Local elections in Evanston, IL are on April 6, 2021. This is a pop-up newsletter to provide practical information, to facilitate participation, and to highlight big picture issues by connecting our local issues with larger jurisdictions (county, state, regional, national, world). This will probably be my last newsletter before the election.
Evanston political groups
Evanston activists in my networks
Residents of my neighborhood (Nichols Neighbors)
Some non-Evanston voters with Evanston connections & interests
CONTENTS March 27, 2021 — Happy birthday to me. I’m now 70 years old.
A. Gaslit Nation: Evanston-style (new Evanston PAC)
— Let the sunshine in #1: Duties & responsibilities
—Let the sunshine in #2: Communications (official & informal)
B. My endorsements: City Clerk, 4th ward
C. Public Banking: My testimony to an Illinois General Assembly committee 3/23/21
D. Local Foods: Home-based Food Entrepreneur National Conference, April 6-9
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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A. GASLIT NATION: Evanston-style — new Evanston PAC
Apologies to Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa for borrowing the name of their podcast — GaslitNation. Unfortunately, the fear-mongering by a new Evanston PAC — Evanston Together LLC — is nothing but an attempt to gaslight Evanston voters into voting for the status quo so (a) long-term incumbents can hold onto their seats without (b) dealing with deep voter frustration with all government jurisdictions, including the City of Evanston.
I agree with Daniel Biss (quoted in Evanston Patch) that
…being open to talking about whether we should make a change [in Evanston’s form of government] is responsible, unless you think that Evanston government is perfect today. I’ve not heard a single person say, ‘We definitely should have a strong-mayor form of government.’ I’ve heard a lot of people, including myself, say, ‘Hey, there’s some problems with the current system. We ought to keep all options on the table.’ That strikes me as a responsible position,” Biss said.
1. Let the sunshine in #1 — Duties & responsibilities
If Evanston Together LLC really wanted to get us all together, how about co-hosting a public forum (with other Evanston groups) about our current government structure and processes? Review:
a. Current City Code: duties, powers of Council, Mayor, City Clerk, City Manager
b. Other models as they compare with current City of Evanston model: advantages & disadvantages
c. Possible amendments to current City Code:
— add duties & powers of Council to Code (currently none)
— require regular ward meetings + regular communications from each alderman (see #2a)
— other ?
2. Let the sunshine in #2 — Communications (official & informal)
Evanston Together LLC could also co-host (with other Evanston groups) a public forum about civic communications — both official (City of Evanston) and informal. Review:
a. Current ward meetings & newsletters***
b. City e-lists
c. 311 follow-up communications
d. Neighborhood groups (listservs, phone trees, social media accounts, etc.)
— identify geographical gaps, public or private, amenities (events, meetings)
— explore City support for neighborhood groups
— other ?
***I have not reviewed the practices by current alderpeople, but somehow I was added to Ald. Fleming’s email list. I would recommend her communications and website as a possible model for other wards.
B. MY ENDORSEMENTS
1. City Clerk Endorsement: Cynthia Beebe
Although I got some pushback on my endorsement of Cynthia Beebe for the primary (from three activists who I respect), after reflection, I have concluded that the pushback had less to do with Cynthia’s candidacy than a preference for other candidate(s).
A way to get to know Ms. Beebe is watching her recent Q&A appearance at the Levy Center lecture series about her memoirs of being an agent for U.S. AFT (Alcohol, Firearms & Tobacco) — one of the first women agents, starting about 25 years ago. (She is now retired from the AFT.) Of particular interest is her unofficial but professional take on the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol (at the 70-75 min. mark).
Here’s why I will be voting for Cynthia Beebe:
a. What’s at stake:
—Nurturing lifelong voters: In an interview with Democratic Party of Evanston, I was struck with how clearly Cynthia Beebe saw what was at stake. At the 10-min. mark, she said: “Those handful of Georgia voters just changed world history.”
b. What’s possible:
—Ms. Beebe recognizes that the confusing rules about campaign petitions, dates, etc. (causing many candidates to be disqualified) need to be changed.
c. I have been impressed with Ms. Beebe’s ability to cut to the chase in answering questions, suggesting solutions to presented problems, and/or admitting her lack of knowledge while maintaining confidence in her worldly experience, government experience, maturity, and ability to work with others to find answers.
d. Because by definition the City Clerk’s office interacts with so many people—voters, other residents, business owners, officials, etc.—I think Cynthia Beebe as City Clerk will set a new tone of friendly professionalism for the entire City government—a no-nonsense but common sense professionalism that has been missing from the city for too long.
2. 4th ward Alderperson Endorsement: Diane Goldring
Repeating my previous statements about Diane, plus additional thoughts about what she brings to the table vis-a-vis Evanston’s climate plan.
a. From my Feb. 19, 2021 newsletter re Diane Goldring:
— Unlike Ted Cruz (Senator from Texas), she looks at a community emergency (e.g., COVID) as a time to pitch in, be available, be helpful in small ways as well as big ways. While she’s doing that, Diane seems to have a knack for creating working relationships and networks of relationships, across the ward and across the City.
— Like Katie Porter (U.S. Rep from California), I think Diane understands that “People have far too much on their plates” and that “it’s a politician’s job to make themselves and their work accessible to those people—not the other way around.” Whether Diane would frame it that way I don’t know, but when I read this paragraph about Katie Porter, I said, yes, that’s the kind of alderperson we need—and the kind of alderperson that I think Diane Goldring will be.
