Ald. Devon Reid (8th) sought Monday night to amend a taxpayer financing plan for mayoral elections to only provide matching funds for contributions made by poor people.

At the Evanston City Council meeting where the plan to give a 9-to-1 match for small contributions to candidates was approved for introduction, Reid said that unless the plan is amended to only match contributions made by the poor, it could increase the power of already wealthy residents.

The wealthy, he suggested, are already contributing to support candidates, while lower income people are hard-pressed to come up with money to make any contribution.

Reid has voiced support for an alternative to the matching funds model. That approach, called democracy vouchers, is used in Seattle, Washington, and provides all residents with forms they can use to assign their share of the public funding pool to candidates, without having to put up any money of their own.

The matching funds model has been more widely adopted across the country.

Alisa Kaplan, executive director, and David Melton, board president, of Reform for Illinois, confer at the City Council meeting.

David Melton, board president of Reform for Illinois, the activist group that has pushed for Evanston to adopt the taxpayer financing model, said Reid’s proposal would likely lead courts to rule that the scheme was unconstitutional, on equal protection grounds.

Mayor Daniel Biss said the matching funds program would dramatically reduce the disparity in power between rich and poor because the maximum contribution that candidates could accept to receive matching funds would be far less than what wealthy donors can give now.

Reid’s proposed change failed to win backing from any other council members, and after adopting a package of amendments proposed by staff, the taxpayer funding scheme was approved for introduction on a 5-1 vote.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. Well, on this particular item, he got no support from the rest of the Council. So they stopped him.
      But there is an argument to be made that the “democracy vouchers” concept would be a better model than what the Council is on the verge of adopting.
      — Bill

  1. Once again, Reid raises yet another false equity narrative while furthering perceptions that there is (or should be) a war between poor and non-poor in Evanston.

    He signals excessive disparities that are seldom grounded in reality but rather appear to be based on his own experiences and how he has lived his life.

    Many non-poor are non-poor because they worked hard, continued learning, paid their rent and bills, lived within their means, saved money, and generally have lived responsibly.

    The divisiveness in most of his proposals is furthering tension and hatred between Evanston’s various classes, races, and the general population.

    This particular issue is another example of how Reid lacks original thought and only copies what he sees other communities doing. We need better from our elected officials.

    1. “worked hard, continued learning, paid their rent and bills, lived within their means, saved money, and generally have lived responsibly.” I know plenty of low-income folks who do/did all of these things, too. But they were destroyed by unexpected medical bills, prescription costs, price gouging in the housing market, lay-offs, and lack of generational wealth to call on as safety net to handle unexpected bills, crises, and other life insecurities/injustices ( I don’t agree that income inequality is due to merit. Sometimes? Sure. Mostly? No.

      I don’t often agree with Reid’s overall approach/priorities, but I do appreciate that he offers creative (if usually non-viable) solutions to some systemic problems. And he gets people talking.

      “When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character. This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor. But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw. Stigmatize those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.”

      — Sarah Kendzior

      1. “Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel…”

        – Ayn Rand

        Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

      2. Is there a limit/cap here somehow?

        its hard to tell without more description and on exactly what was proposed, but the options being discussed seem to include a lot of concern/bias for the poor (perhaps we’ll intended but imo misguided as councilmen Reid frequently is) or an option that could/would continue to benefit the wealthy… which seems to me is a massive issue in modern politics where money has too much influence.

        At a very quick glance at the reform site it seems that’s what this is supposed to prevent, but what’s the cap? And what isn’t an arbitrary number? One man’s $1000 is like another $50.

      3. You appreciate that he offers creative (if usually non-viable) solutions? Those non-viable “solutions” aren’t actual solutions in the end and they require a lot of time, resources and staff hours…for no real gain. What you described is why people get fired from or not picked up for positions.

  2. And how is “poor” determined without invasion of financial privacy? More to the point, how can we get Reid out? Moving forward as a cohesive community is thwarted by his kind of divisive proposals.

  3. I have no vote in Devon Reid’s ward. I can only comment on how much I admired his predecessor, Ann Rainey. Rainey always led with her depth of knowledge. She spearheaded the economic revitalization of Howard Street. She proposed the plan that bankrolled the current reparations effort. Better-off white people are capable of caring for the less fortunate! Not all white people are rich! Reid has an enormous chip on his shoulder. Please, you who do vote in the 8th ward, wake up “and smell the coffee”!

  4. One of these things is not like the other in the suburbs. Can you guess?

    Evanston is the ONLY failing town. Period.

    Have fun. So happy I moved out… to a more sane suburb.

