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Evanston, IL POP-UP NEWSLETTER: Ranked Choice Voting, 988 hotline, Participatory Budgeting, more

This newsletter is bookended by two quasi-personal items: (1) a continuing education course on “The 1960s” taught by my 1968 high school sociology teacher (and Evanston resident), and (2) a legacy list inspired by a journalist half my age who I hope, in turn, might be inspired by the truths I’ve stumbled across over the years and document in my latest blog (Dear Annie Lowrey (and other practical journalists): FWIW, my Legacy List).

UPDATE July 31, 2022
See Section B (Participatory Budgeting) for additional information on the process.


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

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Hi, all —

A. Continuing education: History course on the ‘60s by Evanston resident Louis Silverstein
B. Evanston’s Participatory Budgeting Process: Next steps & links 
C. New 988 Crisis Hotline: Caveat — not 100% confidential
D. Final Five Voting: A better twist on Ranked Choice Voting?
E. Personal note: Keeping my seeds alive — a legacy list for journalists, activists, voters, etc.

A. CONTINUING EDUCATION: History course on the ‘60s 

Oakton Community College
Wednesdays 1 – 3 PM
Sept. 14 – Oct. 19
Skokie campus or online
Taught by Evanston resident Louis “Luchiano” Silverstein

Silverstein was my high school Sociology teacher (1968, Highland Park High School). He was a very popular teacher and stayed in touch with our class.

Course name & number: HIS E48 – The 1960’s 
Description: Why is knowledge of the 1960s—an era in U.S. History that reshaped society, culture and what constitutes the American dream—crucial for understanding our present day world? From an historical, societal, cultural, consciousness and lived experience perspective—anti-war/peace, civil rights, women’s liberation, ecological awareness, sexual revolution, counter-culture, consciousness and spirituality are among the possible subjects Luchiano Silverstein can discuss.

Louis “Luchiano” Silverstein, PhD 
Distinguished Professor of  Humanities (Emeritus)
55 years teaching at: New Lincoln Freedom School (Harlem, NY); Highland Park H.S. (Highland Park, IL; Columbia College (Chicago)

Next steps & links

Folks in Evanston who want to have more input in City affairs might want to get involved with the PB process. Here’s some resources to follow along and get involved:

1. Official City committee: City’s PB committee

2. A contract has been signed with DeliberationWorks a group at Northwestern University’s School of Education & Social Policy (SESP). The group has been discussing the Evanston opportunity since Feb. 2022. Sample proposals are here: ARPA Participatory Budgeting. (Note: these are not official proposals.)

3. Here are the next official steps:
— DeliberationWorks has created a dedicated PB webpage for the official Evanston project.
Sign up for updates from DeliberationWorks.
— A call to join the STEERING COMMITTEE is about to go out soon.
— PB Evanston is on Twitter & Instagram: @pbevanston
—Two PB jobs have been posted by the City. Deadline to apply is July 28, 2022.
PB Coordinator $24/hour
PB Manager $48/hour 4.
Both jobs are independent contractor jobs (July 2022 – Nov. 2023).

UPDATE on City process
City of Evanston July 28, 2022 news release with information on:
a. Town hall — August 4, 2022, 7:00 PM, Parasol Room
Residents will learn about participatory budgeting and how to be involved in the process, and will have the opportunity to ask questions. There will be an interactive component as well, where participants will be asked to share their ideas for how the $3 million should be spent.
b. Steering Committee applications being accepted through August 21, 2022
Apply as an individual or a representative of a Civic Organization.
Steering Committee will meet monthly on either Wed or Thurs (6-8 PM).

4. For some context, history, and nuances on PB in Evanston and Chicago, here’s my recent blog, which I sent to the PB Committee and to the DeliberationWorks team: Participatory Budgeting in Evanston, IL: The 2022 Version

Caveat — not 100% confidential

Once again, it seems as if the government neglected to get broad public input on this new service, even as the intentions are good and the need is great.

“Not 100% confidential” means that 988 is linked to “nonconsensual active rescue” which means that if the hotline deems it necessary, they can and will trace your call and send police. For many people who want help in the moment, this is NOT what they want or need. 

See Twitter thread (15) by E. Krebs, suicidologist and Asst. Professor at Fordham U. (NYC). Thread includes multiple resources, including official info and FAQs about the “suicide and crisis lifeline” and Prof. Krebs’ suggested alternatives.

For a sensitive layperson’s take, see this brief thread by a journalist I respect (Leah McElrath). 

A better twist on Ranked Choice Voting?
Promoted by Institute for Political Innovation (Chicago)

I agree with those who think that Evanston voters haven’t yet had a good discussion on Ranked Choice Voting, certainly not enough to vote on a binding referendum in the November election (that could change Evanston voting procedures permanently starting in April 2025). Here’s some background on the City Council’s July 11 vote to put a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot, and a suggestion for a better discussion beforehand.

