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Recap: Evanston City Council

Here's a recap of our live coverage of tonight's Evanston City Council meeting.

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

Township meeting convenes at 8 p.m. 

Minutes of past meetings approved unanimously.

Public comment:

Priscilla Giles: Speaking in favor of keeping the Township. I'm saying Scrooge in Dicken's Christmas Carol has come to Evanston…seeks to destroy well-run necessary institution. 

Junad Ritzki: I have to wonder why city wants to take over Township. I do believe clients have something to fear… it appears also the city gutted their ECTVs operating budget, but do we have public TV programming anymore? Where did money go? Did we see any savings? …

Township I think funds will be misused just like that…city has also misused funds too, claims took Township funds for social services, didn't serve clients of Township…I believe there is an attitude that this Township is something we take some money from… and I think people are starting to see that.

If council is concerned about public…unnecessary expense on water tank…will hurt poorest people in community.

Recently heard of painting of three black leaders purchased by city…what is the city really doing, it wants to just control things in an arrogant fashion and frankly money is being wasted here.

Evanston Community Media Center remains separate non-profit center, city has not taken it over, says City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz. 

Jackie April: Spoke at Dec. 2, 2013 meeting… I'd like to ask City Council to repeal ordinance…at our last meeting Mr. Bobkiewicz says he is not one who called for dissolution of Evanston Township, council did… I'd like to also reiterate that I think the Township and the city should remain separate entities… 

The progams include, job club, adult education, work club, access to care services, coast to coast RX program, notary site, rental and mortgage assistant…food assistance (among others) I don't think you can take people in corporate office and have them work in human services capacity.

Story of homeless man without address hit by a train at 1 a.m…I just don't think there are people in the city of Evanston who can go in deal with people like that and make assessments like…I don't feel you need to make any changes. 

Madeline Ducre: I still believe the Township should not be abolished and listening to many people out in Evanston they believe also it should stay as it is.

Betty Ester: Wish everybody a happy holidays… But my reason for standing tonight to say that we here in Evanston on the verge of losing something, we're going to lose a small part of Evanston that people felt connected to, now take that office and move it into larger component, there is talk of closing Township and moving it to city government, if you know in trying to navigate any large institution you get a machine voice… where at Township those people did not have to hear that. I urge you between now and the end of the year if it so suits you to rescind that ordinance…but most of all that seems like it won't happen, that won't be my Christmas gift…ask residents to think of crisis of budget of U.S. and who was people who felt blunt the most, those at the bottom… Equity is not going to happen, the rich getting richer, poor getting poorer…if we don't care for those at the bottom, those at the mill, will wind up at the bottom…we need to keep the Township, I urge fellow citizens to go out and vote no on referendum for dissolution and abolishment of Township.

Evanston Township Budget: Approved unanimously. 

Appointment of Township Assessor:

As of Jan. 1, 2014, office will be vacant due to passing of elected assessor…town board can appoint qualified person to assume duties, making recommendation that board appoint Bonnie Wilson, current assessor to continue in that role, says Bobkiewicz.

If Township is dissolved what are obligations of Township to that appointee going forward? is this a 4 year appointment for which we will have to pay 4 years of salary even if dissolved, asks Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

Law passed by Illinois General Assembly…does not address specifically compensation…

My concern is that that we make this appointment to assume duties of fomerly elected Township assessor…dissolved and we have formal obligation…could we put a limit on the appointment, in other words, I'm thrilled she's willing to do this and we could request she accept this position until such time as the Township is dissolved, says Rainey

It is my understanding elected Township assessor making comments it was great the Township could be dissolved she would still get 4 years of salary whether or not she did any work, says Rainey.

Proposes amendment appointment be until such time as term expires or Township dissolves, whichever is first, says Rainey.

Which does not preclude our assuming the salary and position, it's just as appointed replacement the Township salary would no longer be in effect if Township is dissolved. And I am not certain Township does not provide for 4 years if dissolved, says Rainey.

Before we go even to assume that, I haven't received in my hand her qualifications, if she has a letter I need to have it, says City Clerk Rodney Greene.

Bonnie Wilson hands letter to council.

But it seems to me the motion should be as a temporary replacement until after the election, I think that would be the way to go. IF the Township is abolished in March, position could be make permanent, says Alderman Dolores Holmes, 5th Ward. That would be clearer, I think.

Grant Farrar, city attorney: The law is clear that if resolution approved and dissolution proceeds, both positions, supervisor and assessor, would extinguish by law… no expectancy interest in salary and position if electors vote to dissolve Township.

If you are sure of that then I am fine with it, says Rainey. 

Clerk declares she is qualified. 

Bonnie Wilson appointed Township assessor unanimously. 

