Opponents of an advisory referendum on whether to dissolve Evanston Township have filed petitions to hold a special town meeting seeking to deprive voters of a chance to have their ballots counted.

Town Clerk Rodney Greene says the petition drive, organized by Mary Baker of 139 Ridge Ave., achieved the 15 signatures required under the state township code.

The meeting now is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the City Council Chamber at the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.

Because ballots for the March 20 election have already been printed, Greene says it won’t be possible to remove the advisory question from the ballot.

But Greene says County Clerk David Orr has advised him that if the township authorities sent him a letter withdrawing the question that he could dispense with counting the votes on it.

A call this morning to Town Attorney Grant Farrar seeking clarification about procedures and voting rules for the special meeting was not immediately returned.

The township board, consisting of Evanston’s nine aldermen and the mayor, voted 5-4 last fall to place the item on the March 20 ballot.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Would township dissolution eliminate District 202 school board?

    Evanston currently has two school boards: 1 for primary and middle schools (District 65), and 1 for Evanston Township High School (District 202). If the township is dissolved, does that mean District 202 will no longer exist? Would that mean that all school governance would fall to the current District 65 school board? That would be a huge change with potentially undesireable ramifications:

    Consolidating the K-8 and HS school boards would greatly increase the number and range of issues a single school board has to deal with. Would people with expertise in K-8 school issues necessarily have the requisite knowledge and skill set to also run the high school effectively?

    Each is a huge arena with its own issues. Lumping them together under one school board would require significantly more time and broader expertise on the part of board members. Will they have that time, or that expertise?

    And school board positions are currently part-time, unpaid positions. Are we going to double the work and expect board members to fit that work into the same amount of time? Would we be content if board members give half as much time and attention to every issue in order to squeeze in all their new responsibilities? Or would we need to acknowledge that Board members' time commitment needs to double, and start paying them for full-time positions? If so, that would offset the financial savings advocated by those who want to dissolve the township in the first place.

    I haven't seen these issues addressed, or even raised, in the discussion of township dissolution. If I'm mistaken about ramifications of township dissolution for dissolution of the township school board, can someone please explain just what WOULD happen to District 202 and its school board if the township is dissolved? 

    Finally, Evanston Now has covered economic arguments proposed by those in favor of township dissolution, but I have not seen any discussion of benefits to retaining the township (other than avoiding legal obstacles to change). Is that because no one has put forth any benefits provided by the township? Are there any?  It's hard for voters to evaluate the pro's and con's if only one side of the issue is put forth in the press.

    Without knowing the answers to these questions, it is hard to make an informed vote on the Township dissolution referendum.


    1. The township and the school district are separate units

      The dissolution of the township of Evanston would have no legal impact upon the District 202 school board. They are two separate governmental entities. The Township of Evanston does not operate Evanston Township High School, even though the names are similar.

      There has been talk about combining District 65 and District 202 school districts, but that is unrelated to efforts to combine the Township of Evanston with the City of Evanston.


      1. Any benefits to KEEPING the Township?

        Thank you Charles for responding to the question of what happens to the Evanston Township High School school board if the township is dissolved. If anyone has info to the contrary please speak, otherwise I'll assume this clarification is correct.

        Now, can someone please shed some light on what exactly the Township government is responsible for, and what substantive arguments can be made for those functions being better provided at the Township level rather than being taken over by the city? So far everyone is just talking about financial savings of township dissolution, versus legal obstacles and partisan political legal agendas for opposing change (plus some very vague references about services to lower income residents). WIth one-way coverage of this issue, I don't feel like a very informed voter! How about some clear information about Township functions and the pro-township side of the argument — not just from individuals making comments on the web, but from the press! Evanston Now, Patch, and Evanston Review, where are you?

  2. What is the problem with these people

    "But Greene says County Clerk David Orr has advised him that if the township authorities sent him a letter withdrawing the question that he could dispense with counting the votes on it."

    Who are the township authorities? I hope it is not the township assessor.

    I suppose we will find that there is an Illinois law against voting to get rid of any government body once it has been created.

    1. What a Surprise !

      Imagine people wanting to eliminate useless government !  It is in the proud tradition that once a government body/program is created it cannot be abolished—it becomes a civil right,a sacred right that cannot be touched or even questioned.

    2. Township authorities

      The elected administrative officials of the township are Supervisor Patricia Vance and Assessor Bonnie Wilson. The legislative body — the town board — consists of Evanston's mayor and aldermen.

  3. Heard indirectly

    It was not Cook County David Orr who advised me, instead it came from his office by way of Mary Baker. She informed me what she was told, that if I the Township Clerk would submitt a letter of withdrawal to his office if and when I was directed by the Board or Electors in Evanston.

    The ballots have already been prepared and mailed over seas to our soldiers on this past Friday, and so the referenda will not come off of the ballot. Instead with the letter it would void out the votes on the ballot (as relayed to me by Ms. Mary Baker). 

    1. City Clerk

      First, the second sentence makes no sense whatsoever — let's put it into proper English.

      Second, how many referenda are there? I thought there was only ONE referendUM.

  4. If the Township dissolution

    If the Township dissolution referendum is going on the ballot, would that also be a good time to add an addendum clarifying the elibility of full and/or part-time Township employees for city-funded pensions? If people are considering opting for retention of the Township, they might appreciate knowing what the full financial ramifications of that choice would be — especially in light of recent efforts by the part-time, elected, Township Assessor to grant herself a lifetime pension at taxpayers' expense.

    Evanston really can't afford that kind of skimming. It smacks of Chicago-style corruption, which is infamous for dubious means of manipulating the pension system to line the pockets of political insiders. (And heads up: some Aldermen, who are also part-timers, are on record expressing an interest in piggy-backing on a pension perk for themselves if the Assessor paves the way by getting one for herself.)

    The city is already strapped for funds to provide important services, unable to provide secure funding for its branch libraries, and notoriously unable to meet its existing pension obligations to full-time police and firefighters who risk their lives to ensure public safety. Many residents are out of work, property values have fallen, and despite ever-increasing taxes there is insufficient city revenue to properly fund important services and financial obligations. In that context, it's distasteful to see politicians who claim to care about the public interest trying to line their pockets by skimming money out of the city budget or adding to the taxpayers' burden. For me, a vote to retain the Township would be greatly influenced by whether the projected cost of Township government is going to balloon by adding on lifetime pensions for elected township officials, especially part-timers. They should be funding their retirement with their "day jobs," like the rest of us have to.

    1. Right on

      So they simply voted this on the ballot? Wow! Thats some pretty powerful stuff to be voting on especially  with no type of checks and balances. A good example to that effect,  would lead us to a question like: 'Where was the initial meeting with the townspeople?' They're trying to pull a double deal here. The facts are that these "officials" are indeed part-time, and that the intelligent people of Evanston are apt enough to get the total explanation as to the true state of the township. They are due an explanation, layout, and precise view as to the financial health of Evanston.  Heck, make it an open forum. Maybe there are a few good ideas amongst the good citizens.

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