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Recap: City Council

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Here’s a recap of our live coverage of this evening’s Evanston City Council meeting.

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

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.

Among the items on the agenda tonight is a set of appointments to the new Citizen Police Review Commission.

Meeting called to order at 5:34 p.m.

Mayor Steve Hagerty says city has seen a significant decline of COVID-19 cases — down to two cases per day average and the positive rate on tests is running about 2%. Says there’s still a risk of a second wave — so have to keep doing social distancing, wearing masks, etc.

Says he will hold a series of Q&A sessions on police issues starting in early July, and will be taking a close look at the budget for police and other departments in the face of revenue shortfalls from the pandemic.

Interim City Manager Erika Storlie has announcements .. starting with information about the “virtual” Fourth of July celebration.

Details here.

Police Chief Demitrous Cook says fireworks have really been a problem since the beginning of May … 168 calls so far … 78 calls just over the weekend.

Says the cancellation of the legal fireworks ceremony this year may have contributed to the increase in illegal fireworks usage.

Says fireworks can touch off house fires.

Says patrol officers are on the lookout … and the tactical team has been assigned to patrol areas where there’ve been the most complaints — in the 5th and 8th wards.

Says can be really dangerous for children — doesn’t want someone to end up losing an eye or an finger.

Chief says by the time police get to the site, there’s often nobody around.

He introduces the two new deputy police chiefs whose appointments were announced last week.

Luke Stowe presents an update on COVID-19 recovery … and move to Phase 4 on Friday. Gathering limit increases from 10 to 50 people Additional outdoor activities will be allowed … and limited indoor dining. Reports on a survey the city has available at cityofevanston.org/recovery

Says residents are expressing concerns about community safety, potential for family members becoming sick as well as emotional and financial health of families.

City Clerk Devon Reid notes that mail-in ballot applications are available from the county clerk.

Public Comment

Starts at 6:13 p.m. 17 folks have signed up.

Ends at 6:53 p.m.

SP1 – Connections for the Homeless rapid rehousing funding

$370,000 from federal CARES Act funding. 21 families with children under 18 to be assisted.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, says its going to a very good cause.

Approved 9-0.

SP2 – 2020 budget update

Related story. CFO Hitesh Desai says the shortfall has increased from $10.6 million to $12 million. Kate Lewis-Lakin, budget coordinator, says net remaining deficit after various spending reductions and new income sources amounts to about $2.5 million.

Says city has spent close to $1.2 million on direct costs of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Expects to get about $880K in reimbursement from FEMA.

Expects to seek funding of just over $800K from the Illinois Department of Public Health for contact tracing and other COVID-19 response efforts.

CARES Act coronavirus relief fund through Cook County is expected to be at least $440K. It covers some expenses that aren’t eligible for FEMA reimbursement.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, asks about talks wiht police nad fire unions about furlough days.

Storlie says there’s no final outcome on that yet., but talks are continuing.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asks about crossing guard costs — about $500K a year — possibly remove from budget (let schools pay for it).

Storlie says planning to have a discussion about all police issues at 2nd meeting of month next month.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, says has had discussions at the schools — wants to find out whether the school still want to have police officers in the schools.

SP3 – Reparations subcommittee update

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, discusses latest progress by the subcommittee. Related story.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, asks how the proposal can withstand legal challenges.

City Attorney Kelley Gandurski says the benefit would need to be tied to a specific rezoning or ordinance or policy or structure that was discriminatory and the compensation would try to correct the wrong that was done.

Says is still really very much in the planning stages.

Fiske says wants to make sure are doing things right. Asks for more data.

Rue Simmons says understands that can expect challenges and wants to be prepared for that.

Mayor Hagerty says there may be elements in the community would be willing to contribute to a fund, voluntarily — to provide funds beyond the money to be provided by the cannabis tax.

SP4 – Racial equity update

Acting Assistant City Manager Kimberly Richardson says wants to reframe how look at racial equity as an organization. Says it can’t be established by one staff member or policy change. Says have to change entire culture, and that’s not going to happen overnight. OTOH, the pandemic creates opportunity to rethink a lot of things.

