Here’s a recap of our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council meeting. Meeting called to order at 8:20 p.m.

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

Downtown Evanston and other business district representatives discuss upcoming “Shop Small” event this Saturday and tree lighting at Fountain Square.

Holiday trash pickup this week. No pickups Thursday. Friday pickups of Thursday routes for everything except recycling, that will be done on Saturday.

Also plan to extent street sweeping for an extra week, through Dec. 5. 

Public Comment

Michael Tannen, president of library board, says not going to dignify with a response the personal attacks on the library board members (made at APW meeting). Says have lived, collectively, in Evanston for more than 200 years.

Says 11 percent increase is a misleading metric because the library has been undernourished for years.

Junad Rizki says water utility situation out of control — says sees continual 10 percent increases in rates.

Nathan Haliburton, owner of Haliburton Funeral Chapel in Evanston, says vital records office isn’t broken, don’t need to fix it.

Says vital records shouldn’t have to raise enough money in fees to cover its costs.

John Walsh, of Central Street Neighbors (recaps comments he made at AP&W meeting).

Jim Hughes, speaks in support of library budget increase. Says library is efficient in its use of tax dollars. Says Evanston needs to make further investments in library.

Tiffany Rice, with DaJae Coleman Foundation, praises the library’s collaboration with the foundation on book discussions and other programs.

Ben Schapiro, library board member and retired librarian of 40 years, says public library serves everyone in the community, regardless of need.

Says library is moving seven part-time employees to full time status, and hiring three temporary employees for the summer.

Consent Agenda

Items taken off the consent agenda.

  • A3.1 – A Lamp Concrete contract for civic center parking lot.
  • A6 – 2015 city budget.
  • A8 – 2014 city tax levy
  • A10 – 2014 library tax levy
  • A11 – Water rate 10% increas.
  • A13 – 2022 Central Street lease for Lush Wine & Spirits.

Consent agenda approved.

Civic Center parking lot contract.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says Ozinga the concrete subcontractor on this contract has sued to bar women employees from having contraceptive coverage in their health care.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says based on that she’ll vote against the contract.

Grover says Ozinga has been a good supplier, but am troubled by their position on the affordable care act.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, asks staff whether there’s time to investigate the issue further before voting.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says could hold it to the next meeting.

Based on that council holds action the contract until the next meeting.

2015 city budget

Amended by staff at request of APW commitee to remove the library budget from the city budget.

Alderman Rainey requests that defer action on this until after vote this evening on the water rate increase.

10 percent water rate increase

Rainey says 10 percent increase in anything in this budget is too much for people to bear. Water rates are regressive, everybody uses, regardless of their income, she says.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says a cut to a 5 percent increase would reduce revenue by about $315K. Says doesn’t see easy way to trim that spending.

Burrus says would like to get more detail before making a decision.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says it’s a large budget, would have to find something to cut — says he’s not comfortable making any cuts to water capital improvements. Says are way behind on those. Think would be irresponsible to delay geting the water infrastructure work done.

Wynne says she agrees with Wilson. Says also need to show other  potential water customers that we’re committed to maintaining our infrastructure.

Rainey says people can’t open water bill and see $300 bill every other month. (Notes that it includes sewer and trash hauling.)

Alderman Tendam says he supports the 10 percent rate increase — notes catastrophic water main failure on Central Street a couple years ago.

Vote on the 10% water increase … carries 5 to 4 with Braithwaite, Burrus, Holmes and Rainey voting no.

2015 city budget

$257M after removing library budget.

Budget approved unanimously as amended.

200ml liquor bottle size

Approved.

2014 city tax levy

Approved.

2014 library tax levy

Burrus says nobody’s disputing that the library does good work in the community. It isn’t about doing good work — it’s about financial responsibility. An 11 percent increase is not financially responsible.

Says only one library board member lives in or near a CDBG area that is low income. Says substantially increasing the tax levy does hurt the most vunerable members of the community.

Rainey moves to hold the levy vote. Burrus seconds.

Wilson says finding a common ground is a useful idea, but says there are a lot of troubling things floating around. Says city council is trying to manage the business of the city — difficult because we’re underwater in so many ways — infrastructure, pensions. Says its difficult to make decisions.

Says last meeting voted to approve Divvy bicycles, but he voted against. But he’s voted for other things that other people have opposed.

