Members of Evanston’s 80th City Council, sworn in last week, will hold a Rules Committee meeting tonight to choose committee assignments and discuss the council’s rules.

The retirement of three aldermen from the previous council has created 17 openings on the 13 committees that have aldermen as members, and the new council could further shuffle the positions if some returning aldermen would like to shift their assignments.

The only change noted in the packet from city staff is reducing the number of aldermen on the Economic Development Committee from the current seven to five.

In the past some committees have been expanded in size when more aldermen wanted to be in on a group’s discussion than the previous size of the committee would have allowed.

While essentially all committee decisions end up coming through the full City Council for final approval, discussion in committees often shapes the proposals that reach the full Council for a vote.

The 24-page “Rules and Organization” document for the City Council specifies everything from when Council meetings are to be held to which questions coming before the body require a super-majority vote for approval.

One recent change to the rules gave the aldermen a $75 a month allowance to pay for high-speed internet service, a mobile phone or other technology they use in conducting city business.

The aldemen tonight are also scheduled to get a briefing in executive session on the status of contract talks now underway with three of the four unions representing city workers.

Talks are underway for 165 sworn police officers, 911 and 311 operators and desk officers represented by the Fraternal Order of Police; for 100 firefighters represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters and for 350 workers in various departments represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The only contract not up for renewal is one for 20 police sergeants represented by the FOP.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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