Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council Rules Committee meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:15 p.m.

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

Meeting called to order at 5:18 p.m.

All present except Alderman Fiske.

Public Comment

Misty Witenberg opposes elimination of the board of ethics. Says having special counsel will cost more than having citizen board members do it for free.

Mike Vasilko says should postpone action on the ethics proposal

Tina Paden says administrative hearing officers are biased — paid by city — will vote for the city.

Clare Kelly opposes elimination of the Board of Ethics.

Ray Friedman agrees with other speakers.

Devon Reid says measure is more closely in line with state requirements — but swings the pendulum too far.

End of public comment at 5:33 p.m.

Minutes approved 9-0.

R1 – Rename Board of Animal Control to Animal Welfare Board

Committee notes a variety of language issues with the proposal. Decision is to hold it for a future Rules Committee meeting.

R2 – Amending the Code of Ethics

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, stresses that the proposal does NOT eliminate the code of ethics.
Says the Board of Ethics has had a lot of difficulty in getting through its work Says this will be am much more effective way of addressing the code.
Says it will got to Council for further discussion and consideration at a future meeting.

Nick Cumming, corporation counsel, says Evanston doesn’t have an office of the inspector general — which typically larger communities have. Says the special counsel would act as an inspector general. Says the Law Department has an inherent conflict of interest in prosecuting the issues — says could end up prosecuting its own clients.

Administrative hearings are public — so there’s still transparency.

Says the new approach is a much cleaner process.

Says would still operate on a complaint basis, as is the case now.

Says none of the suburban communities around Evanston have a process like the existing system in Evanston.

Wynne says the advantage of going to an administrative procedure. Doesn’t have to be an Evanstonian–so has more of an arms length relationship to the issues. Also improves timeliness –because have had a problem filing seats on the Board of Ethics.

Cummings says city would do an RFP — request for proposals — for the special counsel.

Vote is 9-1 to move the proposal forward to the City Council. Suffredin votes no.

R3 – Discussion of deliberative democracy

Wilson says looking for better approach to getting community feedback. Looking at “deliberative democracy” approach. Group comes together and comes up with a proposal for the legislative body.

Suggests small working groups would be beneficial. Should entertain the idea.

No action taken.

Meeting adjourned at 6:07 p.m.

City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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