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March 22, 2018

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Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Alyce Barry

In Defense of Nichols Policy
A recent National Review article attempted to use the research-based equity work taken on by Nichols Middle School Principal Adrian Harries, with the full support and vision of the District 65 Board and administration, to undermine the importance of racial equity work in our City and our country.
The powerful work that District 65 is taking on is not only necessary but essential to creating more just spaces for children and families. I applaud Principal Harries for taking up that charge.
The article is opinion but not identified as such. It's ideology framed in inflammatory language, masquerading as journalism. Since its authors, Eli Steele and Beth Feeley, don’t live in Evanston, someone who lives here wanted them to write this.
We all need to challenge bigotry wherever it appears, including here in Evanston. There was a hate crime in Evanston recently: the N-word carved into playground equipment at Willard School. It reminds us, as the National Review article does, that white nationalism is right here among us.
Children deserve to be protected from the physical and emotional harm caused by explicit and institutional racism. We, as a community that claims to value diversity, need to stand tall in protection of the necessary work being undertaken so that we can continue to develop and refine our tools to know how to respond to and dismantle the replication of harmful disparities.
Experts cite a wide variety of benefits gained from race-based affinity groups. These include safe spaces for getting and giving support increased understanding of our own beliefs practice having tough conversations with people from similar backgrounds, before having them with people from different backgrounds and gaining confidence in speaking in groups.
I have space for correcting only two of the many erroneous passages in the article. There was “no mention,” the authors say, “of any educational innovations aimed at closing the profound achievement gap…” If they knew or cared anything about racial equity work, they would know that talking about race in order to reflect on our racial attitudes is itself the innovation. In too many classrooms in Evanston (and across America) race is the elephant in the room, and courageous conversations like those Principal Harries is fostering are an essential first step. As James Baldwin wrote, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
Second, the authors attack the 2017 equity audit for producing “no statistical evidence of racism in District 65.” That evidence wasn’t the audit’s task, as copious amounts of data had already been collected, leading the District to attribute the achievement gap to institutional racism. District officials regularly affirm this fact in reports and at meetings.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Michael Sultan

Collaboration With Central Street Project Urged
This quick note is to address the entities that have recently spoken about and/or written about a ZBA request at 3233-49 Central St. I live at 3225 Central St. and would like to comment on comments repeated in the RoundTable from that meeting and the comments made by some of the owners who spoke against this project at said meeting.
While I think that 14 units is pushing what should be on that site, I have to protest some of the comments that I find, both at the SBA meeting and in the RoundTable, to be untruthful.
First, saying that the owners of the property “had not been cooperative with the neighbors,” is false. They had an open house early in the project’s history, posted notice of the ZBA meeting, and when I stopped in to ask questions of said project, were very helpful to me.
Second, I have lived here 14 years, and about eight years ago, I personally walked and left a letter on both sides of our unpaved alley to see if there was any interest in having the City pave our alley. I received only one response from the owners of houses on Hartzell Street and a couple from owners on Central Street. For anyone to claim that there had been “three different petitions” to have the City do something, they must have missed our eight units here on, Central Street – of which I am Homeowners President.
Third, things were said at the meeting about “dings to a garage door,” a “pothole in front of a unit” on the south side of Central Street – from former tenants’ parking on Cowper Avenue.
I would like to just address these by saying I have walked these locations, looked for damage where it has been claimed, and have found none. As for parking on Cowper, I have been guilty of this during snow emergencies but, out of common courtesy, I try to not block walkways.
Lastly, a project, as this is going to be, needs to be honestly addressed, and I do not believe this was done by neighbors of mine. If we are against 14 units, say it, but don’t make up things to cloud the issue or report them as “facts” to oppose the development.
Let’s work with the Schermerhorns to get what will increase our property values and improve our neighborhood but fit into the current zoning – without quite the density – and get this project moving forward. Something will be built here, and I would rather be part of the solution than part of the problem.
Lastly, I am available to walk this project’s area and meet with anyone who feels I have spoken wrongly here.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Sigrid Pilgrim

