Iowa City Files Public Records Suits Over Dispatch Center

A dispute in Iowa over a county dispatch center has led to two public records suits being filed by the City of Keokuk. One of the suits names the Lee County Fire Chiefs Association and its president, Neil Gathers, while the other names the City of West Point and its leadership.

At the center of the dispute is the continued participation of Keokuk in the county dispatch system known as LeeComm. The current agreement expires on June 30, 2016, and while the other LeeComm stakeholders have agreed to a multi-year extension, Keokuk remains uncommitted seeking answers to questions that have yet to be resolved to its satisfaction.

Previously, Keokuk filed public records requests from the various members of LeeComm seeking correspondence between the members pertaining to the dispatch center. Although some of the requests were met, the city was not satisfied that all requested information was provided, prompting the two suits.

Tri States Public Radio quoted from one of the complaints as follows:

“[Keokuk] is aware of several emails that included Defendant Neil Gathers as a recipients, both in his capacity as President of the Fire Chief’s Association and as their representative on the [oversight] board. These emails were no [sic] provided, nor were any communications, or correspondence beyond those [already] described… [Keokuk] believes additional emails and correspondence exist which were also not provided, but as no good faith effort was made to collect this information, [Keokuk] cannot articulate what it could expect to find.”

The suits seek a court order directing all parties to produce the requested correspondence.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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