Four topics have dominated comments by public speakers at Evanston City Council meetings so far this year. And of the more than 90 people who’ve spoken, 10 people have largely dominated the discussion.

The four top topics in public comments from the start of this year through April 15, the latest City Council meeting for which minutes have been posted online, were the Robert Crown Center construction project, the subject of 41 comments, followed by the proposed office building on the library parking lot downtown, with 29, the need for affordable housing, with 24, and the future of the Harley Clarke mansion, with 21.

Other topics typically drew observations from between one and four commenters.

This report only covers the first 13 meetings of the full City Council this year. It excludes Council committee meetings and all meetings of city boards, commissions and other committees. Where the minutes note a speaker touched on multiple topics, we tried to choose one that appeared to be the principle thrust of the remarks.

Doreen Price.

The most frequent speaker at public comment so far this year is Doreen Price, who spoke at 12 of the 13 meetings, on a range of topics from affordable housing to equity goals and police powers.

Ray Friedman.

In second place was Ray Friedman, who spoke at 11 of the 13 meetings about affordable housing, the Robert Crown project and the desirability of holding more town hall meetings to discuss public issues.

Mike Vasilko.

Coming in third was Make Vasilko, who focused most of his eight speaking session on his objections to the Robert Crown Community Center project.

Here’s a chart showing the number of City Council meeting speaking appearances by the top 10 most frequent speakers this year.

Six more people — Albert Gibbs, Clare Kelly, Dan Coyne, Harris Miller, Junad Rizki and Tina Paden — spoke three times.

Fifteen more spoke only twice. Sixty spoke just once.

And roughly 75,000 Evanston residents didn’t speak during public comment at all.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Balanced Proposals might help

    If proposers of actions/building/etc., were required to present both sides of the argument, for and against, it might reduce the debates by showing they know [well] the details and arguments.  Good science research demands the pro/con, positive/negative results [e.e. a drugs success/failures, what was attempted, what more needs to be done].  Such presentation shows researchers are not just giving their side, becomes a basis or futurre research.  Instead we get groups saying “do this” without consideration of cost/benefits or problems.

    1. Not likely …

      The First Amendment and state open meetings laws wouldn’t permit a requirement of academia-style “peer review” for an individual’s public comments at a City Council meeting.

      — Bill

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