Two Evanston City Council members Monday sought to strip city funding from the Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau because the group’s executive director has spoken in favor of the redevelopment of Ryan Field.
Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) quizzed Gina Speckman about her remarks and played a recording of comments she’d made in a university video promoting the project.
And Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said comments Speckman had made “were very disparaging to her residents.”
But Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said Speckman’s remarks “seem pretty mild to me” and that the Council shouldn’t be punishing business groups for advocating for their own positions.
Speckman defended her remarks as representing the views of the businesses that are members of the bureau and that Northwestern University is among the group’s members.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said the city’s allocation of less than $70,000 toward the bureau’s operation is money well spent.
It makes Evanston businesses eligible to benefit from the bureau’s services recruiting conventions and other events nationwide and, Nieuwsma said, amounts to only a small portion of the bureau’s annual budget of over $3 million, much of which comes from state funds.
Earlier in the meeting, during public comment, David DeCarlo, organizer of the Most Livable City Association that has opposed the university’s plans to hold concerts at the new stadium, urged that the convention bureau’s funding be cut off because of Speckman’s remarks.
The Council voted 6-2 to approve the CNSCVB’s 2024 funding request, with Revelle and Suffredin voting no.