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Evanston aldermen this week voted to require that people who want to have their words read out loud during public comment at City Council meetings show up or get a friend to speak for them.

They decided, on a split vote, that people who send written comments will have those remarks added to the minutes — but not have them read aloud by the City Clerk.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, proposed the new policy at this week’s Rules Committee meeting after a letter was read by the deputy city clerk at last week’s council meeting

“It’s unnecessary to read the comments of someone who’s not here,” Rainey said. “If you want to send an emmissary to read the comments, that’s fine by me, but I don’t think the city clerk has any business reading other people’s mail.

“Make a note publicly of who the writer is, and then move on to the person next in line,” she added.

City Clerk Rodney Greene objected to the change saying the clerk should have the right to read communications received and suggesting that it would increase resident input if residents’ comments were read aloud whether they were present or not.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she’s been on the council nine years and she could “count on one hand” the number of times someone had requested that the clerk read their remarks for them.

“If something was being abused, maybe I’d support the change,” Holmes said, “but I don’t think it’s a big deal” to allow the comments to be read.

The committee voted 6-4 in favor of the rule, with Aldermen Judy Fiske and Peter Braithwaite joining Holmes and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl in opposing it.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Opposed to the rule

    I could agree with the passing of this measure if the current process was out of hand. It seems that less then 10 requests ( IN  NINE YEARS)  to be read a Residents (TAXPAYER) comments into the recorrd doesn't seem excessive. Comments could be easily lost if not read into record but only attached (like a post it note).

    This RULE SHOULD BE REVERSED.

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