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.
Those favoring liberalization of occultism in Evanston will doubtless welcome the provision that recommends removing "Section 9-5-19 (p. 57), 'Fortune Telling, Spiritualism,' ...because a prohibition on fortune telling will not withstand judicial scrutiny on First Amendment grounds." Hmm, trying to get my head around this one -- storefront churches bad, tarot card readers good?
The Corporation Counsel also recommends allowing hate speech (that incites hatred based on class or race) for similar first amendment reason. Only speech that incites lawlessness or physical violence will now be banned -- apparently mere verbal bigotry, cruelty, and torment gets a green light. While this is an old 1950s-or-so provision, and the constitutionality was admittedly dubious, one wonders what prompted dumping it. Who are the hate lobbyists driving this? The change may be good news for (thankfully, only) a few in town. Perhaps we'll see a "Race for Hate" competing with the popular Race Against Hate in 2012.
At the same time there are increased penalties for various infractions and the addition of, for example, a clause that would apparently penalize underage non-drinkers simply for being in the same room with underage drinkers. And a $100 mandatory fine for flying a model airplane within City limits. Hmm....what if the model plane is towing a banner promoting fortune-telling or class hatred?
The changes are many and, while vetted by Council at a prior meeting during the summer, the public is likely unaware of most of these, and the sheer number and bulk, as well as the controversial nature of some of the topics, would seem to indicate perhaps additional time for public consideration is warranted before various behaviors are criminalized, decriminalized, or otherwise subjected to the force of law.