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Recap: Administration and Public Works Committee

Here's a recap of our live coverage of this evening's Evanston City Council Administration and Public Works Committee meeting.

The meeting was called to order at 6:03 p.m.

Minutes approved.

A packet with information on tonight's agenda items is available online.

Payroll and bills approved.

A 3.1 – Rodent control contract with Rose Pest Solutions $22.9K. Approved.

A3.2 – Sewer rehab contract with Insituform Technologies $311K.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says concerned that paying a lot more $44K — just to get $5.8K in wages for an Evanston resident under the contract. Says concept is a good one — but here it doesn't seem to make sense.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says city only has option to accept or reject the bid. Said council policy indicates that when bidder refuses to meet local hiring requirement, staff felt obligated to make the recommendation they did.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says she agrees with with Grover. Notes that all the bidding firms are from outside Evanston.

Says there's no way to explain that this serves minorities better than a different approach that would perhaps providing training for a minority resident.

Dave Stoneback, the utilities director, says last year hired an local resident apprentice at the water plant as an alternative. But if did that this year would have six untrained apprentice staffers at the water plant — which is something of a strain on the rest of the staff.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, says Insituform has done good work in the past, but he's open to holding the contract to look for a different approach.

Bobkiewicz says staff has had informally a benchmark for how much more … but looking for guidance 

In this case the bid from Insituform is about 14 percent higher than the lowest bid received.

Stoneback says Kenny, the low bidder, has done other work in Evanston and doesn't see any difference in the quality of the work done by Kenny or Insituform.

Vote is to hold the item in committee until the first meeting in February. Meanwhile the MWEBE Committee will try to come up with policy recommendations.

A 3.3 – Natural Gas Purchase

Purchase agreement with Northwestern University for period Sept. 1, 2016, through Aug. 31, 2021.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says the strike price is $4.10 per MMBTU, which is higher than the price now.

Stoneback says prices now are near record lows.

Rainey asks how can determine — given the volitility in the market — what a good price is?

Approved 4-0. Burrus recuses herself from voting because she's an NU employee.

A 3.4 – City storage area network project – Hipskind Technology Solutions Group of Westchester – $250K

Jose Calderon, IT Division Manager, says were able to negotiated down the price from what Hipskind, the original bidder, had originally submitted.

Approved.

A 4 – CIPP Sewer Rehab Contract change order

Approved.

A 5 – Regulation of Transportation Network Providers

Introduced by Braithwaite. Doesn't initially get a second.

City Manager says have interesting circumstance of a business operating that doesn't have a lawful way to operate.

Says his sense is that would like them to be able to operate legally, rather than starting arrests.

Alderman Delores Holmes seconds the proposal to open it for discussion.

Alderman Grover says would like a level playing field for the transportation networks as well as taxicab.

Bobkiewicz says the form for taxi regulation is not compatible with the business model that the ride sharing companies use. Taxis licensed based on individual vehicles.

Says trying to bring enforcement operations against the companies has proved to be expensive for other communities.

Holmes asks about insurance coverage.

Bobkiewicz says companies in other areas have required that hte transportation network providers carry insurance for their drivers.

Grant Farrar says dozens of jurisdictions have adopted different approaches. Says communities tyhpically now are moving toward regulation rather than banning.

Says insurance requirements in the proposed ordinance are similar to those in the Chicago ordinance. Says should provide consistency and clarity for users of the service.

Braithwaite asks what charge other taxis in town. Would like to know what other communiteis are now.l

Farrar says $250 per cab license, with roughly 140 cabs in town.

Took same fee as in Chicago ordinance. Have seen fees as loow as $500 Springfield, Ill.

Alderman Rainey says the point of the ridesharing operations is to not be like taxis. Says, as a regular user, they're not like other taxis. Says eight out of 10 of our taxis are vehicles you wouldn't want to ride in.

Says I'm not going to support anything that makes them comparable to taxis. Says there's going to come a day when all taxis are like Uber.

Says a ride on Uber to O'Hare cost $20. Says got the car there within five minutes of when she called at 4 o'clock in the morning.

"I do believe Uber and the other ride-share programs are going to prevail over the traditional taxi services," Rainey says.

Bobkiewicz says "your staff agrees — but it want it done as safely as possible." Felt that duplicating the cost structure Chicago had made sense, but could come back with other fee plans.

Alderman Burrus asks, "Why do we have to do anything. We haven't had any incidents in Evanston. We're trying to quash innovation by overregulating."

Bobkiewicz says could say lots of services could say that about.

Burrus says she's concerned about the slippery slope of overregulation. Almost like when were trying to regulate kids' Koolaid stands.

Holmes, but when something does happen

Bobkiewicz says now have ordinance that regulates taxis.

Rainey says it's not the same.

Farrar says was some buy-in by the companies on the Chicago ordinance. Regarding legallity, the courts in several jurisdictions have concluded that this is not a cab — but if it isn't a cab — should it be licensed and regulated in some way. As the city attorney I'm concerned about liablity.

Rainey, why would they do it? If somebody runs into me on the way home and isn't insured I'm not going to be looking to the city to sue.

Bobkiewicz says our intention is just to clarify things. If council choosed not to regulate, then think should have some findings on the record.

Braithwaite compares this to street scavengers — no real desire to regulate them.

Burrus asks — what about car-poolers to the loop. Are going to regulate them? If they're paying someone for gas? Just think regulate a little too much.

Vote is to hold it in committee until Jan. 26, pending more information from staff.

A 6 – Towing vehicles obstructing a fire hydrant, etc.

Approved.

A 7 – Residential exemption parking district "B"

Approved.

A 8 – Decrease in Class D Liquor license for Carmen's

Business has moved from the 1241 Chicago Ave. location of the license. So cancelling the license.

Approved.

A 9 – Negotiate the sale of 629-31 Howard

Rainey says it's amazing that the Ward Eight owners have developed the very first new business "outside the box" on Howard Street.

Says couldn't be more proud of them.

Related story.

Rainey says there's been debate back and forth about the city helping businesses.

They're so busy you can't even get in there and get a seat.

Says the commentary when you read it is as though you're talking about something else. Says been really bizarre and far out criticism.

Says should talk to people out there who have been involved — they'll share information.

Otherwise end up with cycle of craziness and myths and falsehoods.

Anybody who wants to talk to me about the Dairy Queen, call me, she says.

Approved. (Also for immediate adoption.)

APW1 – Discussion item on Newspaper box presentation

Rajeev Dahal says permit is required from publications, but it's free. Requires annual renewal.

Says new system reduces clutter and provides more walkable space on the sidewalks.

Says seven boxes were install last year — on Davis and Church streets downtown.

Says have issued permits to 15 publications — three paid and twelve free.

Hope to role out the program across the rest of the city this year.

Meeting adjourned at 7:13 p.m.

Planning and Development Committee meeting to start shortly.

 

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