City Watch: Rebuilding key relationship-Alderman’s long silent treatment may be at its end

Nathalie Tadena

Last week, a 12-year communication gap was bridged, at least temporarily.

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) has refused interviews with Daily reporters since 1998, when The Daily published a town-gown story that quoted Rainey out of context.

Rainey’s more-than-decade-long grudge has been a true loss for several cycles of reporters-most of whom were not even on staff at The Daily at the time of the quote incident. The alderman provides a unique perspective to all developments that occur in the Eighth Ward and adds depth to many city stories. As journalists, it is our responsibility to speak to the most authoritative sources for our stories.

The Northwestern community has often been criticized for its poor relationship with the city of Evanston, and it’s unfortunate Rainey has missed out on several opportunities to help Daily readers better understand city issues we have covered in the past.

But maybe things have changed. At a recent Evanston City Council meeting, Daily reporter Dan Hill asked City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz which alderman was most passionate about the city’s unfunded police and fire pensions. Bobkiewicz referred him to Rainey.

While Rainey was reluctant to speak with Hill at first, she was willing to answer questions about the pension funds, which she called her “favorite charity.”

While it’s unclear if this signals a change in The Daily’s relationship with Rainey, a barrier has lapsed for now. Whether Rainey chooses to speak with us in the future, at least we’ve opened a dialogue.

City Editor Nathalie Tadena is a Medill junior. She can be reached at [email protected]