Evanston aldermen gave final approval Monday to a plan that would require construction firms doing work for the city to hire Evanston residents.

The measure, approved on an 8-1 vote, would require that local residents work at least 15 percent of the hours involved on public works projects valued at $500,000 or more.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the ordinance is poorly written and would cause huge delays in getting jobs done.

Under the program the city would offer contractors a list of residents interested in taking such jobs. Rainey said there’s very little diversity in the current list the city maintains.

“All the people on the list are African-American men, except for one white man and three women,” Rainey said.

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said the ordinance would help respond to criticisms Rainey has raised in the past about city set-asides for minority and female-owned firms being used to benefit companies from out of town.

He said that the city employee who maintains the list of prospects, originally gathered at a city-run job fair two years ago, hasn’t done much to add more names to it because “he hasn’t had anything to offer them yet.”

Jean-Baptiste also said that the council should review the program in six months and would have an opportunity to work out any problems with it then.

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Aldermen back hire-Evanston plan

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Sounds like a government shakedown
    This ordinance is ridiculous in concept and borderline extortion.

    If I’m an owner of a construction firm going out for a bid what am I to make of having to hire 15 percent of my workforce from a list provided by the city?

    I would want to know what the quality of these people are, especially if I have to take on the risk and liability of these city-provided workers. Why would I want to do that?

    This reeks of a shakedown. The end result would be low-quality construction companies submitting bids and doing work for the city.

    When will our city government become fiscally and sensibly responsible?

    What percentage of Evanstonians work for Lionel Jean-Baptiste’s law firm? Or better, what percentage of Lionel Jean-Baptiste’s clients live in Evanston?

    The public has the right to know now that Baptiste and other alderman think it’s OK to dictate where workers must live in order to do business with the city.

    Also, this ordinance opens the door to corruption and behind the scene deals – you get me the contract and I’ll hire so and so on the list.

    We need to re-elect a new city council across the board with some sense.

    1. Hiring
      Hi Al,

      You’re misreading the story on one point.

      Nothing in the ordinance says anybody has to be hired off the city’s list. The contractor just has to hire a percentage of people who are city residents.

      The contractor is free to hire any city residents he wants.

      Not saying that ensures there won’t be any problems with the plan — but it’s important to get the facts right.


    2. AL – read my blog posts
      AL – I was the only resident to speak against this at council – see my blog post – Alderman Baptiste did not like what I had to say –

      Go to the city of Evanston packet on line and you will find the ordinance from the last council meeting and back up data- the are many problems with this that the staff did not correct when legal sent them a letter back in March.

      Also one poster stated all the jobs would be union – most likely but the ordinance does state for nonunion jobs also.

      I will stand by my coments – that it has the potential for corruption and the very high chance the city will get into a lawsuit from a contractor not to mention the fact it will raise cost.

  2. The Number of Qualified Evanston Residents
    Most, if not all, of the contractors that will be required to comply with this ordinance have a unionized workforce so the pool of acceptable candidates must be Evanston residents who are qualified to do a particular job, currently unemployed and a member of the appropriate trade union. I applaude the vision behind the ordinance (hiring more Evanston workers for City jobs) but for all practical purposes, a very small subset of the unemployed Evanston workforce is eligible for the program.

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