Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting.
The meeting will begin shortly after the Planning and Development Committee meeting ends, which means it will likely start sometime around 8 p.m.
A packet with information on tonight’s agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 8:05 p.m.
Alderman Burrus is absent tonight.
Mayor Tisdahl says Burrus is stuck in Colorado or Utah, couldn’t get a flight back. She’s scheduled to arrive at midnight tonight — and Tisdahl hopes the council won’t still be meeting at that hour.
Mayor reads Black History Month proclamation.
Erika Storlie, deputy city manager, presents update on 311 service. Says as a result of an audit study managed to answer a higher percentage of calls. Dropoff tends to happen after about 35 seconds. Says industry average answer time is a bit over 20 seconds, in Evanston that’s been cut to 12 seconds.
Says 311 got 25,000 service requests last year.
Building permit inspections are top request.
Chief Richard Eddingtion says there were more than 200 fewer part 1 crime victims last year and all four homicides last year were solved.
Cmdr. Jay Parrott says overall crime rate was down 9 percent in 2013. Biggest decrease since 2010.
Parrott says made “stop and frisk” stops of 1,533 aduls and 203 juveniles this year. That compared to 1,547 adults and 284 juveniles stopped in 2012.
Says reduction in crime is a factor to consider in reduction in stops.
Also does demographic reports comparing ethnicity of suspects in crime reported by public with the ethnicity of people stopped.
Says public reported adult criminal suspects as being black 69.8 percent of the time. Of people stopped by police 68 percent were black.
John Bushnell, 1805 Crain St., says he’s opposed to “massive” installation of security cameras along Dodge and Church leading to Evanston Township High School. Says research shows that security cameras don’t affect crime.
Jerri Ann Garl, 1607 Dobson St., says she isn’t convinced cameras will help reduce crime. Says there are hidden costs to camera operation.
Emma Smith, 1607 Dobson St., says if camereas are to be used, need to be set up so can’t spy into private buildings. Says should do more research and seek a grant for that, rather than for more cameras at this point.
Cecil Cartright, 1213 Dodge, says statistics show crime is going down. Says if kids field unsafe, it may be a problem that needs to be addressed by education, not more surveillance — which diminishes freedom and liberty.
Several other people speak in opposition to cameras.
Dickelle Fonda, 1220 Darrow Ave., says the proposal for summer jobs is much better than cameras for reducing crime. Says she’s shocked that a progressive city like Evanston would turn security of its children over to cameras.
Michael Montenegro, 1700 Crain St., says what we are unwilling to do when we are really afraid determines what kind of people we are. Says should teach children how to deal with fear in relation to our convictions. Says should work for gun control rather than install cameras.
End of Citizen Comment
Mayor’s report on camera project
Mayor says efforts at gun control have been unsuccessful — recounts story of girl who’s affraid because she’s been repeatedly shown guns while walking to and from school.
Says police have a variety of studies showing the effectiveness of cameras — says it will not solve all problems, but will help, and she trusts police department when they say it will help.
Says there’s a hunger in the community for a solution.
Says survey of students was required by state law — and showed significant number of students are afraid.
Says the summer jobs grant and the cameras grant are for different pots of money and are not competing against each other.
Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward asks whether aldermen could determine whether they think there’s a need for cameras on their stretch of Dodge.
Tisdahl says could do whatever want, but it may make the concept of safer passage no longer valid. And won’t make it as strong an application.
Rainey says she lives a block from Dodge on Dobson. Says on the stretch from Oakton to Howard there is Dawes School, James Park and the Levy Center, and then you’re at Howard.
Says she’s lived in the house 27 years says she’s encouraged cameras elsewhere in the 8th Ward and they were successful in reducing crime. Said have serious problems in those locations — and don’t have problems on Dodge from Oakton to Howard.
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says there have been some problems in some of the areas — and cameras would provide opportunity for kids to feel safer — not looking it as much as crime frequency.. but crime perception.
Says if cameras will create a sense of safety for kids, that’s what she would be leaning toward.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says he’s concerned about statement cameras would make to the community. Says need to be more focused on results-oriented tools and solutions. Doesn’t think cameras will have intended impact — because cameras will be unmonitored — it won’t actually create a safe corridor.
Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said mayor’s youth steering committee had a meeting last month. Says when look at camera issue in addition to everything else city is doing, says plans to support the application, but doesn’t want to see cameras south of Dempster.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says believes should submit the application for funding. Says have seen ways in which security cameras do change perception. Says have network of 22 cameras in city — with a cluster of them downtown. Says seems to project sense that downtown is secure.
Says sees potential for positive result from cameras.
Mayor says once we make a grant application we’re not going to be able to change what we say we’re going to do. Need to have basic concept tonight of what we’re going to do with the cameras.
Says beleive we owe kids a safer passage to and from school, but if that’s not what we’re trying to do then we have to tell the grantors what we plan to do with the money.
Rainey asks why we think only Dodge is the only safe passageway to the high school Says can’t see that children on Callan or Custer or Asbury would run over to Dodge and walk that way.
Mayor says if don’t specify where will but the cameras that would be a weaker location.
Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, says the proposal needs to drive home the idea of safe passage — need to stick with that.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, says she’s supportive of the proposal for a safe passage. Says she’s been a parent of ETHS students for seven years. Last year saw melee at Church and Dodge at school dismissal time. Says she talked to many kids walking along the street who were very frightened.
Says have shown over and over again that cameras work.
Holmes said she couldn’t support the safe school zone that ETHS wanted because of how it infringed on the civil liberties of neighbors, but fully supports the camera proposals for a safe passage zone.
Summer job grant proposal approved unanimously.
Camera proposal is moved by Grover, seconded by Holmes for cameras on Church from Ridge to McCormick and on Dodge from Simpson to Howard.
Rainey says it’s just a waste of money to put the cameras form Oakton to Howard, but that she’ll support the proposal.
Roll call on main proposal. Carries 5-3
Yes: Wynne, Holmes, Tendam, Grover and Rainey.
No: Wilson, Fiske, Braithwaite.
Several of the people who spoke against the camera concept shout their unhappiness with the outcome and leave the meeting.
We’ll note any items taken off the consent agenda.
- Complete and Green Network approach to construction projects off consent agenda.
Nothing else removed. Consent agenda approved.
Complete and Green Network
Amendment by Alderman Grover amends exceptions … eliminating the last exception “implementation would cause a neighborhood hardship” …. says that too vague. Favors amending 2nd exception to let public works director say “existing structures or corridors do not permit” the changes … structure might be a viaduct or existing parkway trees
Resolution approved as amended. Fiske and Braithwaite vote no.
Final action on decrease in Dominick’s liquor licenses. Approved.
Final action on building permit fee increases. Approved.
Call of the wards
Alderman Rainey says she’s considering moving to reconsider the safe passage proposal at the next meeting.
Rainey remarks on death of Alderman Gene Feldman says he was most eloquent alderman she’s ever served with. Says he’ll be greatly missed. Played major role in development of downtown Evanston.
Alderman Fiske says Feldman was so eloquent — made everybody feel better about Evanston.
City Council votes to go into executive session to discuss personnel and minutes.
Public meeting adjourned at 10:37 p.m.