The announcement last month that a Trader Joe’s grocery store was coming to Evanston did not just happen. It involved more than a year of negotiations between private parties, city departments, and even Northwestern University that required confidentiality. Otherwise it might never have come to fruition.

“There were countless meetings that needed to be held,” said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, “and we couldn’t just post the time and place of the meetings on the daily list that all could read in the civic center elevators.”

So he and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl came up with a code word for the operation: Project Eagle. Any emails between city officials relating to the Trader Joe’s situation, said Bobkiewicz, only identified the subject as “Project Eagle.”

Added Mayor Tisdahl: “It was a relief when it was finally announced to the public that we could actually say ‘Trader Joe’s’ out loud.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Ummmm, why?

    Is this even newsworthy.  Why was such secrecy needed?  Hate to see what an "important" city matter would require.

  2. Secret Meetings – are OK – then maybe not?

    Meetings between the city and Trader Joes which are confidential are Ok if they were for information. If Meetings occurred were officials promised other things that could be a problem, such as zoning relief or loans etc.

    If more than two council members were involved that could be an issue, but breaking the open meetings act is not breaking the law, since their is no punishment.

    If council members used the excuse they could discuss this in executive session, that might also be interesting.

    There appear to be some big problems here with the council use of OUR tax dollars, They keep on telling Wally go set up agreements for economic development deals yet none of the deals seem to ever come back to the council. What happen to the deal to rent the recycling center for youth uses?

    Secrecy is Ok, but misusing our tax dollars with the excuse of  Secrecy is not.

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