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Evanston aldermen tonight are to consider whether to hold a referendum aimed at turning the city clerk’s job from an elected to an appointed position.

The proposal, initiated by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, is on the agenda for the Rules Committee meeting to be held at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

Several aldermen have raised questions in the year since Devon Reid was elected city clerk about various aspects of his job performance — from the preparation of meeting minutes to the handling of Freedom of Information Act requests.

And former clerk Rodney Greene’s spending of city funds to have himself listed in a Who’s Who publication became an issue in last year’s campaign.

The current budget for the city clerk’s office is just under $200,000 a year including $64,120 in salary for the clerk. The clerk is the only Evanston elected official in whose role is considered to be a full time position.

It’s unclear whether switching the clerk’s job to an appointed position would result in any financial savings to the city.

In a memo to aldermen, Interim Corporation Counsel Michelle Masoncup says the state constitution permits home rule governments to change by referendum the manner in which municipal officers are selected.

And, in 1974, Masoncup says, the state supreme court upheld the power of the Village of Arlington Heights to use a referendum to change the clerk’s job there from elected to appointed.

Her memo says the City Council would have to adopt a resolution approving the referendum question before Friday, Aug. 17, to get it on the ballot for this November’s election.

If the referendum were approved, Reid would continue to serve out the remainder of his term, but a new clerk would be appointed by the mayor, subject to the advice and consent of the City Council in May 2021.

Related stories

Stickers become sticky issue for clerk (3/8/18)

City clerk arrested for driving on suspended license (2/13/18)

Clerk gets to keep FOIA role (10/17/17)

Clerk’s role as FOIA officer in doubt (9/28/17)

Taxpayers paid to put clerk in Who’s Who (2/20/17)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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11 Comments

  1. Good Citizen or Good Buddy?

    The egregious traffic violations alone across county lines without driver’s license nor active auto insurance on the part of Mr. Reid is an overt disrespect for his own citizen duty and a far greater disrespect for me… if not the STILL silent City Council regarding his on-going traffic violations. In any U.S. corporation, he would have been fired swiftly. In Evanston, he is a best new most favorite Good Buddy on the whole playground! He and his backers here deserve nothing from the City of Evanston but our turned backs. His backers may desperately need to care if he is sick or well, dead or alive. But I don’t. And I won’t. pay……. him…… nothing.

    1. Re: Good Citizen or Good Buddy?
      I concur, Robert. Here is a civil servant who clearly has total disrespect for his fellow citizens. He gets caught driving with no auto insurance and no driver’s license? Imagine if someone had been injured or worse while he was driving under the guise of being on the payroll of “We the People”. “We the People” would be on the hook for that liability! One has to wonder just how many times he had been driving to finally get caught?

      Where else is he playing fast and loose? Think of all the important things our fair city requires that need to be done according to the rules.

  2. City Clerk
    It sounds like a vendetta against Greene and Reid. Greene had a pretty good term in office and lost reelection because of his use of taxpayer dollars to buy himself a page in Who’s Who. Reid won election due to Greene’s self gratification.

    I feel that the position should be an appointed job because it is full-time job and it require more accountability. I also feel that support staff can be a shared person that lowers the overall budget for the position. I think the appointed position should have a slightly higher salary.

  3. Make the city clerk a part time appointment position
    The city clerk position used to be part time. I say change the city clerk position back to being a PART TIME appointment, We then save money and prevent the election of poor city clerks.

  4. I prefer an independent city clerk
    Appointing the city clerk is just placing another staff person under the control of the City Manager. Whether or not you like the individual, I like the fact that the clerk is independent of the City Manager.

    1. I agree
      That being said, look at some of the things going on and people getting hired and let go under the City Manager’s “reign”. He has his own agenda, and everyone knows that. BAD idea to have the next one just appointed….guaranteed that would just be another employee in his pocket.

      1. I disagree
        Why in the world would I not trust the resume of our selected City Manager? Why would I not expect the selected City Manager to have an agenda… as you say. Managing the city as a place of business, first and foremost, is an valued agenda. Then, secondly… if you like… as a community. I would say the same as condominium associations… a place of business first, then secondarily a community. And an appointed staff member “…in his pocket” (as you say) is a proficiency Plus to further support the agenda of our selected City Manager.

        Whom would you prefer? One of my neighbors / family members? Or worse… one of your neighbors / family members? We selected the resume of this particular City Manager more than once. And the appointed staff member will NOT have on-going egregious traffic violations across county lines with no active driver’s license nor active auto insurance. This is a promise and a guarantee. One you can count on.

    2. And a city clerk “under the
      And a city clerk “under the control of the City Manager” places what kind of threat to the city?…falsifying minutes of videotaped council meetings to further an agenda? Seriously, it’s the city clerk…not a finance director. It would be nice to actually (wait for it) select a clerk based on experience, education and proven ability. A clerk is largely a secretary, not a decision maker. Why the position is elected at all still escapes me.

  5. City Clerk
    I don’t know enough about Mr. Reid to pass judgment, clearly he has set a bad example in some instances, but I wonder and question why after so many decades of this position being an elected one is it now necessary to make it an appointment? Why not let the man stand for re-election and stand or fall on his own merits. There is an ugly tradition in this country of changing election rules when we don’t care for the results, particularly where people of color are concerned. Outside of any serious legal infractions being committed by Mr. Reid, and there aren’t any, he should be judged by his performance during the next municipal election, meanwhile he deserves the advice support and criticism of the full city council, who presently seem more interested in shaming him and ensuring that he doesn’t have the opportunity to even stand for re-election than assisting him in serving his office with skill and competence. Perhaps some soul-searching is in order.

    1. Robert Henry – excellent points!
      Thank you for your succinct comments. They are refreshingly “attitude” free and stated in a manner designed to provoke some thought in the usually turbulent sea of social media. I too am concerned with the move to make our City Clerk into an appointed position. For what reason is this being done if not because people in positions of power do not care for the outcome of the election? Devon Reid was elected through the will of the people. We had a choice and Clerk Greene had already proven he was actively spending tax dollars in a frivolous manner with his Who’s Who listing. The voting majority spoke and we now have someone new. Yes, he’s less than stellar thus far and is going to have a tough time building a positive reputation on the foundation of negativity he’s created. He’d better get to work on that immediately and work hard between now and next election or he will face defeat to a new contender. As for changing an election to an appointment for City Clerk, any City leaders who are in support of this move seem to be going for a power grab. They are using Clerk Reid’s recent spate of negative press and poor performance to get it done, but it still smacks of a power grab over the peoples’ right to elect our City Clerk.

      1. I agree
        And that is the M.O. of the City Manager/management. It’s already been stated that Wally doesn’t like Mr. Reid….(sounds like a Suzette Robinson thing all over again). I had an interaction with Mr. Reid, and he was courteous, and solved my issue. He was nothing short of polite and accommodating. Enough of Wally’s vendettas.

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