The mayor’s budget task force scheduled to be confirmed Monday by the Evanston City Council includes a strong contingent of advocates for social programs as well as some business owners and people with financial management experience.

The list of the nominees for the panel selected by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is included in the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

The mayor’s budget task force scheduled to be confirmed Monday by the Evanston City Council includes a strong contingent of advocates for social programs as well as some business owners and people with financial management experience.

The list of the nominees for the panel selected by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is included in the agenda for Monday’s council meeting.

The group is scheduled to come up with budget recommendations in a parallel process to the public budget workshops being run this month by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, as the city tries to find ways to close an $8 million projected funding gap for next year.

Here are brief bios of the panel nominees:

  • Sue Calder is chair of the Evanston Alliance on Homelessness, an organizer of the Evanston North Shore YWCA-based housing advocacy group Evanston Housing 4 All and a member of the board of directors of the McGaw YMCA.
  • Steve Engelman is a partner in the Evanston law firm Engelman and Smith and a former 7th Ward alderman.
  • Lou English is on the board of directors of the McGaw YMCA.
  • Joseph Flanagan, chairman and CEO of Acquirent LLC, a sales outsourcing firm president of JP Flanagan Enterprises. He’s board chair of Access to Care, a health care program for low-income, uninsured people in suburban Cook County.
  • Aleks Granchalek, a member of the former blue-ribbon pension committee for the city, works in the debt capital markets unit at William Blair & Company.
  • Candace Hill is an 8th Ward resident who played a large role in organizing the annual Bike the Ridge event.
  • Jean Lindwall is a 1st Ward resident, former mayoral candidate and former city employee who’s now a planning consultant.
  • Nicki Pearson, the registrar at the Rose Hill Montessori School in Wilmette, is vice-president for development at YOU, a youth services organization.
  • Hecky Powell is a restaurant owner, former District 65 board member and long-time community activist.
  • Mark Sloane, a former 6th Ward aldermanic candidate, is a certfied public accountant, chief financial officer and a member of the Evanston Playground and Recreation Board.
  • Raymond Summers is president of the AFSCME local that represents many Evanston city employees.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Library Saving—Again
    Unless the Council and whatever other groups are formed, seriously consider the South and North Branch library, it will be hard for residents to see them making an honest effort.

    While everyone would like libraries [and many things] very near to them, the branches are probably the lowest hanging fruit and easiest to make a decision on.

    Both are on a bus route and probably are used most by those within a five block walking distance—others would probably drive there anyway.

    If the city was serious about meeting an educational need, they probably would have one in the west or south-west area anywhere where the need would be greater anyway and transportation to the Main library not as good.

    What are the budget savings closing these would bring ?

  2. Not looking good for ordinary Evanstonians
    This task force is comprised of a who’s who in entitlement programs and it tells me one thing – social programs that get city funding will remain intact and not be stripped from the budget.

    That means groups like the affordable housing task force, which has been grossly unsuccessful in selling affordable condos all on the taxpayer’s dime, will continue on it’s reckless and expensive ways. In fact, this group had the audacity to ask the city for MORE MONEY!!!

    There is a lot of overlapping between local charity, state and federal grants and city funded programs that help the needy. This would be an ideal time for city leaders to pinpoint those areas and cut back on its funding to some of these programs.

    The most distrubing part of this task force is the presence of the president of the local AFSCME union. That certainly will assure no cutbacks in city union employees – just about everybody on the city payroll – and the most expensive item in any city budget.

    I hate to say it, but this is what you get when most if not everyone on the City Council are members of the Democratic party – the party I am now convinced is nothing but a taxing machine.

    The problems all Americans are facing is serious. To solve it, everybody has to be willing to take a haircut and make some sacrifices.

    Unfortunately, those who play the system are the most secure and those in the private sector are most at risk.

    With a 10.2 unemployment rate statewide, why is it that few if any city, county and state employees – most unionized – have not lost their jobs? Why is corruption running rampant in our state politics during this crisis?

    Why have the property tax rates gone up despite three years of property value decline?

    Why is the county sales tax – 10.5 percent – the highest in the nation?

    The answer is simple, in my honest opinion – democracy has broken down, and we find ourselves living under a one party system that rules with impunity.

  3. Composition of group
    The mayor’s budget task force scheduled to be confirmed Monday by the Evanston City Council includes a strong contingent of advocates for social programs as well as some business owners and people with financial management experience

    Not a very progressive group…the unions are represented, and a lot of groups that spend money are represented, and the Central Street NIMBY Association is represented…but nobody seems to be representing the average taxpaying Joe Shortstack .

    Maybe the much overused ‘only Nixon could go to China’ / ‘only De Gaulle could pull out of Algeria’ / ‘only Begin could make peace with Egypt’ analogy will play out here, and this group of big-spenders will be forced to make necessary budget cuts….but I doubt it.

