The Evanston alders pushing to be given funds in the new city budget to hire public relations contractors are also the ones who have chosen to book themselves into the largest number of committee assignments.
The City Council is scheduled to start discussing the proposed 2023 city budget at a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th), who sits on 15 committees, complained at a Rules Committee meeting earlier this month, “I really do not have the time to write a sentence of a newsletter.”
He suggested giving each alder a $15,000 annual budget to hire their own communications consultants.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th), who’s also on 15 committees, supported that idea and suggested the city should also hire more communications staffers in the city manager’s office.
New Council members elected in 2021 have pushed creation of a half dozen new committees on which alderpersons sit and added aldermanic seats to a couple of existing committees that didn’t previously have them.
In all, the city now has two dozen committees on which alders sit.
City Manager Luke Stowe’s proposed budget for 2023 does not include funding for PR contractors for alders or an increase to the PR staff in the city manager’s office.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), who sits on 10 committees, has suggested adding to the in-house PR staff to help alders get their messages out.
Giving individual alders the option to hire their own contractors would appear to create a risk that the work those contractors might be asked to do could drift across the line into illegal campaign work for the alders.
Perhaps anticipating that issue, Mayor Daniel Biss at the Rules Committee meeting expressed reservations about giving elected officials a pot of money that would be under their own spending control.
The city will also hold two town hall meetings on the new budget, with one in Spanish at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., and one in English at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at the Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.