Says does feel that library budget is more honest. Going to a pay-as-you-go model is going to cost more. Facilities all over the city haven’t been adequately maintained. Library is a spectacular facility — says they don’t have adequate staffing to do all the things they need to do. Says other libraries often offer much greater services. Says Evanston is doing as well as can be expected, given the resources they have.

Says idea that they’re not being responsible, isn’t really fair.

Mayor says motion to holdover can be defeated by a two-thirds vote of the council.

Rainey says she was on the council when vote to build the new library was taken.

Says everybody has to maintain infrastructure — but we required the other city departments to make 3 percent budget cuts.

Wynne moves to overrule the hold. Motion fails 5-4, because it required a two-thirds vote.

So issue is held until a special city council meeting to be held next Monday night.

Lush Wine and Spirits lease — 2022 Central St.

Wilson raises concern about detail of lease term — who decides — tenant or city — what the city subsidy for improving the building will be.

Would-be tenant says preliminary estimate for vanilla box work is $175K.

Wilson withdraws his request for a delay in the vote.

Approved 7-2. Fiske and Wilson votes no.

Final action on …

Single family home special use at 1513 Greenleaf.

Approved.

Special use for child daycare center at 1909-1911 Howard

Approved.

Call of the wards

Wilson requests special council meeting for next Monday.

Holmes requests special meeting on Domino’s pizza next Monday.

Fiske announces 1st Ward meeting Tuesday, Dec. 2, 7 p.m. at EPL

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz suggests Rules Committee at 6 p.m. with Special City Council at 6:30 p.m. and Human Services Committee at 7;30 p.m. Thanks staff that worked on city budget.

Holmes mentions prayer service for Ferguson at Unitarian Church, 1330 Ridge at 7 p.m. tomorrow. (Would have been tonight if the grand jury decision hadn’t been released until very late today.)

Meeting adjourned at 10:16 p.m.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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11 Comments

  1. Another subsidy ?
    “Lush Wine and Spirits lease — 2022 Central St. …
    Would-be tenant says preliminary estimate for vanilla box work is $175K.”
    ======================
    Why does the Council seem so intent on subsidies for liquor establishments ?
    If anything you would expect Evanston with its history and problems to put a lower priority on anything to do with liquor. Yet they keep giving it out.
    Why does the Council feel they need to pick “winners” and spend taxpayer dollars ? If a business is to be established or retained, they should pay their own way. Needing subsidies shows they can’t make it on their own.

    1. City owns the building

      In this case, the business is moving into a city-owned building, and the claim is, that like other landlords, the city needs to pay to bring the property up to rent-able condition.

      The city likes liquor businesses because, in addition to regular sales taxes (of which the city only gets 2 percentage points of the 9 percent total), liquor dealers also collect a 6 percent local liquor tax — believed to be the highest in the state — and the city gets all of that.

      — Bill

      1. Not a government’s business
        The city should not have “city owned buildings.” If they get them for some reason they should sell them off “as is” and let the buyer make needed repairs.
        The IRS sometimes gets businesses from forfeitures. I don’t know how hard they try to sell them off but there have been accounts of them keeping some going—even as bars and brothels.
        As for the tax income from liquor, it sounds like city, state and federal attacks, fines and trials for years against the tobacco industry—as long as it was not in their state. Then tobacco settled and the states spent the money on things not related to offsetting the damage, then found they wanted more money so the tobacco industry had to be kept alive for more revenue. Is that Evanston’s approach—talk about the “evils” of liquor but then bend over backward to get more revenue from it ? Sad.

        1. who says liquor is evil?
          ” Is that Evanston’s approach—talk about the “evils” of liquor but then bend over backward to get more revenue from it ? Sad. ”

          No…the people talking about the ‘evils’ of liquor are the NIMBYs who don’t want any alcohol being sold in the city. The people who want more development, more restaurants, and bars are a different group of people.

  2. Council is punishing company for its Christian views
    What the Council did last night is abhorrent and shameful.

    Rather than approving a routine simple winning bid concrete contract from a company that has done a lot of business with Evanston, councilmen delayed a vote because Ozinga Bros, a Christian owned business, was one of a dozen religious based companies that challenged Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate and WON in the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case. The Supreme Court ruled that Ozinga has the LEGAL right not to provide, if they choose, any or all forms of birth control in healthcare plans they provide to their employees as long as they have a legitimate religious objection. .

