Editorial: A clear win
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Editorial: A clear win

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Members of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission hold a special meeting in the City Council Chambers, presided over by Mayor Mike Matson, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Davenport.

Finally, a dose of sanity in the Davenport Civil Rights Commission fiasco.

Scott County District Judge Henry Latham last week ordered that four former members of the commission – Susan Greenwalt, Nicole Bribriesco-Ledger, Clyde Mayfield and Helen Roberson – stop acting like they still hold office.

The ruling was a temporary injunction, but the judge made it pretty clear the city will probably win the argument in the underlying case over who rightfully sits on the commission. In February, the city filed a petition for a declaratory judgment on the matter.

The court's decision should come as no surprise to anybody who’s paid attention to this matter. The basic facts are these: A set of commissioners saw their terms expire. Former Mayor Frank Klipsch legally appointed replacements. The city council legally confirmed the appointments. The former commissioners refused to leave.

They showed up at meetings and tried to act like commissioners. They even, comically, passed a measure saying their replacements were the interlopers.

The former members have made bogus arguments that Klipsch acted improperly – and they and commission director, Latrice Lacey, have said, amazingly, that the expiration of a term does not constitute a vacancy on the panel. And, for this, the work of the commission has been held up for a year.

Latham’s ruling, however, was clear.

"Defendants provide no sound authority to support their claim that they have some continued, unrestrained right to serve upon the expiration of their statutorily-provided two-year terms in office," he wrote. If he were to accept their reasoning, the judge added, "it would lead to lifetime appointments for DCRC commissioners. This would be an illogical result.”

Greenwalt filed an answer to the city's petition, along with a 2019 memo from Lacey, which the judge said contained "mostly irrelevant facts and arguments". (Lacey filed a motion that she be allowed to intervene in the case, which the city has resisted.)

It hardly needs repeating, but it has taken far too long to get to this point. It is time this embarrassing episode end. For a year, the ex-commissioners and their allies have obstructed the commission's work and tried to improperly seize power. There is no longer (and never was) any issue as to who rightfully sits on the commission. It is time drop this charade.

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