  4. I promise to be really average.
    That’s why I was asked to join this team. Homeowner, not a Democrat, kids in public schools, my only big spending is my property tax bill, and college tuition this year.

    Oh, and I ride a bike, so I get a very close-up look at potholes. I’ll try very hard to stay average for you, how about that?

    1. Average isn’t good enough
      Bike Lady says:
      “Oh, and I ride a bike, so I get a very close-up look at potholes. I’ll try very hard to stay average for you, how about that?

      No no no..that’s not what I want. If you read my note, I did not say that I want average people in our government. I said “nobody seems to be representing the average taxpaying Joe Shortstack”

      I want board members, and aldermen, to be looking out for the interests of the average taxpaying resident…that doesn’t mean that I want a bunch of mediocre people running our government, just like I would like a doctor to take care of average people…but I don’t want the doctor to be an average person who doesn’t know anything about medicine.

  5. The fox is guarding the henhouse
    I really do appreciate your local work as the bike lady and on the Chute PTA. I am glad you’re on the task force.

    But as a conservative (we do exist in Evanston – icognito unfortunately) I find it hard to believe you would support conservative/Republican principles on the task force since you have described yourself as a liberal on Alderman Rainey’s website.

    I also don’t understand your promise to stay average. What does that mean? What is average to you? Do you consider fiscal conservatives as average people?

    Are you willing to cut city funded social programs?

    Mayor Tisdahl, who got the sole support of the Democratic party in the last election, handpicked members of the task force. The task force will be making recommendations on budget cuts.

    Tell me honestly Candace, do you really believe the task force will recommend laying off union city employees when you have the PRESIDENT of AFSCME on the task force?

    Is anyone aware that Summers was behind the push that got 300 remaining non-union City of Evanston employees to join his union?

    Here’s a quote from Summers on the AFSCME website:

    “The overall motivation of our members was that they thought it was unjustified for the city [Evanston] to try to balance the budget on the backs of half of the workforce.”

    Why in the world is the union even involved in making proposed recomendations to the city budget? It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse.

    It is unconsciable that Summers is on the task force. Summers was the proponent of the St. Francis Hospital referendum that tried to take away the hospital’s non-profit status using the political muscle of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in a strong arm tactic to get the hospital to unionize.

    As I said before, the connections and interests between the unions and Democrats or those with sympathies to the Democrat party are deeply co-mingled.

    Candace, is there ANYONE on the task force that either is a Republican or is truly a fiscal conservative? I really doubt it. Why is there no political diversity on the task force?

    There is no doubt in my mind that Democrats are in bed with the unions. Our mayor and everyone on the Council are Democrats.

    I’ll be watching what the task force does, especially with the issue of city employee cutbacks, but I am not hopeful at all.

    I’ll bet you my last tax dollar that the task force will make recommendations that will ultimately lead to more borrowing, and thus, push the budget problems to be solved at a later date.

    1. Ideology vs. Reality
      Unfortunately, this panel, or commission is ideology driven and not focused on the realities of the situation.

      Do you really think these members of this panel really have OUR interests in mind? Or, do they have their entitlement / social engineering, welfare initiatives as the priority? Same has to be stated for the unions.

      I refer to Rahm’s comment – a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

      I believe that any realistic and sound decision, not only on the city budget, but in every major facit of Evanston government is clouded by this Democrate ideology.

      The net result – our taxes will continue to rise.

      The net result – continued erosion of exceptionalism and adoption of averageness. Social engineering and class warfare if you want a better definition.

      If you do not think this is the case, I submit to you the actions of Congress in D.C.

  6. Mark Sloane will do an excellent job of heading these cats
    His budget expertise will be a huge plus as the city is forced to make tough choices. Reality has finally appeared in the Free Republic, and that’s a good thing.

  7. budget panels
    Before the City of Evanston convenes a Blue Ribbon panel, an investigation needs to take place as to how the financial crisis happened in the first place. This crisis did not happen in a vacuum as there were some of us who predicted this collapse more then a decade ago. Not only were we small independent business owners ignored, we were also retaliated against for speaking out which is common when you go up against the Machine that controls Evanston.

    Complaints have been filed with the Illinois Attorney Generals office regarding some of Evanston’s’ corruption, but so far the complaints have been ignored. We certainly hope Lisa Madigan isn’t covering up for her fellow Democrats which is all too common in Illinois. Regrettably, it’s what we have come to expect.

    If corruption is determined to be partly to blame for Evanston’s’ financial collapse, then indictments need to be handed out to those responsible and the city of Evanston should take the lead and file for bankruptcy. That’s what we in the business community have to do when we screw up.

    No matter what, the citizens of Evanston should not have to pay any higher taxes or fees to bail out the city of Evanston – certainly not before we have answers to what caused the crisis in the first place. It’s time for some that transparency and accountability we were promised.

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