Quorum confusion: Why there were empty chairs at Civil Rights Commission meeting

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Chaos continues for the Davenport Civil Rights Commission. 

The director canceled their monthly meeting planned for Tuesday at noon. 

She says there weren’t enough members for a quorum but some who showed up say otherwise.

The commission’s three new appointees made it to the scheduled meeting along with two other members. 

That means there were enough people to hold a meeting. 

But current members say the new appointees didn’t get there legally. 

Some say the four months of chaos isn’t helping the people who need the commission’s services.

“It’s really frustrating,” says Randy Moore, president of Iowa-American Water company. 

Moore is one of three people confirmed to the Davenport Civil rights Commission in December. 

“We’ve all, since that point, have been trying to fulfill the duties,” Moore says.

“But at every meeting we’ve showed up to, we’ve been asked to either remove ourselves from the meeting or remove ourselves from the table.” 

When Moore, Lee Gaston and Patricia Hardaway showed up to this month’s meeting, the commission director, Latrice Lacey, had news for them. 

“The statement was lack of a quorum [but] if the new commissioners are indeed commissioners– which I believe they are and the council and mayor have asserted repeatedly are, then we would’ve had a quorum,” says Lee Gaston, who is currently finance director for CASI.  

Lacey tells Local 4/Fox 18 News that she did meet behind closed doors with two other commissioners for an administrative meeting. 

Gaston says the current uncertainty puts any commission meetings and decisions into legal question.

“The legality of the meetings that have been held is in doubt, the outcome of any decision that the people sitting as the commission have made would be tainted if indeed our appointmetns are upheld,” he says. 

Gaston also says the confusion is unfair to the people of Davenport.

“To have a community of people who care about civil rights and protecting the marginalized and the vulnerable divided over something like this is unfortunate at a time when there are bigger fish to fry.” 

Dennis Platt says the chaos sends the wrong message to those who need the commision most. 

“The big fear is that they’ll be discouraged from coming here because it appears so dysfunctional that why would I expose my most vulnerable situation to this nightmare?” Platt says.

He and a handful of neighbors came out to attend the now-postponed meeting hoping to see movement toward a solution. 

“If it’s a procedureal problem, attorneys deal with that, if it’s a structural problem, managers deal with that. If it’s a political problem, mayors deal with that and we’ve got all of that going on here and the people we count on to lead us aren’t here,” says Platt. 

Neighbors and appointees say they hope that solution comes soon.

The new meeting date hasn’t been set yet but Lacey shared a copy of an email she sent to the mayor and council members to request an open discussion regarding the new appointees. 

You can view that email below.

Lacey says she hasn’t received a response, yet.

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