Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch has picked three new appointees to join the resident-led panel that processes the city’s civil rights complaints, a move likely to garner protest as they head to City Hall for confirmation.
Klipsch said last week he was considering several applicants for the job as the terms of three commissioners were set to expire. He said consideration of qualified candidates for boards and commissions is one of his responsibilities as mayor. He’s denied accusations from critics who say his choice is a veiled attempt to oust Civil Rights Director Latrice Lacey or retaliate against sitting commissioners who opposed a recent city code change that fell apart.
Commission chairwoman Susan Greenwalt said Friday the mayor’s decision disappointed her on a personal level, as she wished to continue for at least another term. She also expressed concern about pending cases and questioned if new commissioners will be able to hit the ground running.
“I can understand wanting to get some new blood,” she said, adding two other sitting commissioners were recently appointed. “But that much new blood is not going to be good.”
Unlike some of the city’s other resident-led panels, the civil rights commission has employment oversight of its director and makes final spending decisions. Broadly speaking, the commission reviews complaints brought by area residents over potential violations of local, state and federal civil rights protections.
The commission has been at odds with the mayor and council several times throughout Klipsch’s tenure. Most recently, a city ordinance was proposed over the summer that would have given some of the commission’s responsibilities to a three-member panel of aldermen, an idea that collapsed after a series of fiery debates in City Hall.
In September, the mayor withdrew the proposal, labeling it “too divisive.” He added there were “important matters for us to consider” without the proposal “creating conflict.”
Under the city code, mayoral appointees must be confirmed by a majority of council members, and it is rare that mayoral appointees are not upheld.
The mayor’s three appointees are Lee Gaston, a finance director with the Quad-Cities Center for Active Seniors; Patricia Hardaway, a human resources executive with Palmer College of Chiropractic; and Randy Moore, president and chief executive officer of Iowa American Water Company.
In application materials obtained by the Quad-City Times, the candidates list several areas that qualify them for the appointments. Gaston, who worked alongside Klipsch as an executive with the Scott County YMCA, points to his time with a California social service agency among his qualifications. Hardaway has a nearly 30-year career in higher education, which includes time as president of Wilberforce University, a historically black institution in Ohio. And Moore, the Iowa American executive, previously sat on the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the state agency that coordinates with Davenport’s local office. Moore writes a monthly guest column for the Quad-City Times.
Meanwhile, Andrew Kiefert, one of several area residents who led protests to proposed changes to the commission, promised there would likely be “some excitement” at the next city council meeting. He called the mayor’s appointments “unfortunate” and questioned whether Klipsch is being honest about his intentions.
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