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

The meeting, which was scheduled to start at 6 p.m., is now expected to get underway about 7:25 p.m. because committee meetings preceding it ran long.

A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.

Meeting called to order at 7:26 p.m.

All nine council members and the mayor are present.

Mayor Daniel Biss praises retiring City Council Member Cicely Fleming and presents her with a plaque. Council gives her a standing ovation.

Edgar Cano, who heads up snow removal operations for the city announces the city’s receipt of the American Public Works Association’s “Excellence in Snow and Ice Control Award.”

Public Comment

Three minutes per speaker tonight.

Special orders of business

SP1 – Require vaccination for members of city board

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) suggests only require testing once a week, instead of within 24 hours of the meeting. Says that’s what’s required of city staff.

Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings says the existing rule for City Council members is for testing within 24 hours — and it would have to be noticed separately.

Reid claims it doesn’t.

Biss says he’s going to go with the corporation counsel’s ruling. And that a change regarding council members would be out of order tonight.

Biss says since staff has to be present every day — council members and board members don’t have to be — a different rule is appropriate.

Kelly likes the once a week option.

Burns says most test can get results in 48 hours.

Kelly seconds Reid’s motion.

Fleming says she’s concerned that people testing a week out might be exposed in the meantime. Could put other committee members at risk.

Burns says he shares Fleming’s concern.

Health Director Ike Ogbo says it takes 24 to 72 hour turnaround for the PCR test, the antigen test results can be gotten within 15 minutes — but those tests aren’t as accurate.

Ogbo says as 24 hour test would capture recent exposures. Says staff may not be in as close contact and more able to maintain social distancing — making the weekly tests more plausible.

Reid’s amendment fails on a vote of 3-6. Burns, Kelly and Reid vote in favor of it.

Reid proposes sunsetting the ordinance when the governor’s mask mandate is scheduled to end on Feb. 28.

Ogbo says the mask mandate is separate from vaccination or testing rules.

Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski says the vaccine/testing mandate for city employees does not have an expiration date.

Reid says hearing the council discussion, he’s not actually going to make a motion on the sunsetting issue.

Ogbo says 90% of people hospitalized with COVID in the past month in Illinois are not vaccinated.

Vote on the proposal — without any amendments — is 9-0 in favor.

SP2 – Hiring Stanton Chase for $70K to conduct city manager search

Approved 9-0 without discussion.

Off consent: A2, A14, A15, P1, ED1. Rest of consent agenda approved.

(P1 failed in committee, so it won’t be discussed at Council.)

A2 – BMO Harris Amazon credit card activity

Approved 8-0-1. Suffredin abstains.

A14 – Class S liquor license fee change & A15 – Dollop General Store liquor license

Suspending the rules to allow introduction and action tonight. Approved 8-1. Reid votes no.

Suspension of the rules for immediate action requires unanimous vote, so it fails.

Revelle says the fee change is tied to a reversion of the license standards to what it had been in the past. Returns to limiting sales to members and guests, rather than the general public. Notes that the American Legion liquor license is expiring, so need to take action quickly.

Reid says it’s a policy change and should have gone through the referrals committee policy — so he’s going to hold up the measure

Kelly says its just returning to the old fee — so there’s no difference here policy.

A14 – for introduction only

Approved 9-0. Back on agenda for action on Feb. 28.

A15 – for introduction and action.

Approved 9-0.

ED1 – ASPIRE- Evanston Community Healthcare Workforce Development Program

$200K in ARPA funding.

Fleming says need an overall plan for ARPA funding — wants a comprehensive plan before spending any.

Gandurski says will have a comprehensive plan “in the near future.

Suffredin says should have a comprehensive plan — are undermining credibility by doing it piecemeal.

Burns says only have “programs” not a “plan.” Need the plans. Thinks may need a project manager for ARPA funds.

Reid says city has essentially committed itself to have an ad-hoc process — given that it has already spent over $15 million of the ARPA funds.

Nieuwsma says wants a more strategic approach to ARPA — if we don’t have one by now, maybe it’s as good as it’s going to get, so he’s prepared to start spending the money rather than keep hoping for a plan.

Revelle says the Economic Development Committee has been meeting and vetting proposals so she’s ready to vote for it.

Says the ASPIRE program is well thought out and has a good prospect of success.

Kelly says won’t support the program … need to stop “shooting from the hip.”

Braithwaite says its so hard to sit here and listen to the same recycled arguments. Says everyone was in agreement a few months ago. Says this is a wonderful program and will vote for it.

Wynne says there was agreement on “buckets” for ARPA spending. The economic development proposals came forward months ago. All have agreed that workforce development is one of the most important issues in Evanston.

Gandurski says last time the council discussed the “buckets” she begged the council to vote on approving them.

Says the vast majority of the ARPA funds have not been spent.

Says tried to hire an ARPA specialist — only got one applicant. That’s just one issue — are set to go over budget on recruiting this year because are searching for so many positions.

Braithwaite said all the proposals were approved by the Economic Development Committee. “To continue to tell the public that there is no process when you yourselves have engaged in it is not accurate,” Braithwaite says.

Burns says he and Kelly were absent from the December meeting.

Reid says while he thinks “we should have figured out a process” he is now willing to vote for this proposal.

Burns says if “bring back the bucket process” then should formally adopt that.

Approved 5-4. Kelly, Burns, Suffredin and Fleming vote no.

Call of the wards

Kelly … ward meeting Thursday — focused on Evanston history.

Nieuwsma … ward meeting March 1 at 7 p.m.

Revelle … ward meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. (Praises Fleming’s work on the Council.)

Reid … ward meeting upcoming, schedule TBD.

Fleming … TKU to 9th Ward residents. Thursday the mayor is hosting a town hall on Zoom for the brave people interested in being the next alderperson. “It’s been a pleasure and a pain, but I’m going on to greener pastures.”

Biss … due date for 9th Ward aldermanic candidates is end of day today. Meeting for candidates to meet the public is at 7 p.m. Thursday on Zoom.

Council votes to go into executive session at 9:23 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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