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EVANSTON, IL: Elections Pop-up Newsletter (Jan. 31, 2021) — Issues: City Code + Local Food Systems

Local elections in Evanston, IL are on Feb. 23, 2021 (primary) and April 6, 2021 (general). This is a pop-up newsletter to provide practical information, to facilitate participation, and to highlight big picture issues. CONTENTS of this newsletter: CITY CODE (aldermanic powers & duties), LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS (components, examples, resources), U.S. SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARING (Secretary of Agriculture)

Evanston voters 
Evanston candidates*
Evanston media
Evanston political groups
Evanston activists in my networks
Residents of my neighborhood (Nichols Neighbors)
Some non-Evanston voters with Evanston connections & interests
*Note re Evanston candidates: I do not have email addresses for all candidates. I’m happy to include any and all. Please forward this to your favorite candidate OR send me their campaign address to add to my list.

ABOUT this newsletter
Once or twice a month I try to put out an informal newsletter about current Evanston issues customized for people and groups in my networks. I try to:
—provide practical information to facilitate participation in our public processes
—connect local actions & issues to larger jurisdictions—county, state, regional (Midwest), national, world

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CONTENTS (Jan. 31, 2021)
A. CITY CODE: Aldermanic duties & powers — what are they? where can we find them?
B. ISSUE HIGHLIGHT: Local food systems
C. U.S. SENATE: confirmation hearing for Secretary of Agriculture (Feb. 2)

NEXT NEWSLETTER (it depends on what’s going on at the moment)
— Mandated ward meetings
— City facilitate neighborhood communication tools? listservs, social media
— City policy on language access

A. EVANSTON CITY CODE: Something missing?

Here is the link to the City Council section of Evanston’s City Code:

What are the duties, powers, and responsibilities of:
— Alderpeople: what are they? where can we find them?
— City Council as a whole: what is the purpose of Evanston’s City Council? where can we find out?
Why is the Mayor considered part of the Council? and what does that mean?

It seems as if the Evanston City Code doesn’t specify duties & powers of the City Council, either as a whole or as individual alderperson.

In contrast, for the Mayor, there is a section on duties and powers.
Likewise for the City Clerk, there are actually two sections on the duties of the clerk.
Likewise, the City Manager’s duties are enumerated in great detail.

Am I missing something?
Or is our City Code missing something?
The Code does list qualifications for being an alderperson, but not duties or powers.

Does that mean the aldermen get to make up the job as they go along?
Make up their own duties and powers?
Follow the role models and traditions enacted by current and past Council members?
Follow some tacit but unarticulated assumptions?  

This question brings up a whole lot of subsidiary questions:
How does any alderperson know what to do?
Do in-coming Council members receive some training, a manual?
How do voters hold our alderpeople accountable?
Shouldn’t we have some direction from the City Code on the purpose of the City Council?
Shouldn’t we have some direction from the City Code on the duties & powers of individual alderpeople in implementing that purpose?

Am I missing something?
Or is our City Code missing something?  

B. ISSUE HIGHLIGHT: Local food systems

Last March, as COVID started interrupting our global food & farm system, more U.S. voters were being alerted to the necessity of a robust LOCAL food system—both in stable times and for emergencies.

The good news is that the U.S. food & farm movement is 35 years old and many people have been re-growing our local food systems. Here is a brief snapshot of
1. LOCAL FOOD INFRASTRUCTURE: the components of a local food system
2. EXAMPLES of Evanston-based components, old and new
3. RESOURCES: hyper-current policy resources for understanding, implementing, and stabilizing Evanston’s local food system within the global food system

What should people in any geography do to strengthen the local food infrastructure in 2021?
What’s the low-hanging fruit for (a) feeding ourselves & (b) feeding our neighbors?

Food Systems 101: Learn about the food & farm system
—the food chain (who handles the food from seed to compost)
—influences on the food chain (everything else in the universe)
Stabilize existing components
Scale up in neighborhoods that are missing components

—living income for all: eaters, farmers, food workers
—community gardens, urban farms, home gardens
—farmers markets—farm-to-school K-12 + early childhood (cafeteria food + working garden + food system curriculum)
—CSAs, co-ops, buying clubs
—restaurants, grocers (independent, locally owned)
—decision making: food policy councils, food committees, food plans, scientists (social + physical)
—emergency food (food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens)
—seeds, plants, garden centers (independent, locally owned)
—farmland preservation (respect for the land, open space, wilderness, soil conservation)
—regenerative farmers, land managers, and property owners (rural, suburban, urban)
—processing & distribution (wholesale warehouse, slaughterhouse, packaging, bakeries, cottage food)
—logistics: keeping the supply lines short
—waste (compost, sewage, garbage)
—other components?

(not comprehensive)
Village Farmstand
Platter Pantry
Wild Onion Market: (co-op still looking for a space, possibly Evanston, possibly far north Chicago)
Feeding the Village
Evanston Food Exchange
Land Walk 
Collective Resource LLC
The Talking Farm

Missing in Evanston:
—food plan
—food policy council or food committee
—comprehensive farm-to-school program for all Evanston students (K-12, early childhood)


a. By jurisdiction
ILLINOIS Local Food, Farms & Jobs Plan
adopted by State of Illinois 2009
chief sponsor: State Rep. Julie Hamos (Evanston)
Local Food, Farms, and Jobs:  Growing the Illinois Economy
Report + Goals for 2020 + enacting legislation
(48 pages, very readable)

U.S.: “Growing Political Consensus through Food” 
Making the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture an issue for ALL U.S. voters
2020 Platform + Fact Sheet

BOSTON: Food Agenda for a Resilient Boston
by City Councilor Michelle Wu, Oct. 2020

NORTH AMERICA: Food Policy Networks
Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University
Clearinghouse for food policy councils (FPCs)—listserv—database—resources

b. Responses to COVID 
“If the Global Food and Farm System could Talk, what would it say?”
Short essay by Rich Schell, April 4, 2020 (IIT, international food law)
— Healthy, productive farmers & food workers
— Preserve & protect key logistics
— Create resilience & redundancy with local food
— Preserve free trade & free movement of people across international borders

“COVID-19 responses: Food policy councils are ‘stepping in, stepping up, and stepping back’”
Short article by Food Policy Networks

Youth Demands for a Radical Transformation of our Food Systems
by Youth Working Group, October 2020 
Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security

Gender, COVID-19, and Food Systems: Impacts, Community Responses, and Feminist Policy Demands
by Women’s Working Group of the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) for relations with the UN’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS), October 2020

3. U.S. SENATE: Confirmation hearing for Secretary of Agriculture
(Tom Vilsack)

Tuesday, Feb. 2 (10:30 ET)
I think C-SPAN is carrying all the confirmation hearings.

Posted on NewsDakota Jan. 28, 2021
The Senate Agriculture Committee scheduled a confirmation hearing for Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack. The committee will meet Tuesday, February 2, at 10:30 ET, to consider the nomination. Committee leadership, Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Arkansas Republican John Boozman made the announcement Wednesday.

Vilsack is expected to enjoy a smooth confirmation process overall. Vilsack previously served as Agriculture Secretary for all eight years of the Obama administration before heading up the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The Iowa native has broad support from agriculture in returning to the Department of Agriculture. However, a coalition of progressive groups, including Food and Water Watch and Progressive Democrats of America, urged Senators to block the confirmation, claiming, “Tom Vilsack is in the pocket of “Big Ag.” Last week, President Joe Biden assigned Kevin Shea as the acting Agriculture Secretary until Vilsack is confirmed by the Senate. Shea has been the administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service since 2013.