A resolution sought by a Davenport alderman that would have curtailed action by city staff on casino acquisition activities didn’t have enough support to get onto this week’s committee-of-the-whole agenda.
After expressing interest last week in seconding a resolution request by Alderman Mike Matson, 8th Ward, to get it on the agenda, Alderman Barney Barnhill, 7th Ward, declined, sidelining the resolution.
Both aldermen expressed concern during last week’s council meeting about not being informed on casino-related meetings that had occurred. They also worried that city money continued to be spent on a proposed
$46 million acquisition of the Rhythm City casino despite being on hold for nearly two weeks.
Matson said he was comfortable with Barnhill’s decision.
“He had a big discussion with some people,” Matson said. “I don’t know the whole deal, but he pulled his second with the understanding that what we asked for would and will happen.”
Barnhill said his concern about a lack of communication was a misunderstanding.
“If there was a meeting, then I want an email or courtesy call,” he said. “I don’t want to shackle or hamstring our negotiating team.”
The city has ceased any further due diligence, having collected enough data that can be used to interpret several casino development scenarios, City Administrator Craig Malin said. Although the Riverboat Development Authority, the nonprofit that holds the license for the Rhythm City, is seeking a land-based casino operator for Davenport, the city also would have a development agreement with the operator.
Of the meetings Matson and Barnhill raised concerns about, one was what Mayor Bill Gluba described as a courtesy call by three Davenport Community Improvement Corp. board members who submitted their resignations. The other was described by city staff as someone who “came in wanting an introduction to the area.”
“They were told to go see the RDA,” Gluba said, declining to say who staff met, “but we don’t want people being uncomfortable talking to the city.”
The aldermen should have asked about the meetings outside of council chambers, Gluba said.
“It made it look like the city is having secret meetings and spending money, and that is not the case,” the mayor said.