Davenport civil rights director opposes commission changes
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Davenport’s leading civil rights watchdog says a proposed restructuring of the city’s civil rights commission could harm the panel’s ability to act independently.
Under the proposed law, the city would still have a panel of commissioners whose chief task would be reviewing civil rights complaints, the Quad-City Times reported. The ordinance also would affect the commissioners’ role in overseeing the handful of employees who work in the city’s civil rights office.
Davenport Civil Rights Director Latrice Lacey said she believes the ordinance doesn’t comply with an Iowa law that requires larger cities to maintain the resident-appointed panel.
But city officials said the ordinance wouldn’t impede the commission’s independence or existence.
City staff took special consideration in “making sure that the ... hearing board remain independent of the city,” said Davenport’s assistant city administrator, Brandon Wright. He said the ordinance aims “to protect that independence as we created the proposed code.”
Alderwoman Rita Rawson, 5th Ward, said there’s “clearly no intent to get rid of the commission” within the proposal and called such claims “ridiculous.”
“I’m not even sure where it’s coming from,” Rawson said.
She described the proposed ordinance as a clean change that would provide the commission more time to concentrate on complaints while allowing elected officials to serve as the stewards of taxpayer dollars.
Commissioners haven’t shared their opinions on the ordinance. The commission’s chairwoman said its bylaws prohibit commissioners from making statements to the media.
Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com