jeffpsmith's blog

Zoning process changes matter

Over last weekend, CSNA learned of a potentially significant change to Evanston law lurking in an obscure agenda item of the Rules Committee. A legal department memo proposed concepts ranging from bypassing the Planning and Development Committee altogether for certain zoning decisions (such as granting special uses and variations, or approving large projects called planned developments), to preventing the City Council from reviewing the Land Use Commission decisions at all, requiring anyone dissatisfied to go to court. CSNA, after polling its Board, urged hitting the pause button on this. My individual remarks prepared for the Committee are as follows.

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.

For D202: Livingston, Holt, Bezaitis, Graham

[note: this is a personal blog entry and not the opinion or position of the Central Street Neighbors Association, which has made no endorsements].

Unlike one recent election where not enough candidates even filed to fill the slots, this year's District 202 [ETHS] school board matchup is the marquee attraction in Evanston, with eight contenders for four seats. This largely reflects the ongoing dustup over changes made and proposed to the school's storied Honors program, but there's more at stake than that.

Curiosities Abound in Overhaul of City Code

A sweeping smorgasbord of changes to City Code, ranging from technical revisions to consolidation, elimination, addition, or increased penalties in other provisions, is on the City Council agenda tonight as Item H5, coming out of Human Services. The changes are summarized at pp. 581-590 of the Packet and the lengthy Ordinance 49-O-11 is itself a separate document downloadable from the Agendas and Minutes page.


Subscribe to RSS - jeffpsmith's blog