Posted Online: April 24, 2013, 9:24 pm

Push for joint casino meeting on hold

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By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

Davenport aldermen on Wednesday tabled for 30 days a motion directing city administrator Craig Malin to seek a joint public meeting between the council and the Riverboat Development Authority to discuss casino proposals.

Ald. Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, has been pushing for a meeting with the RDA, the nonprofit group that holds Davenport's casino license.

"I accomplished what I set out to accomplish," he said Wednesday night. "I lit a fire under some people."

In October, city officials announced Davenport was seeking to develop a land-based, city-owned casino with the purchase of Rhythm City Casino from Isle of Capri for $46 million to $51 million.Those plans were put on hold March 4 when RDA members chose to seek alternatives to a casino owned and financed by the city.

City officials want the RDA to look at a two-casino proposal by Ingenus Management and Consulting LLC, of Brainerd, Minn., and Financial District Properties, of Davenport, of which local developer Rodney Blackwell is a partner. The proposal would involve the city and Ingenus/FDP entering into a lease agreement for a multimillion dollar casino and hotel at the confluence of Interstates 80 and 280 and a smaller casino downtown.

Wednesday night's motion requests the RDA compare the "net community benefit" of the Ingenus/FDP plan to other proposals under consideration.

"Apparently they (RDA members) need time to make a decision," Ald. Edmond said. "Of course, it helps when you have meetings if you're talking about the proposals -- rather than holding a meeting for an hour, and the entire hour is spent drafting a letter to the mayor turning down a request before we even made it."

His comment referred to an April 15 letter to the city from RDA President Mary Ellen Chamberlin and RDA chairman Gary Mohr stating the group did not want to meet with city officials to discuss casino proposals.

The letter was sent two days before an April 17 Davenport committee-of-the-whole meeting where aldermen discussed seeking a joint public meeting with the RDA.

Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said he understands the council's frustrations, but he hoped the RDA and the city will come together. The Ingenus proposal is the best for the city, he said.

"The RDA simply has to evaluate those proposals in public," Mayor Gluba said. "And it's up to the news media to keep pressing them to have a public meeting to discuss this.We did; the ball's in their court."

Also on Wednesday, Mayor Gluba said the city is seeking answers from Deloitte and Touche LLP on the firm's work for Davenport from Dec. 12 to March 8.

On April 10, aldermen voted to delay paying the national accounting firm $387,500 for work related to the city's attempted purchase of Rhythm City.Some aldermen do not recall signing off on an agreement with Deloitte signed Dec. 11 by Mr. Malin.

"We haven't paid that bill yet," Mayor Gluba said. "A lot of that stuff could get paid for by a developer in the future.

"We'll see where that bill goes," he said. "There's a page of explanation we got the other day from them (Deloitte). We've already got some answers.Hopefully, the bill will be paid for by somebody else -- not us."