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Hire-local program approved

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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