Background on Evanston’s July 11, 2022 vote to put RCV on the ballot:
— Staff memorandum to pass Resolution 39-R-22July 11, 2022
— Resolution 39-R-22 was approved at July 11, 2022 meeting for the City Clerk to submit a referendum to election authorities for Nov. 8, 2022 ballot.
— It is not clear whether the actual wording of the referendum must be approved by City Council before it is placed on the ballot.
— For some analysis of the City Council discussion and the issues that some council members have with RCV and/or with the process so far, see The Daily NU’s July 12, 2022 article by Saul Pink.

Better discussion before November?
One way to have a better discussion would be for someone to host an Evanston discussion well before November to compare three election methods:
—the current one (winner takes all, except as provided for run-offs)
—Ranked Choice Voting
—Final Five Voting

I first learned about Final Five Voting very recently, through the League of Women Voters (a Naperville member and an Athens County, Ohio member who met at the LWV’s national convention in June). Final Five Voting is the brainchild of the Institute for Political Innovation, a think tank based in downtown Chicago and founded by businesswoman Katherine Gehl (graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management). Gehl has been asking herself (and the rest of us) why there isn’t more real competition in politics — competition for voters’ attention and for voters’ votes.

According to IPI’s website, Final-Five Voting is the combination of two innovations:
• Top-five open primaries in which we don’t use ranked-choice voting (RCV)
• RCV general elections

Unfortunately, open primaries might be harder to adopt than RCV in party-centric U.S. (especially in Illinois, the 4th most corrupt state in the U.S. according to a LWV report by Donna Limper of Naperville, The Growing Anti-Corruption Movement). 

IPI explains why RCV is less impactful by itself:
“FFV’s power to increase the likelihood that Congress solves problems in the public interest comes from the combination of the two. On its own, RCV is dramatically less impactful because it simply doesn’t fix the incentives for problem solving that are created by party primaries. As such, Final-Five Voting is not synonymous with ranked-choice voting.”

Is anyone interested and/or able to host such a community-based discussion? in Evanston? before November 8?

Keeping my seeds alive — a legacy list

New blog: Dear Annie Lowrey (and other practical journalists): FWIW, my Legacy List
Not knowing how much longer I will be active, I’ve been moved to draft a list of important truths that I’ve stumbled across over the years. I was inspired to write it by journalist Annie Lowrey (The Atlantic) because (a) she writes about economic policy for thinking, working, active people, (b) she’s half my age (37) and hopefully has a long writing life ahead of her (she may find these ideas to be useful), and (c) she writes so well and so readably. 

These are facts and frameworks that have helped me make sense of an insane culture (Western civilization) and a hypocritical country (the U.S.), even as I’ve worked to manifest the U.S. ideals that most of us believe in. Most of these items are (a) not taught in school, (b) not discussed in mainstream civic discourse, and (c) are not widely known. But they all are in the public domain. My blog includes numerous resources for further research, exploration, etc.

I wrote this with journalists in mind (hence the title), but I hope that it will be useful for activists, other voters, officials, etc. The blog is organized as follows:

Introduction: Our dead constitution
A. Political economy removed from U.S. high schools (1892)
B. Give People Money: Funded Sovereignty — the most logical version of Universal Basic Income
C. Follow the money? Better to follow the LACK of money!* The money supply, The Money Question, the science of money, democratizing money
D. Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI): Alternative to GDP
E. Parity agriculture, par economy, steady state economics, stable purchasing power
F.  Women’s Public Authority
G. Worsening interlocking crises in 2022: What’s really going on?
H. Connection between LIBERTY and RENEWABILITY OF LIFE
I. Ownership

*Special note for Evanston re the money supply (Section C):
Evanston is currently the home of the American Monetary Institute, the 25-year old national leader for restoring the money power to Congress (which gave it away to the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve System in 1913). This is because the new Executive Director (Steven Walsh, a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher) lives here. Steven and AMI are also active in the global movement for democratization of money, International Movement for Monetary Reform. The next few years would be a timely opportunity for Evanstonians to take advantage of these resources in our community by inviting Steven to a meeting, attending the annual AMI conference (Sept. or Oct. 2022, not sure if it will be virtual or in downtown Chicago), etc.

Also, in 2018, AMI created an action spin-off, Alliance For Just Money, currently headquartered in Bloomington, IL with many Chicago-area members, including myself. We are about to kick-off an initiative to educate candidates, incumbents, voters, etc., on the American Monetary Reform Act, an updated version of Dennis Kucinich’s 2012 NEED Act (co-sponsored by the late John Conyers). AMRA would nationalize the Federal Reserve System and outlaw private creation of U.S. money (by commercial banks, cryptocurrencies, etc.).