Inviting Smells That Attract Many Critters
Open letter to Mayor Stephen Hagerty and Alderman Tom Suffredin:
I have just received your Mayor’s letter. To add food waste to the yard waste containers is just about the most ridiculous idea that has come out of City Hall in a long time.
Can you imagine the flies and maggots that will develop when meat scraps and similar protein foods are deposited and left for a week in the summer? No waste container is immune to squirrel and other animal gnaws (our garbage can attest to this as well). You are certainly inviting more of the same smells that attract the critters that abound in our town and yards.
This is a terrible idea. Imaging some chicken carcass lying on the bottom of the yard waste container that’s basically empty (in the summer we don’t always have enough yard waste to put the container on the street.) Now add the 80-90+ degree heat, and I am already covering my nose from the smell.
Who came up with this terrible idea – especially since there is a company already in Evanston that offers non-compostable food scrap pickup, yes, at a fee?
Please make sure this doesn’t turn into reality.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Doug Arend

Thanks for Chess Problems
As a long-time, i.e., 20+ years, regular reader of the RoundTable, I wanted to send a shout-out for Michael Matek and the regular Chess Problem feature.
When my girls were working their ways through Kingsley – Haven – ETHS, I would typically turn to any article(s) regarding Districts 65 or 202 first, and then to the chess problem.
Now that my girls are grown and have moved away, Michael’s chess problem takes precedence ahead of articles regarding school districts.
I don’t know who within the RoundTable organization is responsible for keeping Michael’s content coming every two weeks, but please give her/him/them my thanks. In a world seemingly increasingly filled with tension and anxiety, it is remarkably calming to spend a train ride downtown trying to work through Michael’s latest offering. Thanks RoundTable.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Craig McClure

Congratulations to Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz for winning the Democratic nomination for Illinois House District 17. While I had hoped that Alexandra Eidenberg would win the race, and I advocated for her candidacy, I’m very pleased that Jennifer won, as she was my 2nd choice in the race.

The important thing to me is that neither of the District 65 candidates won. Many of us here in District 65 think that the property tax increase that came about through the district putting a huge tax increase on top of an already known reassessment wasn’t reasonable, and that the surpluses the district is now running is money that should be in our 401k or available to pay the medical expenses we face in our high deductible health plans. Those of us in the private sector have to think about things like funding our 401ks and high deductibles.

I share the disappointment of many that Daniel Biss did not win. Daniel called me personally on the day he announced his candidacy to ask for my financial support, and I gladly gave it. Daniel has always been a thoughtful and articulate state representative both in the Illinois House and Senate. I appreciate how he has listened to my opinions through the years as we traded ideas back and forth. As I’ve said to him, we don’t have to agree on absolutely everything for him to have my support.

There again though, we don’t always get what we want. I’ve met JB Pritzker personally a couple of times now at different charity galas. I find him quite personable and I’ll be glad to see him win in November.

Congratulations to Larry Suffredin for another win! Larry was a valuable ally in the effort I led out here in the northwest corner to disconnect from the Skokie Park District, and I’ll always be appreciative to him for his guidance on that issue.

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Clif Brown

We should not feel that recycling is the answer to environmental problems. It deceives us into feeling we are doing a good thing, unjustified by what is actually being done. Today I talked on the phone with our city's recycling person and he told me the following:

>Only 20% (that's one fifth) of the total waste stream has been diverted from landfills by recycling. It's worse than than because...

>Of the total tonnage in the recycling system, about 13% is garbage (I know from Groot supplied annual data that this has been the figure for many years) that then ends up in the landfill after all...that means people are putting things in their recycling bins that should be in the garbage, creating an expensive extra trip to the recycling plant for no purpose. I know for a fact that most people put their recycling in machinery jamming plastic bags that must be hand opened at the Groot processing plant, but the city will not prohibit this bagging out of fear that less material would go into the blue bins.

>The amount of money received for the things extracted by the recycling plant (plastic, glass, paper and aluminum) is minimal because there is so much of it up for sale. This means the recycling program proceeds are a small fraction of the cost of the program.

I am an avid recycler but I can see that the end result is a private company making good money by being a middleman in a very inefficient program that the public cannot be bothered to contribute to properly, that the materials market has little to no use for and that only keeps a small amount of stuff out of the landfills, landfills which, if made properly, are not an environmental hazard. I suspect that even considering the cost of hauling garbage a long distance to landfills, going back to landfills would be cheaper than the much promoted recycling project. Unlike the Japanese and Germans who carefully separate things, we Americans want convenience above all, and we are paying for it.

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