Bonnie Wilson: Always assumed I would step down and would not get compensation once dissolved. Evanston Township assessor, accepting appointment with mixed emotions… Will serve in memory of deceased assessor…feels strongly Evanston Township should not be dissolved… Assessors office done excellent job being advocates for Evanston taxpayers and clients served by general assistance programs…would like to remind everyone Township now located in Civic Center, call 311 and be connected to general assistance. Here to serve residents of Evanston Township.

Township meeting adjourns 8:24 p.m. 

City Council meeting convenes 8:25 p.m. 

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl reminds about annual food drive, collecting non-perishables and toys in holiday collection boxes at libraries, Ecology Center, Levy Center, Noyes (among others)… 250 families counting on your donations, please remember to donate. 

Emily Guthrie: (First Night reminder) Ordered 30 degree weather for New Year's Eve, won't be night like tonight…if you stand at corner of Chicago and Lake, will be able to see all 6 venues in block of you, even if terribly cold won't have that far to go… if we get 3,000 people we are hoping for on New Years we are really going to fill up that area and Raymond Park and that is my hope. Tickets online, also on Facebook. About to go to press with a schedule. There are a lot of brochures…just about any place in town. Tickets available at City Clerk and Evanston Art Center, History Center, downtown Evanston, all three libraries. I hope to see lots and lots of people. We have really, really good talent this time. If you buy your ticket now it's $15. 

Thank you for doing this, you are doing a great job, says Tisdahl.

The interruption to collection schedules, Christmas Eve and Dec. 25 no solid waste collections, will resume on Thurs., Dec. 26. No collections on Wed., Jan. 1, 2014, resume the following day, says assistant director of public works.

Public comment:

Junad Ritzki: Thought very interesting about Bonnie Wilson, makes $8,000 salary… Thanks Alderman Braithwaite suggested I be appointed to Utility Commission…Tonight you approve 10 percent water increase, claim for capital but really for other things…want you to strongly tell city manager that this is only 10 percent increase and everything else on their is not approved…. when you don't get the answer you want you produce another study… 20 percent water bill increase is an outrage when it has no purpose… clear to me it's more for political purpose….time to get truth out about operation and real profitability, 80 percent of sales to other people and not making money… if you build this water tank there won't be any more payers than city of Evanston, other payers will have to pay for this, not a good thing. 

Fire station number 2, filed FOIA to look into that matter, not good use of taxpayer money to renovate kitchen in good condition. People suffering paying higher taxes for this. Thanks Alderman Rainey for asking how capital is spent. 

Water bill should not be used for political purposes such as building a water tank.

Dickelle Fonda: Briefly address proposal of surveillance cameras. Surprised it is on agenda. Understand there will be public meetings after which proposal comes back to council. I deeply understand and had conversaiton with Mayor, not debate of sincerity of proposal and intent to keep children safe, we all want that, how we do that is debatable and I think this proposal is debatable… questions arise.

Questions such as, do cameras that are not monitored in real time offer real or perceived safety, stats on violent crime on these corridors, colateral impact on surrounding neighborhoods, cause students to be less vigilant and cautious, would a human presence be more effective deterrent, how to find balance between safety and privacy…those are just some questions and I know there will be far more tomorrow night. If proposal comes back to you, you look deeply…

8th Ward resident: With small amount of data, there is a lot out there, in UK there has been for 20 years cameras, over 4.2 million cameras… they have noticed no significant change in violent crime at all. A very similar case is in San Francisco… reported on also their cameras and they found that there was no significant effect and after two years of having cameras noticed 12 year high in homicides. Suggests placebo effect… point out potential media effects…concerns me that the media attention, both nationally and locally, brought to Evanston because of such a progressive community like Evanston to have cameras, that could draw negative attention. 

Reads on behalf of Jackie Newsome: …when it comes to student safety believes most if not all interested in helping city become safer…suggesting city go beyond due diligence in informing residents about camera proposal… hoping Mayor would add two more meetings to inform citizens who are far too busy or incapable of making meetings…hoping Mayor would work with community volunteers to bring in experts in child safety and development to explain best practices…could happen after holidays..

Grant money will be available in Jan., need to be ready to apply or not apply in January, that's why we are having meetings now, says Tisdahl.

Will meetings be recorded? asks Rainey

I don't know, we have not set up…already been to two ward meetings, says Mayor.

Madeline Ducre: I urge City Council members not to vote on total 33 percent water rate increase for next three years. Average single family bill would increase by about $19 in 2014…mine has increased tremendously…I cannot afford to pay these bills and I know I'm not the only one… I've heard other people in wards here, water bill has gone up, especially in (2nd Ward), they cannot afford this and what is going to happen when they can't afford this? We need another way of dealing with it. I know we need money in Evanston, not everything attached to water bill. 

