Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

EVANSTON, IL POP-UP NEWSLETTER: City Manager SNAFU, Digital currency, Leafblower buyback, more

I’ve been writing a lot lately — blogs, letter to editor, Twitter threads, etc.Here’s some items that relate to Evanston, either directly or as a U.S. municipality that shares in larger problems and opportunities common to the county, state, Midwest, country, hemispheres (West + Global North), species, planet.

— Evanston voters, media, political groups, businesses, activists, institutions
— Residents in my neighborhood (Nichols Neighbors)
— Some non-Evanston voters with Evanston connections & interests

Read in your browser?  
Unsubscribe or subscribe?  Just let me know.
Share?  Please do.

A. HOT TAKE on eliminating DAPR (Design & Project Review committee)
—The Disappointing Democrats
—Zero waste store closes
—No to leafblower buyback; better land-based climate tactics
—City Manager SNAFU #1: Updating the City Code
—City Manager SNAFU #2: Public trust violations just keep coming…
C. NON-EVANSTON NEWS that may interest Evanstonians
— De-pave Chicago launched
— Digital currency in a democracy
— Updated CV
— Thanks to The Ark Chicago

A.  HOT TAKE on eliminating DAPR 
(Design & Project Review committee)

All attempts by public employees and officials in a democracy to prevent (a) voters and (b) media from having all information in a timely manner are structurally equivalent and ethically confused. By “timely manner” I mean (a) in real time, or (b) in the rarest of cases, sooner rather than later. Here’s two recent examples:
—Officials of Uvalde, TX trying to prevent the release of records about the recent school shooting there
—Evanston staff and officials trying to disband DAPR, the single entity within City of Evanston government that is most like a democracy.

Unfortunately, even though most Americans give lip-service to democracy, we don’t live in one. Worse, the entire conversation at the Planning & Development Committee about disbanding DAPR (as described in Bob Seidenberg’s Evanston RoundTable article) demonstrates our lack of a City-wide democracy culture. Such a culture would, at the very least, 
—promote democracy-keeping as the primary job of officials and staff
—model democracy-keeping in day-to-day operations

Ald. Suffredin’s comment about making sure “staff stays in their lanes” — AKA silos — is particularly egregious in terms of collective understanding, shared truth, and effective decision-making that benefits all.

This is another reason that I have been proposing a public process to review and update of Evanston’s City Code vis-a-vis the interlocking duties and powers of the Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, and City Manager. (See #B4 below for details.) Community Development Director Johanna Nyden’s comments about the public being ignorant of staff powers in the DAPR process is proof (a) that this review needs to take place and (b) that some training on “day-to-day democracy” needs to take place regularly for City staff, elected officials, and candidates. On the voter and media side, perhaps the City can partner with Leadership Evanston or some other program to teach day-to-day democracy. A great partner would be Citizens Advocacy Center (located in DuPage County, but serving all of Illinois).

Native American scholar and humanities professor Barbara Alice Mann says it best:”Rematriation of the Truth means that everyone has access to all the facts, all the time, to facilitate the One Good Mind of Consensus.”

Prof. Mann is a descendent of the original signatories to the Great Law of Peace, the constitution of the Haudenosaunee League, which most Americans know as the model for and precursor to the United States.

— On disbanding DAPR: Bob Seidenberg’s article in the Evanston RoundTable (June 16, 2022)
— On Uvalde, TX hiring private law firm to block release of school shooting records: Shawna Chen article for AXIOS (June 16, 2022)
— Rematriation of the Truth: short 2011essay by Native American scholar Barbara Alice Mann (U. of Toledo; member Bear clan, Seneca nation).


1. The Disappointing Democrats
GETTING THE DEMOCRATS’ ATTENTION: Contact the DNC’s “farm” team? 
DNC’s farm team = national organization Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO) based in Chicago

As a 71-year old, lifelong mostly Democratic voter, I don’t have much faith in the current DNC’s understanding of
— real democracy (accountability, coalition building, supporting voters not big donors)
— our money & banking system
— reality, e.g., human biology (sex v. gender), food production (soil v. leafblowers), language (things before words, experience before vocabulary)

This blog contains some of my specific concerns. Maybe the DMO can address some of them and bring voters back to the Democrats — and bring the DNC back to the voters.

