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Remember the Pecking Order PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Tuesday, 29 August 2006 22:37

Now is as good a time as any to remind ourselves of the community issues that still need constant vigilance and nonnegotiable accountability. City Administrator Craig Malin figures prominently in this, as do the city council (both collectively and individually) and department heads.

If a city-related problem exists, there is a general protocol to follow. Contact your alderman so that he or she can delegate it to City Administrator Malin and to the appropriate department head(s). Requests from individual aldermen cannot legitimately be negated, refuted, or denied by the mayor or other aldermen. Each alderman is considered an employer of City Administrator Malin, department heads, and all city staff.

Make sure you agree on a deadline for a response, first from your alderman, then from Malin and the department head(s) handling the matter. From there, establish a time frame for resolution. If the time frame is not met, or department heads are unresponsive, then it is on City Administrator Malin to remedy this. Anything less should be considered failure to perform and on-the-record.

Department heads are required to respond to aldermen's requests, Failure to do so, in most cases, is insubordination and should be entered in the employee's file as such. Compliance should not be solely at the discretion of City Administrator Malin for obvious reasons. If Malin refuses to invoke such accountability, then Malin is not doing his job, and aldermen must take appropriate actions.

Otherwise, the aldermen are of no use to the public. City Administrator Malin and department heads can stonewall council's requests, making resolution impossible. Aldermen are rendered toothless if accountability is negotiable. The pecking order exists for a reason, and its integrity maintained, regardless of politics.

The city administrator is responsible for hiring and firing department heads, but the aldermen have equal authority with the city administrator in directing them. However, if an alderman is being unreasonable in that direction, there is a process for employees to seek remedy, as well.

Other issues that bear watching:

  • The Davenport City Council approved a development agreement with Isle of Capri (IOC) to build an 11-story casino hotel and five-story parking ramp on the downtown riverfront between Brady and Perry streets. IOC's engineers submitted a flawed study concerning the impact of the project on area flooding. Local engineer Bill Ashton, with no vested interest other than concern for the community, submitted a study challenging IOC's findings. To date, the flaws have not been resolved, exposing neighboring properties to grave danger and taxpayers to unreasonable financial risk should this project proceed. (Search the Reader's online archives for relevant stories.)

IOC has recently launched its design team to begin the execution of its casino hotel. The current development agreement may already be out-of-compliance for several reasons, including preliminary design excluding the required 50-foot setback from river's edge. Other issues with this project include IOC's borrowing city funds at preferential rates, while the city borrows funds from IOC at non-preferential (or commercial) rates; the use of tax increment financing on city-owned land for a private for-profit enterprise; the cost of moving a primary sewer main to another location to accommodate the project; and the economic impact of this facility on the RiverCenter, especially considered in tandem with IOC's sister project in Bettendorf to build a convention center.

  • The Davenport Civil Rights Commission continues its flagrant abuse of power against local dentist Dr. David Botsko. Going on year seven, the case is still in district court awaiting decision, even though an administrative law judge already determined that Dr. Botsko was not guilty. There is no evidence to support any other verdict, yet this commission is relentless in its subversion of the process to evoke a different outcome.
  • The Davenport Levee Improvement Commission, newly titled the Levee Development Corporation, was given $150,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds to organize itself to oversee the development of Davenport's riverfront, including the casino hotel. One half of those funds - $75,000 - has been allocated to hire a director, with ex-alderman Steve Ahrens being considered for the job.
  • The recent Community Attraction & Tourism grant application currently being considered by the state is the best-kept secret in town. It seems its sole author was City Administrator Malin, with no input from the council, or from the public. Translation: no representation, whatsoever. Why is that? What project(s) are being promoted for state funding this time? Who are the private partners (financial beneficiaries) in this round? Is the state aware that there is zero public buy-in relative to the grant because the public knows nothing about it?
  • City Administrator Malin's breach of contract, as voted by six of the 10 aldermen, gives him 90 days to remedy. This means he has 90 days to pay approximately $3,000 back to Davenport taxpayers. Meanwhile, what is his penalty for the breach? Good question. It seems that because four aldermen (Brooke, Howard, Frink, and Dumas) are unwilling to hold City Administrator Malin accountable, the other six have no standing in the matter. Or do they? And what about the taxpayers and residents of Davenport? What is our standing in the matter? If a super-majority of (seven) aldermen can't and won't stand up, what is our recourse?

Elected officials and special-interest players that do not have the taxpayers' interests as the overarching priority are relying on the citizenry to forget the pecking order. You can remind them by visibly and verbally supporting the brave few aldermen who genuinely pursue information, clarity, and accountability.

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