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Why Daniel Biss's Convo with CSNA Is Cool

A brief rant on "town hall meetings" and why the meeting Tuesday, June 29 is unusual and worth attending.

The phrase "town meeting" conjures up images of the public at an old-fashioned public meeting, giving their elected officials a piece of their mind. Norman Rockwell's famous 1943 painting "Freedom of Speech" (right) depicts such a "town meeting" in Vermont.

In an ever-more-digitized and depersonalized era, with growing disconnect between government and the governed, my observation is that many -- not all, but many -- citizens are hungry for opportunities to be heard.

Are YOU Voting Today???

The polls close in just five hours. You probably won’t vote. But you should.

The April 6, 2021 election in the City of Evanston and its school districts is the most important in a long time. With a new mayor incoming and the recent replacement of a decade-long City Manager, there’s the chance for some fresh air in Evanston. Altho mayor is settled, 8 of the City’s 9 wards have contests, and there’s a pivotal race for elementary school district 65. So why do I say “you won’t vote”?

Where Did the Tax Hike Go? Fact-Checking District 65 Finances

It’s a paradox of Evanston that fiscal hawks and taxpayer advocates focus on City finances, but it’s the two school districts that collect and spend most of our property tax dollars. Our K-8 system slips by with, generally, lack of attention, since at any given time most Evanston households don’t have kids in that system. Hot-button issues like redistricting or the closing or construction of a school draw a spotlight, but generally curriculum is too little discussed and school finances even less. If District 65 is getting a lot of attention it is usually because there is a problem.

District 65 is now getting a lot of attention and there is a problem. A couple big ones, actually.

Evanston Patch article misleads on EPD comparison data

Hi everyone,

I read this Evanston Patch article last night … and checked some of the references used… then found the numbers did not add up.

The article is ... Patch 7/14/2020: Amid Calls To 'Defund Police,' Evanston Mayor, Chief Talk Budget

From the article sub-headline: “Evanston's ratio of police to residents has been among the highest in Illinois.”

There is a lot of outside data in the article and that data generally supports the sub-headline despite the errors.

The article quotes two outside data sources to make comparisons with EPD ... this is where things go off track. 

I quote the article below and then the correction I think needs to be made.

  1. “Evanston's ratio of police personnel to population – about 269 department employees to 100,000 residents — compares to that of San Francisco, Miami or Little Rock, Arkansas, according to an analysis by the Vera Institute of Justice cited by Papachristos."

269 per 100,000 residents is about right for Evanston.  But the data for the other cities is actually the number of residents per police department employee … and not employees per hundred thousand residents.  So, this is not a valid comparison. Evanston actually has 364 residents per police department employee.  A much higher ratio than these three cities which run from 260-275.

 

  1. “Chicago's police to resident ratio is 40 percent lower — just 183 employees per 100,000 Chicagoans."

Chicago actually has about 506 employees per 100,000 residents.  Evanston has about 270. So, Chicago is actually about 100% higher and not 40% lower.

  1. “Apart from Chicago, Evanston had the fourth highest ratio of police to residents in the state, trailing only Addison, Elk Grove Village and Carbondale.”

The data for this comparison was from 2016 when Evanston PD  had 227 employees.  In 2020 that number is now 202 with unfilled open positions.  That would put Evanston at about 7th highest (below Chicago) on the list of 52 Illinois police departments. Still high on this measure when compared to 52 others in the database.  But in the top 15% not in the top 10%.

Jim Hughes

2518 Hartzell St.

 

Are Evanston Residential Property Taxes Going Down? Crain's says "likely"

From a recent Crain's Chicago Business article:

"If there is a silver lining, at least in the near term, it's that higher assessments on commercial properties in Cook County are likely to result in lower taxes for many homeowners. In Evanston, for instance, the assessed value of all residential property rose 25 percent from 2018 to 2019, while the assessed value of all commercial and industrial property rose 125 percent. The wide gap suggests that taxes will rise for commercial and industrial landlords in the suburb when property tax bills come out next year but drop for Evanston homeowners"

Read the full story here:

Crain's Chicago Business 4/12/2019: What Evanston's assessments tell us about the new assessor's new math

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