A scheduled session to discuss launching the search for a new Evanston city manager was postponed for two weeks Monday night after some aldermen questioned the appropriateness of holding it behind closed doors.

The executive session meeting had been proposed by Mayor Steve Hagerty. But Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, said he saw no reason to hold it in private because no candidate is being considered at this stage whose privacy would need to be protected.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, responded that a closed-door meeting was used to kick off the last search for a city manager over a decade ago and that the initial discussions then would not have been approriate for an open session.

Heidi Voorhees.

Heidi Voorhees of GovHR USA, the consulting firm hired by the city to conduct the search, said sometimes the discussion does get into individual candidates or opinions about former employees, which could justify holding it in private.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, noted that the state statute permitting closed sessions references discussion of “specific employees” as a justification for a closed session. He moved to postpone the topic until the Council’s next meeting on Feb. 10, so the city’s legal staff could research whether it should be in open or closed session.

Because of current short staffing in the legal department, the executive session proposal apparently was not reviewed by the legal staff before Monday’s meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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