A lot of people talking about cameras and the areas that the Mayor suggested and many of the things I heard is that it may be a deterrent but this is the way they look at it… what the people are saying in the area where I come from is someone wants to commit a crime they are not going up Dodge to howard street, not to McCormick to Church and Ridge, they are going to do it on a side street. Unless you monitoring this camera 24/7, it's a prevention and when I say prevention can't even use that word, it's an after-effect… I suggest we get those cameras and put them at a place they are needed: high school, Fleetwood Jourdain…and then it will also be fair to all of our students. 

Betty Ester: Memorandum for budget… earlier this evening I asked would that be increasing levy and he said no, using 2.4 which was lower loss factor…but the extended tax for 2013 was 1.12 million, that is different of $22,895 from proposed levy… that is an increase, even with loss factor, that was somehow figured on what was there.. then you increased it, does that mean…to me it seems that taxes for the Township will be increased, by how much I didn't work out figures to come up with percentage, but icnreased by 22,895. If we are going to talk about truth in taxation I know taxes and language cumbersome to explain…but we need to do a better job because if it is extended for 2013…that needs to be looked at before it's voted and make sure right amount sent to Cook County Treasurer. 

Jackie April: I wanted to let everyone know there is going to eb Township voter registration drive on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. If not registered you can do so at City Clerk office with two forms of ID, one with picture. Something I did not bring up…is that we had a special meeting on Dec. 2, 2013, and normally those are videotaped and posted on YouTube, not seen it posted yet and special request you do so. The reason being when I was on city website, and top of org chart are citizens of Evanston and ironically most people I spoke to in regards to this issue were not aware of this issue. I'd like to mention Evanston Roundtable, they wrote article in regard to that meeting… they wrote something on page 7 called "Save the Township" opinion by Tom Jones… also Evanston Now has written something up, think it was called distrust at the town meeting. That's all I have to say. 

Public comment concludes.

Special order of business: Community Cameras:

Tisdahl: There is a survey based on 20 years of research consortium of Chicago schools…they did survey, a quarter for students at ETHS concerned about safety going to and from school, and larger number concerned about safety near the school… 

The reason I proposed applying for a grant, money hopefully available in Jan., to make students feel and make them safer going north-south, east-west going to and from ETHS. Chief can speak to usefulness of cameras. Certainly do not wish to do anything police dept. does not feel would be effective. I did go door to door on 2000 block of Darrow last night as I do after all homicides and talked to citizens who lived there, and I brought up cameras with many of them, and they were universally supportive of the idea… they felt it would be an effective deterrent… that gives students a safe route to go. I would certainly like crime to move out of town entirely, but I think we owe our students a safe route to and from high school. 

Police Chief Richard Eddington: Some background info: this didn't fall from the sky, this has been an evolution of events…data cited tonight was interesting and suggest even ACLU's position on cameras is evolving…made presentation in Philadelphia…they were very much in support of body-worn cameras by officers, which I find in some ways much more intrusive than a camera on a pole…cameras technology increased since Brummel experience…less aesthetically un-pleasing… encourages people to attend public meetings. 

Powerpoint presentation begins.

Incident at Howard and Elmwood…shows footage from incident… large group of people tumble out into middle of street, basically pile of people in middle of Howard St…during event one person suffered stab wound to the chest, friends drove to hospital, realized distress and then called police. One of the points I'd like to make in this event, these camera images though not great for faces..substantiates victim's story.

Firearms event along Howard St… shooting incident…substantiated what victim told police and also this film was used in insisting on improvements be made in convenience store on Chicago side of street. 

Pedestrian struck by vehicle at Church and Benson… with this digital evidence it is easier for us to tell a story and do what we need to do in court. 

Shows slides of different camera views across city.

This is continuation of what we're already doing, it's not new territory so to speak. 

Proposed camera project with ETHS, city of Evanston and support from Northwestern University, cameras at Dodge and Dempster, camera at Lyon St. kind depicted as white smoke detectors, not big boxy ones utilized in past. 

Camera locations dictated by technology of camera and our access to power… also, want to extend invitation to feel free to call office and make appontment to view live multiple cameras in town, viewed by 911 dispatchers, offer invitation at behest of Mayor to any citizen in Evanston.

Lastly, some research, link to multiple articles… Iwant to again emphasize this is continuation of what we're doing… cameras aren't a silver bullet..they are excellent technology and from person employed to do what I do, nice thing about tech is it doesn go on vacation, no sick days, it's always there and records data we need to bring successful prosecutions in court…one of the most signficant deterrent is collecting evidence on offenders we can prosecute…

Holmes asks who monitors?

When people use those words (monitoring of cameras)… we get a 911 call or report and the 911 operator has access to those cameras real time, toggle to screen or set of cameras to determine how large the incident is…. tell responding units and on-duty supervisor it's only a couple people or holy cow there is a lot of people and sergent you're going to need more cars… even if City Council decided we wanted all cameras monitored all time..(would be very difficult)… there is a lot of stuff that goes on that's just stuff. Ability of human being to focus on camera images unrelentingly for extended period of time is not a realistic expectation. 

