Despite filing a notice of appeal challenging the reinstatement of its former fire chief, the city of Davenport remains silent on whether or not it will follow through with legal action.
The Davenport City Council adjourned its committee-of-the-whole meeting Wednesday to enter into executive session in its 2nd-floor conference room "for the purpose of discussing litigation."
The litigation turned out to be discussing whether or not the city will keep its appeal of the Civil Service Commission's order to reinstate Lynn Washburn as district chief following her dismissal as chief on July 27.
After the executive session concluded, discussion spilled out into the hallway and down the elevator, but neither the mayor nor members of the City Council would comment as to whether they will challenge the order or not.
"I can say that we discussed pending litigation with our attorneys, but not anymore because it was an executive session," Mayor Frank Klipsch said.
Washburn was placed on administrative leave July 24 and fired three days later after she informed City Administrator Corri Spiegel that she would not be able to attend a pre-disciplinary meeting.
Since Washburn's termination, city officials and staff have remained tight-lipped about her dismissal due to the city policy of not speaking out about personnel matters.
The only documentation that is public record is a memorandum from Spiegel in which she stated: "During my tenure, due to actions on her part including, but not limited to, those of today and the past several days, she demonstrated that she is unsuitable or unfit for continued employment."
Washburn successfully appealed to the Civil Service Commission that she had the right to stay in the department because, under Iowa Code 400.13, a police or fire chief may remain in the department commensurate with the person's civil service status.
The crux of the issue was whether civil service status was transferable since Washburn became chief of the Davenport Fire Department after 29 years at the Rockford (Illinois) Fire Department.
The commission voted 3-1 to return her to the department as a district chief.
Notice of appeal was mailed out to Washburn's attorney Mike Carroll on Nov. 22 and filed in Scott County District Court on Nov. 28.
In the court document, assistant city attorney Brian Heyer wrote that Washburn's "return to the fire department would greatly raise the potential for irreparable harm to the department if the stay is not granted."
He also wrote since she has been away from the department since July, it would not cause any harm to her.
The filing appeared to surprise members of the City Council according to an email that was sent on Dec. 1 because they intended to discuss it during a planned executive session.
After the Quad-City Times first reported the notice of appeal, Alderman Mike Matson, 7th Ward, emailed Klipsch, members of the Council, City Attorney Tom Warner and Spiegel after a few members of the community contacted him about the appeal.
"Who decided this?" Matson wrote. "We are/ we're to talk about this in executive session Wed? Who moved this ahead of our executive discussion?"