City Commission Can't Vote on Israel/Palestine Cease Fire Resolution
City Lawyer informs the Evanston Equity and Empowerment Commission that Resolution is Outside of their Scope
I don’t normally cover City of Evanston issues on this mailing list. However, the Evanston Equity and Empowerment Commission were voting on a controversial cease fire resolution, so I went to see the fireworks/democracy.1
The meeting was moved to Council Chambers and it seemed like the whole town was there. It was so packed, I was in the overflow to the overflow room, down the hallway from the actual Council Chambers and it was still standing room only.
You can read the Proposed Resolution.
The meeting kicked off with a few statements from commission members in favor of the resolution and noting that all commission members had agreed to the statement. The chair, Karla Thomas, noted that the City had passed resolutions in 2005 relating to Iraq and 2008 relating to Iran.
In a surprise twist, Jane Grover2, a commission member, indicated she had not agreed to the statement and had an email from the City Counsel Alexandra Ruggie. Ms. Ruggie was on Zoom and indicated that it was the legal department’s view that the EEC did not have the authority to vote on such a resolution or send it to City Council.
This essentially rendered the entire meeting moot.
After that, there were 130 public comments. Due to the quantity, each member of the public had 30 seconds. It was a mess of people with opinions on all sides of the issue who had 30 seconds to quickly shout it at the board. The Roundtable has some coverage on what was said. To be fair to the commission, they did their best to give everyone an opportunity to be heard but it’s hard to work with 30 seconds, especially when you’ve shown up with a 3 minute speech.
I left after about 20 or 30 public comments and watched the rest on zoom.
The meeting ended with the commission saying they were going to have to have more discussions with legal before moving forward. I get the impression that it is unlikely to move forward unless City Council wants to take this up.
The Roundtable story notes that the commission refuses to disclose the author of the resolution. I think that’s fine, however, I left a comment on yesterday’s Roundtable story that I suspect if this passed without attention, the author(s) would be publicly patting themselves on the back. Why should the City take up a controversial resolution that nobody even wants to put their name behind?
One quick note on the comment section: please do not get into fights about Israel vs Palestine. If you want to debate the merits of whether the City of Evanston should be passing such resolutions3 or the purview of the EEC Commission, that is fine, but this is not the place to argue about Hamas or Israel and I will delete your comments.
I will say this about democracy - if you’ve ever been to the Old North Church in Boston and observed how early democracy was practiced in the United States, our local politics have not deviated that much from what they were doing in the 1770s. Folks have been signing the death certificate for American democracy for years but this meeting indicated to me it is alive and well.
Ms. Grover’s tenure on the commission ends on 12/2023. Today?
I don’t have a particularly strong opinion either way.