  5. The idea of collecting money involuntarily from taxpayers to be used by candidates who the taxpayer does not support seems not only illiberal and undemocratic, but a wasteful diversion of precious available tax dollars. The Council should have rejected such confiscation. That said, if there is to be public financing of candidates, Ald. Reid, perhaps like the proverbial broken clock which is correct twice a day, had the better idea when he suggested that each citizen be allowed to designate that person’s share of the pot to a favored recipient rather than have it spread around to the entire spectrum of wannabes and money grabbers. Here, his message may have failed because of the messenger. Then, rather than accept defeat quietly, he underscored his political weaknesses with another divisive proposal. The City Council could use some responsible, reflective opposition in its midst. Unfortunately, there is none and we are all losers.

    1. While I like the voucher idea at first glance, it seems to be a vote before you vote… and that initial vote could greatly impact the final outcome so would candidates campaign for that? And if so with what money?….

      so Kinda meta. I’m having a hard time coming up with a better plan.

    2. Clearly well stated Clear—-the proverbial clock comment is a direct hit—-Reid is intriguing at times yet two outta twenty four doesn’t cut it in the big leagues—-his antics have become horribly problematic and fiscally irresponsible. At times I can’t help but believe he derives some kind of weird pleasure outta being dramatically disruptive. The Reid playbook leans heavily on every negative aspect one can gather from Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—-and he loves the power of his position, it’s my ball and you don’t play by my rules, I’m going home. It’s imperative residents of the 8th ward allow Reid to take himself and ball home for good next election.

  6. In a previous article about funding mayoral candidates, I wrote among other things: “Unbelievable! As commented on in a previous discussion of this issue, I think this is a dreadful idea. It’s just inviting a pseudo-candidate who has no intention to run to a “serious” campaign, collect 100 signatures from friends, & soak the taxpayers still again. Scale it back all you want, it’s still a crazy idea.

    The city council should get its greedy, money-grubbing hands out of my wallet!”

    I’d point out that Reid’s idea does zero to address this idea. Poorer people are also capable of cheating. Taxpayers (me & you!) would fund this $9 for every $1 raised scheme & still invites fraud, graft, payola (whatever one wants to call it).

    Evanston is running a deficit, yeah, we’re in the red. This is NOT the time to spend even more money. The Participatory Budget (again spending $ we don’t have) was bad enough but this public funding of mayoral campaigns is a but another, possibly worse, idea.

    Again, who’s going to pay the bills when Evanston scares away current & potential tax-paying residents & businesses?

  7. First, I find it very problematic involving an activist group in the City Council’s business.

    “David Melton, board president of Reform for Illinois, the activist group that has pushed for Evanston to adopt the taxpayer financing model, said Reid’s proposal would likely lead courts to rule that the scheme was unconstitutional, on equal protection grounds.”

    While yes Mr. Melton questioned the constitutionality of Reid’s proposal, why is he given this forum to advocate for an agenda to begin with… this taxpayer funded model? It is this model that prompted Reid’s ridiculous proposal to begin with and thus has created once again another road block to getting things done.

    Second, donations help, no matter the size for a candidate. Sure, you have large donors. But I would say the majority of donors grant small sums, and it is the sum total of all these that helps candidates. It is the candidate’s electability and persuasion that attract donations to begin with. Not a public hand out policy.

    Third, the most effective way to support a candidate is to VOTE for them. To turn out. It is not a question of disparity or dollars. It is a question of conviction and action – VOTE.

    Evanston has to stop meddling in agendas and activism. Focus on the task at hand and work from within without the consultation and sales pitch of every left wing grifter. Simple as that. Maybe focus on the quality of candidates FIRST and not how they are funded. The cautionary tale is the election of Mr. Reid, clearly unqualified.

  8. My parents, immigrants, moved out of Evanston after 43 years because as hardworking small business owners who put in 14-16 hour days, they were sick and tired of being labeled rich because according to Reid if you own a business you must be rich, and if you can pay your bills…you’re rich. My parents raised 5 kids in an Evanston apartment and paid for all to go to college. They came here with zero money or knowledge of english. They were sick and tired of their tax money going for nonsense and for alderpeople with no clue making horrible decisions and demonizing hard working middle class families. I am also moving out of Evanston because I wanted to stay in the Evanston that was, but is not anymore. I want a viable downtown and a community that is not divided.

  9. This guy is a mess. Yes, let’s legalize vote-rigging so that it benefits a demographic definition that exactly describes Devon .

    Does he understand the incredible bias in everything he does?

  10. Reid’s presence on the council may be sufficient reason to move to Wilmette, or elsewhere in the not so distant future. Evanston is being dragged into South Chicago, and some of us came to this town to escape that nasty place.

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