Tapes available for view at all times? Holmes asks.

Yes… all those events we recovered images after starting investigation.

At the same time don't intend cameras to replace patrol officers, asks Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward.

This is not something that will function by itself… won't nearly as effective. 

Will you recommend additional cameras be installed with guidelines to inform public about monitoring, use of info to address potential privacy concerns? Grover asks. 

Part of reason having two meetings, fliered everyone on Church and Dodge… those folks are informed now of two meetings and proposal, I'm think two meetings be a good time to speak for anyone who has privacy concerns, says Tisdahl.

It's come up a number of time and will be very warm topic in 2nd Ward to say the least…any cameras pointed at individuals' homes right now? asks Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward.

No, sir, they are not. Concerned about activities on public way, says Eddington… level of tech effective to shoot through glass is astronomical in price and that's not what we're asking for, our concern is the public way. 

Consent Agenda:

Minutes of Nov. 25 approved.

Consent agenda:

Request approval of payroll, city bills, credit card activity, contract for debris hauling, contract extension with Central Parking Systems, approval for change order #1 for Water Treatment Plant master flow meter and chemical feed improvement project, approval to place 2013 post bond issuance report on file, request releasing some closed session minutes, request approval of 11 abatement resolutions to decrease amount of 2013 property tax levy, total abatement for 2013: $8,920,101.

May I move approval of resolution beginning 72R13 through last resolution or do I need to read each abatement? asks Rainey.

Grant Farrar, city attorney: suggest you read title only…required by open meeting acts.

Consent agenda continues: ask approval 2013 city tax levy ordinance, special service area #4 tax levy, approval of public library tax levy, tax levy for annual property tax for Township of Evanston, and ask approval of ordinance amending city code for 10 percent water rate increase for 2014 and no other years included, ask approval for adoption of ordinance to increase sanitation charge for 95 gallon cart, approval of ordinance to establish one-way east traffic on Monticello Place between Orrington Ave. and First Alley West for during school drop-off and pick-up times, approval of ordinance authorizing city to borrow funds from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for intake improvements, approval to amend agreement for Main Street Oriented Transit study and plan, and approval of 2014 Open Communities Landlord Tenant Program Grant, and introduction of major zoning relief to establish open parking in front yard at 1912 Livingston St, and approval of Township of Evanston bills for 2013. 

Holmes moves to take water rate increase off consent agenda. 

Withdrawn from consent agenda. Consent agenda approved unanimously without water rate increase included. 

Rainey moves approval of water rate increase:

I'm going to vote for this and explain why, I agree with everything Madeleine said…cost to citizens and community of failed water main breaks is just incredible, it costs money to make these repairs and for that reason can't justify voting against it based on fact infrastructure in desperate need of attention and this is the only way we can do it. 

Motion passes 6-3. Braithwater, Alderman Fiske and Holmes vote no. 

Call of the wards:

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward: Thanks Caroline Deluttri… alarmed to see front door of pizzeria missing the other day…NU student who recently finished classes, had too much to drink and kicked in door wanting piece of pizza with one one there and appalled to find he had been responsible, showed up with check for $600 and said he was terribly sorry… we do have wonderful students at NU, so pleased to hear that… thank that particular student for Christmas present. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.

Braithwaite: regularly scheduled meeting second Thurs. scheduled to Jan… Jan. 10 we will have free seminar inviting local biz on how to do biz with large local entities, special note in recent death of Nelson Mandela, that is definitely someone who inspires me…recognition for Mandela's death and continue to pray for more peace.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward: Thanks Caroline Deluttri…Happy Holidays.

Alderman Donald Wilson, 4th Ward: notes passing of Joan Kelly… great loss to community. 

Holmes: …Happy Holidays, thanks Mayor for time she takes whenever tragedy strikes in community. Really do appreciate that and know residents appreciate it. Dec. 19 is 5th Ward potluck…

Tendam: thanks Caroline Deluttri…like to thank Kate Todd from City Manager's office for putting together wonderful reception for alderman, city clerks, mayors, nice group to reconnect with and get to know. 

Grover: Thanks to Caroline Deluttri…

Rainey: One of the interesting things about her was she was able to implement things immediately…that was always very impressive to me… But over the years there have been discussions on coucil floor when we raise levies about possibilities of transferring charge of water onto tax bill somehow or another so it can be deducted, problem is reason….so NU pays taxes on water…maybe a new look at this can be taken and some thought can be given as to how homeowners can in some way move this charge to their property tax bill because it's really getting difficult… Happy Holidays.

City Council moves to convene in executive session at 9:35 p.m.. 

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