City Lawyer informs the Evanston Equity and Empowerment Commission that Resolution is Outside of their Scope
Jane Grover's quiet but convincing voice at the beginning and end of the meeting won the day. She not only pointed out that the Commission had no legal authority. When other members voiced support for the declaration and others implied that they thought the declaration could be re-written, she argued that honing a declaration acceptable to five or more alders was a time consuming effort doomed to failure and quietly insisted on a vote that the declaration be formally withdrawn, which it was.
I know I’m late to the party, but here’s my two cents’ worth. Not sure why Karla is still on this Board, her term expired. But given she is, I am not at all surprised at this. Any chance she can get promoting “equity” so her name gets in the paper she is taking. It will help her LinkedIn when she graduates and is looking for a job.
We have many problems in this city. One of them is not the lack of places people have to voice their opinion on federal government action (or inaction). We as a city have no business getting involved. The amount of anti-semitism I have seen since 10/7 is astounding. This does nothing to quell that. Dan Biss and I actually agree on something at long last.
Jane Grover was my alderman for years, I never found her particularly responsive. But at least now she is a quiet voice of reason, and usually reason doesn’t stop Pied Piper Karla. I’m glad to see it appears to have done so in this instance. So much virtue signalling.
The equity commission is a joke anyway. As is the ethics commission. Much ado about nothing.
Tom, this noticing this bit from your article upon a re-read: "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. "
Leaving Jane's objection aside, If someone said "all commission members had agreed to the statement," wouldn't that mean that the open meetings act was violated? How would anyone know what the other members thought unless they met outside the meeting last night?
Their lack of transparency is troubling. If you look at the most recent agenda they are working on a "Racial Equity Policy Scorecard" which would entail the commission reviewing ALL policies and projects of the city government on a nebulous "racial Equity" scale largely outside of the view of the public.
Also, according to the Commission website, Karla Thomas's term ended months ago. What's up with that?
The colleges and universities that were issuing proclamations on this, that, and the other issue for years suddenly found themselves tongue-tied after 10/7 and decided to no longer issue statements on political or social issues that do not directly impact their core mission. I will get over my bitterness about the double-standard because the “no statements” policy is the right one. I will urge the City of Evanston and all of its affiliated bodies to adopt the same policy.
The Equity Commission is such an embarrassment. I'm glad you gave the context about Jane Grover. She was always a smart and sensible voice on the council so I was curious how she would react to this stunt. If it were me, I probably wouldn't have attended or just left when Ruggie gave her legal opinion, but Jane is much more polite than I am.
The Commission is indicative of the vacuous performative politics that plagues this town.
A few months ago they were discussing the lack of affordable housing and you have a member of the commission loudly decrying the situation who at the same time is renting out a house in the 2nd ward for $650 a night on AirBnB!
The Fifth Ward school is the biggest and most reckless example of performative politics at all costs--lets bankrupt the district and degrade the educational experiences for kids to build a White Elephant whilst we are in a state of enrollment decline. Why are we doing it? To restore some nostaligic vision for a small number of people who don't like that their neighborhood has become more diverse.
Tom, any word on which consultancy is going to profit off of the all-staff "DEIB" training that Turner announced the other day is going to happen next month? (Where did the 'B' come from? Is that a new thing?)
Such a waste of time and money. I am assuming this is happening during the ridiculous "school improvement days" when I have to arrange child care while the kids are missing school because their teachers are attending useless indoctrination sessions?
There is a lack of spaces to discuss this topic without having my employer or child dragged into this, so posting here:
There is another petition regarding the Israel – Palestine conflict and the Evanston Equity and Empowerment Commission (EEC) circulating online. The petition and signatories will be brought to the City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 12.
The petition starts with a call that the Evanston City Council consider a resolution in support of a ceasefire. There are several other unrelated topics included in the petition, including a link to the recent EEC meeting video under the text “outpouring of racist vitriol”, text stating “we firmly and unapologetically stand in support of Darlene and Karla and their fight to bring this motion to the commission”, and calling the recent speaker input as “racist” attacks.
The petition is not attributed but focuses heavily on Darlene and Karla Thomas. It is fair to bring them up by name as committee members and as factually referencing this petition. The issues are all framed in a way that any criticism of the EEC resolution, mandate, procedural adhere ... is immediately conflated as criticism of Black Women, and therefore, racist. Once a racist, your point of view is easily dismiss-able.
There were over 130 speakers and over 1000 community members that signed the other petition circulating, and it is disappointing but predictable that any disagreement with the committee is framed as a racist woman-hating attacks.
A loved one spoke at the meeting and this entire conflict has been keeping them up at night, making them physically ill at the thought of the death and destruction. But since they spoke at the meeting, they're an evil racist that is working to "derail the work of the Equity and Empowerment Commission."
It can be seen here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdobL89fij6p645eaeVViPIe7WO4WTMthJlCwE4p8aq6xLvhA/viewform
"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."
'Who cares what the lawyer said. I have an OPINION.'
As an aside, and I can only speak to Washington state law, but I'm guessing Terry is right.
In our beautiful state it certainly sounds like this commission would have to be in compliance with our government transparency statutes. There's essentially two tracks: public records and public meetings. A very casual review of IL seems to show the same.
Neither here nor there, but here in Seattle I've had an uncomfortable conversation or two with groups like this who think a quorum can only happen after certain check boxes are checked, when the law is more a quorum can happen at any time. Then the checkboxes need to be checked.
Speaking purely in hypotheticals, I wonder if it might behoove a certain member of the public to nail down the City's position one way or another by asking for a record of the pre-meeting happening. If the City gives away the game with a 'no records' then that solves some thorny issues for a potential plaintiff and makes the City's case much more difficult
Here’s an interesting twist: after the meeting apparently the commissioners never turned off their mics. As some of the commissioners were wrapping up, people I know that were still there heard them making disparaging remarks about other commissioners & accusing them of throwing them under the bus...also referring to speakers opposed to the resolution with expletives; mocking the Jewish community and more. Not a good look for “equity” commissioners. 🙄
I agree with you: the city should not take up "a controversial resolution that nobody even wants to put their name behind." I don't actually think any city business should be considered from anonymous sources - controversial or not. Thank you for covering this.