2. ZERO WASTE STORE closes after 5 months: What happened?  
Some brief observations

3. LEAFBLOWERS VS. SOIL: Best Climate Tactics for Evanston, IL & Elsewhere  
No to city grant program for electric leafblowers + better tactics for City

4. City Manager SNAFU #1
UPDATE CITY CODE to assure City Council accountability & shared knowledge base (Letter to Editor, Evanston, IL) 
— Letter to Editor (Evanston RoundTable)
— includes June 8, 2022 update re City Manager SNAFU

5. City Manager SNAFU #2: Public trust violations just keep coming…
Comment to EvanstonNow Posted & published June 8, 2022
—4th Ward debrief
—District 202 secret settlement
—Rules Committee tries to pre-empt public process

that may interest Evanstonians

1. Depave Chicago just launched
The Chicago chapter of a national organization just launched, a welcome addition to the Chicago area’s urban agriculture, local foods, wildlife habitat, farm-to-school, greenscaping, water management scene.

Website description: “Depave Chicago is a community depaving program that replaces underutilized parking lots and paved spaces with gardens, pocket forests, and other nature-based designs.”

Twitter @depavechicago description: “Depave Chicago transforms parking lots into urban gardens and pocket forests. Protecting water and people. Rebuilding soil and returning life to the land.”

— Short (3.5 mins) by Portland, OR chapter (founder of Depave movement) 
— Long (45 mins, starts at 17:30) by Mike Nowak. Interviews Depave Chicago co-founder Mary Pat McGuire (Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Landscape Architecture, UIUC) and Katya Reyna (program director of Portland’s Depave) 

2. Digital Currency in a Democracy
Alliance For Just Money is one of the few U.S. organizations asking (and answering) The Money Question: Who creates new U.S. money, how does it enter the economy, according to what rules? AFJM is based in Normal, IL and is a member of the International Movement for Monetary Reform (IMMR). 

More to the point, AFJM is one of the few organizations in U.S. asking the difference between PUBLIC money and PRIVATE money. This is a major confusion of our times and should precede any discussion about digital currency as legal tender.  

Along those lines, here is an excerpt from AFJM’s June 4, 2022 newsletter, linking to their detailed response to the Federal Reserve’s request for public comment on CBDC (central bank digital currency). Boldface added.

AFJM appreciates the opportunity to provide public comment to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on its paper on Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). We commend the Fed for recognizing the impact a CBDC would have on United States money and people, as well as the international economy.

Our responses to the Fed’s 22 questions reflect that AFJM strongly believes that CBDC is not and cannot be viewed as positive nor as a step toward a fully democratic sovereign money system so long as the private banking industry’s creation of bankmoney through credit still exists. The public discourse over CBDC is an excellent wake-up call for the nation and presents an opportunity for Just Money advocates to push for wholly public money.


1. Updated CV
After 15+ years of non-stop activism, I’ve updated my resume to reflect my current activities and search for income. If anyone needs a “Democracy consultant” or wants to support my work, here’s my 4-page resume:
Page 1
— Employment history
— Education
— Grassroots Leadership (unpaid community investment)

Page 2
— Current Projects (2022)

Pages 3-4
Food & Farm Systems 2006-11
Evanston, Chicago, Cook County, Chicago Metro, Illinois, Midwest
— Projects 
— Speaking Engagements
— Media Appearances

2. Thanks to The Ark Chicago
As a lifelong Chicagoan, I have long been aware of Chicago’s many great social service agencies, many of which predate the New Deal (when government-funded safety nets became mainstream).Likewise as a Jew and 3rd generation immigrant, I’ve long been aware of (a) Jewish social service agencies, and (b) other social service agencies that serve other ethnic groups. 

I did not know that The Ark is a fairly recent addition to Chicago’s social service agencies, having been founded in 1971, originally as a free medical clinic in Albany Park. Since then, as incomes and government safety nets have slowly eroded, more and more services were added.

Thankfully, I was recently connected to The Ark and have been very grateful for their friendly and compassionate help, including some emergency assistance. I am waiting to reschedule an appointment for employment counseling. I am hoping that they have some ideas for finding income for my policy, communications, organizing, and networking work.

If anyone is inclined to donate to such an organization, I would recommend The Ark highly. Their services are evidently greatly needed in the Chicago area. They are just in the process of building a new building at 6450 N. California, but they have had to relocate temporarily (1.5 years) until the new building is complete. They plan to re-open in Fall 2023, with expanded space and expanded programming.