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MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2010 | 7


Council supports ‘cutting below the line' to reduce deficit By Brittney Wong The Daily Northwestern After lowering the microphone to her 11year-old height, Caitlin Westerfield spoke from behind the lectern at the Evanston City Council budget meeting Saturday morning against the proposed closure of the branch libraries. “Cutting the branches of a tree destroys a tree. Cutting the branch libraries destroys opportunities for kids like me to learn,” said the Haven Middle School sixth-grader. Westerfield was one of more than 30 citizens to speak in behalf of organizations such as the branch libraries, the Evanston Ecology Center and the Evanston Community Media Center, all of which were threatened with funding cuts under City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz’s proposed budget. Bobkiewicz, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and aldermen listened to budget concerns during the hour-long section of public comment. The budget intends to even out the $9.5 million deficit and cut up to an additional $1.5 million to raise the city’s reserves.

“I don’t think this community can handle another million-and-a-half in cuts,” Tisdahl said. “At least a half a million going into reserves would be very wise given the incredible problems the state of Illinois is facing in terms of their budget and my lack of faith that money from the state will be forthcoming.” Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) echoed Tisdahl’s tone, saying he doesn’t see any guarantee revenue will increase next year or even stay constant, resulting in visible decreases in services. “You are going to notice changes next year,” Wilson said. “You’re going to notice hours are going to be reduced, you’re going to notice lines are longer, you’re going to notice response times take a bit longer as well.” Tisdahl said the proposed budget will reduce services because it doesn’t increase taxes, which protects the people in Evanston’s lower economic strata. “The thing that we value most about this community is the diversity of this community,” Tisdahl said. “We are having a large number of foreclosures, particularly in the second and fifth ward, and we do not want to increase taxes and thereby increase the number of people who are

losing their homes due to foreclosure.” Based off an informal straw vote, aldermen implied they are against eliminating the ecology center and are looking for other options to cushion the negative impact of the cuts, such as turning toward volunteers instead of hiring paid workers. “It seems to me that we’re hearing a call from people who come up and say ‘Pick me! I want to volunteer, I want to be part of this community,’” said Ald. Coleen Burrus (9th). Burrus and other aldermen suggested using volunteers as doggie beach staffers, crossing guards and clean-up crew members after the Fourth of July Parade to trim costs. Shortening hours at city-run places such as beaches and libraries was also mentioned to relieve the deficit. Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) and others supported postponing medicating elms for Dutch Elm Disease for a year, which would save $160,000. “I personally would rather care about the elderly getting to where they need to go and single mothers having day care than our trees being trimmed perfectly,” Burrus said. “I just think we need to put people before trees.”

Aldermen also communicated anxieties about cutting the fire department’s funds since this would mainly affect personnel, which is 90 to 92 percent of the department’s budget, said Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky. “It’s such an important topic, it deserves a lot of discussion,” said Ald. Mark Tendam (6th). “This is about the safety of our family, our friends, our homes, our property.” Almost all the aldermen said they supported cutting “below the line,” or cutting additional funds to help strengthen reserves, especially because of the state’s current economic climate. “We’re having to use cash from other internal sources basically to float alone to cover our dayto-day, week-to-week expenses because we are $1 million in arrears from the state of Illinois,” said Marty Lyons, the assistant city manager. City officials made it clear the budget process would involve difficult decisions and stressed cooperation through a difficult time. “I want everybody to remember that this is going to be a collaborative effort,” Wilson said. “We have to work together.”

Titanic Players' ‘Daddy Mags’ advances to national improv tournament By Lark Turner The Daily Northwestern Northwestern senior Dave Collins said he isn’t taking his improv group’s recent success too seriously. “It’s improv,” Collins said. “There’s only so much you can do to get ready. You just have to go out and perform and have fun.” After winning a Jan. 23 regional competition, the group, called “Daddy Mags,” advanced to the Chicago Improv Festival’s national competition. They will compete Feb. 6 in Chicago at the College Improv Tournament against teams from

across the country, including the University of Florida’s “Theatre Strike Force” and the University of Houston’s “Scatter!” Daddy Mags is a part of a larger group, The Titanic Players, which includes five other teams at NU as well as groups at University of Wisconsin and University of Illinois. The organization is the largest student improv group in the country. The group’s coach, Mike Abdelsayed, said the judges noticed Daddy Mags’ chemistry. “They showed that improv could be fun as well as exceptionally good,” the NU alum (Communication ’98) said. The team includes Communication seniors Jen D’Angelo, Katherine Docimo, Dana Kaplan-

Angle and Collins. Daddy Mags has been together since each student’s freshman year at NU. “I don’t think we were expecting to win,” Docimo said. “We were really surprised.” She said the team did a grocery store scene during the regional competition that stood out from the rest. “That was a really, really fun scene,” she said. “It was a totally different kind of comedy. It was all physical.” Unlike the popular show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”, Docimo said long-form improv lasts for 25 minutes, and each group’s style is different. “You’re kind of creating a short piece of theater, a short play,” she said.

The Titanic Players’ team “Old Town Jar” won the first annual competition, Abdelsayed said. Now in its third year, Daddy Mags is looking to win back the title, he said. “I’m telling them just to take each performance as a unique performance,” the coach said. “Just go do what we do and be proud of it.” Collins said a show at NU the night before the competition will help the group prepare for nationals. “We’re trying not to make too much out of it,” he said, “because at the end of the day, we’re just going to go and have fun.”




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