    So our wise Council is punishing Ozinga for it’s Christian beliefs. My Gawd, do these councilmen want a high profile lawsuit on its hands? Our City Council is considering PUNISHING a company for its religious beliefs simply because that company had the audacity to SUCCESSFULLY challenge in our legal system a mandate in an unpopular national healthcare law.

    Whether you supported or opposed the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision, every Christian in Evanston and elsewhere should be up in arms against the Council for even suggesting it might not award the contract to Ozinga simply because of the company’s position on Obamacare.

    Absolutely appalling. Vote the bums OUT!!!

    1. Alderwomens’ Lack of Knowlege on Ozinga case

      Like Hooby Lobby, Ozinga is paying for standard contraceptives for its female employees. Ozinga's Catholic owners  just wants their religious rights protected under the First Amendment not to pay for those contraceptives that fall under abortifacient category like '"the morning after pill".   No female Ozinga employee is denied using these particular forms of abortifacient contrceptives, they just have to pay for it on their own.

      The fact that Alderwoman Grover feels free to condemn Ozinga legal right (supported by Alderwoman Burrus) without looking into the matter more throughly is troubling.  To deny Ozinga its contract is nothing short of intolerant and a denial of Ozinga's First Amendment right.

       

    2. Alderman Jane Grover, 7th

      Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, says Ozinga the concrete subcontractor on this contract has sued to bar women employees from having contraceptive coverage in their health care.

      Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, says based on that she'll vote against the contract.

      Grover says Ozinga has been a good supplier, but am troubled by their position on the affordable care act.

      Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, asks staff whether there's time to investigate the issue further before voting.

      If Alderman Wynne and other council members truly investigate the contraceptive issue they will find that Grover is spreading false information about Ozinga. I do not known if Grover is purposely lying or if she is just passing the lie from one of her friends. Like Hobby Lobby, Ozinga covers about 10 different contraceptives in their medical plan. They do not cover drugs or devices that cause the abortion of unborn human beings. A ruling by the Supreme Court gave them this right.

      Then Alderman Burrus falls for Grover's false informantion and jumps with, the contract will not get her vote.

      I think both Grover and Burrus owe the council and the people of Evanston an apology.They should speak to Evanston's legal staff and learn to learn about they are talking about before making wild statements in a public forum.

      Grover is also concerned about Ozinga's position on the ACA. Hasn't anybody informed her that a large majority of Americans are concerned about obamacare and the gape is growing larger after we have learned that the Obama Administration planed to make the law more confusing and less transparent to get the ACA passed. Obama actively participated with his "You can keep your doctor. You can keep your plan," lies.  People do not trust Obama. The press does not trust Obama. They are calling Obama's administration the least transparent in the last 100 years. Grover is part of an ever shrinking minority.

      I agree with Al. If Ozinga loses the contract and sues the city, it can all be blamed on Grover and any others that follow her lead.

    3. No Surprise

      I guess the troubling thing here is Grovers comment on Ozingas "position" on the ACA.  This tells me that if any person or entity disagrees with ACA as a law, or any left leaning ideology, including Obama, then that entity or individual needs to be punished in some way.

      The inability to respect a differing opinion, to respect ones religious conviction or the Supreme Court decision is most disconcerning… Especially from elected officials who hold power and elect to use it accordingly.

      We have seen this tactic before and it is absolutely disgusting and shameful.  

      Ozinga needs to be made aware of these comments from the City Council and their threat to vote no to their contract.  I would like to hear their comments on this, additional journalism is warranted here.

       

       

      1. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

        Different perspectives and points of view should be ENCOURAGED, not DISCOURAGED.

        I thought that's why we live in Evanston, a diverse community.

        Don't we value diversity? Should we value diverse opinions?

        Evanston is ruled by one party.

        Illinois until January 12, 2015 has been ruled by one party for over 10 years.

        Is one party rule and one perspective in the best interests of all citizens or is it just in the best interests of the ruling party and the elite few who are connected to those in power?

        For Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for true diversity.

        TP

        1. Lemmingville
          Here in Lemmingville apparently most voter feel it is easier to have one party tell them how “things are and should be” rather than have differing viewpoints in city government.
          Remember many in the Soviet Union liked ‘everything from the top down’ and some who came to America went back because life was simpler there—you were told how things were and were to be—no decisions to make and freedom was too taxing.

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