Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.

A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.

The meeting was called to order at 6:02 p.m.

Mayor Daniel Biss says Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson is moving on to a new “exciting opportunity” in Peoria. Says its a sign of how well the work she’s done here is respected all across the state.

Thanks staff for work dealing with the snow storm.

Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski says Richardson has been with the city for six years — congratulates her on new job.

Asks residents to follow snow parking restrictions.

City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza says she’s fully vaccinated and boosted and would be happy to have herself added to the vaccination requirement resolution on the agenda tonight.

Public Comment

Three minutes for each speaker tonight.

Public comment ends at 6:24 p.m.

Special orders of business

SP1 – Vaccination requirement for council members

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) says it makes sense for council members to be held to same standards as city staff.

Proposes amendment to include the city clerk and board, committee and commission members.

Suggests making tests available.

Nicholas Cummings, corporation counsel, says the health director is working on an agreement to get testing available for the community.

Suggests placing the BCC provision elsewhere in the city code, because the provision up for a vote tonight is in a section that specifically addresses rules for elected officials.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) seconds idea of including the clerk.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) asks how this has been monitored by staff. Says since meetings are remote now should have time to draft the appropriate language.

Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski says process for testing is working very well. Health Department gets vaccination info for staff from state and others are tested.

Says some staffers have not complied and city has started disciplinary action against them — but 99% have complied.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) ask if proposal would require tests within 24 hours of just in-person meetings or even remote meetings?

Cummings says BCCs have been concerned about meeting in person and generally have preferred to continue to meet virtually.

Says there are efforts in Springfield to make virtual meetings legal even post-pandemic — but that hasn’t been adopted yet.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (5th) suggests adopting the resolution as initially introduced tonight and taking up expansion to board members at the Feb. 14 meeting.

Burns proposes amendment to have the testing apply only for in-person meetings. Reid seconds.

Amendment approved 8-0. [Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) is absent tonight.]

Original motion as amended is approved 8-0.

Reid moves to have special order of business on Feb. 14 agenda to have vaccine or testing rule for boards, committees and commissions. Also rules for clerk like for city staff. Also wants to make KN-95 masks available for (everybody at) in-person meetings.

Approved 7-1. Braithwaite says he’s voting no because there’s no need for a council vote on masks — could just have staff do it.

SP2 – Hazard pay for grocery workers

Reid moves. Burns seconds.

Reid says was rejected before — but since have had new omicron variant with high case rates.

Says would only apply to large supermarket chains.

Cummings says Evanston’s proposed ordinance is narrower in scope — applying only to grocers — than ones tested in court on the west coast. Says he can’t tell whether that might raise legal issues — but doesn’t think it would. (Broader ordinances in Seattle, Washington, and Long Beach, California, have been upheld by federal courts.)

Reid says his proposal is very close to the Seattle ordinance.

Says Seattle ordinance hasn’t led to a mass exodus of grocery retailers from communities.

Burns favors the proposal.

Braithwaite says he understands the gesture — but all businesses are suffering from the pandemic. It’s unfair to make assumptions about an industry without having a discussion them.

Says when he talks to Valli and Food4Less — they say they’re paying a very decent wage to employees now — have to pay a higher wage just to stay competitive. And it’s challenging to keep food affordable — grocers are dealing with higher wages and supply chain issues.

Says it’s completely unfair to single out this one industry — but at end of day if the Council does pass the ordinance, residents will end up paying more for the food they need to support their families. Doesn’t think Council should be passing this burden onto our local businesses. Would put at risk two businesses that provide affordable food to our residents.

Cummings says would need to amend the proposal to determine when the ordinance would be triggered. (Provision rejected last year was based on governor’s “Phase Five” which no longer applies.)

Burns says he’s not necessarily in favor of having the provision triggered right now — but wants to have something in place.

Reid says he imagines triggering it base on emergency declarations by the governor or mayor or by school closings. Says might also trigger it during blizzards.

Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) says for the reasons Braithwaite has raised — the businesses provide good service and a lot of jobs — she can’t support the ordinance because hasn’t heard the businesses viewpoint. Says should take in the views of all stakeholders.

Says blizzards are bad — but what’s a bad blizzard that would trigger this ordinance? Proposal is casting the net way too wide, she says.

Cummings says because this was brought up as a discussion item — staff needs direction on whether to prepare a new draft ordinance, and then it should go to a committee before returning to City Council.

Burns moves to send the issue to the Economic Development Committee.

Reid does the same thing. Burns seconds Reid’s motion.

Motion approved 4-3. (Suffredin has stepped away from his computer and didn’t vote.)

Consent agenda

Item P1 off — it was removed from the agenda in committee and will not be discussed at Council tonight.

HC1, R1, R2 are removed from consent agenda.

Rest of consent agenda approved 7-0.

R1 – Requiring mayor to announce vetoes at the next council meeting following a veto

Approved 7-0.

R2 – Allowing Reparations Committee members to receive benefits from the reparations fund

Cummings says there’s no conflict with state law in approving this. Just can’t have the member voting for their own benefit. (Reparations benefits are determined by a lottery.)

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) says she’s concerned about the appearance. Says there might be a “tighter way” to do this going forward. Need to look at the selection process and who’s on the committee. But says she’s planning to vote for the proposal.

Approved 7-0.

HC1 – Contract for landlord-tenant services

Burns says city hasn’t conducted any surveys of tenants regarding the performance of the contractors — the Metropolitan Tenants Organization and the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.

Says need to capture tenant ID info when tenants call 311 — so city itself can do follow up surveys.

Gandurski says have enough direction to implement that.

Burns makes referral regarding the surveys of tenants.

Vote on the contract … approved 7-0.

Call of the wards

Kelly … series of community meetings coming up on development projects.

Wynne … Thursday, 3rd ward town hall, 7 p.m. on Zoom

Nieuwsma … Feb. 8, ward meeting … likely online. (Update 1/25/22: Nieuwsma says he misspoke during call of the wards and his next ward meeting will actually be on Feb. 1.)

Burns … Jan. 27, 7 p.m., virtual ward meeting. New leadership at Family Focus will be introduced.

Reid … 8th Ward meeting Jan. 27, 6 p.m. virtual.

Council votes to go into executive session to discuss litigation and personnel.

Public meeting ends at 8:02 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.