City council hears comments regarding Devon Reid, Northwestern beach presence


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

City Clerk Devon Reid. Residents discussed the tabling of a resolution to censor Reid at Monday’s city council meeting.

Andrea Bian, Summer Managing Editor

Evanston City Council heard public comments from residents Monday regarding last week’s decision to table the censure of city clerk Devon Reid.

Three city officials filed complaints against Reid in April alleging that he violated the city’s employee policies. Following an investigation by outside law firm Robbins Schwartz, two of the complaints were sustained.

Reid was arrested last Wednesday by Illinois State Police, who alleged his failure to appear in Will County Circuit Court. His scheduled court appearance was due to a traffic infraction earlier this year. He was arrested at the Evanston police station by ISP when he arrived to attend a meeting.

While the resolution to censure Reid is still currently tabled and will be addressed at a future meeting, residents continued to express their dissatisfaction with the council’s handling of the situation.

In the past, Mayor Steve Hagerty has said “the City Council takes allegations of harassment of our city employees very, very seriously.”

Several residents said the council only took threats of harassment seriously when it affected city employees, rather than residents. Evanston resident Lori Keenan said she was verbally assaulted by Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) last year, but Hagerty did not respond to her email regarding the situation for more than five weeks.

“There was no outrage. No one was appalled then,” Keenan said. “You can’t pick and choose when you’re ‘furious’ and when you take an allegation ‘very, very seriously,’ as the mayor said he did after not replying to my email.”

Hagerty was absent from Monday’s meeting because he was on vacation, according to Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd), who moderated the meeting in his place.

“What it’s telling you more than not,” Evanston resident Albert Gibbs said, addressing the council regarding Reid’s arrest, “is that if you’re a black man in this town and you come to this city council and you speak truth to power, you better watch your back.” Community members who attended the council meeting applauded.

“Shame on you,” Gibbs added.

Aldermen did not comment on Reid’s arrest or his attempted censure.

Residents also continued discussion regarding a class of Evanston’s liquor licenses, and the proposed resolution that could eventually allow alcohol sales at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“From what I understand, nobody in that vicinity, the neighbors — they don’t want any liquor license for Welsh-Ryan Arena or the stadium,” Evanston resident Mike Vasilko said. “The answer is no. Northwestern has a difficult time [understanding].”

Aldermen mentioned the resolution while reading the consent agenda but did not discuss it in-depth. The resolution was tabled at the council meeting on July 9, after it had been held June 10.

The agenda also included a resolution to be accepted and filed called “Authorization to Execute Memorandum of Understanding with Northwestern University for Beach Access and Use at Lincoln Street Beach.”

Residents expressed concern over the signing of the memorandum, which pertains to Lincoln Street Beach, a lakefront area directly north of Ryan Fieldhouse. The beach is often frequented by Northwestern students, especially during the school year. If signed, the memorandum would limit access to the beach for Evanston residents not affiliated with the University.

Multiple residents said they supported the property becoming a dog beach, rather than a place specifically for Northwestern students. Evanston resident Barbara James advocated making the beach completely public and open to dogs, citing Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director Lawrence Hemingway’s search for an accessible dog park in Evanston.

“It will provide our dogs with a good place to run off-leash,” James said. “The problem can be solved cheaply and expeditiously by making Lincoln Street Beach the dog beach. It does not belong to Northwestern.”

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A previous version of this story quoted Evanston resident Lori Keenan when she was quoting Ald. Melissa Wynne. The article has been updated to more accurately reflect Keenan’s views on the issue. The Daily regrets the error.