In a closing minutes of a five hour city council meeting in Evanston, Illinois, Alderman Tom Suffredin called his colleague Alderman Ann Rainey “sketchy as fuck.”
Tom Suffredin: “such bullshit!”
A tense Evanston, Illinois city council meeting turned ugly last week during the early hours of Tuesday, July 24th.
The dispute arose over a grant application for funding from Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The MWRD was soliciting requests for matching funding to help Evanston pave two unimproved alleys. The council was debating which alleys to nominate for the application.
City staff originally recommended two alleys in the relatively low-income Ward 8, represented by Alderman Rainey. During a committee meeting earlier in the day, Alderman Suffredin pointed out that the income-level of the neighborhoods was not a factor in the grant process, and suggested staff find the two cheapest alleys to resurface instead. They did, and suggested the two alleys on the list which, if the grant was successful, would save Evanston roughly $90,000. But (crucially) the cheaper alleys were not in Alderman Rainey’s Ward 8.
The issue came before the full council that evening, in the final twenty minutes of a five hour session that had stretched beyond 1 am. City officials agreed with Alderman Suffredin – the cheaper option did fit the grant criteria. But Alderman Rainey, while conceding the technical point, still wanted the alleys in her low-income ward to be given priority.
“If these two alleys had been in the fifth ward or the second ward, we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” she said.
At which point, Tom Suffredin lost his composure.
Leaning into his microphone and turned towards Alderman Rainey, he said, “Such bullshit, Ann.”
And then added, “Yes. Yeah, be shocked.”
The incident was broadcast on the city’s local cable channel 16. Off camera, a city official is then heard saying, “Oooh nothing good happens after midnight.”
But Suffredin was not done. Still facing Rainey he continued, “Everything that you do is subject to scrutiny because you are sketchy as fuck.”
And then, just in case there was any doubt, Suffredin concluded with, “I stand behind everything I just said.”
Censure or censor?
Apparently in shock, Alderman Rainey took several moments to respond.
Addressing Alderman Judy Fiske, who was sitting in for Mayor Steve Hagerty, she finally said, “I think you should sanction this alderman. That was outrageous. I don’t care if it’s three o’clock. You should sanction him and ask him to leave the room. Or apologize.”
Clearly startled and unsure of how to proceed, Fiske suggested Suffredin might apologize on his own accord.
“That’s not enough. I demand more,” Rainey said. “This is on public TV. Everyone who is still awake should hear that.”
But those still watching got a different message from Suffredin instead: “Alderman, I stand by what I said.”
“Well, you’re an unfortunate human being,” Rainey countered.
“That’s very hurtful,” Suffredin replied, although he did not actually sound very hurt.
Clearly keen to move on, Fiske nevertheless agreed to pause five minutes to find out the procedure for sanctioning an Alderman.
“Let’s move on because he’s not worth it,” Rainey said.
A vote was taken and Tom Suffredin’s motion to substitute the two cheaper alleys into the grant application lost, 5-3.
View the exchange between Alderman Tom Suffredin and Alderman Ann Rainey below:
And thanks to Evanston Now for recording the actual “potty mouth” language used by Alderman Suffregin, bleeped out of the official broadcast.