreach to recruit the workers.

According to a city news release, the workers will get $700 in cash plus food, lodging and transportation for a seven-day work week of 12 hour days in an assignment that could last two months or more, depending on the scope of damage from Hurricane Issac.

They’ll be working for contractors hired by insurance companies to handle cleanup jobs.

“We are hoping that this experience is beneficial, and there can be a partnership similar to this one in the future,” said Bob Dorneker, assistant director of of Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department. “This opportunity not only provides funds to those young adults who are looking for an opportunity, but also provides them with satisfaction and pride.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Partnership?

    On the surface this looks good, but should the city be involved in this?   What happen if a youth is hurt? This work is not like sitting at a desk at city hall or getting the Mayor an silly award.  Working seven days a week, for 12 hours a day?   There is a high potential to get hurt.  What happens if one of the kids gets sick?  Who covers them?  

    What happen if a kid wants to leave?  What training and safety rules will this individuals follow?

    Ofcourse none of these individuals are kids, they are all over 18, I would assume,

    This being a private business its  there responsibility to ran it.  What I am questioning is the city taking a role of acting as a human resource arm of this business?  Our silly democratic leaders, seem to think they have a role in everything that goes on in this town, but running the city correctly.

    By the way what role did the city take in making certain this business would follow through?   Since it was acting as their agent.

  2. Hurricane cleanup

    Where does it say youths? It says young adults. Big difference. Stop and just try to thing about what your saying. No business would take on the liability of underage kids going on a work trip in the start of the school year.

    And where did you get out of this artical that the city is working as an agent? Perhaps you should read a dictionary to understand the diffenition of what the term "agent" means. You are the only one suggesting that they city should respresent them. I for one don't want my city tax dollars going for that.

    For god sakes man, people are getting an opportunity to help others and someone is paying them for it. What is it that is ratteling around your head that you feel that this is a bad thing?

  3. sounds good — cheer up Ponzi!

    This is a 6 paragraph note about this program.  I am sure someone in the city or in this business has considered insurance and the necesity of return for some who may need to come home.  Having met with Bob on other Parks and Rec metters, I can say that he is a thorough and very smart professional.  Insurance would not slip his mind as something to consider.  

    Here is a glass half-full way of thinking about it, Ponzi:

    In a time of massive unemployment, low to medium skilled Evanston residents are getting work.  and they will come home with up to $5600 to spend in Evanston when they return, stimulating our economy (times 84 and you are talking almost a half million dollars!!).  Or they might be sending it home to families here who will start spending it now.  And you are taking a bunch of wage earners out of the competition for such jobs over the next 8 weeks giving others a better chance for employment.  Oh, and when these workers return, they have a work history and maybe a reference who will say they work hard thereby improving their chance for employment later.

    and, it might build a relationship with someone who will continue to offer Evanston youth these opportunities.  

    I think it will be ok.  No, I think it will be great.  This is exactly the kind of thing that our city leaders should be facilitating.  Cheer up Ponzi!



    1. Or they might be sending it home to families

      Well, we can only hope they will make the right choice with the money they make.  A few of the ones I am familiar with…… couldn't care less about sending money to help family as they are more used to selling drugs on our streeets of Evanston, stealing FROM their family and committing armed robberies.  But, there is always hope.

  4. Good mission but why use city resources, non-profits can do it

    This is for a good cause and will be a good experience.

    But I am uncomfortable when the City of Evanston uses city resources for humanitarian missions across state lines. This is something religious groups or other non-profits in Evanston can do.

    Evanston has been raising taxes, fees, fines, selling off city assets, closing branch libraries and spending tax money for special pet projects like a Howard Street wine bar or a TIF district for an existing shopping center that diverts millions of dollars away from our schools and city services.

    I know the cost in this mission is peanuts compared to the overall scheme of the city budget. But so was operating the branch libraries. That didn't stop our aldermen from closing the branch libraries down.

    It's time to freeze pay or layoff city employees. It's time to lower taxes and stop wasteful spending. We will get that chance in the April city elections. 

    1. Not charity work

      Hi Al,

      This isn't charity work. Catstaff is a commercial business. It supplies temporary workers to private contractors who do cleanup work that generally is paid for by insurance companies. It should appeal to your preference for privatizaion, Al.

      The people hired in Evanston for the jobs are not city workers, but mostly unemployed young people. You'd rather they continued to sit on their butts here?

      The exact details of city employee involvement in the recruitment process aren't clear. But assuming they were only passing along word of the availability of a gig to young people they encountered in the normal course of their workday, it doesn't seem to me that it involves any net cost to Evanston taxpayers.

      I can imagine some potential ways in which some kinds of involvement of city workers in this deal could give rise to ethical or legal issues — but I have no evidence to suggest that any of those problems actually exist in this situation.

      You may be confusing this situation with what happened after Hurricane Katrina. Then some city employees were sent to the gulf to help out. My recollection is that that was in part justified as a training exercise for our workers in learning how to deal with what they might be called upon to handle if a major disaster occurred back here. 

      — Bill

  5. What’s the problem?

    I think some people here are over-reaching in criticizing the City for their involvement.  Based on this article, it seems that the only involvement of the City was allowing use fo the recreation center and maybe helping pass the word (it could have been as little as sending out an email or posting a flyer).  Other than that, it seems like a private company is hiring adults, and the adults are deciding for themselves if this this a worthwhile opportunity for them.  It does not seem like the City will have any involvement  (or liability) in the work.  

  6. I bet the city won’t take

    I bet the city won't take credit for these young men and women getting scamed and lied to. None of the information in this article is true other than the fact that these people, some employeed and some unemployeed were recruited to help.

    They were promised the pay,lodging and transporation, yes, but are hardly receiving half of what was promised.They are not making the amount of money promised. The money for "lodging" is being taken out of their pay before they even receive the pay.

    They buy their own food everyday, that is breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They dont even receive a paycheck with a checkstub showing proof oof their pay rate and pay hrs for which they have worked. Instead they are given a debit card where all of the funds are put on after deductions for everything the were promised is taken out. My boyfriend is down there and doesn't like it. He wants to come home.

    He says that everything changed once they arrived in New Orleans. He said if he comes home he has to find and pay for his own transportation. This was a SCAM. They were split up into groups where some are getting paid more than other's. Some moved on from New Orleans to Alabama and the other's were left in New Orleans.

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