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home : community forum March 27, 2017

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Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Community forum entry by: Steven Walsh

Should City Pay for Damage From Water Main Breaks?
We have a problem. Our water distribution system is old and it breaks down here and there and will one day need to be updated. In the meantime the City of Evanston legal department uses the Municipal Tort Immunity Act to evade responsibility when a breakdown causes problems to an Evanston family or homeowner.
My family owns a home at 2131 Lincolnwood Dr., and there was a burst water main pipe that pumped water in front of our house from the evening of Jan. 7 to 6 a.m. on Jan. 8. Even though the pipe broke in the street, my lawn was heaving up and down at 3 a.m. when I went outside to observe. It took about three hours for the water department workers to come and shut off the water valve leading to this pipe.
At this point there was ice sludge several inches thick covering the area of a hockey rink starting in front of the house, water flowing into the foundation, and six inches of water backing up into the basement through the sewer pipe system. A water department worker witnessed that the City’s water pipe broke in front of the home, that water entered the basement through the sewer system, and when he had the water main valve turned off, the sewer system drain pipe in the basement floor returned to normal functioning and the water/sewage receded back through the pipe.
The insurance company was helpful and gave an estimate of the damages. But they would not cover the damages because the flood was not a natural occurrence but a City water main pipe break.
The City of Evanston legal department counsel wrote that because of the Municipal Tort Immunity Act, they were immune from financial responsibility. However, out of community goodwill they would cover the water tank and lost curriculum books (we’re both teachers) equal to less than 20% of the damages. However, they would not cover the clean-up costs to sanitize the basement.
We argued and wrote letters, and because of my neighbors’ being supportive, the public awareness that came from Shawn Jones’ RoundTable article from last November on a similar water main break in front of the Chatfield house, and the Chatfields’ courage to sue the City for damages, and because it’s an election season, the law department went from offering to pay less than 20% of our damages to offering to pay 76% of the damages.
The City of Evanston’s law department told us in a letter there was not a history of this problem in our area. They used this information as the reason the Immunity Act would apply. They did this although we live only a few blocks from the Chatfield house.
What will happen to the next family who suffers this problem? If it is not an election cycle, will the legal department once again, as they did to the Chatfields and us, not acknowledge financial responsibility for the damage caused?
Right now I hope the new elected officials will openly expose the depth of this problem. If not, I believe, based on its history and its so-called legal loophole, the Municipal Immunity Act, the legal department will continue to cover up the problems caused by the poorly operating parts of the water distribution system.
Should the homeowners be responsible financially for damages caused by broken City infrastructure?
Would you want justice if it happened to your home?



Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jean Zuiker

Braun for Ridgeville
I urge residents of the Ridgeville Park District to join me in voting for Debby Braun for park district commissioner on April 4. Debby has lived in the park district for 36 years, has previous experience serving as a volunteer commissioner, and has been regularly attending the board meetings for the past two years as a concerned citizen.
Her goals as commissioner include promoting and strengthening Ridgeville’s programs and improving the parks without raising taxes. She is committed to listening to residents’ suggestions and concerns. She recognizes the unique asset Ridgeville is to south Evanston, and promises to work with the board to focus on issues that will benefit all park district residents.



Posted: Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jean-Marie Freise

Election Sign Anarchy

Here we are: election season is upon us, and it’s taking its toll on everyone, everywhere. In-fighting on closed Facebook groups about the rules governing what is acceptable to post and what is not, Meet ‘n’ Greets and “Coffees” filling up our weekend schedules, and sign wars. Yes, you all know what I am talking about. Those darn signs. Election pandemonium has people snatching signs out of yards after dark or presumptuously placing them in yards without asking first, adults behaving like children.
I live in the Eighth Ward, and there is a pretty hot Aldermanic race going on between Rob Bady and incumbent Ann Rainey. When I drive around my neighborhood, I see signs in front of large apartment buildings, and I wonder to myself: how do the tenants of those buildings feel about the choice their landlord has made on their behalf? Is it fair game, then, to allow tenants to also place signs on the properties where they reside, and for which they pay rent? Do the tenants then have the right to express their opposition? For example, let’s say Landlord X were a Trump supporter and most of the tenants were not. Do the tenants then have the right to express their opposition?
Often times, these same landlords don’t live on the property, or even in our City. Seems to me that money and power are at play here.
I propose a City-wide ordinance whereby if a landlord elects to place an election sign on the property in support of a candidate, then all who live there should also be able to exercise their freedom of speech by doing the same. There may be a hodge-podge of signs on the front lawn when all is said and done, but as our wise 44th President once said, “Democracy can be noisy, and messy, and complicated.” Alternatively, if the landlord has a “no sign” policy, than that should mean no signs, period.



Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Community forum entry by: Martha Gaines

Dear Editor: I served on the Ridgeville Park District Board of Commissioners from 2009-2013 and I enthusiastically support Debby Braun for the Ridgeville Park District Board.

Ridgeville, an independent park district in south Evanston, is composed of approximately 20,000 residents living between Greenleaf and Howard and between the North Shore Channel and Chicago Avenue. Ridgeville has seven parks and offers programming and events for people of all ages year round, regardless of where they live.

Debby Braun has the experience, dedication, and focus that is required to be a Commissioner for Ridgeville. She served on the Board as an elected Commissioner from 1990-1996, and she has regular attendance at the Ridgeville Board meetings for the past two years as a concerned citizen. She is particularly familiar with the issues that the park district faces, the responsibilities and demands of the Commissioner position, and she also has a keen understanding of the park district budget.

Please join me on April 4th in voting for an experienced, dedicated, and focused candidate, Debby Braun for Ridgeville Park District Board of Commissioners.

Martha Gaines



Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017
Community forum entry by: Misty Witenberg

As a former 5th Ward candidate, I had the benefit of seeing candidate conduct under pressure and out of the public view. Coupled with the endorsement of former Mayor Lorraine H. Morton’s, who highlighted Murray’s 13+ years of service to the 5th Ward and her dedication as a community volunteer in promoting, community safety, affordable housing and in organizing annual events such as peace marches, job fairs and community forums, my decision was further solidified in supporting Carolyn Murray of Alderman of the 5th Ward.

Murray's the underdog in her race. She has 78x less funding than her opponent, but a community service record in Evanston's 5th Ward that spans 6x as long. Murray hosted 5th Ward meetings for more than a decade and currently co-chairs the West Evanston Strategic Team. She helped to found Evanston’s Youth & Young Adult Division through Evanston’s Youth Initiative, and hosted the city’s largest National Night Out.

A U.S. Navy veteran, Murray implemented Evanston’s 2 most successful gun buyback programs. As she organized the first of those programs in 2012, her own son was killed. But rather than be deterred, Murray went on in her role as a local and national spokesperson to hold gun violence prevention discussions with President Obama, the First Lady and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Her work and accomplishments have earned her front-page coverage on the New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, Daily News, MSNBC’s Politics Nation and the Rachel Maddow Show.

Given our federal situation, my preference is an Alderman who can fully represent the 5th Ward, without conflicts of private financial interest, employment or contract making. That leaves only one candidate in Evanston's 5th Ward race.

I hope you’ll join me, former Mayor Lorraine Morton and other supporters in voting for candidate Carolyn Murray as the 5th Ward’s next Alderman.



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