In a conversation with The Nation last summer, Porter spoke of how so many Americans have tuned out traditional politics. People have far too much on their plates, working two jobs, raising kids, caring for family members. She knows they simply aren’t paying that much attention to cable TV or Twitter—let alone the ins and outs of political intrigue. She believes it’s a politician’s job to make themselves and their work accessible to those people—not the other way around—and to improve the condition of people’s lives. She’ll tell you that some of Congress’s current traditions “suck.” If she sees an unnecessary and arcane acronym in a press release her staff has drafted, she’ll write out the full word. She insists that the term “making an impact” be used only if a meteor is hitting the earth—in all other cases, she says, politicians should just say what they really mean.
b. Like most U.S. climate change plans and policies, Evanston’s discussions have been dominated by advocates of renewable energy, to the exclusion or lesser prioritizing of everything else—energy conservation, monetary and banking reform, local foods, living skills education, reversing decades of desertification, human self-care (slowing down, changing our collective lifestyle), and democracy.
I am not saying that Diane has a full-fledged plan that better balances Evanston’s current climate goals and consultant-speak. I don’t know of anyone in Evanston who does. But I do think she has the grassroots community experience to know that there are deeper public discussions to be had without being over-invested in (a) our current CARP, and (b) renewable energy. As a friend of mine commented the other day, after watching the primary LWVE forum for 4th ward candidates: “Diane was the feisty one.” Based on my long-term relationship with my friend (and neighbor), I’m pretty sure she meant that Diane is the one with questions and that the other candidates were more invested in the current system and local power structure. I would agree with my friend.
(For anyone who wants to think more deeply about the domination of renewable energy in U.S. climate conversations, I recommend watching the 2017 documentary Planet of the Humans, by Jeff Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner, a former visiting scholar at Northwestern U. People may know the film better by the fact that Michael Moore was the Executive Producer and that the film was temporarily removed from YouTube based on specious complaints by people whose $$$$ investment in renewable energies would and should be affected. Moore, however, was not the director, writer, etc.)
C. PUBLIC BANKING:
My testimony to an Illinois General Assembly committee (3/23/21)
This is not directly related to the April 6 election (unless some candidate adds monetary reform to their platform — hint, hint). But public banking is a timely issue with more and more states doing feasibility studies on state, county, and/or municipal banks. Although the Illinois public banking coalition is still small, last week there was some positive movement in Illinois.
Specifically, it seems that the new Speaker of the House called for a “subject” hearing on “state banks”, which took place March 23, 2021 in the Financial Institutions Committee. As a long-time public bank advocate, I was invited to provide testimony.
Here is my written statement as sent to the Illinois General Assembly: PUBLIC BANKING: Testimony to Illinois General Assembly Committee, organized as follows:
Testimony on State Bank for Illinois
— Research and development
— Recommendations for drafting legislation
— Nationalizing the Federal Reserve in support of state and local governments
D. LOCAL FOODS:
Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference
April 6-9, 2021 Tickets $20 for full conference.
Sponsored by Renewing the Countryside (Minnesota).
Looks like it will cover all the basics—local laws, health standards, recipes, networking, etc.
One of the organizers, Lisa Kivirist, is a Skokie girl, now a Wisconsin-based farmer and all-around food activist.
So far as I know, “local foods” is not currently an Evanston election issue (although it should be). This conference may spark some local discussions, for the following reasons:
a. Evanston’s farmers markets will be opening soon
b. Currently, “cottage foods” are only sale-able at Illinois farmers markets, but there is a bill in the Illinois General Assembly that would expand the list of (1) sale-able foods and (2) sale-able locations. See Home-to-Market Act details.
c. Like people all over the U.S., Evanstonians are looking for (a) extra income, or (b) a viable revenue stream to replace a lost job, etc.
d. Since the pandemic started in March 2020, Evanston has at least two new “local food” outlets — Village Farmstand (Dempster) and Lucky Platter’s Platter Pantry (just opened, on Main St.). If the new Illinois law gets passed, I’m sure they will be looking to sell local cottage foods.
e. See update below on the conference from Lisa. Note:
— breakout group for Illinois
— scholarships now available
From: Lisa Kivirist <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [WFAN List] Home-Based Food Entrepreneur Conf April 6-9: Scholarships available
Date: March 27, 2021 at 12:39:27 PM CDT
To: WFAN Listserve <email@example.com>
Thank you all for your support — and to WFAN’s collaboration as an outreach partner — on the first Home-Based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference coming up April 6-9 and now with over 500 registrants from over 30 states.
May need to cap registrations so if you were plotting to come please do! $20 covers all four days and all sessions recorded.
If you (or someone you know) is interested in starting a home-based food business and a scholarship would help make this feasible, we just got a donation to cover some scholarships — please register here asap for a scholarship.
Once you register, be sure to sign into the Whova conference platform right away as the whole platform is already live with lots of activity, message boards and other already active and opportunities to engage.
Note there are state-specific meet-ups to meet and learn from other cottage food producers in your state (MN, WI, IL, IA & more! Hawaii 😊 ) If you don’t see your state please start a meet-up).
Any questions please let me know!
Author: Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers
Co-author: Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef ECOpreneuring, Rural Renaissance
Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B (Browntown, WI)