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home : community forum May 24, 2017


Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Community forum entry by: -- Karen Singer, President/CEO and Maureen Kenney,Board Chair YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Domestic Violence Program Funding Needed
Last week, we had to lay off five hard-working and dedicated people. This didn’t have to happen.
The State of Illinois currently owes YWCA Evanston/North Shore $280,000 for services rendered to survivors of domestic violence. By June 30, that number will rise to $460,000. We continue to provide emergency shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy for domestic violence survivors and their children, in spite of the State’s current unwillingness to pay. This situation is devastating to us, as it is to many other organizations throughout the state. Many have closed critically needed domestic violence services, and some have had to close their organizations all together.
Domestic violence funding was not included in the FY17 stopgap budget, meaning that domestic violence agencies have not received state dollars since September of 2016, despite having signed contracts for FY17. HB 3259 was introduced to correct this oversight, and the bill identified available dollars to fund domestic violence services. HB 3259 needs to be called immediately to correct this error. The bill has overwhelming broad bipartisan support with a super-majority in both the Senate and House, support from our two Evanston representatives and state senator, from the three legislative leaders – Senate President John Cullerton Republican Leader, Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader, Durkin and from the Governor’s Office. Despite this support, Representative Greg Harris, whose responsibility it is to call the bill, has not done so. We do not understand why the bill has not been called.
You can help:
Call and email House Appropriations Chairperson Greg Harris and demand he schedule HB 3259 for a hearing. Email: or call Chicago 773-348-3434 and Springfield 217-782-3835.
Call and email your state senators and representatives, letting them know that it is important to you that domestic violence services in Illinois are fully funded.
We serve close to 800 survivors of domestic violence each year. They should not bear the brunt of political stalemate and inaction.

Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Community forum entry by: Patricia Groch

Lesley Williams Supported. I wish to address the temporary suspension of Lesley Williams from her position as Head of Adult Services at the Evanston Public Library. In my position as Community Services Manager at the Skokie Public Library, I supervised Lesley for several years. She was an excellent employee, one of the best, if not the best, I worked with over a 30-plus-year career. She combined high intelligence and great integrity with sensitivity and compassion in her dealings with other staff members and the public she served.
After her time at Skokie, she went on to fill increasingly responsible positions at other north suburban libraries. As a board member of the North Suburban Library System, I interacted a good deal with supervisory staff from other libraries. Since the publicity surrounding Lesley’s suspension, I have been deluged with incredulous calls and emails from many of them, as astounded as I that a librarian of such high caliber should face charges of “gross incompetence, insubordination, and not contributing to a healthy work environment.” I have also received calls from my Evanston friends and neighbors and have had people stop me in the street to express amazement. A former colleague reports that he was questioned while on the El by an Evanston author who wanted to talk about how much Lesley had helped him with a research project. His closing remark was, “This whole thing with her being suspended... it kind of smells, doesn’t it?”
When someone has excelled at her job in every place she has worked, except for one, it does raise questions. If not smells.
I have read that the board expresses support of the library’s director. Well and good, but will there be any behind-the-scenes examination of supervisory policies at the library? Are employees contacted immediately after a complaint has been made about work performance or conduct? Does an employee have the opportunity to defend her or himself and to bring in other staff to support her or his version of events? One of the “charges” against Lesley appears to involve an incident with a speaker at a library event. Two people of my acquaintance, who believe they were present at the event, thought that Lesley’s actions were not only appropriate but welcome. When incidents are not addressed in a timely manner but seemingly saved up, to be trotted out in a public and punitive manner at a later date, it raises questions about administrative motives. For an administration to have such difficulties with an employee whose work at other libraries has been respected and admired, also raises questions. I hope our library board will see fit to try and find some answers.

Posted: Saturday, May 13, 2017
Community forum entry by: Matthew Katcher

I was pleased to read Mayor Hagerty's recent essay on citizenship and involvement in our local community. His call to consider the legacy of our actions was inspiring, and his words spoke to me as someone who recently became more involved in politics. Although he provides a list of important goals for our city to strive toward, I noticed one omission -- developing solutions to address climate change, a vital issue that will impact our planet for years to come.

Since moving to Evanston recently, I was proud to learn that the city is strongly committed to emission reductions as well as robust sustainability initiatives. Unfortunately, climate change is not an issue that we can tackle as a single city. In this vein, I implore Mayor Hagerty and our new city council to take a leadership role by passing a city resolution urging Congress to adopt carbon fee and dividend legislation. This proposal is widely acknowledged by both liberal and conservative voices as a market-enabling solution to limit emissions and further warming of our planet. As an equitable solution that will benefit most lower income households, it will also support the clean energy economy and create millions of new jobs.

Many American cities, including those as small as Oak Park to those as large as Philadelphia, PA, have passed a similar resolution. As a progressive city, Evanston should continue to be on the vanguard of communities working to address climate change.

Matthew Katcher
Citizens' Climate Lobby, Evanston Chapter

Posted: Friday, May 5, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jason Hays

For those looking for a way to support Lesley Williams, a Suspension Party Poetry Slam will be held this coming Monday, May 8th from 7-9pm at the Firehouse Grill on the corner of Chicago & Madison. For more details, please visit the Facebook Event page here:

Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Community forum entry by: Cassandra Harlan

Supports Lesley Williams. I am an Adult Services Librarian at Chicago Lawn Branch. I am taking the time today to send a note of support for Adult Services Librarian Lesley Williams.

I met Lesley three years ago in 2014. A friend of mine introduced us and I immediately joined her adult book club. Lesley’s warmth, competence, thoughtfulness, and passion for librarianship was evident, the first time we met and throughout our time together. As an African American woman, I know very few black Adult Reference Librarians who work at public libraries. When I met Lesley I was transitioning from my position as a Library Assistant to pursuing my goal of becoming an Adult Reference Librarian.

The road to becoming an Adult Reference Librarian was difficult. There were months of unemployment and often times I wanted to give up, but knowing Lesley and the impact she has had at Evanston Public Library for the last 20 years gave me the strength to keep going and push through. I stand in support of Lesley because she opened doors for black women in a profession where we are grossly underrepresented despite the fact that black, college-educated women are the largest demographic of readers in this country.

Lesley made it easier for future generations of young black women librarians to excel and thrive as librarians. I am the beneficiary of her sacrifices and hard work. I am proud to count Lesley as not only a personal mentor but as a professional colleague.

Please accept my statement of support for Lesley Williams.

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