Davenport’s civil rights commissioners haven’t acted on a single court case in 6 months

Local News

Commissioners, staff members say battles with the city have ground work to a halt

Another failed meeting for Davenport’s civil rights commission.

Members tried to meet today but didn’t make a quorum.

That marks two months in a row that commissioners haven’t convened.

The group has seven positions and 14 people fighting for a seat at the table.

No one knows who is legally able to act on cases.

“Do I feel like we’re doing our job? No. I think we’re at a standstill,” says commissioner Michael Liendo, who was appointed in April.

Commissioners haven’t acted on any of their seven cases for six months.

In one case, the person decided to take their lawsuit in their own hands.

Two other cases have been kicked to the national level, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

For at least four month since the new year, commissioners didn’t meet at all, including this month.

“We don’t know who the actual commissioners are because of all this confusion regarding the city, the commission and how that’s being handled in the court. Which makes things like, ‘What meets a quorum,’ ‘Who is here that constitutes a quorum?’ It makes all of that very difficult,” Liendo says.

Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch appointed Liendo and three other commissioners back in April.

That move is being fought in court.

Director Latrice Lacey says that– and confusion with three other commissioners whose terms expired in November 2018, has meant her staff has spent more time following legal battles within their own department.

“Time that could be spent on cases is being spent trying to follow the things that are going on and ensure that we at least are complying with our legal requirements,” Lacey says.

Wasted time and money– taxpayer money.

Civil rights commissioners aren’t paid but five staff members are, including Lacey.

“So that’s tens of thousands of dollars and you can’t perform everything you’re supposed to be doing?” asks Local 4’s Tahera Rahman.

“Right,” Lacey responds.

We filed for those salaries and they add up to about $311,000 a year.

Neither staff members nor commissioners know if they’ll be able to fulfill their jobs any time soon.

“I don’t know,” Lacey says.

“I don’t think that the commissioners that are currently on-board, whether you see it from the old commission or the new commission, I don’t think any of us are prepared to handle this situation that we’re in,” Liendo says.

Lacey says this is the longest that she’s seen cases stalled since she got here.

That was in 2014.

Mayor Klipsch and the City of Davenport have filed an appeal in their case against former commissioner Nicole Ledger, who was removed back in April.

The city tried to have the case thrown out.

In July, a judge ruled that the case should move forward to trial.

Now, the mayor is appealing that decision with the Iowa Supreme Court.

Local 4 News filed a request with the city and found that so far, Davenport has spent more than $5,000 on this court case.

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