Robin Rue Simmons.

About 100 people gathered online Thursday evening to hear presentations supporting Evanston’s reparation program and calls for more funding for it.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, who heads the City Council’s reparations subcomittee, told the town hall meeting she’s seeking support from anyone interested in the program, including family foundations, major donors, institutions and individuals.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, a subcommittee member, praised the Evanston Communty Foundation for approving a grant to support hiring a consultant to set guidelines and develop fundraising strategies beyond the $10 million over 10 years that the City Council has committed to the program from proceeds of the local tax on legal cannabis sales.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, the third member of the subcommittee, said the city could increase the yield from the cannabis tax if the state approves additional licenses for cannabis businesses here.

“One or two more Evanston licenses would make a huge difference in boosting the finances of the reparations program,” Rainey said.

But she said that for 75 licenses to be issued across the region there are 700 applications, so there’s no assurance that applicants for Evanston locations will be successful.

The city already has one marijuana dispensary, located in the city-owned parking garage on Maple Avenue.

U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, the featured guest speaker at the event, promoted H.R.40, a long-standing effort to establish a federal commission to study the reparations issue. She said a new survey showed 74% of African Americans now favor reparations payments to descendants of slaves, but she said she wouldn’t discuss the survey’s figures for support for reparations among other groups.

Jackson Lee appeared to be referring to an AP-NORC poll conducted last fall reporting that while 74% of black Americans support cash reparations, only 15% of whites and 44% of Hispanics do, for an overall support rate of just 29%.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The Dog and Pony Show Continues…

    The reparations committee has met nine times and I haven’t seen anything resembling a workable policy for addressing the issue. They are already talking about hiring consultants to raise more money, yet there has been no proposal about what a legally feasible policy for the funds must be. There is no reason to bring in people like Rep Lee. I’m sure she is a fine person and legislator, but this is a local issue related to the expenditure of local funds. Her proposed legislation makes no discussion of local government’s role in reparations and is only calling for a report to be produced. If anything, having her there is more of an argument to wait until her legislation is passed and the commission report is published before acting. It seems that the whole reparations discussion is a PR stunt to push the national visibility of a couple of local politicians. We don’t need Danny Glover. We don’t need Rep Lee. What we need is a proposal that can withstand judicial scrutiny for the actual investment of the new proposed fund. Everything else is just distraction.

    1. What is the Plan?

      I wholeheartedly agree with the “Dog and Pony Show” comment.  The reparations committee has presented NO plan which answers questions such as:  (1) Who gets the reparations funds?  (2) On what basis will  the reparations funds be allocated?  (3)  What, if any, are the limitations on what someone can use his/her reparations “award” for?  (4)  What is the strategy to address the almost-certain lawsuits which be brought on the basis of discrimination by the City?

      Rather than present a plan, the reparations committee has used all their meeting time to present peripheral issues such as guest speakers, plans for obtaining more funds, and the like.  To paraphrase an ad, “Where’s the beef?”

      My guess is that Simmons & Co. will NEVER present a draft reparations plan for public comment.  Instead, they will present a never-before-seen “plan” at a June Council meeting, thus putting Council members on the spot to vote it up or down without public input.

      The whole City Council should be ashamed of itself for allowing this dog and pony show to continue with no accountability.

      1. The plan

        Hi Barb,

        One aspect of a possible plan was discussed in some detail at a Reparations Subcommittee meeting on May 15.

        Details about that here.

        — Bill

        1. Reparations

          A plan that benefits the west side of the 5th ward is comical–besides likely illegal.

          We are embarrassing ourselves with this asinine vanity project.  Evanston is burning with a $20 million deficit while our leaders (that we elected) are fiddling.

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