Ethics board seeks to bar Rainey from mansion votes

Board of Ethics Chair Jennifer Billingsley

Evanston's Board of Ethics is recommending to the City Council's Rules Committee that Alderman Ann Rainey be barred from voting on matters related to the Harley Clarke mansion.

The board's advisory opinion was issued this week following a board meeting held Nov. 20 to formalize conclusions it initially reached at a meeting Oct. 26.

At the Oct. 26 meeting the board suggested Rainey should voluntarily recuse herself from future mansion votes. It stiffened its recommendation to prohibiting her from voting during the Nov. 20 meeting.

The board concluded that the 8th Ward aldermen failed to display impartiality when she forwarded an email from Nancy Sreenan, an advocate for preserving the mansion, to people who favor demolishing the building and made critical comments to them about Sreenan's views.

On a separate complaint, filed by mansion preservation advocates Lori Keenan and Clare Kelly, the board rejected claims that Rainey engaged in prohibited activity by encouraging residents to make contributions to the group favoring demolition.

But it concluded Rainey had abused her power and failed to appear impartial by, among other things, making mocking comments about a resident, using city email for fundraising and advocacy, using profanity and aggressive language and sharing information that would otherwise require a Freedom of Information Act request.

The next scheduled meeting of the Rules Committee is at 6 p.m.on Monday, Dec. 3.