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EVANSTON, IL POP-UP NEWSLETTER (Aug. 8, 2021): Personnel issues + ARP Funds for Local Foods

Public trust issues are compounding fast in Evanston and it’s hard to make sense of everything — especially when officials (staff and elected) are playing “cover my ass”.  

On the other hand, we all still have to keep plugging along on City business — for example, deciding how to spend the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds.

Hence this newsletter consists of two items:
— A new blog about personnel issues
Public trust in Evanston, IL: Sexual harassment complaints buried for years, weeks, days

— Suggestions for using ARP funds for local food system resilience
Local Food System Resilience: Applying American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Food Security for All — Suggestions for City of Evanston, IL

Here’s a few more details on each.

BLOG Contents

Public trust in Evanston, IL: Sexual harassment complaints buried for years, weeks, days
A. Public timeline & observations (July 16 – August 9, 2021) 
news accounts, Twitter threads, City Council statements

B. My email to independent investigators: three recommendations
(Blog includes my entire email to Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter, sent Aug. 2, 2021.)

Recommendation #1
Update City Code re interlocking duties and powers of City Council, Mayor, City Clerk, and City Manager through a dedicated public process. 

Recommendation #2
Evanston should find another word for the office of mayor, in conjunction with updating the City Code per #1. 

Recommendation #3
a. All sexual harassment complaints should be labeled high priority requiring IMMEDIATE (24 hours or less ?) notification of ALL City of Evanston elected officials
b. City Clerk should keep an up-to-date log of sexual harassment complaints against city staff or officials

C. #MeToo in the U.S. Food & Farm Movement 
“Most ‘personnel’ matters are not personal”

This section contains some personal observations (detailed in two 2020 blogs) that seem relevant to Evanston right now based on a similar mishandling of internal complaints (both racism and sexual harassment) in a large, well-respected international food & farm organization (Food First).

Of particular interest is an An Open Letter Call to End Sex Offender Tributesa particularly strong stance by a food & farm colleague about sexual harassment and about people who cover up for harassers. I hope that some of the young women who found the courage to create and/or sign the Evanston petition have an opportunity to read this letter.

ARP Funds for Local Food Systems: Suggestions for Evanston

Local Food System Resilience: Applying American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds to Food Security for All — Suggestions for City of Evanston, IL
This 9-page list (plus lots of good context) consists of actual recommendations made by food & farm activists in three cities:
— Louisville, KY
— Spokane, WA
— Phoenix, AZ

My main purpose in making this list is simply to demonstrate all the different sectors of a local food system and all the ways in which funding local food systems stabilize local economies, local land, and local people.

For those not familiar with local food infrastructure, I recommend just scanning the document. A thorough intense reading is not necessary to get a quick idea of what local food system resilience is all about. City officials can get some good line item ideas. 

ABOUT my Evanston Pop-up Newsletters
I send these newsletters 1-2 times per month, depending on what’s happening in Evanston and whether I have anything to say that might be meaningful to my neighbors, friends, colleagues, etc. Currently my email list is about 250 people, addressed to people in my networks:
— Evanston voters, media, political groups, businesses, activists
— Residents in my neighborhood (Nichols Neighbors)
— Some non-Evanston voters with Evanston connections & interests

Except for a few exceptions, I do not include current Evanston officials (staff and electeds). This is partly because I think current officials are overloaded with emails and calls. But it’s mostly because I view my own activism as primarily grassroots, consensus-building, and coalition-building. If any current official wants to be included in that context, I will be happy to add her/him to the my list.

Likewise, I’m happy to add anyone else who is interested, be they Evanston residents or people who have some other interest in Evanston’s politics. In the belief that my best life is lived among people who care about real democracy (universal liberty and participation) and earth-based reality (soil, water, air, food, etc.), I encourage sharing this newsletter.