Evanston’s mayor Monday night called for a joint meeting of the City Council and Library Board to try to resolve the dispute sparked by the board’s decision to attempt to levy its own tax to fund library services.

Aldermen at the meeting quickly agreed to the session, which they tentatively scheduled for the night of the next City Council meeting, Monday, Sept. 13.

Evanston’s mayor Monday night called for a joint meeting of the City Council and Library Board to try to resolve the dispute sparked by the board’s decision to attempt to levy its own tax to fund library services.

Aldermen at the meeting quickly agreed to the session, which they tentatively scheduled for the night of the next City Council meeting, Monday, Sept. 13.

There was no immediate public response from Library Board members who were in the council chambers for Monday’s meeting, and an e-mail message to Library Board President Chris Stewart this morning wasn’t immediately returned.

During the public comment section of the council meeting that followed the mayor’s call for a joint meeting, Stewart said Evanston’s library is the most poorly funded in the area.

“The library’s journey to the bottom has been fueled by neglect, politics and indifference to the crucial role libraries play in the community,” Stewart said, adding that “it’s time for a new funding model.”

Ellen Newcomer of 2445 Ridgeway, a former library board member who said she was speaking for the Evanston Public Library Friends http://eplfriends.org/ group complained about comments by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, criticizing the library board’s move.

Rainey later said library supporters have been sending her messages making offensive comments about her and claiming that her criticism of the library board as elitist amounted to hate speech that should be punished under a city ordinance.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she was discouraged by the level of discussion in the community about the library and thanked the mayor for calling the joint meeting.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she “doesn’t think we can afford to have division in the community” and that she hoped the library board would agree to meet with the council. 

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. Library Board’s Mission Trumps Good Governance Process

    While people may be upset about any increase in taxes, what the Library Board fails to realize is that many residents of Evanston are upset about the process, or lack thereof. Rather than take their issue to the City Council or suggest a community discussion on the matter, the Library Board decided to use a State Statute and make a power move. In my opinion, that’s poor judgement on their part. While I admire their passion for the Library system, that’s no justification for them to use a loophole, so to speak, and become a taxing authority without any discussion with the community or it’s elected officials. 

    We have big financial problems in this town. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a reduction in expenses and an increases in taxes to solve. Anger, pain, and frustration will be felt by all but that’s no reason to abandon a process in which opinions are sought and understood before decisions are made. You’d think a board representing the Library would understand that.

     

    1. Community Discussion

      Rather than take their issue to the City Council or suggest a community discussion

      There was a community discussion on the matter.  It was called last year’s budget process.  Anyone interested in a FOI request on the attendance sheets to see how many Library Board members and library friends were there?

  2. Rescind the new library tax or start a petition to do so

    So what does the mayor and Council members think about the Libary Board’s move to vote itself a taxing body without public hearings? It’s been several days and they had a chance to comment at last night’s meeting.

    I know Ann Rainey spoke against it, and the Evanston Public Library Friends came out blasting Rainey with full guns ablaze, calling it hate speech. Is Rainey a Tea Party member?

    But the relatively mute response from the mayor and other Council members tells me that they support the Library Board’s actions but are skittish about the public outcry. What does the Council hope to accomplish in the summit? Why doesn’t the mayor simply go ahead and declare the Library Board an elected body or use her mayoral powers to stop this new tax? 

    My Councilman, Mark Tendam, had been working on behalf of the branch libraries, voting for extensions to keep the branches open. Tendam had to know that the Library Board was going to vote itself a taxing body, and gave it his blessing.

    In my opinion, with the exception of Rainey, everyone on the Council and the Mayor supported the Library Board’s myopic and tyrannical decision. I will remember this and bring it up every chance I get when the next elections come around. Mayor Tisdahl and the Council supported a 10 percent water rate hike, and a new library tax (except Rainey) despite a severe Recession with high unemployment, high taxes and exorbitant debt.

    It’s time to close the library branches and elect fiscally conservative and sensible people on the Council.

    Signed,

    Friends of the Taxpayers

  3. what was the survey response on the branches?

    I recall the city manager conducting an online survey, asking residents to indicate priorities for the city to save money. I believe the branch libraries were on the list. How did the branches fare compared to other choices for cost cutting?

    I went to the budget site but can’t locate the survey findings.

  4. Library board membership

    I see (here)  that the terms of Brooke L.M. Roothaan and Karen K. Terry expire at the end of this month. 

    Have they been re-appointed for additional 3-year terms?  If not, has Mayor Tisdahl announced who will replace them?

     

    1. Library board members

      Based on the listing on the library website, both members are completing their second terms on the board and are not eligible for re-appointment.

      — Bill

      1. New appointments to library board

        So then is it Mayor Tisdahl who will appoint replacements?  And are these subject to confirmation by Council?

        Nobody should be appointed unless they state their opinion on this tax scheme.  Also, new appointees should be committed to the idea of having one really nice library, instead of one mediocre library and two crummy little libraries.

        With these two new appointments, and more vacancies coming up next year, the mayor should be able to appoint a new majority that will be more reasonable.  

        Of course, this assumes that the mayor is on the side of the People, not the Library-Industrial Complex.

         Is she?

         Enquiring minds want to know.

         

        1. Board appointments

          Mayoral appointments are subject to confirmation by the City Council. There’s usually a list of appointments to various boards at the end of each City Council agenda, and they usually are approved without discussion. But that doesn’t mean the council can’t discuss them. The appointment of an NU official to — I believe it was the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Plan Commission — was hotly debated and ultimately rejected a few years back.

          — Bill

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