Fleming says doesn’t appear that a lot has come out of the equity process yet. Says she’s concerned that there isn’t a dedicated person heading that effort.

Braithwaite asks whether there are vacancies on the Equity and Empowerment Commission.

Richardson says there will be three vacancies as of July. Have seen a number of applications in past few weeks. Says need more young people, and more men. Hopes to have new people appointed by next month.

Accepted and placed on file … 9-0.

SP5 – Compensation committee report

Wilson moves to refer the report to the Rules Committee … so can get through the rest of tonight’s agenda.

And it’s done. [Later they end up taking a roll call vote to refer it to Rules. Approved 9-0 and a vote to accept it and place on file. Also approved 9-0. Rules Committee to meet July 6.]

Consent agenda

Off consent … A 7, A9, R1 and App1 at request of Suffredin.

What’s left on consent agenda is approved 9-0.

A7 – NU football parking and tailgating for 2020-2024 seasoins

Revelle says it’s premature to approve this.

Says don’t know yet what the arrangement will be with Canal Shores. Says need good faith effort by NU and Canal Shores before city approves.

Says last year’s plan required a lot of volunteer effort — may not be sustainable.

Suggests tabling the proposal

Wilson says he wants NU and Canal Shores to get together. Suggests bringing it back on July 13 so that it can get through the MWRD’s approval process.

Revelle moves to table until July 13 meeting.

Approved 9-0.

A9 – Sidewalks to be clear of snow, ice, dirt and weeks

Braithwaite says he had had concerns, but now is comfortable supporting it.

Suffredin asks about having youth match up with residents who need to have walks shoveled.

Johanna Nyden says has had some conversations. Says some schools have given high school students gym credit for shoveling snow. Still looking for better solution.

Approved 8-1. Suffredin votes no.

R1- Amending city code regarding city manager

(Changes to require 7 votes to remove city manager.)

Approved 7-2. Fleming and Suffredin vote now.

APP1 – Approve of appointments to the Citizen Police Review Commission

Fleming objects to having four or five people on the panel are from the 2nd ward.

Also sees a conflict of interest regarding one member.

Wilson says its a really good list and an interesting list. Says there sin’t someone who lives in the 4th Ward (his ward). But they have experience, are multi-generational and diverse and will fairly represent the community.

Wynne says she supports the list. There isn’t someone from the 3rd Ward on it, but thinks it’s a good list. Says know some of the people and have worked with them on other committees.

Rainey says agrees with Wilson and Wynne — says the selected people look really qualified.

Fiske says representation from all wards matters. Says she put in four names and none of hers were selected. Suggests maybe adding a few more folks.

Rue Simmons says it’s a great list, but it’s not a fair representation of the city. Says could have taken more time. Says will get pushback from the community about the areas not included.

Hagerty says the CPCAC review committee recommended having a nine-member panel. Says larger group can get unwieldly. Says it did not recommend having a requirement that all nine wards be represented.

Rue Simmons says should have had someone from the Citizens Network of Protection on the new group.

Braithwaite says most complaints come from people in the 2nd, 5th or 9th wards — where there are a lot of black residents. Says at the end of the day the group will rotate as new members join. Doesn’t see any reason to hold it up.

Hagerty says Rules Committee would need to decide whether to increase the size of the committee.

Fiske says would be OK with the referral to Rules.

Wynne says nine seems to be a very good working number. If drop lower have quorum issues, if go higher gets a little unwieldy.

Approved 5-4. Fiske, Fleming, Rue Simmons and Suffredin vote no.

Call of the wards

Suffredin and Revelle announce upcoming ward meetings.

Fiske says weill have open air ward meeting at the Arrington Lagoon on Monday… to discuss qualities residents would like to see in a new city manager.

Braithwaite .. ward meeting 2nd Thursday in July.

Rue Simmons …. ward meeting … 2nd Wednesday, July 8.

No executive session tonight.

Meeting adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

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